Royal St. Andrews Hotel, Port Alfred

Posted on 30 March 2020

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the destination for our annual conference to be the Eastern Cape seaside village of Port Alfred on the Sunshine Coast of South Africa.

After a short flight to East London, we drove through the beautiful rolling countryside to the charming port on the Kowie River. I say port, as the river was navigated by old sailing ships 150 years ago. Today the river is home to a modern marina with a variety of river and sea-going craft.

Our host for the next two days was equally surprising.

The stunning and elegant Royal St Andrews Hotel, set in a leafy suburb of Port Alfred, is part Tudor splendour with a modern contemporary wing and conference centre. The complex is tied together by a large courtyard affording easy access to all facilities.

An informal get together on the first evening took place in the appropriately named Highlander Pub, with all the charm of an English village tavern. Our spirited party flowed out onto the pavement courtyard and naturally, fish ‘n chips was by far the most popular order of the day.

The conference facilities, the most advanced of its kind in the region, is ideal for conferences, corporate events, weddings, car and brand launches. The breakaway rooms are well-equipped and catering superb.

The conference centre has a flexible footprint for up to 320 delegates cinema-style and the space can be reconfigured into smaller meeting rooms. I liked the way in which the venue leads directly onto a spacious courtyard with a verdant water feature and which gives access to all areas of the hotel, which surround the beautifully gardened courtyard.

Breakfasts were served in the relaxing Paper Nautilus breakfast room. The highlight of the conference was our formal awards dinner in the elegant Thistle Restaurant, with its excellent cuisine, award-wining wines and fabulous service to match.

Then a second surprise!

During a discussion with the friendly and warm general manager Difford Louw, he shared with me that the Royal St Andrews Hotel recently scored a hat trick by winning the prestigious 2019 Lilizela Award for the Top 4 Star Hotel in the Eastern Cape for the 3rd consecutive year and also, the 2019 Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award, for the second consecutive year.

But what could they possibly offer us for our team building events? A wide choice it seems.

A riverboat took us up the scenic Kowie river for a picnic and canoe races were a fun diversion. Then the golfers walked across the road from the hotel reception to the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course, while the more sedentary took to the CSpa by Camelot to be pampered, whiles others relaxed at the pool for some R & R. Sunset drinks on the beach made a fitting end to a successful event of bonding.

I am excited about taking my team to the Royal St Andrews Hotel for our next strategy conference and also, to my company holding our next product launch at this splendid venue. Why you may ask?

Port Alfred is unique, and the Royal St Andrews Hotel is the perfect one-stop and full-service destination for corporate and general conferencing.

In a nutshell, in one coastal town I found a truly world-class hotel with a fantastic conference centre, world-class facilities and service and, a wide range of fantastic leisure options, both on land and on water.

It does not get better than that.

Text: John Ridler

Images: supplied

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