Tag Archives: hotel

Lunch at Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall in Stormsvlei (2016-12-30) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 09 MAR 2017

Situated on the banks of the Sonderend River and originally part of a farm that was established in the 1700’s, Stormsvlei (translated as Storm Marsh in English) is a now tiny Overberg hamlet that forms part of the greater Swellendam area.

Originally settled as an outspan for ox-wagons that were travelling the inland route along the coast, it was once an important stopover on the old wagon route, growing around the need for wagon repair facilities and refreshments for passing travellers – especially during the festive season when families from the surrounding areas would make their way to the sea for the holidays.

These days however the hamlet has shrunk to a point of being pretty much non-existent, meaning that you could literally drive past without even knowing that you had missed it!

(Well technically that’s not quite true. The restaurant does its best to make sure that the turn-off to Stormsvlei is relatively well marked along the N2!)

Apart from the Stormsvlei Riverside Cottages, the only other notable spot in Stormsvlei is where the old hotel stands, now rebranded as the Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall – which is perfect seeing as that was exactly what I was looking for on my journey up to Gouritz with my girls for last year’s December getaway.

Basically, a place that I’ve never stopped at before.

As it turns out, the Stormsvlei Restaurant is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife, in that it acts as a storefront for a lot of local products and produce (including leather couches and dried hydrangeas by Mary Spies, a local legend apparently), a bar, a dining hall, a function venue, as well as a lovely garden retreat – perfect for light meals out in the sun then.

The girls and I took full advantage of the good weather by first knocking back some cool refreshments and then tucking into a small lunch – double for me because as it almost always works out, one of the girls never quite feels like eating on the day!

We took our time wandering about the garden and inspecting all the flowers (including the nearby Hydrangea growing operation), browsing the art and antiques hanging up throughout the venue, and of course enjoying the rather tranquil ambiance – not to mention marvel at the surprisingly large amount of people that kept filtering in for a bite to eat!

I guess that then means that Stormsvlei is a lot more popular with travellers than what I would have thought!

Anyway, a rather rewarding little discovery for us then.

As expected, with it being just myself and the girls, entertainment for me translated into taking a fair bit of photos over the course of our lunch stop (much to the eventual annoyance of both Jessica and Emily I might add).

These are some of the better ones that came limping out of that particular crop:

Bonus: Just in case you also want to make a stop here on your next journey down the N2…

Related Link: Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall

Snacking at Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch (2016-10-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 JAN 2017

One Saturday in October last year, Chantelle and I decided to take the girls out for a spot of strawberry picking at Polkadraai in Stellenbosch. However on arrival at the strawberry farm it was immediately clear that pretty much the entire Cape Town must have had the same idea as us, and so we did a u-turn and headed back towards Stellenbosch, looking for something else to do instead.

Then a brainwave hit me – I’d previously visited the five star Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch for a business meeting with Distell, and have wanted to show the place off to Chantelle ever since. So I took a chance and turned in by Asara’s manned gates and stated that I was off to visit the deli (which I think I remember having spotted that last time I was there).

As it turns out, they do have a deli on-site – and surprisingly it is a pretty cool little find.

If you aren’t familiar with Asara, then know that it is an award-winning wine estate and 5-star hotel billed as being situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Breathtaking views, tranquil atmosphere, upmarket service – well you get the picture.

Previously known as Raphael’s (where I previously had enjoyed a lunch), mise en place is the new destination fine dining restaurant at Asara, while the Sansibar is their casual, bistro-style dining option.

However, the spot that we were interested in seeing as we had our two little ones tagging along with us was Asara’s main courtyard and more specifically, the deli that then opens up onto it.

I was super surprised to find the deli stocked with all manner of exciting baked treats, and was even more taken aback at how well priced the finger snacks were – pretty soon we had placed an order for all manner of niceties, before selecting a table outside and then sitting back as our array of treats was brought out to us in a manner which I’m more than happy to dub as being a ‘simple high tea’ experience! ;)

The view from the courtyard is spectacular, the service is top notch, and amazingly, this was such a cool, well priced treat that all three of my girls thoroughly enjoyed!

