A rich history that began in 1973
A landmark on Umhlanga’s beachfront and a cornerstone in KZN’s tourism landscape, for five decades Cabana Beach has been offering beautiful beachfront holidays – establishing it as a cherished destination ever since it opened.
It was built in 1972 by the Anglo American company – giving rise to one of the foremost developments of that decade. In 1979, Sol Kerzner acquired the hotel and in 1984 Cabana Beach was converted to a timeshare resort.
The Resort’s narrative of continual improvement and excellence continues. An incredible transformation is currently underway with a refurbishment investment of R165 million. Phase one has been completed and the second phase is due to start in 2024.
John van Rooyen, distinguished board director and former General Manager of Cabana Beach, was part of the team during the introduction of Southern Sun Timesharing in 1984.
“When I joined as general manager it had just been converted from a normal hotel to a timeshare which was extremely well received. Guests were blown away by the uniqueness of the hotel – the gardens, swimming pools and the sheer size of the property – and they are still blown away today after all these years. It has been an incredible success.
Staff are the life of Cabana Beach
“Although the resort sells itself, it is the staff that make the difference – they are the life of Cabana Beach. The week’s planned entertainment programme gave us many opportunities to interact with the guests, and we have continued to keep that engagement exciting and interesting,” says John.
Entertainment is key
Clive Napier, the Cabana Beach Entertainment Director, joined the team in 1985.
“At resorts, entertainment is one of the most important departments because people come on holiday to enjoy themselves. 50 years is a great celebration, and it couldn’t have happened without Southern Sun, the guests and the staff throughout the years”.
The Resort’s Entertainment Manager, Iain Moolman, has been with Cabana Beach for 22 years. “There’s no bigger satisfaction than someone arriving, giving me a big hug and saying I’ve been thinking about you. And when you say goodbye you actually do feel sad to see them leave. It’s the people that make Cabana Beach and we’ve become family,” says Iain.
With a 39 year tenure as the switchboard operator, Ivan Govindsamy is affectionately known as the voice of Cabana Beach. He recounts, “Lots of guests have come to know my voice over the years. When I answer the switchboard, I often hear: Morning is that you Ivan? And I say yes it is.”
More than just managing a property
Wayne Smith (pictured), started his journey 25 years ago at Southern Sun Drakensberg. Now General Manager at Cabana Beach, Wayne recognises that he has been entrusted with more than just managing a property – he is responsible for carrying the torch of its tradition of excellence, which has been cultivated over five decades.
“These are iconic properties for Southern Sun, they are South Africa’s resorts, and they get better and better with age. So when you join you are not starting from scratch, you are building on a legacy and adding your personal touch and flair. When you think of the great names in the industry who have worked here and that you’ve been given this opportunity – that’s all the encouragement and motivation you need,” says Wayne.
Director of Operations for Southern Sun, Samantha Croft, says: “One of the strengths of Cabana Beach is the vastness of the property, it has a very serene feel to it. It caters to couples who want to enjoy the adult pool, and on the other hand the children are having a great time at the family pool. Catering to so many diverse needs of holidaymakers is the legacy of the Southern Sun brand. We have huge history with these resorts and it’s the legacy that Sol started”.