The Watkins’ were your typical Durban family. Walter, Sarah, and their two children – Janine and Bradley. They lived in a quaint townhouse situated in one of Durban North’s many housing complexes. Dad was a mechanical engineer lecturing at the Durban University of Technology; mom ran her own catering business from home. Work was pleasurable, but raising two teenagers was far from it.
‘We need a holiday,’ was something they found themselves saying on a regular basis – mostly on Monday mornings – when the kids refused to get out of bed unless the threat of reduced television time was used. The Watkins family had a secret. Every December holiday, without fail, they’d pack their things and head to the Zimbali Coastal Estate for a few weeks away from it all.
They seldom told anyone that they were going, and insisted on leaving their mobile phones at home for total undisturbed vacationing bliss. This annoyed their friends and family, but they needed time to reconnect with each other; reconnect with nature. Where better to do that than at a lush coastal estate on KwaZulu-Natal’s Dolphin Coast?
Sarah Watkins had seen an advertisement for a stunning luxury ocean-side villa while searching for places to stay. They would choose a different holiday home each time they went, to keep things interesting. The children loved staying in a new room every December holiday. They would poke guesses at what their rooms might look like while driving to their holiday destination.
When they were younger, they wanted rooms with pink ponies on the walls and race car bedspreads – now, in their teens, they preferred rooms as far away from their parents’ as possible. Sarah and Walter’s requirements were simply. All they asked for was a safe environment, where the kids could go about their business without worrying about their safety, and as much privacy as they could be offered.
They were in the car, driving into the Zimbali Coastal Estate – trailer in tow and enough food to last them weeks. Walter came to a stop at the boom gate, and a burly security officer stepped out of the brick guard hut with a book in his hand. Walter gave the man his best George Clooney smile, and put down the window.
‘Surname?’ the security officer requested. Bradley answered before Walter could: ‘Poophead, the poophead family.’ The man looked at the Watkins family, gazing briefly at each of them, then let out a chuckle.
Smiling, Walter got back to business. ‘Watkins. Should be under Sarah. We’re staying at a place called Zimbali Ocean Villas.’ The man looked confused.
‘Zimbali Ocean Villas? Which one, baba?’ Up until that point, Walter was unaware that there were more than one Zimbali Ocean Villa. ‘Number 48 Milkwood,’ Sarah advised from the passenger seat.
‘Now we’re in business,’ the security guard said with a smile, and gave Walter directions – reminding him that there was a 20km/h speed limit while driving in the estate. They said their farewells and the Watkins family were on their way to a summer holiday they’d never forget.
Walter found Milkwood road, and began scanning the house numbers for 48. He found number 40 on the left, and knew it was four houses down. Pulling into the driveway, Sarah could only stare in awe. It was the most beautiful house she had ever seen. Even the children were too dumbstruck to say anything. They sat in the car for a minute, taking in the stunning building that lay before them, hearing the waves crash in the distance, as a lone seagull meowed lazily overhead.
‘You must be the Watkins family,’ an enthusiastic female voice called out from the entrance area. She, too, was holding a book and writing something on one of its pages. ‘Welcome to Zimbali Ocean Villas. Well, one of them. Our other luxury holiday home is down the road at number 63.’ Like a scene from a movie, the Watkins brood were standing next to each other – staring up at number 48 Milkwood with hanging jaws; their holiday home for the next few weeks.
The cheerful reception party of one took them on a guided tour through the house. The interior was completely furnished with exquisite taste. It was truly a mansion. Each bedroom had its own en-suite bathroom, and each with an ocean view. The living area was spacious enough to host a touch rugby match in, and the kitchen was modern like none they’d ever seen. ‘..and now for the best part – the patio,’ their guide exclaimed as she opened a sliding door and prompted them to step out into the late afternoon ocean breeze.
It was the definition of a Tuscany-themed outdoor living area. Ample undercover seating with scatter cushions, a rim flow pool, and the best ocean view they had ever seen – 180 degrees of pure panoramic splendour. Bradley and Janine began to giggle. ‘We’re going to love it here!’ they exclaimed as they rushed inside and down to the car for their luggage.
The guide smiled understandably at Walter and Sarah, ‘we sincerely hope you will,’ she said softly, and guided the couple back inside.