Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani

The Golden Mile on the coast of the Indian Ocean in Durban, South Africa, features some of the most spectacular views and beautiful beaches in the world. In 2011, as part of Tsogo Sun’s commitment to maintaining Durban’s destination status they invested approximately $20 million dollars to consolidate and upgrade the Southern Sun Elangeni and Southern Sun North Beach hotels into one complex, creating Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani. Part of the renovation added several new restaurants to the 734-room complex including the Panorama Bar and Pool Deck—which serves cocktails and light food with panoramic views of the coastline—and Ocean Breeze—a laid-back Indian Ocean island-style restaurant, also with an incredible view of the coast.

The Design Challenge:
The Blacksmith Interior Design team knew the environment they wanted to create that would refresh the look and feel of the hotel. Catering to its large amount of travelers, the hotel needed to evolve to suit the ever-changing needs of the modern guest. The team’s design aimed to provide as much comfort, convenience and care as possible while keeping the materials practical and long-lasting. One of the challenges designers faced was how to reflect the feel of the ocean inside the hotel’s restaurants. At first, designers considered covering columns in the restaurants with stucco, reflecting the look of sand. Stucco, however, did not suit their needs because with every batch mixed, it can appear different and have a different consistency; it also attracts dirt and dust which cannot be easily cleaned. So, Blacksmith Interior Design met with Dean Armstrong from Ergosystems for a solution.

Our Solution:
Armstrong quickly suggested using ATI’s Fusion process on FRP. With Fusion, the designers could mimic the look of stucco by fusing a graphic onto the face of the durable substrate. The FRP was a perfect choice as well because it encompassed all the properties needed for a busy restaurant environment—smooth, easy to clean, as well as scratch and impact resistant. 75 4′ x 8’ sheets of stucco-imaged FRP were used to wrap more than ten large columns throughout the two restaurants, bringing the look of a sandy beach to visitors’ dining experiences. To complement the columns, designers covered adjacent areas with MirroFlex in Gobi—which has a distinct wave pattern—to reflect the movement of the ocean. Not only did the design bring the ocean indoors, it helped create a brand for the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani that will keep guests booking.