Natal Spa – Ulitmate kids getaway

Natal Spa Pools

We chose Natal Spa as the place to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. The resort is set in the rolling hills of northern KZN with many huge boulders which house families of dassies, and apart from the scenery the hot spring pools are the main attraction.

I’m still surprised that in all my years of living in Durban, I never heard of Natal Spa, but over the past 5 and a half years we have now visited the resort 3 times traveling from Johannesburg. This was the first time that we have stayed at the hotel, however.

On our first visit Fjord was 2 months old. We had spent the weekend at the town Wakkerstroom and enjoyed Natal Spa as day visitors. My enduring memory from that visit was the most amazing sesame chicken salad which we had for lunch. On returning home I made up my own recipe for sesame chicken strips in an effort to copy the salad.

On our second visit about two years later when we popped in for lunch on the return trip home from Mkhuze Game Reserve, I was chasing the memory of the famous salad.

Last week was our 8th wedding anniversary. During the week I had done my monthly grocery shop at Towers Pick n Pay in Boksburg, and as a reward for spending over R1000 I was given a voucher for free accommodation for a weekend away by Leisure Card. The condition of using this voucher is that the bearer must pay for 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts each, the cost of which came to R1200 for 2 adults and a 5-year old child (Acacia who is 2 did not have to pay for meals). Over and above that we spent about R500 on lunches and drinks. In the end it was not a ‘cheap’ weekend away, but it was very good value nonetheless and we had a lovely time.

We were almost put off choosing Natal Spa as trips on the road between Johannesburg and Northern Natal had previously been little short of hellish. On our last trip to Ithala Game Reserve we took an alternative route, which was longer and even more awful. This time the regular route (N17& N2) was relatively blissful and the roads much improved. There are still sections of road with potholes and numerous large trucks utilize the route, but at least there are no more ‘stop/go’ points. The trip from Boksburg (357km) to Natal Spa took just 3h 30min, leaving at 2pm on Friday afternoon.

Cliff & Fjord on Slide

On our previous visits to Natal Spa I don’t remember there being a super tube – either we didn’t notice it, or it’s relatively new. The super tube became the ultimate highlight for Fjord. He must have had a total of about 50 rides on the 110m super tube over the 2 days. Cliff even took Acacia down twice. The cost of the super tube is R50 / day, for Fjord who is 5 it was R25 and Acacia (2) was free.

Cliff & Fjord feeding swallow

The hot pools are divine, there are about 8 pools on the property, excluding the ones inside the wellness centre.
On our 1st day a young man approached us with a baby swallow which had fallen from its nest, he had been unable to find the nest to return it. He asked if we would care for it. I was able to get enough info to keep it fed, hydrated and alive until I could get more informed help back home.
Dining Room with  boulders

Breakfast and supper at the hotel was in the form of a buffet and the food was good. A lesson learned was not to dish up a lot and once for the children, they were overwhelmed by a full plate and wasted food. It was better to give them little bits of one thing at a time. Cliff does not eat red meat and has complained that breakfast buffets have few options for him. He was very pleased to see chicken sausage and fish cakes at the breakfast buffet.  I loved the boulders which form part of the rear end of the dining room.

Although the chicken salad (still on the menu almost 6 years later) was good, it never matched the status of the first, which ranks as the best chicken salad ever (apart from the one that I now make). It seemed that sesame seeds were in short supply as I did not detect any this time around. We were a bit irritated that for the lunch meals there was a R10 discrepancy per item between the menu price and that which we were charged. This was corrected on Saturday and we were given a corrected bill. The real irritation came the next day when the price charged was again R10 higher than the menu price and once more the bill had to be corrected.

There are camp sites at Natal Spa. It is a pity that a bunch of yobs from the camp site blatantly disregarded the “no glass, no drinking, no smoking in pool” sign. Good citizens should not need to be policed by hotel staff but sadly there are a calibre of people who could do with reminding of the rules. Such behaviour lowers the tone of a place.
A big treat was a back and head massage at the Cellu-Beauty Spa, if you can indulge in this it certainly adds to the relaxing experience of a weekend away.

Overall I really recommend Natal Spa. It is extremely child friendly; over and above the pools and super tube, there is also a very attractive outdoor putt putt course, jungle gyms and slides for the little ones, large grassy areas to play on and two short but scenic walking trails.

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