Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HOTEL HELL

THE SEAVIEW HOTEL, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
2008

 This is Seaview, Port Elizabeth. It is what I call "the home of the modest millionaires", because it is extremely expensive, obviously for it's location right on the sea, but the houses are not extravagant beyond reason. It is a place of a nice isolated community of locals and vacation homes of those who do not live here full time.

I have been coming here for many years, because of the isolation, and, being a rocky shore of wild tides, it is not the favorite haunt of surfers, bikini brats or the party crowd. You come here to be with Poseidon. You come here for serenity. You also would have come for great cheesecake and coffee, a few years ago!!

In the middle of a hillock stood a majestic hotel, much resembling the Stanley Hotel from THE SHINING.
My mom gigged here with her band in the 60's and I grew up coming here to play on the rocks. One fine day in 2008, I threw my kids in the car to treat them to cheesecake, which we would always have on the hotels deck, overlooking the sea.
When we arrived around the back, in the parking lot, however, I immediately knew something was seriously wrong.....


 Needless to say, the condition of the once beautiful garden had my heart sinking to my feet. We kept driving slowly, as I hoped we were just subjected to a lazy maintenance manager's feats.
But I was not so lucky.





 I noticed the main entrance and the tubular bay window that used to mark it, was now utterly vandalised. We decided that this was so shocking, we drove all the way across the city back to my house to get the video camera, because this was unbelievable. Here we were, expecting to have cake and tea on the great deck of the "MINETTI HOTEL" (As my mom called it), and arrived to find a ghost hotel with only memories inside its windows.

It was like a crew-less ghost ship, hovering in the place where it used to be a crown jewel, now nothing but a tarnished remnant of the gem it once was.

Armed, second time round, with our video camera, we parked the car in a hidden nook of trees and quietly decided to explore the corpse of the Minetti. And we were not disappointed.

The Reception desk still looked as always, relatively inviting.....
 The urine stains on the once beautiful, full wall mirrors, were no surprise....but it still infuriated me, that the vagrants have no fucking respect for true beauty from yesteryear.

Of course, all kinds of lame shit had to be scribbled by the half-brained in-breds who put them  there. Whatever is written on this mirror, does not even make sense in my language!

So we decided to brave the deeper bowels of the massive, sleeping titan I used to run the corridors of when my parents came for a drink. I could not believe the deafening silence that floated through this palace, raped and pillaged from her former brilliance of people and music and posh to-do's. The Shining really came to mind as we walked deeper into the hallways, because of the loneliness of the sound of the past being the only company....and the fact that I knew well how haunted this hotel was even in the days of its splendour.

The hallways I used to walk, where I could feel something rushing me off when I visited, had not lost it's sense of urgency, but now it was exacerbated by the destruction.

It was as if the hotel was ow angry for being gutted this way and that the inhabitants of her realm were simply waiting for fresh meat.




 Broken mirrors lay everywhere and the ropes you see here, used to line the walls of the corridors to give it a stunning nautical look. The sea used to rush softly in the background of the teeming life in the rooms and hallways, whereas now, the ocean rushes furiously through the deathly silence of the building, the wind howling through the emptiness like a lonely soul begging for redemption.


The bathrooms in the rooms used to be filled with luxuries, in a very old world, oceanic feel.

Now it was just shattered porcelain and waterless bath tubs.

We continued exploring the places that the staff would never let us go to. On the third floor, the manager and some staff rooms were located, as well as the store rooms and cupboards full of towels and sheets and all the housekeeping stuff. But first we had to pass THE CORAL, the famous Seaview Hotel Bar.




As we walked towards the door of the bar, we heard a radio on somewhere. Obviously, being trespassers, we hid in a corner for a while, but the radio music did not come closer. But it was not outside, it was in the hotel!!! Okay, its a huge hotel. It could come from anywhere. Who said we were the only trespassers? The evidence of transient vagrants were everywhere. The radio music kept playing, crackling every now and then like an old AM Frequency would. I decided to follow the sound and see where it comes from.

