Saturday, February 5, 2011

Experience the Polana Serena Hotel magic...

Are crew are really so small?

There is always an excitement as I wait in an airport departure lounge. Watching the other travelers as they either saunter towards a boarding gate...or run like Usain Bolt if they are late for their flight.
Unlike the last time my wife and I used ORT International Airport when due to no real fault of our own, we missed our flight, this time we arrived with plenty of time to spare.
This is why I have time to “people watch” while sitting and waiting patiently for my wife to return from her recce of the surrounding shops!
In never ceases to amaze me that the airports company spent millions of Rand on the ORT upgrade but they seem to have bought the public announcement system from a flea market for R10.75! Either that or they have specially trained staff that have voices that no one can understand.
What it boils down to is the fact that either there is tinny elevator music or an announcement that cannot be understood in any of our 11 official languages.
We arrived as the boarding gate opened and for the first time ever we were the first passengers to board
A surprise awaited us as we boarded the flight, business class seats!
For only the second time in all my years as a travel writer I managed to be on the “right" side of that blue curtain that separates the plastic from the real crockery.
A quick 45-minute hop and we will be landing in Maputo (in fact we can fly to Maputo faster that it takes me to drive from our house to the airport!)
I do like African airports and Maputo is certainly no exception. Although the old airport terminal was somewhat dated and tired the new building that has recently opened is light, airy and very modern.

Getting through customs and collecting our baggage went off smoothly and our transport to the Polana Serena Hotel arrived as we cleared customs, well timed indeed.


The ride from the airport to the hotel was uneventful but as always with an African city, exciting and vibrant. Every block seems to have a Vodacom kiosk of some description and furniture being sold off the pavement!

We pulled up outside the Polana Serena Hotel, often referred to as the  “Grand Dame” of Maputo hotels it felt like I was coming home or at least like introducing my wife to and old Aunt. (I had stayed/visited the hotel on 2 previous occasions)
Since my last visit the renovations have been completed.


 The suites, including the Presidential suite, are all completed and both the Wi-Fi and the flat screen TV's are all working.



The grand ballroom looks splendid with the new carpet laid and all the chandeliers working.


The Maisha Spa has been completed and the workman I found having lunch in the unfinished pool would now need scuba equipment although the visibility would be excellent.


The word “MAISHA" means “LIFE" in Swahili and we could see why, as the treatments certainly help to make your life feel a lot more meaningful and serene...
We both had the Spa’s signature Maisha massage that uses a blend of massage techniques.
This was followed by a Pada Abhyanga Ayurvedic foot massage for Carolyn
I chose a Chakra balance to reconnect my mind, body and soul...and reconnect I did!



In order to justify the fine dining experience (see ‘Fine dining returns to Maputo’ blog) we had had at the Delagoa restaurant as well as a rather decadent breakfast, I decided that a good gym workout would be the way to start off our penultimate day.
The gym has been re-located to the Spa and the hi-tech Technogym equipment has diagrams on each machine as to how to use them and which muscle groups they focus on.
This is a first for me as most hotel gym machines carry no instructions and if it is an unfamiliar multi station machine, I often end up running mindlessly on a treadmill.(Although THESE treadmills offered a variety of TV channels to watch while you sweat.)



As a counterpoint to our fine dining experience of the previous evening, all our breakfasts and our final evening meal were enjoyed, buffet style, at The Varanda Restaurant.



A big thank you to Manual at the front desk and Charles from guest relations for making our stay such a pleasure...
Also Mr. Chrisostomo Segalane who made our whole stay happen flawlessly...as an aside I mentioned to Chris that the plug on the kettle was incorrect for the socket outlet at the tea/coffee station. When we returned from dinner. ‘Hey presto’ the kettle had been replaced!
The food and beverage manager, Rémy, made sure that all our dining experiences were of the highest quality.
The hotel staff will shortly be undergoing intensive training in all departments,from laundry to the front desk  in order  to meet the Polana's end of the year goal to become a Leading Hotel of the World!


We found it very difficult to say goodbye to this wonderful hotel and we hope to return again soon.






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