For many entrepreneurs, business travel entails rushing: an early flight, landing just in time to commute to meetings, then reversing the route. The adage that time is money means working on your laptop and catching up on calls while on the road.
But if you have a little extra time at a destination, you can combine business with pleasure and have a bit of a holiday as well as explore a new eatery, says Dawn Weir, head of kulula work.
Her suggestion: take along the exercise kit of your choice, get your heart-rate up and then relax over a good meal. “You might only have a few hours to yourself, but a yoga class, a swim, run or a walk can clear the cobwebs and help you focus on your next presentation or meeting.
“The link between exercise and mental alertness are well-documented. And of course, there’s the thrill of finding a new favourite restaurant or dish that the locals have kept themselves.”
Weir points out that South Africa has several major commercial centres on the coast, and for many people the ocean is a playground worth travelling hours for. “So why not enjoy that when you have a little free time to decompress while travelling on business?
“Humans intrinsically enjoy being in or near the sea, and the reasons for that are backed by science: being near any large body of water alters our brain waves to induce feelings of mindfulness – a buzzword for businesspeople aiming to be more productive – as well as lowering stress levels,”
A joint study in 2016 by researchers at Canterbury University, Otago University, and Michigan State University in the USA found a link between being within sight of the ocean and lower stress levels.
So, says Weir, what better way to step away from one meeting and prepare for the next one than by spending a little free time in or next to the sea, and sampling some local cuisine? She suggests the following:
Cape Town: Sea Point Promenade is renowned for its sunsets, but it’s ideal for taking in ocean views at any time of the day. If walking, running or people-watching draws you, there’s arguably no better place as you’ll be surrounded by some of Cape Town’s most in-shape passers-by.
Many locals and visitors enjoy the icy embrace of the Atlantic Ocean at Clifton Beach, but for something a little warmer, head to False Bay and to Boulders Beach, just south of Simon’s Town, where clear, calm, warm water invite bathing and snorkeling among the granite boulders after which the beach is named. Nearby is the resident colony of African penguins: noisy, smelly and charming.
Weir’s restaurant tip: the Hog House Brewing Company in Ndabeni focuses on slow-cooked food with a local twist, craft beer and artisanal bread. It’s food made for sharing – think Scotch eggs, arancini, bacon-and-boerenkaas croquettes, coal-roasted sweet potatoes with smoked orange yoghurt, chili and coriander, and fire-roasted cos lettuce with buffalo feta, dates, almonds and citrus.
Durban: the famed holiday destination has a promenade that stretches more than 11km from Blue Lagoon in the north to uShaka Marine World in the south. It has long, enticing beaches, piers that stretch into the warm sea, indigenous gardens, massive, shady trees, and plenty of outlets offering everything from coffee to cold beer and Durban’s famed bunny chow. The flat, pedestrianized stretch is a boon for cyclists, walkers and runners. Runners can try to notch up a personal best on the fast, flat route, or take a gentle trot and enjoy the sea air. You can hire bicycles, four-seat cruisers and even skateboards for used at the skate-park.
Weir suggests heading up Musgrave Road to Amaravathi Palki Restaurant, a favourite of locals and visitors – including the Indian national cricket team – for more than 30 years. Chefs from New Delhi, Madras, Hyderabad and Bangalore prepare a variety of authentic regional Indian food. The vegetarians’ menu is as painstakingly varied as the carnivores’, and the portions are daunting.
Port Elizabeth’s promenade might not be as long as Durban’s but it lacks little else. Make your way to Shark Rock Pier and you might spot a pod of Bottlenosed Dolphins or whales: Bryde’s, Humpback and Southern Right have been spotted. Buy an ice-cream cone and soak up the sun. You might find, says Weir, that you suddenly have a brainstorm of an idea for you next pitch.
The Something Good Roadhouse at Pollock Beach was originally a wooden structure, a landmark of the city since the ’50s. A hangout for local surfers in the intervening years, it’s evolved, with an a la carte restaurant, cocktail bar, ice-cream parlour and a takeaway facility that operates as the original roadhouse did. The sit-down menu aims to conjure seaside holidays with sandy feet and salty skin: fish and chips, toasted sandwiches, pizzas, milk shakes and banana splits.
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