The itinerary is a good option for families wanting to do the Garden Route. The hotels and lodges we visited were all friendly. The whole idea was for us to get an idea of what itinerary families can do for their holiday to South Africa.
Blaauwbosch Game Reserve
Blaauwbosch Game Reserve is in a Malaria Free area in the Eastern Cape and about a 2-3 hours drive from Port Elizabeth. Their lounge areas have been designed and has an African feel to them. The rooms are spacious looking out into the bush and with view of the surrounding mountains, and the bathrooms have glass doors so you can enjoy you bubble bath while taking in the magnificent views or you can jump into the outdoor shower. They are not a Big Five reserve, but they do have a vast range of antelope as well as some elephants, buffalo and rhino. Another lodge in the reserve is Kaai’s camp, this will be ideal for honeymooners. There are walkways to each of the chalets and the communal lounge area is quaint and unique. Definitely a different experience compared to a “Kruger” lodge-its good to make clients experience different lodges in different areas.
This is a only about a half an hour outside Plettenberg Bay. The hotel is based on a Polo estate and they offer a wide range of activities. I built up the courage to try out quad biking (and what fun this was), they also have mountain bikes available or you can a ride a horse on the estate. Each suite has different designs from Dutch/English themes to the more Macho type style with leather couches. The staff are friendly and well trained and the food was excellent, the best chocolate fondant I have ever had. There are about 3 animal sanctuaries within 5 minutes from the hotel, one of which I walked and fed some elephants (truly and remarkable experience). It is also close to monekyland and birds of Eden, where they can give guided tours and offer your more information about the animals. The whole atmosphere is makes one feel so relaxed.
Mardouw Country House (Swellendam)
This boutique guesthouse is situated a few minutes outside the town of Swellendam and about an hour from Robertson and Worcester. They are on a working Olive estate, it was the first time I did some Olive Oil tasting as well.
I fell in love with their lounge area, they have two light fixtures that were imported from Italy and they are just balls of wire with fairy lights- but it so pretty. They have two suites downstairs more which is more suitable for families traveling and then 3 rooms upstairs for singles or couples. The rooms are cozy and spacious, each having their own decor. One can just chill downstairs at the infinity pool or hang our around the little damn downstairs.
I liked the downstairs lounge area a lot, which feel more artsy and they use more warm colours of dark browns in the carpets and furniture. There is just something about this guesthouse that makes you want to visit on a regular basis, the manageress and staff are really great.
Le Quartier Francais and the Four Quarters (Franschhoek)
Easily accessible as it is the Main Road of Franschhoek, which is a few minutes away from several curio shops and restaurants. This hotel is well known for its two award winning restaurants, The Tasting Room (only open for dinners) and IcI, which we stopped and had lunch by. Their menu changes regularly so that new things are tried. They highly recommended the biltong salad as a starter and mushroom risotto as main course. The rooms at Le Quartier are currently having light refurb’s done- and what we saw was amazing thus far (paints of bright and deep colors such as purples, pinks and silvers)-very chic indeed. At Four Quarters, there are four apartments- which can be booked out for exclusive use if there are families or couples traveling together. These have huge en-suite rooms and lounge areas to match. The owner, GM and Chef all play a big part in these properties along with their famous restaurants.
You also don’t feel as if you are in the middle of the main road of Franschhoek.
Just a few minutes from the hub bub of night life where students of the University hang-out. After supper, we took a walk around and visited some of the hot spots, as well as the famous restaurant belonging to the world-renowned golfer, Ernie Els.
This property is more for the well travelled individual looking for a five star experience, from the staff, food, rooms and spa which all have some stunning sea views. It is about 10 minutes from Camps Bay and they have the biggest collection of Art, with a gallery opening in the next few months. As it was raining we had a site inspections, but guests always have the choice of hanging around or pop in to so some souvenir shopping at the Waterfront or nearby beaches.
Blue Views (Camps Bay)
These are self catering apartments with beautiful views of the ocean as well and only a few minutes away from the beach. You will definitely feel as if you are living a penthouse suite. They have nine properties within meters of one another and also family friendly, with spacious lounge areas, braai facilities, glass sliding doors where one can chill by the pool area. The rooms and bathrooms are very lightly decorated and well spaced. Your own private chef can also be arranged for an extra cost as well as your shopping so that the refrigerator and cupboards can be fully stocked for your stay. This is a a good option if guests do not want to be near V&A.
Les Cascades and Cascades on 52
A lovely small boutique hotel which make you feel that you will be living and eating in luxury. The properties are owner run and there is a lot of attention to detail from the furniture to decor and amenities. We opted to skip out on taking a drive to the V&A Waterfront, as we just wanted to spend some time in the lovely rooms and just admire the view of the ocean from our bedrooms. Dinner and breakfast was just lovely and the staff were extremely friendly.
A three to four hour drive from Cape Town, we often not know that there are reserves so close to us.
Any lodge or hotel cannot go wrong with under floor heating, air conditioner, fans and electric blankets, especially for those cold Winter nights and mornings. They have some great walking and mountain biking trails available to guests and they also well known for their spa facilities and treatments. As they do not have any predators on the reserve, there are many antelope, springboks, Cape Mountain Zebras and Ostriches which can be spotted on your morning or evening game drive. As the name indicates, there are quite a few historic Bushman rock art paintings dating back to thousands of years ago. Each room and suite are individually decorated, some having two bathrooms and lounges. A special treat for guests, was a surprise dinner in one of the old Farm houses that has no electricity situated about a half an hour from the main lodge. Our last supper was by candlelit and the whole place was decorated with candles, oil lamps while we decided to huddle around the fireplace. It was so cozy and conformable and the local South African menu was divine.
My personal favourites were Mardouw, Four Quarters at Le Quartier and Les Cascades.
We were lucky to meet most of the owners of these properties as well as the General Managers who were available to host us for site inspections and for meals.
All in all, it was a great experience to see what our country has to offer.
by Nerissa Lategan