Luxury Western and Eastern Cape

Day one – flight to Johannesburg
One night

Day two – Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town  
Four nights – bed and breakfast

Morning arrival into Johannesburg Airport. Complete entry formalities, collect your luggage and proceed to the domestic terminal where you check-in and connect with the British Airways flight to Cape Town. On arrival, collect your luggage before being met by your representative from Vineyard Ventures and transferred to the lovely Cape Grace Hotel where you spend four nights in a Table Mountain luxury double room.

At 10am a Group K hire car (Hyundai IX35 or similar, manual with air-conditioning) will be delivered to the Cape Grace by the local Avis representative. Please ensure you are happy with the condition of the car before accepting it. Days are at leisure to explore Cape Town further with your hire car.

The Cape Grace has a well-founded reputation for providing a high quality of service and accommodation. Situated in the Waterfront development, Cape Town’s regenerated docklands area, the hotel caters for around 250 guests in well appointed twin/double guests rooms (luxury, superior, rooftop luxury or rooftop terrace categories), or one-, two- or three-bedroom suites, or the penthouse. Superior rooms are slightly larger than the luxury rooms and have a small balcony. All rooms are air conditioned and have en suite facilities (separate bath, vanity, shower and toilet). Other facilities at the hotel include the Signal Restaurant, a small boardroom, a private guest lounge and library, a heated swimming pool, health spa, and the Bascule Bar (a coffee shop by day and whisky bar at night). There is 24-hour complimentary internet access and luxury chauffeur transfers within a 10-kilometre radius from 7am to 11pm, subject to availability (excludes airport transfers).

Day six – Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek  
Two nights – bed and breakfast

Morning at leisure to depart Cape Town and take the main N1 out into the Winelands region. You could spend some time in Stellenbosch en route, perhaps stopping for lunch, before continuing to Franschhoek, where you follow the directions to Le Quartier Francais (the drive will take around an hour without stops). Two nights are spent at Le Quartier Francais in a double grande room.

Full day at leisure to explore the surrounding area.

Luxury, privacy, excellent service, and quality cuisine define Le Quartier Francais, a peaceful retreat in the heart of the wine country near Cape Town. Right in the centre of the beautiful village of Franschhoek, Le Quartier Francais provides an award-winning gourmet dining experience and a wine list that’s matched only by the contemporary luxury of the rooms and suites. The emphasis throughout every aspect of Le Quartier Francais is on privacy, luxury and romantic charm – as well as fantastic food.

This small privately owned auberge is a peaceful retreat which offers a range of accommodation – from Auberge Rooms and Garden Suites to the recently completed Cottage and Four Quarters Suites, all of which sit in secluded gardens.

In the main auberge there is a selection of nine luxury Auberge Rooms, three Grande Rooms, three Petite Garden Suites and two Auberge Suites. The Grande Rooms are more spacious and the Petite Garden Suites have their own little private garden. The Auberge Suites are in the owner’s former home and are duplex units with a lounge and double en suite bedroom downstairs, a loft bedroom for children under 12 upstairs, and have private pools and walled gardens. Full complimentary bar, with pre-dinner snacks are included during your stay in an Auberge Suite.

The remainder of the Auberge Rooms, built around the central courtyard garden and gated swimming pool, are spacious and include a range of facilities – under-floor heating and open fireplaces for cold winter nights, air conditioning, a sitting area, tea/coffee making facilities, room safe, DVD/CD player, TV, free wi-fi, and en suite facilities (bath, separate shower, toilet, vanity).

The Four Quarters, adjacent to the main auberge gardens, has four large suites (two upstairs and two on the ground floor), overlooking a private paved courtyard and lap pool. Each suite is brightly decorated with imaginative textures, fabrics and colours and features all the latest mod-cons from iPod docking stations to oversized flat-screen televisions and a DVD library. A butler is on-hand at all times to ensure personal service, and meals can be arranged. Complimentary bar and light snacks by the pool are included here.

The Cottage, situated across the road from Le Quartier Francais is a more family-friendly option designed as a base for a longer and more independent stay. This option provides the opportunity to experience and explore Franschhoek on a more intimate level. Two en-suite bedrooms, one twin-bedded and one king, open up onto a walled garden and a private swimming pool. Two lounges with fireplaces and a fully equipped kitchen give The Cottage a warm homely feel.

