|LUXURY RESORTS: GROOTBOS PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA |
Scene: Set in pristine natural surroundings
Seen in lobby: Lovers of life, luxury and the great outdoors
THE mountain above Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is called God's Window because of its incredible views. It is an appropriate name because sitting on the deck of the incredible six bedroom villa at Grootbos, looking across the fynbos to Walker Bay, it certainly feels as if I’ve died and gone to heaven.
This particular patch of paradise has been preserved by Michael Lutzeyer and his family. Michael fell in love with the spirit of this place and bought a farm, which turned into a guest house. All these years later it has metamorphosed into one of South Africa’s most extraordinary luxury resorts and a founding member of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World portfolio.
Who would have thought that a South African lodge without a wildebeest in sight would have been one of the most extraordinary places I’ve ever visited, but it is.
Here, between the whale sanctuary of Walker Bay and the shark capital of Gansbaai, - you are offered access to what amounts to the Serengeti of the sea. A chance to spot the Marine Big 5; whales, dolphins, African penguins, Cape Fur Seals and Great White shark. In the case of the latter you can also go down in a cage and dive with them.
The real surprise however, is that what is on land is every bit as compelling as what is under the waves. And it can be summed up in two words: Flower safari. Yes you heard me… flowers. You won’t want to go on the resort’s botanical tour. You will fight to stay on your balcony with its 180 degree panoramic views of pristine wilderness, you will beg to be left to enjoy a leisurely breakfast cooked by your own personal villa chef, but trust me - go.
Grootbos is all about nature, the glass walls of the incredible villa showcase it everywhere: the purple hues of the heather, the slither of silvery beach and the ocean beyond. Even my shower has a window onto the view through which I watch the bushes swaying gently in the breeze, dancing to their own mysterious rhythm.
The magic of this place seeps into your soul
However you won’t really understand it until you go out and experience it. On safari I learn that there are more unique species of plants in this tiny corner of South Africa than almost anywhere else on earth, no wonder UNESCO declared the Cape Floral region a World Heritage site. In the 2500 hectares of pristine wilderness that make up the Grootbos reserve the fynbos is dotted with colour from a staggering 791 recorded plant species. The stories behind what makes so many of them unique are fascinating; such as how one little bird’s beak is designed to fit perfectly into just one little flower and how ants help plant bushes. The Grootbos team take their custodianship of this wonderful wilderness very seriously and head botanist Sean and his team have been working for years to understand and preserve it.
The magic of this place seeps into your soul. So following day when I ride through the heather on one of the horses from the resort’s private stables I feel deeply connected to the beautiful surroundings. It is a glorious morning and I can see for kilometre along this amazing coastline. Grootbos has a number of other ways to get guests into nature; you can take a marine tour, dive with sharks, go hiking, have a beach picnic or take a scenic flight.
It is also well worth taking a tour of the Grootbos Foundation, a charitable undertaking where horticultural, sporting and education initiatives are changing the lives of the local community and helping the environment.
Much of the organic food you eat a Grootbos is grown in the reserve’s own gardens and greenhouses or sourced from local suppliers, which may explain why it is so good. Even the bottled water in your room comes straight from the Grootbos spring. And I’m in love with the honey ice cream made with the honey from the reserve’s own hives.
There is fine dining at Forest lodge but eating in the boma hung with lanterns or sampling the food and wine parings in the private wine cellar are both experiences not to be missed.
Apart from the two private villas Grootbos Private Nature Reserve also offers five star accommodation in two lodges, Garden and Forest. Both of which also have spectacular views and service.
On our last evening we head down to Walkers Bay. The team have set up champagne and canopies on the beach. We paddle in the clear water and toast a sunset as pink as the sparkling rose in our glasses. The perfect end to a perfect stay.
Check in: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, R43, Gansbaai, 7220, South Africa
Most Indulgent Moment: Private dinner catered in one of the two spectacular villas
Insider Secrets: Resident Botanist Sean Privett has discovered many species of plants previously unknown to mankind
The Little Things: Grootbos produces its own organic toiletries. They smell divine.
Junior Luxies: Welcome and well catered for. Garden Lodge is perfect for families
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Resorts Links: www.grootbos.com
Hilary Doling 22/5/17
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