Why not look further afield than Asia for your next trip? These three accommodation options in South Africa showcase the country’s stunning natural variety, from a stylish barn in the French-style winelands, to a luxury villa on a game reserve, and a colonial beach house by the sea.
This home in the Franschhoek valley is part of an exclusive estate that lives up to its heavenly moniker, Domaine des Anges – “Place of Angels”.
This barn-like home blends rustic charm with stylish grandeur, collector’s artworks and eclectic décor, and its location close to Franschhoek’s esteemed wine farms and top-rated restaurants is ideal for holiday-goers.
You enter the home above the pool, and through impressive wooden doors from Zanzibar, into an opulent sitting room of creams and pale blues; the French feel is illuminated by an impressive chandelier of oak leaves in bronze, gold and matte silver. The various living areas include furnishings from Jaipur, Indonesia, Europe and South Africa. You can while away hours on the long conservatory like verandah, overlooking vineyards and the Franschhoek mountain range, or enjoy the intimacy of the smaller sunroom off the courtyard with private plunge pool. A rich leather suite and 48-inch TV are tucked into a dark haven, with dimmed lighting for chilled-out viewing.
The home has been designed in such a way that the three ensuite rooms can be made up into three master suites of equal status (each with bath and shower, and their own unique character). For couple stays, the downstairs bedrooms can be closed off, allowing exclusive use of the well-planned home, while it’s also equipped for families, offering a selection of toys, games, books, bicycles and a trampoline if desired. The additional option of bunk beds means that groups of six to eight can easily be accommodated.
A formal garden overlooks roses and terraced lawns onto vineyards and a tranquil dam with bird life, waterlilies and bulrushes. The lavender and the cobbled roads of the estate give it a Provençal or Tuscan feel. Roughly plastered old farm walls surround the estate, which has herb gardens, a winter stream, orange trees and olive groves for strolling. The use of tennis courts, a gym and a large lap pool is included, and there is daily housekeeping and a private chef by arrangement, making for a most relaxed break.
Getting there: Singapore Airlines flies direct to Cape Town on certain days of the week. Franschhoek is a 50-minute drive from the airport.
What to do in the area: Savvy travellers flock to Franschhoek for the food and wine that’s offered in and around this quaint village, set in a valley of astounding scenic beauty. You can walk, cycle and potter in the streets, visit art galleries, indulge in world-class spas, and eat in award-winning restaurants. The owners can suggest a list of activities, restaurants and wine-farm recommendations, and a proposed itinerary.
Cost: Rates from R6,500 (approx. S$650) per night, with a minimum five-day booking. The property is only available at select times of the year so early enquiries are best; there is currently availability for Christmas 2017 and Easter 2018.
Info: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 76 0516741.
A brief history of Franschhoek
French Huguenot refugees originally settled in this valley, called Olifantshoek (“Elephants’ corner”) in the 17th century – so named because of the elephants that crossed into the valley to calve. The name of the area later changed to Franschhoek (Dutch for “French Corner”), with many settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came: La Motte, Champagne, La Cotte, Cabrière and La Provence, to name a few.
Enjoy the thrill of a safari while staying in Fort House, a sole-use, eight-sleeper villa in South Africa’s Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.
Fort House, formerly the owners’ home, opened its doors to guests in July this year; it’s one of five impressive safari lodges in the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Between daily game drives tracking the “Big Five” (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), you can relax on the terrace watching wildlife wander by, as the animals make their way to the nearby watering hole. Lounge on the expansive front lawn, enjoy a swim in the pool and dine under the stars around the traditional boma – all with sweeping views over the expansive reserve – or just spend some quiet time in the study and enjoy a massage in the spa treatment room. Whatever you choose, a complement of staff is on hand to discreetly ensure everything is taken care of.
The property boasts two master bedrooms and two twin suites, as well as free-flowing living and entertainment areas. Artwork by local South African artists is represented in all the rooms, while the high ceilings and large glass floor-toceiling doors help to frame the wilderness beyond.
Getting there: Kwandwe is in the Eastern Cape near Grahamstown, 160km from Port Elizabeth. There are daily flights from both Cape Town and Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, though we suggest a leisurely drive from the Cape, along the Garden Route, taking a few days to enjoy the journey.
What to do in the area: The wide variety of activities available includes 4×4 game drives, boating, fishing, big game walking, a three-day rhino conservation safari and a community voluntourism programme. You can also enquire about participating in antipoaching rhino darting and tracking.
Cost: From R59,970 (approx. S$6,000) per night for the whole villa, including all meals, drinks and an engaging variety of daily safari activities hosted by a dedicated guide and tracker team.
A brief history of Kwandwe
The area around Kwandwe is steeped in history, including the arrival in the late 1700s of Dutch ivory hunters, followed by British farmers. Fort House takes its name from a wattle and daub structure that was built as a sentry post for a crossing point on the Great Fish River, often used as a cattle rustling route and bounty collection area. Centuries later, the founders of the reserve have embarked on a vision to emphasise the region’s natural habitat, rich in African wildlife. It’s now an esteemed safari destination offering peace and quiet in a luxurious setting.
La Gratitude is an unpretentious beach house built 100 years ago as a colonial holiday home on a sprawling piece of land, with magnifi cent views of Grotto Beach and Walker Bay.
This fuss-free holiday house provides ample accommodation for 10 people, and showcases heritage features that are nearly impossible to replicate these days. The original chunky door handles and latches, solid wooden gates and low whitewashed walls have stood the test of time in what is a very popular coastal town.
La Gratitude’s background features some prominent names – influential agricultural, architectural and political figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The present owner is the granddaughter of the original owner, who named it in recognition of his many successes at the Cape. The symmetrical plan of the house is a modified version of a typical Cape Dutch “H-plan”, commonly used by famous architect Herbert Baker. The thatched roof, teak shutters and lime-wash finish link the house to the Cape Dutch vernacular and to the fishermen’s cottages that, at the time, characterised Hermanus. The walls alone are almost half a metre of solid stone, and together with the shutters, act to cool the house in summer. In recent years, a large swimming pool and inviting hot tub have been added, while the home itself remains simply decorated.
Meander the streets behind small, sandy Voelklip Beach and you’ll delight in the eclectic mix of charming cottages, grand houses, nautical homesteads and a myriad of modern eyecatching properties. Hermanus
Getting there: It’s a a scenic one-hour drive that’s easy to follow from Cape Town airport.
What to do in the area: Play ball on the lawn, wallow in the pool, and keep an eye out for whales breaching (southern right whales calve in the bay between July and November). If you’re more active, the Hermanus Cliff Path begins in front of La Gratitude and follows the coast to the town and beyond to the harbour, where you can buy fresh seafood for a braai (barbecue), or ready-made fish and chips wrapped in paper. Other options include flamingo spotting in the nearby estuary, paragliding in the mountains or taking a vineyard tour.
Cost: from R6,000 a night (approx. S$600); seasonal rates apply.
A brief history of Hermanus
Though the Klipgat Cave above Hermanus contains some of the earliest known human fossils in the world, the location was only discovered by Europeans in the 1820s, when a local teacher followed an elephant trail leading through the Hemel-en Aarde Valley to the sea. The rich pastures attracted summer grazers and farmers, but it wasn’t settled until the 1850s when fishermen moved into the area. By the early 1900s, the excellent fishing, natural beauty and “healing” properties of the sea air began to attract holiday goers from around the world – and it continues to this day.
Looking for something closer to home? See our list of short breaks from Singapore.