For the fit and healthy, Fairmont Zimbali seems to offer everything that might be needed. As with many Fairmonts, there are BMW bikes galore – and, 30 miles north of Durban, the biking here, off-campus, in groups, is spectacular. There is Tom Weiskopf golf, and lots of tennis, and a myriad of pools. This image, on the left, shows one of the pools, as seen from one of the nine rooms (three of which are doubles) in Willow Stream Spa. As well as a range of products including Africology, Guinot and Phytomer, they have just introduced Black Pearl. Oh wow, says the gal, try a Black Pearl facial: it has 24-carat gold dust to tighten the skin, Tahitian black pearl, Dunaliella salina algae and other anti-oxidants, and no fewer than 27 minerals.
You certainly feel glowing afterwards, as my face did when I looked in the mirror of 3026, an end suite at this 154-room hotel (it is on six long-drawn-out zigzag floors, with reception on the fifth floor). The spa is also used by those in the 58-room Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, and in the dozens and dozens of time-share and owned residences around – the whole estate, owned by IFA, is 2,900 acres. From the main hotel I take a leisurely stroll, down past several pools and the Beach Club, with more pools, and into undergrowth, to emerge on a wild beach. No swimming here, say prominent signs. (They love signs here – one says be careful of snakes, which apparently are pythons and fortunately rare, others say do not feed the monkeys, which are vervets and, in the current drought, especially hungry.)
I ate extremely well here. I had a delicious lime chicken salad with avocado, and I dined with Liezl Meier, currently running the whole hotel, plus the Lodge and the timeshare. Osa is a refined Indian, with a Mumbai-born chef, Ayyub (Pierre) Patel. I had tandoori cottage cheese, paneer di soti ki boti, followed by butterflied tiger prawns with garlic butter, and a glass of Hidden Valley Pinotage. Breakfast, in the all-day Coral Tree, is another splendid meal, with an enormous buffet that was, for me, highlighted by absolutely superb mango chunks – the brown toasting bread in South Africa, by the way, is really good. I was sitting on the outside terrace of this big restaurant, a lovely way to start the day. At one point I turned through about 120° and there was a vervet monkey calmly sitting atop a table, chewing its way through lots of sugar sachets.
And then Dennis the driver was waiting, and Liezl Meier had come in specially early to say goodbye. Sadly the Black Pearl display in the big lobby just would not photograph well so we stood in front of a display of local ceramics, but my shiny Black Pearl face lived to tell the tale and I left town, for which luxury hotel next?