Roadtrip – one night in the lap of luxury

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Dawn breaking over Walker Bay

I’d been drooling over their website for days and finally I arrived at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, just after Stanford on the road to Gansbaai. I’m glad there weren’t many other guests around because I’m sure I lowered the tone of the place with my presence, although the staff were extremely kind and made me feel like a queen – a flute of champagne on the veranda was the first order of the day, followed by a nibble of salad from the buffet and a discussion with guides about which activities I would like to do.

This has to be the most luxurious and beautiful place I have ever had the privilege of spending a night. The decor is stunningly tasteful, every comfort you could possibly ask for has been provided, the surroundings are magnificent – every suite and every corner of the 2000 hectares has a fabulous view over Walker Bay and/or De Kelders.

I stayed in Forest Lodge which is in a milkwood forest – even the path to the suites is lovely! I had barely had time to inspect my huge bathroom, bedroom with 4 poster mozzie-net covered kingsize bed, dressing room, lounge and kitchenette with an array of delicious goodies, when it was time to dash back to the main reception to be whisked off for a horseback ride through the property. I haven’t been on a horse in so many years I was a tad anxious but it went well. My ride, Knight, was very sweet and we had a wonderful ride through the fynbos for about an hour. After this I was collected by another guide for a drive to De Kelders to watch the whales frolic and the gorgeous sunset.

Back in my suite I treated myself to a bath just as the light was fading – the view from the bathroom is as marvelous as anywhere else, even from the loo! For dinner I was joined by the assistant manageress which was a nice touch, and she told me all about this marvelous property – the staff love it so much there is a very low staff turnover, the owner is highly respected for his attitude and what he gives back in the way of a Foundation and a horticultural school which is free for selected students. Supper was a delicious 6 course meal with perfect service from lovely friendly staff.

Next morning I was awake before dawn and eager to get cracking but I lingered with coffee in bed and a long shower with stunning view. After breakfast of two delicious croissants with Grootbos’s own honey, fruit and coffee from the stunning breakfast buffet (I should have given myself more time to pig out on all the other goodies available!) I was fetched for a site visit of the other accommodation lodge – Garden Lodge – and the Villa. The site visit was, in fact, the purpose of this trip in the first place. The Garden Lodge is as lovely as the Forest Lodge, child-friendly with stables nearby and a play room that will keep kids of all ages happy for hours on end.

And a tour of The Villa – ermergaard … The Villa.. it’s to die for!!!  6 bedrooms each with an en-suite bathroom the size of my lounge, all with fab views. There’s a braai (bbq) on one side of the house as well as an indoor one, a kitchen to cater for an army, several lounges, a playroom, a priceless art collection, a grand piano, a gorgeous pool, and it all comes with your own private chef, butler, guide and vehicle.  It was a battle to tear myself away. After this opulent elegance we went for a long drive through the property in a 4×4 with my lovely field guide who told me all sorts of interesting stuff about fynbos that I didn’t know.

There’s a lot of luxury around and I get to see quite a bit in my work but what impressed me about Grootbos is that they have found the perfect combination where nothing is over the top, nothing is crass, nothing is overdone – it’s all just darn perfect! For a night and a day I lived like a queen and totally loved every minute of it. Now to get my clients to book an Overberg tour so that I can go back!

Now feast your eyes on a whack of photos and add Grootbos to your wish list.

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A flute of champagne on my arrival

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My lounge, all to myself

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Sunset from my balcony

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View from my bed in the morning with my coffee

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Even the kitchen at the Villa has a piece of art

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In case you forget to bring a book to the Villa

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One of the many lounges in the Villa

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The Villa pool

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Musical soirees at the Villa are mandatory

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The memory of this bathroom at the Villa will live on in my mind for ever

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The pink erica is in full bloom at the moment and the mountainside is a carpet of pink. This particular one – erica irregularis – is endemic to this region.

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More art

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The lovely Anecke, my field guide for my entire stay. Her passion for her work and her place of work are infectious.

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Exterior view of the Villa

Flowers on coffee table IMG_2566 IMG_2629 Protea in bowl

Roadtrip – Overberg!

Dunes at Witsands

Sunset at the mouth of the Breede River, Witsand

One day, when I win the lottery, I’m going to leave the city and spend the rest of my life road-tripping – a fabulous vehicle, the open road, funky hotels and luxury guesthouses, beautiful scenery and quirky little towns … ahh man, I could spend my life like that.

In the meantime I’ll happily go on roadtrips with clients  – tiring, less freedom, less time, but better than sitting behind a desk. Next week I’m off to the Overberg – alone, no clients – to check out specific places because I want to develop a new 2 or 3 day tour instead of doing day trips to see whales in Hermanus.  I am madly excited about one of the places where I’ll be spending a night – it’s the most wonderful private reserve in the Overberg – Grootbos. I can’t wait because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Their website alone has me mesmerised. You can expect photos and a report.  And tweets if you’re there. Or Facebook.

It’s whale season so it reminds me of a particular trip I took a few years ago looking for whales in the Witsand area which is further up the coast than I’ll be going next week. We spent hours and hours watching them frolic but the photos I took with a no-zoom-happy snappy were so bad – we came to the conclusion that they are the least photogenic creatures on earth.  The sunsets certainly made up for that and we had lots of fun.

Tomorrow I’ll write about road-tripping in the Karoo because that’s where I plan to be based after I win the lottery – it’s the perfect place from which to explore South Africa and it doesn’t rain much.

Arniston cave

High tide so we couldn’t go into the cave, Arniston

me in cave

But I was talked into climbing in and out of a small cave via the tiny hole at the top.

Sunset

Another sunset

Wreck Cape Infanta

I loved Cape Infanta – it’s so isolated that it’s very unspoilt. There are wrecks all over the place, strange sand caves, and these stones were an absolute bitch to walk on.

Gaetan at agulhas

Gaetan was very happy to be at the southern-most tip of Africa.

sunset home

And the trip ended with yet another magnificent sunset as we drove over the pass towards Cape Town. It kept changing from pink to orange and I have about 70 photos of it. But I chose this one.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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