The hotel’s award-winning restaurant, The Tasting Room, is overseen by acclaimed chef Margot Janse, whose innovative dishes recently led to the restaurant’s inclusion in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the sixth consecutive year. Margot was also the only female chef to be included in the 2010 listings.

The relaxed and informal Common Room restaurant serves delicious tapas-style food to share, and combines the best ingredients, in both its menu and décor, to create another mouthwatering dining experience at Le Quartier Francais.

Le Quartier Francais is also renowned for its Culinary Concierge Programme, which offers ‘foodie’ guests a variety of activities such as bread baking; an introduction to wine making; creating charcuterie; and Mrs Ndaba Fridays, where guests can bake nutritious muffins for 67 local toddlers looked after by the astonishing Mrs Ndaba.

Additional experiences include a range of spa treatments using Decleor products, which combine aromatherapy and physiotherapy; a private cinema which offers nightly screenings of old-time classics and recent releases; a boutique store and an excellent concierge service which will happily organise wine tours, fly fishing, horse riding, hot air ballooning, helicopter rides and paragliding, and will also suggest places to visit in order to keep younger guests happy too.

There are many excellent restaurants in this famously gourmet region. Both the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regional bodies claim to being the gourmet capital of South Africa, and there is little to choose between the top restaurants found in either.

Day eight – The Marine Hotel, Hermanus  
Three nights – bed and breakfast

The morning is at leisure to explore the Winelands before you head south to Hermanus, following the directions to The Marine Hotel, where you spend three nights in a luxury sea-view double room. There are two routes to consider:

The most direct route is over the Franschhoek Pass to the Threewaterskloof Dam. Turn right and cross the dam heading southwards to Grabouw. Here you join the N2 eastwards before taking the R43 to Hermanus.

The longer route is to take the road south through Stellenbosch to Somerset West where you join the N2 to the bottom of Sir Lowry’s Pass. From here, turn right to travel the coastal road through Gordon’s Bay, Betty’s Bay (where you may wish to stop and visit the Stoney Point penguin colony or the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens), and Kleinmond before the road joins up with the R43. Turn right to Hermanus.

The Marine Hotel, originally built in 1902, is a superior hotel situated set in the centre of Hermanus town overlooking the sea. The hotel caters for around 90 guests in a variety of 43 rooms and suites, each luxuriously furnished with en suite bathrooms and air-conditioning. The superior room categories (luxury, suites and premier suites) have partial or full views out to sea. None of the standard-room categories, including the single rooms, have sea views and face either the mountains or a courtyard. Other facilities include two restaurants and a cocktail bar, a heated swimming pool, Carchele health spa (using Decleor facial products), internet lounge, and several relaxing lounge areas. There is also access to a tidal swimming pool set immediately below the hotel.

Day 11 – Rosenhof Country House, Oudtshoorn  
Two nights – bed and breakfast

After breakfast, depart Hermanus for Oudtshoorn following the directions to Rosenhof Country House where you spend two nights in a double room. There are two routes to consider:

The more direct route is to drive east via Stanford and take the R326 northwards through Springerskuil to reach the main N2. Turn right on the N2 through Riversonderend to Swellendam. Continue eastwards on the main N2 before turning left onto the R324 to Suurbraak, continue over the Tradouws Pass to Barrydale where you take the R62 via Ladismith and Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn (this route will take around four to four-and-a-half hours without stops).

The alternative route is to make your way towards Swellendam (as per the above) and just before you reach Swellendam, head northwest to Montagu (where you may wish to stop for an early lunch). Take the scenic R62 out of Montagu via Barrydale, Ladismith and Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn (this route will take around five and a half hours without stops).

The Rosenhof Country House is a lovely small country-style hotel catering for just 28 guests located on the main street in Oudtshoorn. The property, a converted homestead, has a traditional feel with rooms located in separate buildings from the main reception, dining and lounge areas. There are some lovely gardens and a swimming pool. Each room is well furnished and has en suite facilities and air-conditioning. There is also a wellness centre offering a variety of treatments (using Decleor facial products).

Oudtshoorn gained its reputation by being the ‘feather capital of the World’ in the era when ostrich feathers graced international fashion stages. Above the first escarpment, the town lies at the foot of the spectacular Swartberg Pass on the edge the Great Karoo with a dry (and hot in summer) climate. A wide range of attractions are found in the area including the Cango Caves (well worth visiting), the Cango Ostrich Show Farm, Cango Wildlife Ranch, and Meerkatmagic. Hot air ballooning rides, horse riding, mountain biking, quad biking, and golf are just some of the activities available around the town.

