Francois talks about their trip to SPIER

Spier is one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms dating back to 1692, this farm is rich in history and remains a special place to anyone who visits. Located about 40km from Cape Town, you’ll find this historic farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What made you decide to stay at SPIER?

Francois: SPIER is ideal for us as we have kids (two boys aged 6 and 8). The large natural open spaces, great facilities and scenic surroundings.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was your first impression of SPIER on arrival?

Francois: It’s actually very close to Cape Town! SPIER is located in the wine capital of South Africa and has a farm feel to it. On arrival we were greeted with warm friendly smiles from the staff which is always the best way to start a stay.

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the service like?

Francois: The staff at SPIER were very friendly and attentive to all our needs. They are particularly good with children (e.g. entertaining the kids while the parents take a deserving break).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Is it child friendly?

Francois: Yes, SPIER accommodates families with children of all ages, with a variety of activities and facilities to keep kids occupied. The food for the children was also good and I loved the fact that there was a grape juice tasting on offer when we as adults did the wine tasting. On the morning of our check out from the SPIER hotel, our youngest son immediately asked: “When can be come here again?”2015-06-20 15.01.49 2015-06-20 11.58.15-1
Klein Collection (‘K.C’): 
What activities are offered at SPIER?

Francois: Activities offered onsite at Spier are as follows:

  • Segway tours: Take a tour of the vineyard on your very own Segway PT – a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle.
  • Wine tasting and chocolate pairing (highly recommended)
  • Eagle encounter (very educational and was great for our kids)
  • Local art being on display throughout SPIER (insprirational)
  • A spa (beauty treatments and massages)
  • Food (wonderful selection of restaurants, deli and picnic baskets)

 

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the food like?

Francois: Food quality at SPIER is top class and they make a conscious effort to cater for the children’s tastes as well. EIGHT Restaurant prides itself in the fact that most of the ingredients in the meals served, are locally produced on the SPIER farm.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the highlight of your stay at SPIER?

Francois: The overall openness and spaces to walk and cycle, value for money and how our children enjoyed every bit of our stay.2015-06-19 16.42.37

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What should potential visitors take note of

Francois: Be ready to want to make SPIER a regular place to visit (at least once a year for 2 nights).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Who is SPIER ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Anyone really – but SPIER is great for small or large groups and people with kids.

 

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

 

Should SPIER sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Lion Sands – Tinga & River Lodge

Sandwiched between the Sand and Sabie rivers in Kruger National Park, Tinga Lodge offers peace and tranquility conveniently close to the Park headquarters, while River Lodge close by in Sabi Sand offers slightly cheaper accommodation in a similar setting. Jonathan and Sophie check them out.

The first rains of the summer have fallen, the land is turning green at last and the bush is sprinkled with gangly, new-born impala lambs. So often stiflingly hot and humid now in late November, today when we arrive at Tinga Lodge it is refreshingly cool, but the warm greeting by manager Glenda and the delicious home-made lemonade quickly have us forgetting the overcast, gloomy skies.

We call this time of the year the ‘secret season’ for safaris – the dry winter is over, the crowds have gone, the lodges are quiet (often with good deals to be had). But the summer rains are not out in force yet, the bush is green and lush but the grass is still not too high to hinder game viewing too much. And the predators are after those impala lambs…

Tinga Lodge is set on the banks of the Sabie river in the shade of an ancient Jackelberry tree under which Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk famously met in the 1990s. But for us, the business of the day was a game drive with ranger Alan, to explore this little gem of a concession.

Tinga Lodge

Alan is one of the most experienced guides in South Africa and together with tracker Omega, his passion for leopards is evident from the moment you meet him. And with 14 years of experience at Lion Sands, he knows the area better than anyone. “We work a little harder for our sightings here”, he says, “But it’s worth it”.

Until just a few years ago, this little corner of the Kruger was largely unexplored and the resident animals, leopards in particular, were unused to vehicles and people. This is changing now, but the concession still retains its wild feel, and with a maximum of just six game vehicles (together with adjacent Narina Lodge), quiet sightings are guaranteed.

The famous leopards elude us but we get a great sighting of the highly-endangered black rhino and the next morning, white rhino too as well as some fantastic, up-close elephant. We fire questions at Alan, soaking up his extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and behavior making for some fascinating drives.

With just 9 suites, Tinga retains a personal feel but it’s never claustrophobic – the beautiful suites are strung out spaciously along the Sabie river with no privacy issues at all. The communal areas, especially the magnificent deck are spacious enough that even when the lodge is full, which it was on our visit, it never feels that way.

We enjoyed a dip in our private plunge pool before a lunch of smoked salmon and pan-fried quail; dinner was a communal boma-affair where guests are joined by their guides, but usually meals at Tinga are taken at private tables.

