Sea? Check. Beach? Check. Business? Yes please.

From the beautiful lush Midlands and the popular Dolphin Coast to the bustling Durban central, KwaZulu-Natal has an abundance of venues and activities for both business and leisure tourists to enjoy.

The gateway to Durban, King Shaka International Airport (KSIA), opened its doors in May 2010. Between 2011 and 2012, the airport welcomed over five million passengers, with the majority (over 4.8 million) being domestic passengers, and over 200 000 international travellers. KSIA was awarded the prestigious title of third best airport in Africa for the Airport Service Quality by Airports Council International in 2011. The airport is fully equipped with an array of state-of-the-art trimmings, including fast food outlets and restaurants, clothing stores, health and beauty salons, banks and a post office – ideal for business travellers with a long connection flight wait.

A little bit on the rustic side

The famous Midlands Meander, a self-drive route that covers an assortment of things to do and see, stretches from Pietermaritzburg to Mooi River. Lynette van der Merwe of The Lavender Co sums up the Midlands Meander perfectly: “We escaped the rat race to live our dream and it has been an incredible experience. Urban folk envy what we have and, besides wonderful memories, take home a little taste of our lifestyle in the products created by Meander members. It is the authentic country experience that has made the route so popular.”

Visitors to the area will experience an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, studios, galleries and restaurants. Outdoor and physical activities include fly fishing, mountain biking, golfing, canopy tours, horse riding, hiking and climbing. Beer drinkers will enjoy some of the local brews with intriguing names, such as Pie-eyed Possum.

If there’s anything that’s uniquely symbolic of the uMngeni area, it’s undoubtedly the magnificent waterfall in the centre of the charming town of Howick – great for a staff incentive day trip.

Accommodation options in the Midlands Meander vary and, while it’s still possible to stay at one of the original old hotels, you can also spend the night in a tree house, surrounded by zebra in a nature reserve, at a stylish upmarket B&B, or chill out in the indigenous forest. Want a tea or lunch break with a difference? Then why not try one of the fabulously quaint restaurants, coffee shops and cafes in the area? Enjoy a comforting cappuccino at the Truth Store and Café while basking in the history and legacy of the inspirational Nelson Mandela. Chocolate Heaven is a must visit. Indulge in its one-of-a-kind Chocolate Dippingz experience and for those with a real sweet tooth you can wash all the chocolate down with real chocolatey hot chocolate.

Conveniently located midway between Johannesburg and Durban, Oaklands Country Manor is an ideal venue for conferences and functions in the central Drakensberg. The rustic setting offers a unique and refreshing atmosphere, while the efficient staff and excellent facilities ensure that events are organised with professionalism and finesse.

“At Oaklands, we firmly believe that good food is an essential part of any countryside getaway experience. Indulge in meals prepared by our expert staff, while you take in the stunning views and absorb the tranquil atmosphere,” says Natalie Mietz from Oaklands Country Manor.

Executive chef and doyenne of the kitchens Kathy Romer-Lee creates magic with the superb versatility of a qualified master craftsman. She swears by a ‘Know the Farmer’ ethos, the keynote of the uncompromising standards of her culinary artistry and ‘slow cooked’ signature.

Assisted by second-in-command Johnson Ndluvu and his able team, Romer-Lee maintains an energetic and industrious kitchen. Innovative cooking methods, combined with the finest ingredients and keen attention to detail, ensure that each guest at Oaklands is treated to a unique and indulgent dining experience.

The Oaklands conference package includes full use of the conference venues and equipment, the service of the staff who handle all event administration, plus accommodation, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

The conference room can facilitate 30 delegates, while 11 single guests or 21 sharing can opt for overnight accommodation. Their purpose-built conference venue, the Acorn Centre, is a charming colonial style building overlooking the nearby dams, Polo field, horse paddocks and mountains. With all necessary facilities on-site, events at the Acorn Centre are simple to coordinate and pleasurable to attend.

Oaklands also offers a selection of activities that are well suited to corporate team building events:
• ready steady ‘cook’
• ready steady ‘cocktail’
• polo
• white water rafting, rock climbing with ropes, and abseiling options
• hiking up Nelson’s Kop.

Tucked away in the KZN Midlands, Granny Mouse Country House and Spa offers conference delegates the magic of a secluded country venue, with the convenience of bespoke conference packages.
Conferencing in the countryside has its own special allure – while the stunning scenery is food for inspiration; the private setting creates the perfect platform for effective team building.

With accommodation provided in 32 luxuriously appointed rooms, Granny Mouse Country House and Spa is an excellent choice for an exclusive executive think tank accompanied with spouses. Alternatively, larger groups may opt to reserve the entire property, and make use of its unique and diverse team building activities.

Each of the destination’s conference rooms offers delegates something special. The Caversham Room, with capacity for 300 delegates, is Granny Mouse’s largest meeting room and boasts magnificent views over the Lion’s River and the nearby mountains. The Camellia Room, meanwhile, hosts up to 40 delegates, and is perfect for more intensive business gatherings. For something a little different, The Eaves with its own private deck, is an excellent choice for small meetings with up to 40 attendees. Finally, Granny Mouse’s own chapel and studio is a popular option for special dinners and functions, and can accommodate up to 200 guests.

After the conference, delegates have a wide choice of first class recreational facilities to help them relax. Well-known already as a gourmet getaway, superb meals are served in a choice of two restaurants – The Eaves, which presents stylish fine dining, and The Bistro offering a more casual atmosphere. Savour a cigar in the Single Malt and Cigar Bar, or enjoy a dining experience with a difference in the cosy, well stocked wine cellar. Guests can also indulge in a pampering spa experience, or unwind at one of the two swimming pools.

For the city slickers

The Durban ICC has developed an enviable track record for hosting prestigious international and national conferences and events over the past 15 years. Increasingly, buyers and event organisers are seeing the advantages of hosting these events in Durban.

The convention centre boasts the largest and most versatile multipurpose space in Africa and is purpose-built, fully air-conditioned and comprises six interlinked convention halls. The halls can be opened up to form one large venue of 11 250 m². The Durban ICC facilities include the value-for-money, next door Durban Exhibition Centre, offering up to 11 400 m² of flexible flat-floor space across two halls.

The five-star venue has been voted ‘Africa’s leading Meetings and Conference Centre’ 11 times by the World Travel Awards. Furthermore, the ICC is ISO 9001, 14001 and 22000 certified and HACCP accredited, which are internationally recognised quality standards focused on service delivery, environmental management and food safety.
The Durban ICC has the capacity and experience to provide you with a complete package to suit your unique conference or event requirements.

Hilton Durban is located directly next door to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, providing a convenient location for conducting business. With over 16 years of MICE experience, meetings facilities at the luxurious hotel cater for the discerning business traveller, with multifunctional conference rooms able to accommodate up to 400 guests with state-of-the-art IT and audiovisual equipment. The hotel offers 24-hour access to its business centre and meetings are managed by a personal, dedicated MICE expert. A professional, on-site technical team assists with operational requirements while the culinary team offers flexible, tailored menus that will suit all types of meeting, conference or event.

So whether it’s rustic, by the sea or in the city centre, KZN has something for everyone.