(In other words, I guess we’ll have to head back that way sometime soon then – though maybe without the girls this time around so that Chantelle and I can give some of their other offerings a proper go…)

As always, a useful map:

Related Link: Asara Wine Estate & Hotel | Facebook

South African Hotels Worth Visiting Travel Attractions 02 OCT 2016

South Africa is a country that has just about everything a tourist could want. From bush to mountain to oceans, all of which are packed with the best that mother nature has to offer, so there are many places to add to your bucket list. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on your trip, here are five awesome suggestions.

Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Meaning “My Dream”, ToroYaka is an elegant safari lodge that is to be found right in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, a 38,000-hectare portion of the Kruger National Park. The lodge boasts a modern elegant yet relaxed style, encouraging guests to sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing nature on offer. And we are talking serious nature, all of the African bush favourites can be enjoyed from here, including the hippo and crocodile filled Olifants River which flows nearby. Activities to be enjoyed here include morning bush walks, bird-watching, bush picnics and dinners and game drives. For the thrill seekers among you, there is white water rafting available close by in the Blyde Canyon, as well as abseiling or hiking up to the Mariepskop Rain forest, hot air balloon rides and horseback safaris, all of which come highly recommended in order to truly take in everything this magnificent region has to offer.

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Villa Afrikana Guest Suites

With free Wi-Fi and panoramic views of the nearby Knysna lagoon and the Knysna Heads, the Villa Afrikana Guest Suites offers 6 spacious rooms, allowing its clients to experience world-class service in a unique location. Also on site is a truly gorgeous swimming pool that comes complete with a sun deck and a well-stocked library. The rooms, or suites, all feature a neat blend of both African and modern contemporary décor and deluxe bedding. Most rooms have private balconies, where you can enjoy views of the aforementioned lagoon. For those keen on the links, the Pezula and Simola Golf Courses are a mere 15-minutes’ drive away. Make your stay at Villa Afrikana an unforgettable experience and truly fall in love in everything that Knysna and the Garden Route have to offer.

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The Andros Deluxe Boutique Hotel

Suitably located in Cape Town’s beautiful southern suburb of Claremont, against the backdrop of Table Mountain, the five star Andros Deluxe Boutique Hotel, is actually a superb Cape colonial homestead that was originally built in 1908. Set in lush, green gardens and its secluded garden pool area, the hotel provides a gymnasium, a beauty salon and an award winning restaurant, all on top of fifteen super-sized suites, complete with complimentary Wi-Fi. In terms of location, things really could get much better. The hotel is just a short stroll to both the iconic Newlands Rugby and Cricket stadiums as well as being within walking distance of the magnificent Cavendish square shopping centre and its stunning line up of upmarket Boutiques, Restaurants and shops.

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Sun City Casino Resort

Up in the Rainbow Nation’s Northwest Provence, Sun International’s flagship destination, the Sun City Casino Resort, is an everything you can want resort. Built in 1979, this all in one venue sits just a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg, on the border of the Pilanesberg National Game Park meaning that, although there is no need to leave the site, there are lots of great facilities nearby. Enjoy a round of golf at either of two Gary Player designed 18-hole golf courses, splash in the Valley of Waves, visit the bird aviaries and animal sanctuaries and explore the beautiful surrounding gardens. Within the resort, there are numerous hotels, such as the family-friendly 3-star Cabanas hotel, the luxury 5-star Cascades hotel or the 4-star Sun City Hotel and Casino. The casino offers 24/7 gaming that includes hundreds of the latest progressive slot machines and 43 popular table games, including Blackjack, Punto Banco, American Roulette and various disciplines of poker. For anyone looking to visit the casino during their stay, the best pre-game strategy you can employ, is to get some practise in first. A great way to do this is to invest some time in perfecting your game at an online casino. Most of these offer games to play with either real money or play money so you can sharpen up your skills and develop your strategies with very little risk.

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Tsala Treetop Lodge

Down on the southern coast, you’ll find the unique Garden Route boutique resort that is the gorgeously lush Tsala Treetop Lodge. Sitting among some of South Africa’s finest forest canopies, the lodge provides visitors with breath taking bird’s eye views of some of the continent’s best geography, all from a luxurious stilted hut. Said huts all come with wraparound decking, private infinity pools and flat screen TVs. There are10 suites and 6 two-bedroom villas in all and the suites all come with private decks and infinity plunge pools. As for the two-bedroom Villas, they both come with kitchenettes, dining rooms, fully stocked minibars, satellite TV, private pools and a decked outdoor dining area. All this, just 10km from the beaches, bars and boutiques of Plettenberg Bay.