Day 13 – The Plettenberg, Plettenberg Bay  
Three nights – bed and breakfast

Day at leisure to travel southeast through to Plettenberg Bay following the directions to The Plettenberg where you spend three nights in a double room.

The most direct route is to take the N12, descending the Outeniqua Pass to George where you join the main N2 and travel east through Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay to Hog Hollow.

The more adventurous and scenic drive would be to take the N12 to De Rust and turn right onto the R341 eastwards before turning right on the R339 southwards to Uniondale. Continue southwards down the Prince Alfred’s Pass (sections of the road are gravel and a little bumpy, but four-wheel-drive is definitely not required). At the R340/R 339 split, take which you would prefer and continue onto the junction with the main N2.

The Plettenberg is built on a rocky headland in the middle of the town with spectacular views over the bay. There are 35 luxury rooms and suites located in two buildings, all of which are individually decorated with air-conditioning and have en suite facilities. There are two swimming pools, a wellness centre and boutique. The Seafood restaurant serves delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinner. The Sandbar is a relaxed bar to enjoy drinks or tea. Adjacent are the hotel’s Beach House and Lookout Villa. The Beach House is located adjacent to the Plettenberg’s main building and offers privacy as well as access to all the hotel’s amenities. The Beach House offers lovely bay and mountain vistas from its spacious deck and includes two spacious en-suite bedrooms, large sitting room with fireplace, dining room, small kitchen service, private swimming pool as well as air-conditioning and all modern amenities. The Lookout Villa is ideal for larger families or groups and boasts three bedrooms, open-plan lounge and dining room, galley kitchen, private swimming pool and garden and all other modern amenities.

Day 16 – Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, Kwandwe Game Reserve  
Three nights – full board

After breakfast (we would recommend leaving early this morning and arrive Kwandwe in time for lunch), depart Hog Hollow on the N2 towards Port Elizabeth (this journey will take approx. two and a half hours non-stop, depending on traffic). Continue eastwards along the N2 towards Grahamstown following the directions to Kwandwe Private Game Reserve (Port Elizabeth to Kwandwe will take approximately one hour and 45 minutes). Enter the reserve and follow signs to the reception area where you will park your car and be met and transferred by 4×4 vehicle to the lovely Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge. Three nights are spent at Kwandwe Great Fish River in a double suite.

Days at leisure for game-viewing activities.

Kwandwe offers superb accommodation in four separate lodges – the main Great Fish River Lodge, Ecca Lodge, Uplands Homestead and Melton Manor. Great Fish River Lodge accommodates up to 18 guests in nine individual chalets, built from stone and thatch. The spacious bedrooms include a sitting area and large patio doors which open out to lead onto a private veranda. All chalets have en suite facilities which include both indoor and outdoor showers, hand basins, a separate loo, and a bath. Each chalet also has a private plunge pool, although this can be situated some way from the chalet (up to 70 metres or so). The central areas are large and spacious with numerous lounges, sitting areas, a curio shop, and the bar and dining room. The lodge overlooks the valley through which the Great Fish River runs – wildlife is frequently seen coming down to drink. No children under 12.

Game viewing activities include morning and afternoon game drives and bush walks.

Of the other lodges, all are smaller and accept children. Ecca Lodge (six units) has a more modern design, while the Uplands Homestead, one of the original homesteads built in 1905, has been restored to modern standards and accommodates up to six guests. Melton Manor is another of the original homesteads, also modern in design, and accommodates up to eight guests. Both Uplands and Melton can only be booked as complete units and are more suited to families or small parties travelling together. All properties have swimming pools. (Melton Manor can now be booked on a per-room basis, subject to availability)

Day 19 – Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, connecting to Virgin Atlantic flight to London Heathrow  
One night

Early morning at leisure before you are transferred back to your car and depart Kwandwe and drive back to Port Elizabeth Airport (just under two hours’ drive, well sign-posted). On arrival here, terminate your hire car and connect the lunchtime flight to Johannesburg (you can request for your luggage to be checked through to London in Port Elizabeth which will avoid you having to collect it and re-check in Johannesburg). Arrive Johannesburg (15:05), and later connect with the overnight Virgin Atlantic flight to London.

Day 20 – return flight to UK