IN one of the most iconic structures along the beachfront of the friendly city of Port Elizabeth, lies the history and heritage that is The Beach Hotel, which is this year celebrating 125 years.
Itâ€™s undergone numerous changes over its lengthy history but has stood firm as the area surrounding it has evolved.
It is believed that the original Beach Hotel and surrounding area belonged to Piet Retief and his family. His home, a tennis court and servants quarters stood on this ground.
Tenders for the proposed Beach Hotel were called for on June 22, 1893. The wood and iron structure was designed by architect George William Smith.
Construction progressed rapidly and on February 16, 1894, the hotel was opened with a grand luncheon party.
Then, sadly, at 5 oâ€™clock on December 1, 1915, the hotel went up in flames.
Townsfolk rushed to witness firemen desperately fighting the fire which destroyed the entire building within an hour.
In 1922, Humewood was ripe for development after Marine Drive was completed. Bill Poole immediately took the option on the first hotel site and built the new Beach Hotel, which was completed in 1924.
The hotel changed hands several times and was later bought by a Mrs. Lupping at an auction for Â£46 000.
Wilfred Guscott bought the hotel from the Luppings, and his nephew, Roy Lombard, bought it in 1958. Under Lombardâ€™s ownership, the grand lady of Summerstrand saw her first facelift, elevating The Beach Hotel to South Africaâ€™s first three-star hotel.
Through six decades and three generations of the Lombard family, The Beach Hotel is still one of PEâ€™s favourite family run hotels â€“ situated in a prime location, overlooking Hobie Beach and Shark Rock Pier, welcoming businessmen and holidaymakers from around the world.
One hundred and twenty-five years later, The Beach Hotel will be hosting a dinner party reminiscing past events and milestones, to pay tribute to every guest who has walked through its doors, and called the Beach Hotel their second home.
The dinner will be held in The Crest Restaurant on Saturday, February 16, 2019, with a nostalgic table dâ€™hÃ´te menu featuring classic favourites from the original Bell Restaurant. â€“ REPORTER