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Staying at Far Hills Country Hotel in George (2016-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 JUL 2016

June saw Chantelle, the girls and I enjoy a bit of a long weekend away break, booking in at the Far Hills Country Hotel just outside of George, on your way to Wilderness. Once again, Chantelle had spotted a fantastic Daddy’s Deals promo that give us a big discount on the normal going rate (similar to how we scored for our earlier weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate),  with a deal that was literally too good to pass up on.

As it turned out, this deal was so good that in the end we were joined by both Monty and Cheryl, as well as (completely coincidental mind you) Evan, Natasha and their little ones for this particular weekend away!

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After a pleasant drive up on Friday, we arrived at the Far Hills Country Hotel, just in time to get settled in and bask in the magnificent views afforded from the hotel’s deck before the sun set for the night.

The hotel has been around for years now (in fact, Chantelle and her family were actually put up in the very same hotel years ago when her father was first relocated to George whilst working for Eskom), and although some of this age does creep through in terms of some of the its looks and fittings, this is more than balanced out by the splendid Garden Route setting the hotel finds itself in the middle of.

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True, there were some complaints from everyone else over the course of our stay there, for instance, grumbles over the old and tired mattresses on the beds, some desperately in need of maintenance room fittings, a not particularly great breakfast spread (or supper for that matter) on offer, not to mention the serious lack of kitchen staff seemingly on duty in the busy/chaotic mornings.

However, despite these few mutterings, I thought that the staff with which I did have contact with were all wonderful, and most important of all, I found our room relatively comfortable. True, the TV didn’t work at all (a loss as far as the kids were concerned), but I thought the fact that I was able to sit on my private balcony, drinking a cup of morning coffee whilst watching a flock of thousands of egrets fly through the valley below easily made up for all the shortcomings pointed out by the rest of our party!

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Although Chantelle didn’t sleep particularly well (and yes, the weird teenage-attended charity dance party on the Friday night didn’t help), both the girls and I slept very well, meaning that the three of us definitely enjoyed the weekend away the most!

(We also did a bit of exploring around the grounds when we got the chance, with the girls loving all the overgrown vegetation that results in loads of cool paths between the housing blocks to wander about on.)

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With Far Hills as our main base, we enjoyed a proper weekend of out and about, spending the first day by doing a full day road trip that saw us drive all the way through to The Crags (just past Plettenberg Bay) to visit Birds of Eden, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the Plett Puzzle Park, followed by a day of hopping from one beach to the next (Victoria Bay and Herolds Bay) before rounding off with a walk along the Pied Kingfisher Trail boardwalk in Wilderness!

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As luck would have it, the weather remained beautiful for pretty much the entire weekend, with the rain only finally descending upon us come Monday – which really didn’t matter that much considering the fact that we were leaving for home on the day anyway!

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It was as far as what I’m concerned, a great weekend away with a great group of people. Jessica in particular loved the fact that Evalynne was there for her to play with, whilst I on the other hand left with strong reminder of just how much I actually love the beautiful Garden Route area – even if it seems that we almost never go out that way!

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Naturally, I took loads of photos over the course of the weekend, so plenty of photo sets still to come, but for now, here are a couple that I took at Far Hills Country Lodge itself:

Related Link: Far Hills Country Hotel

Real Deal Warm Water at The Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa (2015-11-05) Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2015

So finally, Chantelle and I took advantage of Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa’s long running promotion, The Real Deal (previously known as The Reel Deal, changed I suspect because most people – including us – failed to spot the pun first time around).

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We headed out early Thursday morning (having left the kids to sleep over with Chantelle’s parents the previous evening), stopping for breakfast first at Fred & Max in Elgin (a failure, as it turns out that they do in fact NOT actually serve breakfast), followed by a fantastic breakfast at The Pool Room at Oak Valley (a success, because it turns out that they do in fact serve breakfast).

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For R125 each, we received R100’s worth of casino credits for some slot machine play, a choice of selected meals from the daVinci restaurant, and free access to the Spa’s natural warm mineral pools – in other words quite a decent deal if you ask me!

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Having stayed at the Caledon Hotel once or twice before (many years ago at the infancy of our relationship), we were looking quite forward to spending some time in the warm water pools again, but in the end we decided to first get the gambling out of the way – neither of us being particularly fond of casinos just by the way.

