Last updated on Jun 15th, 2020 at 05:49 pm
Umhlanga’s Oyster Box hotel will be the venue for a royal reception as Monaco’s Prince Albert II and his bride-to-be Charlene Wittstock have planned a mega bash at the hotel after their wedding on July 1.
Umhlanga Rocks has become South Africa’s latest playground for the world’s rich, royal and famous. Britain’s Prince Harry has been seen sipping Sex on the Beach cocktails in the area where the parents of his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy own a luxury apartment.
Albert and his bride-to-be have planned a lavish wedding reception for family and friends in Wittstock’s native South Africa.
They are to stay at the legendary Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, on the edge of the Indian Ocean, during what would be their first visit abroad post-marriage.
“So, this is where Charlene Wittstock and her prince will be staying,” says the hotel’s Kevin Joseph, as he opens the door to the presidential suite.
With its crystal chandeliers, a rim-flow pool with a breathtaking view of the ocean, pop-up television, private elevator and bodyguard’s quarters, the 250-square-metre, two-level suite epitomises supreme luxury.
A copy of Nelson Mandela’s biography rests on a table by a zebra-print armchair. The 5 000-euro-a-night (7 300-dollar) suite also comes with a personal butler, a study and guest room.
The couple is planning to host a grand party at the Oyster Box for the bride’s friends and family, royals and other VIPs who cannot make it to Monaco for the wedding.
So will Prince Harry be accompanying his newly wed brother William and his wife Catherine to the party?
“We can’t comment on that,” says the Oyster Box management.
As for the details of the Monaco royals’ reception at the hotel, “I’m not allowed to comment on that,” says Joseph, weighing his words carefully.
He can say only this much: Local delicacies will be on offer.
From the hotel terrace, the newly-weds can watch dolphins frolic in the balmy ocean against the backdrop of the city’s striking Moses Mabhida Stadium, built exclusively for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ships bound for Africa’s busiest harbour dot the horizon.
The hotel, perfectly situated near the ocean by a lighthouse, was built in 1947 and reopened fully refurbished for the World Cup.
The doormen in pith helmets and turbans complement the hotel’s colonial charm. A cinema, library, and amphitheatre are located in the hotel’s Palm Court.
For Prince Albert, a member of the International Olympic Committee, the reception venue and timing coincide with the IOC’s annual general meeting in Durban from July 4-9.
For Monaco’s future princess, who last stayed at the Oyster Box in February, the visit to Durban will be something of a homecoming. As an aspiring 17-year-old swimmer, Wittstock moved from the suburb of Benoni near Johannesburg to Durban, where the training facilities were better.
She used to give swimming lessons to underprivileged children in Richards Bay, two hours’ drive north of Durban.
The city, with a strong Indian influence that was once home to India’s independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, is reportedly very dear to Wittstock.
Vanashree Singh, wife of South African film maker Anant Singh, knows every nook and cranny of Durban’s world of glitz and glamour. She is a pillar of its fashion scene and behind one of Africa’s biggest horse-racing events – the Durban July – runway for the most-extravagant designer creations.
“I know that the designer in Durban that Charlene is very close to is Terence Bray,” says Singh.
Monaco’s new first-lady-to-be has often dressed in creations by young local designers and likes to combine African fashion with European elegance.
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