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 reinforced concrete, the structure was originally used as navigational beacon.
In 1952, the Cottage and overgrown grounds were sold to Ken O’Connor and his sister, Kay O’Connor. They started a tea garden, which became 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 synonymous. Stanley and Bea Tollman (the Founder and President of Red Carnation Hotels) purchased the property.
Although very run down at the time, with a number of changes and architectural interventions having been made in the 1950’s. it was The Tollman’s vision to restore and develop the legendary Oyster Box Hotel to its original glory. The greatest challenge was 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 was, for the most part, re-built. The grand, revolving door at the entrance originally from the Royal Hotel in Durban, the familiar wrought-iron balustrade and original, inlaid hand-painted tiles and friezes, collected by Kay Hill on her regular travels to Europe, can still be seen. The recognizable black and white checkerboard floor has been re-instated throughout.
The-double volume, Palm Court, with skylights allowing the natural light to flood into the courtyard area, is at the ‘heart’ of the hotel, with The Ocean Terrace and Grill Room restaurants leading of on either side. An entirely new floor level was added to create additional banqueting space, conference, business and meeting facilities and the impressive 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 contemporary Oyster Box is one that holds the grand hotel’s history, heritage, heart and ‘home’ in perfect balance.