national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, November 14, 2010


(The Palazzo Montecasino)

Take advantage of Montecasino’s special package and enjoy Mamma Mia and a luxurious stay-over in Johannesburg. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Last night, my sister and I had the extreme pleasure of being hosted by the vast Montecasino Tuscan-styled complex in Johannesburg to review their Show-and-Stay package

This Show-and-Stay package includes a stay-over in the hotel of your choice with a two-course dinner in the hotel restaurant, theatre tickets, and full English breakfast for two people sharing. There are three offers: SunSquare Montecasino - a funky and trendy hotel leading onto the Piazza (R2,015); Southern Sun Montecasino – modern and contemporary Venetian style hotel (R2,450), and The Palazzo Montecasino – luxurious Tuscan style hotel (R2,780 plus a complimentary bottle of house wine at dinner, chocolates, a programme for the show and coffee vouchers).

We were lucky enough to be placed at The Palazzo and this turned out to be a pleasurable and glamorous experience. From the complimentary presentation of a small glass of fruit juice and a very welcome moistened cloth to freshen up to our final point of departure where we were offered two bottles of water, we felt pampered and made to feel very special.

The Palazzo is the epitome of elegance and sophistication, just a short walk from the Casino complex which houses the superb Teatro theatre where Mamma Mia is being performed. Montecasino is a haven in the frantic hub of traffic, noise and the ever-changing construction landscape that is Johannesburg. Think Hampton Court, think the Palace of Versailles. The concrete balustrades, fountains, massive urns on plinths, perfectly manicured gardens and shrubs transport you into a bygone age.

We were given a King-suite with the biggest, highest double bed I’ve ever seen – virtually out of the Elizabethan era with a froth of a duvet that you could burrow into. The room was beautifully furnished with huge mirrors, impressive headboards and bedposts, Baroque-styled murals and sumptuous curtains all lit by an opulent chandelier. Only problem is that if you aren’t over the average height, you can’t reach the curtain pulls. Another problem is that the bath is quite narrow, not helped by a soap dish and taps that jut out midway down the bath. But if you're nervous about handling the bath, then there's a spacious shower.

We dined and breakfasted in the Medeo Restaurant which spills out onto the terrace area. I first visited the Palazzo a year or so back when the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra presented the launch of its tour with operatic superstar Renée Fleming and was fascinated then by the small birds that flew in and out of the area, offering a charming touch. Another quirky feature is using small cactus plants as table decorations.

The dinner offers three-courses – but remember that the Show-and-Stay package only covers two courses. The menu offers Act One with Super Trouper a trio of soups from the 60’s and our choice of Mamma Mia, a delicious chilled smoked Trout Cannelloni and Blue Cheese Truffles. On the Act Two (main menu) there’s Voulez Vous which is Roasted Stuffed Breast of Chicken with a Basil Risotto or Take a Chance on Me which is Steamed Kingklip. Act Three offers Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, a Chilled Mixed Berry Cheese Cake or I Have a Dream which is a Rich Chocolate Tart.

The Show-and-Stay package provides a perfect parcel of good food and excellent theatre and is tremendous value for money. The offer is for Friday and Saturday nights only, subject to availability and must be pre-paid. Upgraded room types are subject to surcharge. Booking through Ernestine on 086 100 5511 or – Caroline Smart

The “Mamma Mia” show in The Teatro is fantastic. Review to be found on artSMart at More information on the international concept of the show itself can be found on