Nice retreat away from the rat race

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

It might be four-star but Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club matches any five-star hotel for sheer unbridled luxury.

It's got plenty of period grandeur complete with an elegant facade, the highest-quality American-Victorian themed furnishings, panoramic views over the golf course or pool terrace and a classical lobby.

The Graceland location is entirely appropriate. It is a good business choice and at the same time is warm enough to appeal to leisure clientele too.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Secunda in Mpumalanga, Graceland makes a great base from which to explore the busier areas of the engineering town, while also providing an un-flustered place to return to at the end of a hard day's sightseeing.

There are very warm and very efficient staff members at the hotel's front desk.

After an hour's journey from Johannesburg we were greeted by cooperative staffers who were waiting for us. We were assigned a friendly butler, who took us to our rooms.

The rooms were spacious, airy and furnished in sumptuous fabrics. Each room had been individually styled with period pieces and original oil paintings. The queen-sized beds were gloriously comfortable.

Though the overall service at the hotel was great, the staff at the spa were the friendliest. You could have sworn we were old customers.

The therapists were very helpful and answered all our questions professionally. Maybe too helpful, because one was particularly chatty.

On the night of our arrival there was a show at the hotel's entertainment centre. At first we were a bit uncomfortable because of the town's history and the fact that we were the only darkies among the light-hued spectators. But we were pleasantly surprised at the friendliness of the people of Secunda.

Any hungry stomachs in the house? No problem. Graceland has excellent restaurants - the Blue Bayou Restaurant, the informal and diverse American Cafe or the relaxing Palm Terrace that overlooks the pool area and the stunning golf course.

They are all popular with locals, who come for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Guests also enjoy complimentary access to the large-scale amenities of the eighteen-hole golf course and beautiful Augusta Club Lounge.

The hotel also boasts a spectacular casino that provides guests with more playtime.

We did not see the housekeeping staff, who did an excellent job of keeping everything spick and span.

But it's the decadence that boggles the mind and round-the-clock security guards and butlers.

All our rooms were equipped with an interactive pay TV system, satellite TV, electric razor plug, 24-hour room service, adjustable air-conditioning, a mini-bar, room safe and wireless Internet.

Graceland is also the ideal venue for conventions, banquets, product launches, conferences, seminars and other special events.

The Liberty Hall Convention Centre, with several executive-style breakaway rooms and the Graceland Arena, are fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. For a nice retreat away from the rush of the city, Graceland is highly recommended.

The only problem I have with Secunda is the weather. This town operates in extremes. When it's hot it is scorching and when it's cold it is freezing.

So come prepared.