Embraced by the sea
by Ron Swilling
The sea pervades your visit at Lüderitz Nest. Entering your room for the first time, you are amazed at the expanse of blue Atlantic that greets you through your window or balcony doors, and the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks below.
During your entire stay, the sea plays a prominent role. Sea music enters through the open door and lulls you to sleep. In the morning, a seal may be seen playing in the sparkling water and the azure ocean is a welcome surprise to the day. The view extends to the hills across the bay, including a fishing boat or two bobbing on the water. If you crane your neck to the right, the Felsenkirche (the rock church built in 1912) can be seen perching like a large bird on top of the hill. Lower down empty fish-factory buildings line the road into town.
This prime position was once the Lüderitz Baderstrand (bathing beach) and Strandcafé, and many Buchters (locals) grew up spending countless happy beach hours on this spot in the bay. Developers bought the land in 1996 and in 1998 the Lüderitz Nest Hotel was opened by former president, Dr Sam Nujoma.
All rooms front the sea
The 73-roomed hotel is painted in the unusual colours of orange-red and pale yellow. Operations Director, Ulf Grünewald, explains that the objective was to make the hotel a practical, friendly place for individuals and families, and the designers therefore opted for the less formal colours. The hotel is built on three floors with six double, three triple and three wheelchair-friendly rooms having windows, and the rest balconies. All have sea views. The reception and bar are on the second floor, the restaurant and sauna on the first and a turquoise pool lies in the centre courtyard surrounded by well-watered green grass, a striking feature in the dry desert town.
Breakfast and sup–per are served in the Penguin Room. Windows along the western side of this dining area look out onto green grass, the sea and hills across the bay. White tablecloths, napkins and white chrysanthemums, high-backed chairs, piped background music, carpeted floors and potted palm trees all conspire to exude the hotel atmosphere, which extends to the large reception area and the long hotel passageways. An Oyster Bar serves drinks and light meals, which can also be enjoyed on the adjacent terrace overlooking the bay.
The hotel makes a good venue for functions. Weddings especially are popular events, the marriage ceremony taking place in front of the restaurant with the sea as background, followed by a dinner dance in the function room. Special dinners are offered on request for groups of up to 18 people, with tables set on the beach or on the grass next to the beach, ideal for celebrations. Blankets are placed on the back of chairs in case there’s a nip in the air and hot bricks, wrapped in cloth, keep feet warm. The first course is Lüderitz oysters or smoked salmon, the main, a massive seafood platter or fillet, and the dessert a flambé. Speciality coffees are served in front of the fire.
Best four-star hotel in Namibia
The Nest is currently de-veloping conference packages to utilise the conference facilities, with all arrangements made and all details included from charter planes to partner getaway groups. Partners have activities arranged, while the conference participants are hard at work. Plans for the future include upgrading the Penguin Restaurant and appointing an in-house tour guide who will conduct specific trips on request for groups of up to 12 people.
Keep your eyes open for dolphins that may appear in the bay like water sprites before sunrise, and at sunset during August and September for visiting whales. Also, before you go to sleep, look out for phosphorescence in the water, which creates the impression of a thousand stars descending into the ocean from the heavens.
At the time of my visit, Mr Grünewald had just accepted the Diamond Arrow Award in Windhoek for the best four-star hotel in Namibia, having achieved a rating of 4.6 out of 5. He hopes that in the future a southern route will be opened from Oranjemund to Lüderitz via Alexander Bay, the Orange River mouth and Oranjemund, creating an easy route for tourists.
Until then, at only 120 kilometres from Aus, it is on the Cape-to-Namibia route when travelling north from South Africa on the Rosh Pinah road. It offers the chance to incorporate the stunning landscapes of Klein-Aus Vista and the wild horses with a visit to Kolmanskop, oyster tasting, a Lüderitz sea trip and a journey through the old diamond-mining towns to the Bogenfels rock arch. The NamibRand Nature Reserve or Sossusvlei can be included as the next destination north, and if travelling south, the Fish River Canyon or the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park via Sendelingsdrift. (RS)
This article appeared in the Dec ‘10/ Jan ‘11 edition of Travel News Namibia.