Sizzling Summer Vacations

by Jared
 * This article first appeared here in ASPIRE LIFESTYLE

We’ve made it through the year it’s finally time to take advantage of the summer weather for that well-deserved break. ASPIRE asked me to share three of my favourites – an urban resort in Cape Town, beachside newcomer in Shaka’s Rock, and mountainous escape in the Cederberg.

One&Only, Cape Town

With unparalleled views of the Waterfront and Table Mountain, One&Only is set in perhaps the Mother City’s most enviable location. The impressive resort hardly needs an introduction. On a recent visit I was able to peep behind the curtains at what it’s like to stay at the luxury resort.

The gorgeously appointed mountain-facing suites are where you want to stay, especially with their balconies drink deeply in the iconic Mother City views. A recent refurb means the rooms feel fabulous and fresh, particularly with the locally inspired artwork.

Among One&Only’s various dining options, a meal at Nobu sits at the pinnacle. My visit happily coincided with Chef Hervé Courtot’s visit – he holds the title of Corporate Head Chef at Nobu Hotels – looking after the group’s almost 50 restaurants. Working my way through the Chef’s six-course Omakase menu is a Japanese-inspired fine dining journey of note.

A One&Only ritual is sitting in the Vista Lounge – appropriately named after its front-row seat to the Cape Town views – and sampling the four new signature cocktails. Following the tale of the Four Watchers, a Xhosa legend that speaks into Table Mountain’s birth, the new drinks Sun, Earth, Fire and Wind are tributes to the Gods in the story.

Crossing the canal from the resort lobby, you enter the island where the pool, island rooms and suites, and then spa are situated. Friends have raved about the One&Only Spa and I discovered why: it is nothing short of a haven of peace and calm. Try the two-hour Mountain Tonic treatment, followed by some relaxation in the aroma-steam room, sauna, and thermal suite.

I’ve always had the impression that One&Only might be too big for me. After three days, I realized that beyond the grand entrance, there’s an urban sanctuary waiting to welcome you, along with a surprisingly homeliness and personable service.

Sala Beach House, KwaZulu-Natal

The opening of Sala Beach House comes at a poignant time when KZN needs support. The recent riots and then devastating storms have left their mark, but in spite of this, perched atop Shaka’s Rock with unspoilt ocean views, a brand new five-star hotel is gently making waves.

Sala Beach House is too intimate a space to be called a hotel. Picture barefoot elegance and gown-wearing homeliness. With the lush vegetation and zen-like styling, you could easily be mistaken for thinking this was a tropical destination.

The property was purchased in 2017 and extensively renovated. Thanks to the exciting vision and discerning touches of co-owners Craig and Gert, Sala is undeniably a decor feast. It feels as if the dreamy pages of a Condenast Traveller feature have leapt out in front of you. Walking around you’re embraced with a scene that is distinctly Durban but with bits of Bali and hints of Havana. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend hours admiring, touching, smelling, and with all the tempting cuisine – most certainly tasting.

With only seven rooms and a separate three-bedroom villa.  Small enough to rent exclusively. Within a day of observing my preferences, the team automatically shifted their service accordingly; my favourite wine was poured each time, and activities were based on my interests.

Sala enjoys direct beach access onto the blue flag Thompson’s Bay – and a short walk from the famed hole-in-the-wall. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sala, where peace and privacy have the final say, soon becomes one of the country’s most talked about boutique hotels. 

Doringbos Farm, Cederberg

In one of the Cederberg’s northernmost parts, is a property that sets the benchmark for both isolation and eclectic elegance. Doringbos is a vast farm set in the transition zone where the rugged 500-million-year-old mountains begin to give way to the wild expanse of the Karoo.

Exploring the property is a never-ending visual feast: every corner, cupboard and wall are filled with wonders – best come endowed with a generous sense of curiosity as you encounter a playfulness that almost touches on absurdism at times. The accommodation cottages are arranged around the central farmhouse, and each grand in their own way. Mine sported dark textures and tones, replete with Coco Chanel fragrances.

There is of course no shortage of sunshine, and when you need respite from the heat there are three pools to cool down in and two wood-fired tubs for cooler evenings. The Doringbos River is perianal, also offering swimming and paddling year-round.

When you’re not drinking in the glorious silence and solitude, there’s plenty to do in the wild landscape. Quad bikes provide the opportunity to explore the farm’s backroads, fishing rods are available for the river, several mountain bikes, horses for riding, two pools for cooling down – and an additional two wood-fired hot tubs. Even at the full capacity of 20 guests, there’s enough space for every guest.

A short walk from the main house is the farm’s vlei pan where you can watch the resident wild game arrive for a sunset drink. There is even a luxurious tent set up on the vlei for those who’d like. In this wild setting with fires roaring at sunset we created our own little Doringbos Burning Man; the distant Oryx finding our eccentricity somewhat amusing.

It’s a place where even after four days of acclimatising, you’ll still be in a state of disbelief, that a place so unique exists. But perhaps these are the spaces that make for the best escapes – ones that transport us to an utterly different world.

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