by Amy Schoeman
The thing about Italians is that whatever they do, they do with style and panache, whether it’s fashion, cooking, opera or architecture, or simply entertaining their guests. The same goes for Giancarlo Ladurini and Oscar Malaman, who opened the Seabreeze Guesthouse in Vineta in Swakopmund early in 2000.
Before moving to Namibia, Oscar lived in Milan, although one can tell from his looks (blond and handsome) that he originates from southern Italy. In fact, he rather resembles fashion icon Gianni Versace, whose family also hailed from the south.
Milan, says Oscar “is not only the capital of fashion, but also of fibre-optics, the industry I was involved in when I was living there.”
Why the move to Namibia? “I wanted to change my life. I loved Africa and had been to Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. I chose Namibia because of the great nature, the stable politics and the sparse population. Namibia has only five people per square mile; in Italy there are 500. That impressed me.”
From a Namibian perspective Giancarlo probably answers more to what an Italian should look like (dark and handsome) than Oscar. He also moved to Namibia from Milan, where he was managing a leather-goods company. After losing his parents, he decided it was time to make a change, and hasn’t regretted it since. “We’re happy here. We like the country. Our guests come from all over. Many are from Europe, and we have lots of locals too, also from South Africa. They’re often business people, and many of them come back regularly. We’ve had a guest who stayed for two months.”
In fact, the guest book looks like a map of the world, with addresses even in Korea, Israel, Japan, Canada and the USA. Namibia’s former Italian ambassador Massimo Baistrocchi is also a regular, which speaks volumes.
The Italian touch is also evident in the furnishing and fittings at the guesthouse. As the names of the rooms – Amber, Amethyst, Jade, Tourmaline, Agate, Ruby and Opal – suggest, they are all different.
Rather than standard built-in units, cupboards and ward-robes are individual pieces, often antique, individually selected and restored, some painted and decorated in unexpected colours by “an Italian friend of ours”, sometimes with a door or two removed to create open shelves. Some of the furniture was made by local joiners, using Oscar and Giancarlo’s designs. “We spent a fortune on furniture and are still changing things round. It took us eight months to find this place, and then we planned the furniture in one afternoon. We bought virtually all our furnishings in Swakopmund.”
The Seabreeze Guesthouse overlooks a large stretch of beach with the ocean in the distance, and has a total of 10 en-suite double rooms. Giancarlo and Oscar live in the house next door which has a lush courtyard garden with an impressive collection of succulents – one of Oscar’s passions – and at the side of the house a vegetable garden for peppers and herbs.
The reception area, lounge (with television) and breakfast room (breakfast is continental style with eggs to order and there are facilities here for guests to make coffee or tea any time of the day or night) are in the main building, for which guests are given a key. Lockup garages and a 24-hour watchman service ensures the safety and security of guests at all times.
This article appeared in the Feb/March ‘04 edition of Travel News Namibia.