We were having a late lunch at Montego Resort when the manager said something that made our entire team turn and look big eyed at each other. She asked: “Have you been to the haunted hotel?” I could see the excitement and curiosity of a new exploration mingle with a hesitation and caution that comes with the word ‘haunted’ in the eyes of every person on our team. Who doesn’t like a good ghost story? And to have the opportunity to explore the ruins of what was once a glamorous hotel sounded too good to be true. We finished our lunch and headed out to the hotel about 2 km down the sand road. Montego sent one of their staff with us to watch the cars as we explored the multistory building.
The ruins of the majestic hotel stood covered in sand like a monument from the past with an extraordinary view of the ocean. The breeze floated through the doors and frames of the windows and carried an eery feeling into the ghostly reminders of what was once a bustling hotel. We only had a few hours of daylight left so we hurried into the buildings and scattered into different directions to see as much as possible of the place.
Very little is known about the place other than that is was built during a time when the Portuguese governed Mozambique and was deserted during the infamous 20/24 decree in which the Portuguese were forced to leave Mozambique with 20kgs of luggage within 24 hours when the independence war ended in 1975. With the departure of the professionals and tradesmen the country’s economy collapsed and only showed some sign of recovery in 1992 when the country experienced a semblance of peace for the first time in decades. To this day Mozambican people refuse to live in houses once occupied by Portuguese and therefore this hotel is left empty and will not be occupied by squatters. There has been some rumors about a South African company wanting to restore the old hotel but so far no effort has been made to bring back the mansion to it’s former glory.
From what we could gather of the place it was ‘n luxury resort with an olympic size pool, servant’s quarters, lounges and dining rooms, ball rooms and huge patios. Each room had an en-suite bathroom. The carport shows signs that it had a workshop for repairs to cars and then there is of course the view to the beach. The hotel has 110 units and sits on 12000 ha of land with 5km of private beach. It is said that it was surrounded 23000 ha game reserve when Mr. D’Oliviera owned the place in the 1960’s. Previous guests to the hotel still talks about the fish prepared for them and delivered on silver platters. The attention to detail in the magnificent place is astonishing.
And now for the ghost story… It is said that during the war some of the Portuguese civilians had car trouble and failed to leave the country in time of the curfew set by the government and hid themselves in the vast property of the Chongoene Hotel, hoping to wait out the turmoil of the country in the seclusion of the beach hotel until they could contact their relatives in Portugal. They were tracked by guerrilla fighters and discovered at the resort one night where a terrible fight ensued. It is not clear how long they were held as hostages or exactly what was done to the family but they were executed by the soldiers and their bodies left to rot in the summer sun. When the call from their relatives in Portugal came it was too late. We are told that they roam the rooms of the hotel searching for someone to rescue them, calling out to someone who can give them a ride to the border or the harbor. The bullet holes left in the walls of the hotel tells the story better than any storyteller ever could… and the phone in the main dining hall rings at night stirring up the bats in the pantry … even though it has been disconnected for years…
Now that we’ve scared you and made you curious – why don’t you go take a look?
For more info contact Easy Gallivant at (+27)17 634 5799 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org … hopefully your call will come through to us and not to Chongoene.
Lizzie and Manda – two chicks brave enough to visit an old hotel.
Photo credits: Jaco van der Merwe, Manda Schoeman, Lizelle Schoeman