Touch of Greece in the Cape
Cape Town – The gentle, rhythmic tumble and hiss of the waves lightly licking the beach less than three dozen metres from a tangle of smooth, grey rocks below my bedroom balcony, lulls me into deep relaxation.
At that very moment I can fully relate to the feelings of freedom, escape and tranquillity that brought a quietly satisfied smile to the face of the Shirley Valentine character in Willy Russell’s hit play and film of the same name.
The only difference is that while Shirl had lapping waters of Greece, I am in the South African take on it – Club Mykonos at Langebaan in the Western Cape, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
But, hey, with its neat, striking, pretty white buildings and wooden sash and shuttered windows, as well as wooden balustrades, in either red, yellow, green or blue, it’s good-enough Greece for me.
In the 1980s, Club Mykonos was simply a timeshare destination. However, the colourful Mediterranean-style resort has experienced robust investment in recent years and is now firmly established as one of the most popular draws on the West Coast.
About R100-million has been invested in refurbishing and upgrading the property and its facilities over the past three years, and it has now blossomed into one of the most popular family resorts in South Africa.
Highlights of the refurbishing have included a complete revamp of 200 of the 241 Greek-style units, or kalivas – including cool, contemporary decor, from new tiles and light fittings, to wooden furniture and art, and all-new bathrooms.
There has also been an upgrade of the children’s play centre, Club Onos, offering Wii, games room and PlayStations, along with a custom-built indoor jungle gym.
There are also wooden jungle gyms near the pools and some units – although I personally find the kiddy area a little intrusive at the main pool overlooking the beach and near the communal braai area.
The resort has seen a R2m upgrade of the health and leisure outdoor spaces. All six outdoor swimming pools were relined; the two tennis courts and mini-golf course were resurfaced; and an all-new synthetic soccer pitch installed.
New change rooms, wooden decking for the indoor pool and a significant investment in new gym equipment was also invested in.
A complete revamp of the wellness spa was also introduced but I have to say that in spite of a very relaxing hot-stone massage there, the decor, for my liking, is rather loud: all ornate vases, heavy curtaining, gold trim, fake yellow roses and, worst of all, hideous body casts on a wall in the massage room.
The wellness centre, known for its signature chocolate indulgence treatment, offers a choice of four treatment rooms, jacuzzis, plunge baths, saunas, steam rooms, wet rooms and relaxation lounges.
Club Mykonos has also seen R2m spent on rejuvenating the dining options, which include a facelift of the large Bouzouki restaurant on the marina, now under new management.
It’s a popular spot with visitors, and offered lots of live music when we were there on a recent Saturday.
A new Italian restaurant on the marina, Little Venice, also opened recently, but my favourite place to dine is the Lekka-By-Die-See seafood restaurant on Hobie Beach, adjacent to the resort. I had a terrific hake and chips there and the service was friendly and highly efficient.
We also had very good service, a fine breakfast and a very generous snack basket at the small Dockside restaurant on the marina, next to Bouzouki.
Other recent introductions at Club Mykonos are the development of an information centre offering free service to guests and visitors; and a financial boost to The Mykonos casino, part of the Tsogo Sun Group, which translated into an additional upmarket smoking section and redesigned tables area.
The casino also gained an exclusive entrance area into the health and leisure wing and safer entrance into the children’s video games arcade. Its restaurant, The Charlie Noble, also had a facelift.
The resort conference centre was also given a makeover.
There was also a R1.7m investment in improving security, including electronic locksets for all units, security equipment and an electrical perimeter fence for the resort; a R10m investment on establishing the boatyard facility; and a R5m investment in extending the private marina and refurbishing the jetties.
Club Mykonos was recently given a four-star self-catering grading by the SA Tourism Grading Council. – The Mercury
News & Observer
EU inspectors postpone trip to Greece next week
Bailout inspectors postponed a trip to Athens next week, as government officials acknowledged key issues remained unresolved in negotiations needed for future rescue loan payouts.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Friday that inspectors from the “troika” of the EU, European Central Bank and IMF would likely travel to Greece the following week.
“We still have not reached an agreement today on several issues… The aim is to have this concluded by the end of the year,” he said.
Greece and rescue lenders remain at odds over austerity measures needed to cover a gap in next year’s budget, and the course of various long-term reforms including mass public sector job cuts.
The government is also resisting troika pressure to lift blanket protection measures for distressed home loans.
“The government has made a commitment that the homes of the poor or people in economic difficulty will not be endangered,” Development Deputy Minister Athanasios Skordas told private Mega television.
“Clearly there is no agreement on this issue. I think everyone understands that. The [troika] has moved some distance from their initial and absolute position, but not as far as we would like,” he added.
Meanwhile, state hospitals were operating with emergency staff on Friday as doctors and staff held a 24-hour strike against planned health cuts under the country’s harsh austerity program.
Strikers held a protest outside the
Greek Health Ministry building in central Athens, and about 2,500 people marched peacefully to Parliament.
Demonstrators included doctors from the state primary health care system — who have extended a strike launched on Tuesday until Dec. 9 — as well as residents of Aegean Sea islands who say reforms will deplete local health services.
Health unions are angry at the conservative-led government’s plans to suspend and reallocate staff as part of its drive to reform the public sector and reduce the budget deficit.