 The door to THE CORAL.
The radio music, like old jazz, became louder the closer we came to this door. Me, Ivan and Nush looked at each other, squealing with terrified delight.....then Ivan said : "After you...."

And so we entered in a line.




To our twisted delight, disbelief and paranormal getting-off...the radio continued playing right behind the bar ahead of us!!!
To the right of this room is a small dining room where I had a Christmas lunch with the engineering company I worked for in 2005.

I can not tell you how utterly eerie it was to walk into the room where we had a feast, and find nothing but solitude and damage.

The jazz kept playing behind the bar, louder as we approached the sliding door that led out to the famous outside deck where we used to have tea in the fresh ocean breeze, even on stormy days, so that I could feel the wet sea spray on my face.

My astonishment and paranormal wariness gave way slightly to a sad nostalgia as my eyes saw the testament of how even Rome could fall.
As we came to the bar counter, the music ceased suddenly. Dead silence where there was just a blaring jazz fest going on! I turned to the kids, motioning that there is no radio anywhere. There was not even electricity! The kids pulled their faces in a sign of serious creeped-outness and they made for the door. I followed suit without invitation. I could almost picture a half rotten bar tender laughing behind my back....

And so we found the stairs up to the "off limits" parts of the hotel. Through long, and I mean LOOOOONGG corridors, we ventured to see what was hidden there. The rooms were severely damaged of course, but the view remained breathtaking.

We each picked a place to investigate, but I told the kids not to leave the floor before we regroup. On the floor of the room I entered (above), I picked up a defiled Bible, scratched full of blasphemous symbols and some pages torn out. A knot formed in my stomach, because I knew well of these symbols. It was just then, that I felt someone behind me without question. It was more than one person, and I knew somehow that they were not my children sneaking up on me. The hair on my neck rose as I could clearly hear someone breathing behind me, but I tried to act like a skeptic and just called the kids to come and look at the view. I closed the Bible and dropped it on the floor, denying the Devil his lunch. Thank God.

This was the office of the manager, situated on the top floor. We used to call it "The Tower Room" because it was the only one facing the ocean that had this circular window.
Looks at the breathtaking view!

I swear, if I was a billionaire I'd live in this room, along with my pet ghosts from the old days frequenting my haunt.....see what I did there? LOL!!!


Anywho....we decided to go to the ground floor so that I can show them where Grandma and her rock band, THE SKELETONS (how apt) used to play on Saturday nights.

And so, dear friend, I led my cubs to THE BALLROOM....

It was as beautiful and vast as I recall, but again, the neglect just made me so sad. We danced on the open floor in a ring holding hands, like the Irish Faeries did....and it felt as if we were joined by the spirits of the dancers from the '50's who used to waltz and feast there. The floors creaked under our individual steps and a while later.... I felt an ice cold snake crawl up my spine. I looked about, and saw my kids were gone and I was alone in this massive hall.


I heard them discussing something nearby and found that they had discovered a trap door!!
See left, there is a trap door in the floor among the mess. There used to be a corner bar for the dance parties and apparently this trapdoor is where they stored the alcohol.

It was black as pitch in there in mid-daylight and I was almost thankful that I did not have a flash light. Sometimes NOT seeing is better. It was empty, though, and like Jack Sparrow, I wondered why the rum was gone :-)

After this we proceeded to the basement floor, where some staff had stayed when the place was "alive". The narrow little corridor led on into a dead end, though and we had to come back all the way to get to the back door, so to speak, a door "under" the hotel that comes out on the ocean side, down some old grass-eaten stairs and onto the rocks.

As we got right to the end of the corridor, we heard tables moving in the ballroom on the other side of the wall from which we just came. I went back up to see if there were vagrants or cops...but there was NOTHING. Not a living soul.

Still I heard right next to me, the shuffling of furniture in an empty ballroom!
My stomach churned and I hastened back to the children downstairs, who were shocked to tell me that something shifted in the farthest bedroom of the basement floor.
In all this discussion, we kept hearing tables moving. That was it. In broad daylight!

