Imagine the difficulties posed by taking twelve teen-aged boys away to the coast for a week on a sport’s tour with a limited budget. For the past six years I have done exactly that. We attend the annual school’s boat race every December and every year I make the same arrangements. After all, why change something that works. Bretton Beach Crest has hosted us for the past six years and, as long as I am in charge of our club, will continue to host us for the ongoing future.
As a rowing coach, I have a serious requirement to provide an environment that facilitates relaxation and removes distraction. Comfort of my athletes is of extreme importance, as is their ability to shower and constantly feed themselves. Logistics are important to me as a coach. Access to the shops and the river should be easy. As an educator, I have a requirement to keep my students safe, to ensure that their activities are not interfering with anyone else’s and to constantly engage their minds with the acquisition of knowledge. As a parent and an adult, I have a need to ensure that the children in my care are happy and are enjoying themselves. They need to be entertained and need to feel comfortable enough to include me in their activities and also be able to find their own space.
Bretton Beach Crest satisfies all my requirements. The cottages and their sensational setting in the dense vegetation on the beach dunes, provides a connected isolation which is exceptionally conducive to relaxation. You simply have no choice but to unwind and relax. The shaded road and walkways, the magnificent sweeping sea views, the wild un-spoilt beaches and the never ending sound of waves crashing on the beach are an absolute tonic and invigoration for anyone.
To have such a large group of diverse teenagers in one place and yet never have an issue arise between them speaks volumes for the amount of space and the range of activities that are available. Whether they are walking on the beach, relaxing on their beds, playing cards on the veranda, looking out for wildlife under the shaded canopies or simply sitting atop a dune taking in the sea view, the boys never feel as though they are on top of one another. Don’t get me wrong, this secluded paradise is so easy to access from the town and so conveniently situated that it adds to my stress relief. Nestled perfectly between the new shopping center at Rosehill with its commercial luxury of Spar and Woolworths and the center of Port Alfred, everything I need is simply a mere five minute drive away.
Colin and Lee Howard, the owners, have over the years become friends and continue to take pride in the accommodation that they offer. Their hands-on supervision of the premises is unobtrusive yet effective and lost keys or requests are efficiently dealt with in a friendly manner.
The cottages offer just the right balance of comfort and rural charm. Every-thing you need is present. My athletes sleep well at night and I have never had a boy complain of being stiff or sore after a night’s sleep. This is quite an accomplishment and certainly a testimony to the quality of the beds provided. I sleep well at night too. Knowing that my students are comfortable and relaxed, knowing that I can simply allow them to spend time on the beach the next day and knowing that they are secure and safe allows me the opportunity to rest easy. The annual boat race has become a personal highlight for me every year. It is an opportunity that I get to personally relax but also to have a group of boys that are so comfortable that they give me the opportunity to get to know them better.
I would be remiss if I only sung the praises of Bretton Beach Crest. Everything has a down side. Every year I have to leave and it is with a heavy heart that I pack my bags on the last morning. Somehow, there is a small consolation as we load our bags and one or two of the more junior boys catch my eye and smile. We know! We’ll be back next year!
Trevor Dedlow (MIC Rowing King Edward VII School)