Our favourite finishing touch was the elaborate, personalized bed-decorations crafted with flowers and grass, an example of the attention to detail that Tinga prides itself on.

Suite, River Lodge

Suite, River Lodge

It’s a short drive from Tinga to River Lodge where we arrive in time for lunch, served by our exquisite butler, Advice, followed by a game drive with guide Nyathi. River Lodge is located inside the famous Sabi Sand game reserve where expectations are high for the game viewing. On our overcast afternoon, the game is playing hide & seek; even the antelopes hide away in the thickets. We come across a couple of elephants and a white rhino and in the dark we spot a beautiful Civet dashing away – our first-ever Civet sighting in the wild, what a treat! If only it had posed for a photo…

Relaxing in the pool, River Lodge

Relaxing in the pool, River Lodge

At the lodge we enjoy a drink in the bar before joining our fellow guests and guide for a traditional boma dinner with a delicious, traditionally South African menu, including springbok shanks. During the course of the dinner the staff choir perform beautiful traditional Shangaan shongs and dance; it’s evident that the spirit of Africa blows gently through the leaves here at River Lodge.

River Lodge is the biggest of the Lion Sands properties with 20 suites, but it doesn’t feel generic or corporate. Thanks to staff, like our butler Advice, service is top-notch and personal. For more exclusive and luxurious accommodation look no further than the impressive Ivory Lodge located right next to River Lodge. Ivory Lodge has larger suites and private plunge pools, and is ideal for honeymoon couples.

Dining out, River Lodge

Dining out, River Lodge

Not ideal for young children, Tinga is perfect for couples and small groups, or larger groups looking to book out the whole lodge. Likewise for Narina Lodge, the sister lodge to Tinga, where the only notable difference is that the suites have outdoor showers. Literally a few minutes drive from Skukuza Airport both lodges are also ideal for those with less time, and with direct scheduled flights now between Cape Town and Skukuza, you can literally be on top of Table Mountain in the morning, and be sipping a pre-lunch cocktail under Tinga’s Jackelberry tree a few hours later.

We’ll do that next time, and next time that leopard won’t elude us…

Severin Safari Camp, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya

Set in the heart of the Tsavo wilderness, Severin came with high expectations for us. We weren’t disappointed…

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Park together form one of the biggest, and wildest protected areas in Africa and should be very high on the list for any serious safari-goer. Tsavo is one of our favourite African Parks, and Severin Safari Camp one of our all-time favourite lodges so the two together make a pretty good combination.

Severin manages to combine two normally-contradictory attributes – the advantages that size brings, yet a family-like intimate atmosphere. There are more than twenty suites, yet they are spread over such a large area that privacy is never a problem. Our fantastic German host, Manja, is as gifted in hospitality as anyone you’ll ever meet and straightaway, guests are made to feel part of the Severin family. The waiters greet you by name, and the Masai tribesman who accompany you on the (often long) walk to and from your tent at night are engaging and delightful. Severin look after their staff well, and it shows.

Main Lodge, Severin

Main Lodge, Severin

On our day of arrival, lunch is served by the pool (the best place to be in the heat of the Tsavo day) and we watch lazily as a gemsbok trots past to a waterhole. There are no less than six waterholes within the grounds of the lodge itself; this in what is an arid region, so the wildlife tends to come to you. At sunset we withdraw to the elevated deck of our Kibo suite, less than 100m from what feels like our own private waterhole. Soon the ground below is teeming with game – several giraffe come to drink, together with zebra, gemsbok and impala. Sundowner in hand, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Many guests come to Severin with their own vehicle and driver as part of a longer safari, but it’s also possible to use the lodges’ vehicle and guides. We take a Masai guide out on a game drive early next morning and we’re entranced by the magical light and wildness of the park. The landscape is dotted with volcanic hills and lava flows and on a clear day, the vast hulk of Kilimanjaro is visible far away. Game in Tsavo can be harder to find than in some other parks, but you come here to get away from the crowds…and of course to relax.

Our own private watering hole!

Our own private watering hole!

And trust us, there is no better place to relax than Severin. Dinners are a four-course affair and superbly done, the chef making a personal appearance at each table to soak up well-earned praise. That night we listen to the sounds of the bush from our superb Kibo Suite – the lapping of water, zebras munching, the distinctive click-click of eland walking and occasional thunder of hooves as a herd of ungulates is spooked by some hidden menace.

We decide that at Severin, it’s best to let the wildlife come to you rather than the other way round and settle in to a day of relaxation. Game is numerous around the main lodge and we watch gemsbok and zebra from the comfort of the pool. The main lodge itself is not elevated and this is unusual. You are at the same level as the animals – it’s subtle, but it adds to the feeling that you’re really in amongst them, an equal.

