Valentine’s Day: hot tips for an Umhlanga date
Marketing and tourism go together like, well, love and marriage. So it’s only right that scores of FunShine Coast hospitality businesses have been quick to climb on the Valentine’s Day promotional bandwagon (or should that be, carriage?).
The romantically inclined, or the just plain anxious to placate, are being inundated with offers – spoilt for choice, as the marketing men prefer to put it.
And there’s the rub. Where to start if you are trying to choose a place to take that special someone on 14 February.
A rough guide
Umhlanga Tourism knows all too well that the course of true love never did run smooth. So we offer here a potted guide of Umhlanga establishments in an effort to ease the pain.
But be warned, the usual caveats apply: be sure to book; prices change without warning; hosts overpromise and under-deliver; and remember, this is no attempt at an exhaustive survey – many worthy establishments don’t get a mention for no particular reason.
Like Cupid, your correspondent cannot be held accountable if his arrows fall wide of target.
Ille Maurice, long an Umhlanga favourite, is offering a special Valentine’s dinner for R695 a head, excluding drinks and service.
Expect fine dining with a French-Mauritian flavour.
Smoked salmon stuffed with prawn and avocado mousse, and springbok carpaccio feature in the starters department. Lamb, kingklip, beef fillets, duck and the like get special treatment among the mains. And meringues, sorbet, chocolate tarts and other sweet stuff – plus tea or coffee – end the menu.
It all sounds splendid. But if that’s a little too rich for your tastes, you could tottle up to Umhlanga Rocks Drive where The Square Boutique Hotel is doing a three-course Valentine’s Day dinner for R360 a head. Price includes a glass of sparkling wine or juice on arrival.
Going up, going big
Still further up the hill, and indeed up the price range, Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel’s banqueting venue is going big.
It’s offering a buffet dinner calculated, it appears, to please the very hungry or certainly those in need of sustenance for a long night of whispering sweet nothings.
For R650 a head there are a variety of starters; a “sushi station”; a hot buffet that takes in everything from paella to pickles; something called a “Live Action Station” crowded with lamb chops, calamari, line fish and more; desserts; and a cheese table where you can even grab biltong and droëwors.
Guests receive a glass of rosé on arrival and also in keeping with the occasion, a shucked oyster.
The little shellfish are, of course, reputed to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
You might also want to consider opting for the hotel’s “Added value Romance Package”.
For R3500 a couple, you get the Valentine’s dinner, plus a room for the night, sparkling wine, rose petals and breakfasts.
And while you are up on the ridge, or perhaps if you welcome the opportunity to mix your dining with a spot of retail therapy visit Gateway mall (they are doing gift wrapping from 12 to 14 February).
A number of restaurants at the Theatre of Shopping are doing Valentine’s weekend promotions.
Mozambik, the Afro-Portugese restaurant chain, is for example offering dinner at R550 a couple and throwing in a bottle of sparkling wine, or if you prefer beer or alcopops.
Back down in Umhlanga Village, and returning to the seafood theme, Lord Prawn has a Valentine’s platter for two, with hake, lobsters, mussels calamari, prawns and more for R999 a couple.
Sparkling wine and dessert are included in the price.
The establishment is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year (30 years of which in Umhlanga) so they must be doing something right in what is a tough industry.
Staying power, you could call it. And on that subject, and for those in more mature relationships, it will come as something of a relief to see no mention of oysters on the Lord Prawn Valentine’s menu.
A short walk away, on Chartwell Drive, The Chefs’ Table on Chartwell Drive is offering a four-course Valentine’s dinner at R795 per person, excluding drinks and gratuity.
At the time of publishing they were fully booked, but there is however a three-course lunch menu on the day for R425 per person if you don’t mind stumbling around in the sunshine in your Valentine’s duds.
Some like it hot
Speaking of hot, while many on the FunShine Coast are practically in a swoon from the sultry seasonal weather, the Oyster Box wants its guest to “fall in love this February”.
The five-star Umhlanga hotel is advertising a six-course dinner dance at its Grill Room and Ocean Terrace venues on 14 and 15 February. Beat Route, the jazz and swing ensemble, will be supplying the sounds.
Price: R1200 per person.
Moonlight and roses
The Sugar Club at The Beverly Hills is hosting a “Night in Italy” themed five-course dinner on 14 February.
“Moonlight and stars” are promised when the restaurant screens an open-air movie, with picnic baskets, vegetarian pizzas and “lovers” dessert platters during intermission.
Price: R1495 per person (dinner) or R1795 per couple (picnic and movie).
Granada Square is hosting a Valentine evening’s screening of the romantic wheepy, Me Before You (A girl in a small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she’s taking care of).
The public are invited to bring camping chairs, picnic blankets and cushions to the piazza at the Chartwell Drive, Umhlanga, shopping centre at 7pm on February 14.
Tickets for the movie are available on the night for R30 each (children under 3 are free).
“With there being a variety of restaurants to order food from, this is a night out you don’t want to miss,” say the organisers.
A shrewd piece of marketing, to be sure. But since all monies received from ticket sales will go towards donating Easter eggs to charity, worthy of public support.
Not everyone, of course, likes their Valentine’s tête-à-têtes with extra servings of schmaltz, red roses and hearts.
If so, try the Umhlanga branch of Hooters, the casual dining restaurant famed for its waitresses and their big smiles, is keeping it low-key on the romantic front.
“Unfortunately no couple specials. However, we will have half price cocktails for the ladies on the 14th from 4pm,” they replied to a query from your correspondent.
Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.