The origins of The Oyster Box
The original cottage called ‘The Oyster Lodge’ was built on the grounds in 1863. Made of Burmese Teak, corrugated iron and re-inforced concrete, it was originally used as navigational beacon.
The Cottage and overgrown grounds were sold to Ken O’Connor and Kay O’Connor (Hill), his sister, in 1952. They started a tea garden, which changed to a restaurant, and then The Oyster Box Hotel, which opened in March 1954, on the site next to the lighthouse.
In 2006 the property came up for sale. The then owner, Wayne Reed, particularly wanted the Oyster Box to pass on to a family who would continue the hospitality, traditions and values for which the hotel was so synonymous. Stanley and Bea Tollman (the Founder and President of Red Carnation Hotels) purchased the property.
Although very run down, it was their vision to restore and develop the legendary Oyster Box Hotel to its original glory. The greatest challenge being to restore the property in a way that was authentic to the period in which it was built and simultaneously bring it into the 21st century. The hotel we see today is a fitting tribute to their vision.
Building began in October 2007 and was completed in September 2009. While a number of the original landmarks remain intact in the new structure, the hotel has, for the most part, been re-built.
The main building complex has undergone a number of changes since the 1940’s, the most notable architectural interventions occurring during the 1950’s.
A number of the original landmarks remain intact in the new structure. From the grand, revolving door at the entrance, to the reception and foyer with its black and white terrazzo tiles; familiar wrought-iron balustrade and original, inlaid hand-painted tiles and friezes, collected by Kay Hill on her regular travels to Spain & Portugal.
The recognizable black and white chequer-board floor has been re-instated throughout. The-double volume, ‘Palm Court’ is now at the ‘heart’ of the new hotel with all the other areas rippling out from there. An entirely new floor level was added to tastefully create additional banqueting space, conference, business and meeting facilities and the impressive new Lighthouse Bar overlooking the iconic red and white lighthouse and the Indian Ocean.
In all the ways that reflect and celebrate the legend of The Oyster Box, the experience of the ‘new’ Oyster Box is one that holds the grand hotel’s history, heritage, heart and ‘home’ in perfect balance.