Lanzerac at sunset.
Life can be really rough. Meetings, traffic, rush, rush rush, gym, clean the house, the cat is not going to feed himself! The only way to stop the spinning and keep control is to pause, make time for yourself and give yourself over to pampering and indulgence - Lanzerac style.
Our weekends away usually go like this: grab the tent, pack the sleeping bags, gas stove, easy-to-cook grub and a litre-box of red wine. Head to the mountains and bundu bash to wherever a flat spot big enough for the tent can be found. The invite to Lanzerac promised chilled wine, good food, a massage and accommodation in a suite the size of our flat. Tough choice, huh?
This grand old estate, that was established in 1692 just outside Stellenbosch in the Jonkershoek Valley, only re-opened in July after the main operational areas of the hotel was gutted by a fire in May 2017. During the 13 months, the entire estate was closed, a design team worked hard to give the stately lady a majestic facelift and even upped the luxury a notch.
So, on a hot Sunday afternoon after a tough week, we got in our van and headed to the Boland to inspect the handiwork.
They had me at “Good afternoon. Can I offer you a glass of MCC or sparkling water?”
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MCC in hand, we were off to have a look at the place. It is old-school charming with manicured lawns, oak trees, vineyards and history. And wine. So we went to taste some under the guidance of the very knowledgeable Fundiswa. While the estate is famous for its Pinotage, is was actually the Merlot and Pinotage Rose that got our vote. Both were gentle and aromatic.
Very lazy and languid, we checked into our accommodation: a stylish, tastefully decorated suite with a massive wardrobe with all-mirror doors as the focal piece. Double doors lead from the lounge to a stoep with lounge chairs, and in the huge bathroom, the classic bath has a view over the vineyards.
Not a single room or suite looks the same and all are filled with hand-picked antiqued pieces.
“No generic furniture or compilations, except probably for the base and mattresses, were used and each piece in every room were individually sourced,” says designer Con van der Colff, who was the project coordinator for the massive redesign and restoration undertaking. “Although mainly antiques, the pieces do not reflect any particular matching style and were mainly selected for its own special character. The combination of a particular selection gives every room its own special unique character and charm.”
Bit of a step up from our orange tent...
While a nap on the enormous bed was tempting, there was far too much to still see and do. We headed for the nearest outdoor pool for a cool dip and a cocktail under the oaks before trying out the heated pool at the spa.
The spa area was not affected by the fire but was not left out of the remodelling. It is a wonderfully relaxing space.
An impressive wide, dark-wood staircase leads up to the treatment rooms and relaxation area, from where you look down over the estate’s vineyards and the Jonkershoek mountains while you gather up the energy to saunter to your next stop on the sprawling estate. (There is also a gym with an impressive view, and there is even a personal trainer available, but we gave that a wide berth and rather went exploring.)
While some of the history of the place was lost in the fire, the fire also revealed some previously unknown history.
It turns out the main building, where the fire broke out in an electrical box, was the estate’s original wine cellar, and it is probably the oldest building on the estate.
“The fire enabled us to uncover its DNA and piece its history together. We tried to retain certain elements throughout the building to reflect its transformation,” Van der Colff says. “Something very visible is the fact that the whole floor area slopes one metre from the one end to the other, which meant that the roof also slopes. We had to honour this and kept the roof at an angle. The floors were levelled over two areas, though, separated by a ramp.”
The roof structure of the building is massive, and solid pieces of spruce were sourced from Norway to rebuild it.
Though the renovations were extensive, it was so well done that it simply looks and feels like a mighty impressive building that has been very well maintained over the centuries.
“Overall, I am happy and satisfied that I was able to retain a balance of old and new,” says Van der Colff.
I felt rather happy, satisfied and rebalanced myself by the time I checked out after a sizeable breakfast and a stroll through the gardens on Monday morning - like I had my very own remodelling.
Rates if you do go: Peak Season 01 October 2018 - 30 April 2019
- Classic room R5 140 (1 guest) or R6850 (2 guests)
- Suite R9 340 (1 guest)
- Full continental and English Breakfast
- Select Mini bar replenished once a day
- Complimentary wine tasting of 5 Lanzerac Estate wines, guided cellar tour one per person per stay.
- Complimentary use of spa hydro facilities
- Complimentary transfer between the hotel and Stellenbosch town at set times
- Turndown service including bottle water
- Wireless internet
- Stellenbosch tourism levy of 1%
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* Disclaimer: Traveller24 freelance writer and News24 Night Editor Hanlie Gouws was hosted by Lanzerac.