Understandably, most international tourists who look into South African vacations are concerned with three destinations in particular: Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kruger National Park, where they can get a taste for the country’s wildlife. These are certainly three of the most interesting places to target, though narrowing the country down to just a few options also leaves out a lot of great destinations.
One such destination that doesn’t seem to get its due is the Sun City resort. Located just north of Rustenburg, which itself is just some 120km west of Pretoria, this is a tremendous luxury getaway for those who simply want to relax for a couple of days during a South African vacation.
We should mention right off the bat that this resort does have a little bit of a challenging history. It was built during apartheid by the oppressive and racist South African regime, and as such it became the subject of a 1985 song by Artists United Against Apartheid. As one very balanced review of the resort in its modern state put it, the song presented the resort as a delusional, grotesque playground for wealthy white South Africans, and a “mirage of decadence” on the eve of apartheid’s disintegration. This is a fair depiction of the hotel’s origins. But as the article also notes, the country has since moved on, and Sun City hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, it has “reached out to the planet by ramping up the opulence.”
Now, the establishment stands as the most extravagant resort in the country, and one that mirrors venues in some of the world’s most famous entertainment getaways – like Atlantis in the Bahamas, or any of the resorts in Las Vegas or Singapore. Here’s a brief look at what makes it so much fun to visit.
For families visiting Sun City, the water parks (or complexes, more accurately) are a major draw. The Valley Of Waves is a traditional (if fairly incredible) water park, while Waterworld is an area set aside for water sports like wakeboarding and jet skiing (and where you can also rent a jet ski).
A full casino featuring all of the classic games is an awesome feature for adults visiting the resort, and provides some in-house amusement for late evenings. Despite noting that Sun City is more of a resort than a casino, at least one article counted this establishment as one of the top 10 casinos in the entire world.
Concerts & Shows
Like any self-respecting resort that doubles as an entertainment complex, Sun City offers plenty in the way of evening shows. The Sun City Theatre at the resort’s Soho Hotel always has something fun going on, and Sun City Superbowl is one of the country’s better concern venues.
There are actually two 18-hole courses at the Sun City resort, but it’s the Gary Player Country Club that is known as perhaps South Africa’s most famous course. Designed with help from Player himself, it’s a long, sprawling course set against the beautiful backdrop of the rainforest that surrounds the resort. It’s an incredible place to play whether or not you’re a serious golfer.
Finally, when it comes to the actual accommodations, it should be noted that there’s enough variety to keep you comfortable no matter what your taste. There are four separate hotels connected to the resort: Cascades, the Soho Hotel, Cabanas, and the Palace of the Lost City, which is the one that best defines the image of the place as a whole. Each one offers a very different aesthetic and vibe, some more extravagant and others a little more toned down.
This resort is definitely still on the opulent side, and some might find that it’s a little too artificial for their liking. It’s true that parts of it can look and feel a little bit gimmicky. But the fact that it’s surrounded by a lush green landscape and located only a short distance from Johannesburg does lend it an air of authenticity as well. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a fun or relaxing retreat, it’s a place that should be under consideration.