Swimming Pool Severin

At sunset, Manja has a treat awaiting us – sundowners at Poacher’s Lookout, atop a nearby, rugged hill. When we arrive, a chair, table, bottle of sparkling and snacks are set up with a view far out across the plains to distant mountains. As the hazy sky lights up orange, our waiter Sammy turns on music from the soundtrack to Out of Africa – cheesy or romantic, depending on you, but the setting is unbeatable!

Severin is a place where you can relax without feeling guilty about missing a game drive. It also boasts good eco-credentials for its recycling and other use of resources, and is a winner of eco-tourism awards. We like it a lot.

Our Verdict: A little oasis in a vast wilderness, Severin is a gem of a lodge with dedicated, passionate staff that will make a safari here unforgettable.

Good for: Everything from large groups, families and honeymooners have their place here

Not so good for: If you like small size and communal dining, this is not Severin’s scene, though it can still feel intimate

Kyambura Game Lodge, Uganda

On the border of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), Kyambura Game Lodge offers a great level of service to match its awesome location.

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

You can see Kyambura Game Lodge from afar, a row of tasteful thatched suites strung out along a rift valley ridge and once you’re up close, it’s even more impressive.

Main lodge, Kyambura

Main lodge, Kyambura

The lodge was quiet when we arrived, all the better to experience the peace and beauty that this place offers. The suites are tastefully built, all in locally sourced materials, and most of them are brand new, following a devastating fire a couple of years ago. But what stands out is the view. Whether from your suite, the sundowner deck or the spotless swimming pool, you look out across the vast plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park. An elephant ambled through the thick bush just below the lodge and the birding in the lodge grounds alone is enough to keep any keen birder happy.

Pool Kyambura Lodge

Other than the lodge itself, the main draw here is chimp trekking in Kyambura Gorge, and the proximity to QENP’s Mweya sector with its game viewing and spectacular river cruises. Both are a reasonably short drive away, making this lodge an ideal base.

The staff are friendly and attentive and we greatly enjoyed our stay.

Most visitors arrive with a car and driver from Kampala, as part of a larger organised tour although the lodge also welcomes independent travellers.

Welcome to Schoone Oordt Country House

Schoone Oordt Country House is a charming country hotel in Swellendam South Africa, possibly the best of Swellendam accommodation, with 10 luxury bedrooms set in lush gardens, an intimate Conservatory restaurant, a sparkling saltwater pool and a passion for people, family, food, wine and the environment.

Francois talks about their trip to Schoone Oordt Country House.

KC:  How far is Schoone Oordt Country House from Cape Town?

Francois:  After about 2 and a half hours’ drive from Cape Town you will discover Swellendam (one of South Africa’s hidden treasures) with Schoone Oordt Country House being one of the gems within this beautiful village.

Schoone Oordt Country House

KC:  What made you decide to stay at Schoone Oordt Country House?

Francois:  About 3 years ago we drove through Swellendam for a quick lunch and I saw this beautiful Victorian building as we were looking for a place to eat. I immediately asked my wife to settle the kids somewhere suitable – as I wanted to go and see if this striking building could be a boutique hotel… and it was!

Since then I have wanted to experience this charming establishment firsthand.

KC:  What was your first impression of Schoone Oordt Country House on arrival?

Francois:  Attention to detail and authenticity – old world charm, handmade furniture, antiques, wooden floors, rich textures and friendly warm smiles greeting us as we arrived.

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  Very attentive and friendly. We were fortunate to meet the owners (Alison and Richard Walker) with their lovely children. They made us feel right at home and it really felt like we were old friends getting together.

Schoone Oordt Country House

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, with Schoone Oordt’s owners having 4 kids themselves – everything has been tested as child friendly and our kids were very welcome. They even arranged a babysitter for all the guests’ kids while we were having dinner.

KC:  What activities are offered at Schoone Oordt Country House?

Francois:  The Conservatory Restaurant is onsite and known as one of the top culinary experiences in the area. There are also many activities that can be arranged from the Schoone Oordt concierge service – from wine tours, horse riding, excursions to the De Hoop reserve and more – or just take a stroll down Swellendams main road with antique shops, coffee shops and other treats.

KC:  What was the food like?

Schoone Oordt Country House

Francois:  We were privileged to have been invited by Alison and Richard to a traditional braai and spent hours along the long dinner table in the Conservatory Restaurant sharing stories and laughter with the other Schoone Oordt guests. The food was great.

Breakfast was also fantastic and Schoone Oordt’s eggs benedict with salmon has my vote any day!

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at Schoone Oordt Country House?

