* This article first appeared here in the Saturday Citizen
The Outeniqua Pass winds spectacularly through the mountains before finally settling in George below. I’ve often passed the prestigious Fancourt property at the end of the drive, but with little interest in golf, never gave it much thought. With an invitation to experience Fancourt’s five-star Manor House, I decided it was time to venture through the gates.
My golf eagerly pulled in and within moments the tropical vegetation made an enchanting tunnel of foliage over the road. Following the signs to the Manor House, I soon pulled up to an impressive 1850s Cotswold-styled mansion – the former home of Henry Fancourt White after whom the estate is named.
At the Manor House entrance, a large pond sets the lush scene – replete with a garden pagoda for lapping up the day in quiet comfort. Noticing that the island in the middle of the pond was accessible by a little bridge, I joked about how lovely it would be to have tea on it. Lo and behold, ten minutes later a plush bench, umbrella, and tea were waiting for me on my private island. The Manor House is clearly an immersion into both luxury and nature.
The rooms are every bit opulent and spacious and amenities fans will take pleasure in the extensive basket of offerings including balms, scrubs, and soaps. The rooms are arranged around a central pool courtyard, which spills into the tropical gardens.
Arriving on a gorgeous 32-degree day, after unpacking I soon gravitated to the pool with the latest Condenast Traveller; grateful that some of the luscious summer scenes on the pages seemed to be mirrored at the luxury hotel I’d call home for the next few days.
It was easily an hour or two later that I remember I’m on one of the country’s most prestigious golf courses – The Manor House is so perfectly secluded that it’s easy to forget about the outside world, let alone the rest of the property. After donning my mask, I was off to explore.
While I may not be a golfer, I was intrigued to see Fancourt’s offerings. Nic Grundtvig is Fancourt’s knowledgeable Golf Director and introduced me to the three distinct champion courses: The Links (rated number one in South Africa), Outeniqua, and Montagu – all designed by local golfing legend Gary Player. There are two ways to play at Fancourt – by joining as a member or as a hotel guest: yet another reason to call the Manor House home.
A stay at The Manor House includes access to Fancourt’s award-winning spa with the voluminous Roman Bath as the impressive centerpiece, and then a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and pool. A range of wellness treatments are on offer at the spa or can be arranged in your room for the socially-distanced conscious. From the leisure center bicycles are freely available for daily rides around the property.
With my curiosity satisfied with a tour around, and again craving my solitude, I followed my senses (and perhaps one stop for directions), making my way through the manicured gardens until again reaching the Manor House.
The service is both intimate and intuitive – with a smaller amount of rooms the staff are attentive to all your needs – even prompting some of my needs before I acknowledge them myself. I was impressed to find that Fancourt offers the luxury without the pretense that is often associated with top country clubs and proves to be an enticing stay for not only dedicated followers of golf.
In the mid-afternoon a plate arrives for me at the pool – a decadent afternoon snack, and then in the early evening canapes – both treats included daily in your stay. For dinner, there are several restaurant options available at Fancourt – all a short walk from The Manor House – but perhaps the most indulgent of all is to use room service and dine on your own balcony or one of the private garden decks.
The Manor House has a coveted allegiance to the global Leading Hotels of the World network, one of many achievements for owners Dr Hasso and Sabine Plattner who have made significant investments into not only the club, but also city and country.
If you’re up for an outing during your stay the nearby Red Berry Farm offers strawberry picking and a collection of cosy eateries. For the beach-lovers, it’s a short and scenic drive to Vic Bay – one of South Africa’s most underrated beaches.
Fancourt has long been a byword for golf in South Africa, but with The Manor House, unreservedly, clearly also luxury. manorhouse.fancourt.co.za