JUST over a year ago I was at Hemingways Casino and Complex in East London and they had just broken ground on their massive refurbishment.

I recently returned to see the result of Tsogo Sun’s staggering R420 million investment in their property named after one of my favourite authors, Ernest Hemingway.

This vast refurbishment project includes various new restaurants (Latitudes opposite the movie theatre serves a mouth-watering Slider Platter) and retail outlets, a bigger smoking casino, two new stylish smoking and non-smoking Salon Privés, a multi-purpose venue named The Venue@Hemingways for conferencing and events, an additional 3D movie offering and an additional 41 rooms to the four-star Hemingways Hotel.

The Hemingways Casino building, inspired by Hemingway’s luxurious home, has also received an external facelift, and the food court now has a family oasis with palms, tables and water features.

This multi-million rand refurbishment project is part of the company’s bid commitment to the Buffalo City Municipality and 15-year casino licence with the Eastern Cape Gaming and Betting Board.

What makes Hemingways Hotel appealing is the broad offering it has because of its close proximity to the casino, 3D movies (the biggest 3D cinema screen in the Eastern Cape), shopping mall, conference facilities and The Venue@Hemingways.

I was unexpectedly impressed with the revamp of the hotel rooms – mine was a sprawling suite which lulled me into believing I was part of the high society in Key West which inspired the distinct architectural style of Hemingways.

Guests can still enjoy the grandeur of a bygone, romantic era at Hemingways, particularly in the gardens surrounding the pool area. Southern Sun Hemingways Hotel now has two new wings, adding 41 more rooms to bring the room count to 108 beautifully-appointed rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

The hotel swimming pool and fitness centre are ideal for guests who wish to simply relax, or maintain their fitness programme.

Business travellers can make use of the hotels two conference and meeting facilities which accommodate up to 25 guests, while a work station with Internet connectivity accommodates business travellers needs. And the beach is a short drive away, which makes sometimes tedious business trips far more bearable.

No expense was spared in the development of The Venue@Hemingways – the first venue of its kind in East London. It has state-of-the- art lighting and sound equipment, and upmarket conference, banqueting and entertainment facilities.
This versatile venue is geared for hosting banquets, gala dinners, music concerts, entertainment and comedy shows, and lifestyle events including expos, food and wine fairs or product launches.

Everyone’s favourite (and hilarious) cousin, Barry Hilton played to a full house the weekend I was there. In March, comedian Michael Naicker, Afrikaans music duo Die Campbells and comedy group, 99% Xhosa Comedy, are on the bill.

Built on 11 hectares, the Hemingways Hotel and Casino Complex is bounded by the N2, Two Rivers Drive and Western Avenue, offering easy access to and from main roads, highways and the airport, as well as the various tourist attractions of the area.

East London is known as “The Friendly City”, and its attractions include the harbour, aquarium, the East London Museum and Gonube Nature Reserve and Nahoon Beach. The climate is perfect for outdoor activities like fishing, surfing, rowing and golfing.

For more information, please visit www.hemingways.co.za Travel note: Kulula now operates an EL/JNB route.

Source: The Citizen – Dallace Jolly