Francois:  The leisurely, traditional braai in the Conservatory Restaurant with interesting people and no time restrictions.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  Driving from Cape Town can become a long trip – so make it a journey and plan a stopover somewhere in the middle (Gabrielskloof Wine Estate (in Bot River) is always a winner for us). I would also recommend that you stay at least 2 nights at Schoone Oordt to allow you to experience what this special boutique and surrounds have to offer.

KC:  Who is Schoone Oordt Country House ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  Young and old enjoying boutique-style service with an appreciation for architecture and interior.

In short: if you have style, you will love it.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Food  5
Location  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should Schoone Oordt Country House sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Welcome to South Hill

The Venue at South Hill Vineyards nestles at the eastern end of the picturesque Elgin Valley. Surrounded by the Kogelberg Mountains, neighbouring orchards, pine forests and the farm’s own vineyards, The Venue is a very special place.

South Hill

Francois talks about their trip to South Hill.

KC:  How far is South Hill from Cape Town?

Francois:  About 45 minutes drive from Cape Town located in the beautiful Elgin Valley – known for fresh produce (especially apples and pears)

KC:  What made you decide to stay at South Hill?

Francois:  I have heard great things about the guest house on the South Hill farm and took the opportunity to experience the villa myself – with my wife, Carien and our two boys (James and Francois).

South Hill

KC:  What was your first impression of South Hill on arrival?

Francois:  Wow – scenic setting, fresh air, farm size open spaces and privacy – and all of it just for us to enjoy for two full days!

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  We felt like we were visiting friends who own a wine farm – Sandy welcomed us with a warm and friendly smile and guided us through all the villa’s facilities and features.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, the villa accommodated us perfectly and our children had space to play outside – and play games inside in front of the large fire place in the evenings.

South Hill

KC:  What activities are offered at South Hill?

Francois:  South Hill is a wine farm and the wine tasting is a must if you enjoy good wine. The Villa is also stocked with South Hill’s wine – so you can have your own wine tasting while having a bite to eat in your private space. There is also a restaurant on the farm and the Old Mac Daddy trailer experience is just across the road with a restaurant on site as well.

KC:  What was the food like?

Francois:  The facilities in the villa are really top end and any chef would feel right at home (and inspired) to cook up a storm. All I can say is that we ate well!

South Hill

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at South Hill?

Francois:  Quality time with my family in front of the fire place in the villa, surrounded by nature – enjoying good wine from the South Hill wine cellar.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  You should stay here at least two nights – and you can bring friends along (there is lots of space to accommodate two families in the villa) if you are not seeking a private weekend away.

KC:  Who is South Hill ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  People who love the farm living idea and want to experience living in a luxurious farm house for a night or two – cook, eat, sleep and relax.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should South Hill sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Bluebells Cottage

Bluebells is just a brisk stroll away from the centre of Greyton; a town known for its delightful coffee shops, top restaurants and interesting corners filled with arts and crafts. Every Saturday from 10 to 12 you will find the locals and visitors streaming to the morning market where locally produced or harvested treats and fresh produce are sold.
                                                                       
Francois talks about their family trip to Greyton.

KC:  How far is Bluebells from Cape Town?

Francois:  Bluebells is located in Greyton, a peaceful and picturesque village in the Overberg region about 150 kilometers from Cape Town.

KC:  What made you decide to stay at Bluebells?

Francois:  Myself, Carien and the two boys have been to Bluebells in 2012 for the first time and we have been hooked ever since. Bluebells offers something really unique – allowing us as a family to connect, relax and spend quality time together.

Bluebells Cottage

KC:  What was your first impression of Bluebells on arrival?

Francois:  We are home (although we do not own the house…)

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  Bluebells is a self-catering cottage – the check-in procedure and cleaning services offered was friendly and efficient.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, Bluebells and Greyton as a whole are meant for children. The gravel roads to walk or cycle and the random free roaming horses makes this place a paradise for children – my kids loved it!

KC:  What activities are offered at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  Bluebells is walking distance from Greyton’s top restaurants, art galleries and more. The cottage is well equipped and we ended up buying fresh goods in Greyton and then cooked up a storm every evening – with the fire burning in the back ground (and kids playing snakes and ladders in the lounge – and not staring at the IPAD )

KC:  What was the food like?

Francois:  Greyton offers a good selection of restaurants and if you do not feel like cooking yourself – Bluebells is a hop skip and jump from where you want to be!

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  The time with Carien and the two boys in the evenings in front of the fire – just the slow pace of the surrounds and quality time with my loved ones.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  You need to stay for at least 3 nights – and you will be back!

KC:  Who is Bluebells ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  People wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of normal city life and want to connect with their loved ones in a rustic unpretentious environment.

Point out of 5
Service  4
Location  5
Facilities  4
Décor  4
Attention to detail  4
Value for money  5

Should Bluebells sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.