Stylish, service-orientated, slightly arty
by Ron Swilling
A uniformed doorman, a winding staircase, a stem of white orchids in a plate of pebbles, an oil painting and stylish furniture in neutral colours are the guest’s first impressions of the Swakopmund Boutique Hotel.
Situated just a few hundred metres from the ocean, the hotel opened its doors in October 2009. Owned by four local Namibians (Pieter Potgieter, Francois Loots, Hennie Celliers and Johan Swanepoel), the hotel follows in the footsteps of British and American boutique hotels – small unique service-orientated establishments with a slightly arty flair.
The hotel is built on three floors and comprises two sections joined by a sky bridge. There are 21 rooms (including three family units or adjoining rooms and a honeymoon suite), some having sea views and balconies. An elevator and flight of stairs provide easy access to the rooms. An inviting roof terrace is the perfect spot for sunset drinks and offers a view of the sea, palm trees along the beachfront, desert dunes in the distance and picturesque Swakopmund buildings. The sky bridge on the second floor leads to the conference facilities for 80 people and the boardroom, four of the bedroom units including the honeymoon suite, and the restaurant on the ground floor.
All the artwork in the hotel was created by Heidi Louw, the paintings blending in with the earthy tones of the rooms in subtle nuances of colour. Each room is decorated differently, all having flat-screen TVs, well-stocked minibars cleverly placed in cupboards, hairdryers, safes and tea/coffee trays with small glass coffee plungers. The furniture is custom-made locally. The large bathrooms have showers and baths, fluffy white towels and the hotel’s own rooibos shampoos and body cream.
The restaurant is open for all, catering for locals and tourists alike. Four Swakopmund and Walvis Bay artists exhibit their work on the restaurant walls, with one wall dedicated to township artists. Fittingly, the restaurant is called The Gallery. It offers a surprisingly well-priced menu that includes fresh line fish (and they assure me it is either fresh or not available), a choice of meat from beef fillet to kudu loin, a selection of mouth-watering desserts and kiddies’ fare.
The hotel is an excellent venue for functions and weddings, the roof terrace providing an ideal setting for celebrations and enough space to erect a free-form tent.
Darrell Cerva, the manager of the Swakopmund Boutique Hotel, has had 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, bringing with him his love for the business. Although he studied to be a chef, following in his Italian great grandfather’s shoes, he prefers to operate in the front of the house. He says the business is in his blood and there is nothing else he would rather do. His professional manner is sustained by the friendly staff, who offer 18 hours of room service.
Experiencing the Swakopmund Boutique Hotel involves opening your sliding doors to the sound of the sea, stepping into a hot bath (not filled to the brim to conserve precious water in this desert town!), with a glass of wine or champagne from the minibar, and slipping into a soft white robe. Feeling pampered, you are then ready for sundowners, dinner in the restaurant, a walk on the beach or a night on the town.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘10/ Jan ‘11 edition of Travel News Namibia.