I was still walking towards my car after check-out when the next-door guests sneaked over to my trailer to find out what the designer did with its unique theme. I prayed that they would not carry away the Victorian crystal, silver and hand-crocheted cotton napkins before management had a chance to check their inventory. But it is not that kind of trailer park. Die Antwoord would definitely not feel at home here.
Old Mac Daddy is the ingénue youngest sister of the suave, but playful Grand Daddy hotel on Long Street, Cape Town. The concept is the same: import several Airstream trailers and commission local artists and designers to each create an artwork in which guest will not only sleep, but which will surprise and delight them around every corner. Unlike its two sister hotels in Long Street, the Old Mac Daddy is nestled in the countryside, with a super spacious restaurant and bar area flowing onto a pool deck, and trailers overlooking Elgin’s apple orchards, water-lilied ponds and gigantic weeping willows.
Since first stepping into Life before Colour during an open day, when the nearly completed trailers debuted to Capetonians before moving to their new home in Elgin, I knew that I wanted to stay in that specific Airstream. And so I booked their honeymoon suite by accident. To the credit of the Old Mac Daddy reception, they only asked once whether I was alone and appeared baffled at my answer for less than one second before carrying my luggage to this romantic boudoir in black, white, silver and light gold.
Life before Colour is larger than the other trailers with themes like The Dirkie Sanchez suite, The Private Life of Plants and For Better or for Boerewors. But it does not have the lounge and bathroom glass-and-brick annex of the other trailers. Instead it hosts a large Victorian bath in the sleeping quarters (but a private W.C.)The attention to detail is something to explore for yourself and I will not spoil your fun.
I used the Saturday morning to taste wine at the two largest estates in the area, Oak Valley and Paul Cluver, before sampling the organic salads at Fresh, with most ingredients straight from the thriving fruit and vegetable garden surrounding this slow food restaurant. The nursery of Oak Valley, who is also the supplier of cut flowers to Woolworths, can be toured by prior arrangement.
A friend joined me during the run of the Saturday afternoon for a cabaret at the nearby Paul Cluver forest theatre. This is an experience in itself and I highly recommend planning your stay at the trailer park to coincide with one of the amphitheatre’s concerts. Just take care to drive back slowly, as you are bound to encounter a few frogs crossing the road on those perfect summer nights.
Colleagues who had stayed at the Old Mac Daddy before warned me that there is not that much to do, but that they found it a great place to relax. I was not bored for one second. The Lebanon Mountain Bike trail runs right next to the trailer park and I explored parts of the route on foot. (There are mountain bikes to rent from the Old Mac Daddy or you can bring your own.) The colourful bee hives against a back-drop of tranquil farm dams below are picture perfect. And good news for the eco conscious: through the planting of 3,500 indigenous plants Old Mac Daddy is luring honey bees and birds back to the previously eroding pine slopes. There are plenty of places to swim, from the lodge’s own child-friendly pool to the large clay dam just down the road (reception will give you directions). The library is extensive, internet access free and the bar will serve you champagne late into the night.
The playfulness of this place really rejuvenates. I can especially recommend it to families with small children or someone who enjoys the quirky and unexpected.
Review by: Lizelle Steyn, independent traveller