As per usual, the slot machines didn’t work out very well for me, but Chantelle had a great time, making a tidy little profit on The Queen of the Nile game – meaning that she walked out there with jangling pockets and a huge smile on her face. (But no photos, as those are strictly forbidden in the casino. They are literally on you as quick as a flash, as Chantelle discovered much to her surprise!)

I on the other hand had by then long since wandered out of the casino area and had ended up in the incredibly poorly stocked kids game arcade, happily playing some ancient Lethal Weapon pinball for entertainment!

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The natural warm water pools were an absolute treat as expected, with us making sure to take a dip in pretty much all the pools on offer, including the Victorian Bath, the floatation pool, and the small, elevated, but unbearably hot Khoi San pools!

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In the end, we spent the majority of our day in the pools, our muscles soaking in the warm, mineral enriched goodness and leaving us relaxed, light-headed, and content with the world!

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(Also, it’s well worth after you are all dried off and dressed, just to sit for a few minutes in the tranquil Zen Garden space. Perfect spot for some reflection and quiet time!)

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We finished up the day by taking advantage of our free food offer, and as for the meal at daVinci, well, it’s not fantastic of course, but that said, it’s not bad either – and when you think how much you have paid for it, you simply can’t help finishing up the day feeling rather chuffed with what really is a decent deal.

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So yeah, I enjoyed my day and Chantelle certainly seemed to as well – after all, she posed for these silly photos at the end of our adventure, meaning that she must have been in a good/silly mood!

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So a day well spent, and with our definitely worth it little break from life now over and done with, it was the long trip back to Bellville to pick up the kids (thanks Oupa and Ouma) and then head straight back home.

Related Link: Caledon Casino, Hotel & Spa | The Real Deal Promotion

Sandton Business Hotel: The Maslow
[Partner Content] 19 SEP 2013

When travelling to Sandton on business it’s important to find a business hotel that fulfills your needs. Usually business trips are a whirlwind of meetings, presentations and entertaining, so it follows that business travellers need a hotel in Sandton that can support their business, as well as an environment that allows one to recharge their batteries.

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“Finding a Sandton business hotel with all the features and benefits for the business traveller.”

The Maslow Hotel in Sandton is just such a hotel. Its design is modern, spacious and soothing. The hotel rooms are minimalist, comfortable and functional. It also has everything a business traveller needs from black-out curtains, work space and connections for your laptop and cell phone. Extra touches like a coffee machine, good lighting and a great shower are added benefits.

Business travellers tend to always be on the go and eat out a lot. Sandton has many restaurants and cafes that can do something quick and healthy, as well as something a little more high-end when entertaining clients. The Maslow’s Lacuna Bistro breakfast is fantastic as is the uncomplicated and imaginative dinner menu.

The Africology Spa at The Maslow is also a winner. The Hydrotherapy zone, particularly the ice walkway and Razul steam room offer relaxing after work or lunchtime treatments especially for those suffering from jetlag or brain fog.

Business travellers appreciate being able to work in their own way with the technology they need at their fingertips. The Maslow’s uncapped WiFi offering has without a doubt the fastest download speed in Sandton and is available throughout the hotel. There’s a wide range of business facilities on offer from a conference center, auditorium, to a number of secluded meeting rooms offering all-inclusive packages.

For travellers with an early check in or late flight departure, the Wayfarer lounge is a great place to grab a shower and a bite to eat at before departing for the airport.

It’s hard to find a home away from home, but The Maslow’s can-do approach to business and pleasure comes close. Its understated elegance is relaxing, its fluidity from hotel room to board room sensible and its attention to detail, unusually relaxing. And it’s affordable.

Related Link: http://www.suninternational.com/maslow/Pages/default.aspx

(Please note that this is a Sponsored Press Release, placed via the MyScoop blog advertising network.)

Photo Gallery: Chantelle and Retha’s High Tea at the Mount Nelson (2012-07-24) Photo Gallery 24 JUL 2012

Retha is currently down on a holiday following her teaching stint in South Korea, so what other obvious way to celebrate her return to South Africa other than to take her out to a High Tea function at the luxurious Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town.

And that is exactly what happened on Tuesday as Chantelle and her folks joined up with Retha and her folks, and partook in the decadent outing that is a High Tea!