Vegas has The Strip; LA has Sunset Boulevard and uMhlanga has The Village. It’s the pulsating heart of the town where people meet and mingle on any given day, from early morning to late at night.
Founded in 1895 as a holiday destination, that breezy, beachy vibe still infuses The Village today. With its lush coastal forest, sandy beaches and the warm Indian Ocean, it wasn’t too long before uMhlanga became one of the country’s most sought-after holiday destinations. Its strong appeal to holidaymakers still adds to its seasonal charm.
“It’s bright, exciting, young and buzzy. There is something for everyone, all along one compact strip of awesome,” says Butcher Boys’ content creator, Candice Hamilton. “You can swing in and pick a direction. You’ll find shopping, eating, everything. I love the little businesses and hideaway spots as well.”
Characterised by “old favourites” and an ever-changing mix of new concepts – if there’s something new, chances are it will hit The Village first.
“In the perfect location, you can experience a unique blend of cultures. Mediterranean-style restaurants rub shoulders with Asian, Middle Eastern and exotic African restaurants,” says uMhlanga Tourism vice-chairman, Sabelo Didi.
The Village is a unique space where visitors can leave their hotels and walk to any number of places, without having to go through gates. It’s an old-school freedom that really comes to life during sporting events.
“The Village is a social place,” says Jocky Mendes who has operated restaurants on the strip for 17 years. “It was incredible here during the British and Irish Lions’ tour and the World Cups.”
A striking characteristic of The Village is its multigenerational appeal. Seeing this first hand is Gerhard Rothmann, manager at Lord Prawn. Operating from the uMhlanga Plaza for 35 of its 47 years, he says, “It’s quite something hosting couples who came to the restaurant in the 80s, coming in now with their children and grandchildren.”
New hotels and apartment blocks stand tall next to the old dames and low rises built in the laid-back town of the 60s and 70s. “Developments bring more choice, more competition but also more visitors,” says Jocky.
“It’s going to be a bright summer festive season. The Village will be the place to relax and unwind for many locals and tourists – national and international – and we’re looking forward to that,” says Candice.
Whether it’s for an early morning coffee, brunch, light lunch, late afternoon sundowner or fine dining experience, The Village is the place that offers it all – turn the page to be tempted by some of the food and drink offerings in uMhlanga. See you there.