Our way out the back door, lucky as we were, happened to be past the ballroom, so we made a run for it!
As we ran past the ballroom, we heard an unholy crashing sound, two or three times, before we sprawled out the door in sheer paranormal panic.
It sounded as if a giant took two porcelain bath tubs in each hand and brought them down on the floor one by one as hard as he could, smashing it and the floor alike. 
As we scampered from the back door onto the back steps....we noticed that, inside the ballroom, it was deathly quiet!

The Stairs outside leading to the rocks.


If you ever come to P.E., come to Seaview and see if the chills chase you as you look up at the decrepit splendour of the land-bound Titanic....The Seaview Hotel : "Jewel of the Ocean".


18 comments:

  1. Throughout this entire post, and esp. when I got to the part where you heard the music, all I could hear in my head was the closing music from "The Shining" movie, an old song called "Midnight with the Stars and You". It's the part where they are zooming in on the pic of Jack from 1926. As I'm writing this I have now playing off of You Tube. I just emailed it to ya.

    I wonder why the hotel was abandoned? I'm surprised you didn't encounter anyone squatting there...you were very lucky in that respect. So it was in good shape in 2005 when you were last there, but in 2008 was trashed? Wow. That didn't take long.

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  2. This is South Africa, babe. Trashing shit is a national pass time.
    BTW, the song was BEAUTIFUL. Thank you!!! :-)

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  3. Great report + pictures. When i am a biljardair i'll buy it for you. (Notice the 'When')

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  4. Enjoyed your write-up! Back in PE after 33 years... so much have changed. Took photo's yesterday, will link to your story! You have any pics of the hotel whilst is was still operational? Would love to see what it looked like at nite with all the lights on... find nothing on the internet.

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    1. I have got pics but not with lights on thou but its pictures from the Hotel Minhetti days and then I was given a architectural document from my grandmother, who used to own the hotel, on the hotels design and history. I grew up in this hotel, was my first home when I came into this world lol. So sad how things are now.

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    2. That is so interesting Chantell! I would like to see the pics and maybe use in in my blog with credit to you of course. The Hotel was demolished on 1 April 2014, it was a sad sad day. Please email me, dotocza (at) absamail.co.za

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  5. And here was I trying to google the seaview hotel's number to book for their sunday buffet lunch tomorrow! LOL!!!

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  6. It is a favourite passtime for our municipality to allow heritage buildings to rot beyond repair and flog the land at exhorbitant costs to some developer to build some ghastly abomination that is considered 'modern architecture'. this building has followed the same suit and has now been condemned and scheduled for demolition. I went into the Minhetti last year to see for myself what was becoming of this old beautiful lady and was horrified at the level of decay. A friend once told me that buildings have a soul, without human interaction, love, devotion and caring they rot, I firmly believe this and it is so sad to see this graceful old lady being treated with such a lack of care. I have included a link to images taken in 2012 of the Minhetti and other buildings in PE that have suffered similar fates. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.398504456861520.95634.367730859938880&type=1

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  7. I would love to do a photoshoot in there. I went past there about a year back, and it was fenced off with dogs patrolling the premises though.

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  8. Does anyone have information re naval training taking place there during WW2?

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    1. yes, I have some information. What is your email address?

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  9. Does anyone know why they demolished the tidal pools in front of the hotel, my father grew up on the chicken farm up the road now opposite seaview game park property, I too stayed there when I was 10 or 11 years old, any know where I can find pictures of the tidal pools prior to them being demolished?

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    1. I think I might have some images still of the tidal pools. What is your email address?

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  10. The entire hotel is gone, now...

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  11. WOW, so sad about the Seaview Hotel. Anone know what is happening with the Edward hotel in PE?

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  12. I also went in the hotel in 2008. Could hear things moving around and the music playing. Wayne louw

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  13. This is so sad ... the old Minhetti ... Then the Seaview ... now The Ruins

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  14. Beautifully Written. Also spent many friday evenings dancing and dining there

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