Brookdale Estate has won the Accommodation category in the Best Of Wine Tourism Awards 2024, in recognition of the quality winelands guest experience offered by the Brookdale Manor House.
The Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism & Ambassador Awards programme celebrates innovation and excellence in wine tourism throughout 12 of the greatest wine regions in the world, including South Africa.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein mountains and hugged by a valley abundant with vineyards and fynbos, the Brookdale Manor House is a tranquil sanctuary on a working wine farm in the Paarl Winelands. With six guest suites, it is positioned as a world-class, winelands retreat to accommodate individual travellers, or small groups of family and friends travelling together. Built in a modern Cape Dutch style, it is elegantly furnished, featuring ample living spaces, extensive gardens, a pool house and terraces set around a magnificent swimming pool with panoramic views of the dramatic mountains and wine valley. Breakfast is included in the rate, with family-style lunches and gourmet dinner options prepared by the in-house chef and his team.
Yvonne Coetzee, the General Manager of Brookdale Estate says they are humbled and honoured to be amongst the high calibre of previous winners, such as Babylonstoren and Delaire Graff. ‘This award is not only for Brookdale, but for the Paarl Winelands, which deserves the recognition as it has so much to offer. We are very proud of this award which will highlight the quality wine tourism and hospitality experience on offer in this region. Around us are superb wineries, restaurants, nature trails and exceptional golfing, as well as interesting cultural and historical monuments – a myriad of attractions await to be explored from the Brookdale Manor House as base.’
Ever since its inception in 2021, Brookdale Estate has paid homage to its ethos ‘Stay Curious’. A true Cinderella story, the farm was once overgrown and underused. The Rudd family, originally from the United Kingdom, recognised the potential of the property and acquired the 67-hectare estate in 2015. In line with their vision to create a world-class country estate, today Brookdale offers exceptional hospitality and produces fine wines under the stewardship of talented young winemaker, Kiara Scott Farmer.
Recently opened on the estate, within walking distance from the Manor House, Executive Chef Gary Coetzee is at the helm of the Bistro at Brookdale Estate, which promises a relaxed, contemporary Paarl Winelands dining experience. Adjacent to the Bistro and the cellar, the Tasting Room invites guests to immerse themselves into the full Brookdale experience and sample the estate’s terroir-driven vintages, made in ever-evolving styles.
Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa has launched a new loyalty programme in support of each of its three community projects, which affords repeat guests the opportunity to give back in a meaningful and responsible way, whilst on a personal basis, enjoying a range of benefits and discounts.
Infrastructure for Mhondoro’s community projects is solely funded by the owners’ MF Foundation to provide employment, skills development and learning opportunities to staff members from the local communities and their children. These initiatives play an important role in job creation in the area; the sourcing of manpower from the immediate community; and upskilling workers to levels where they are employable, not only by Mhondoro but by other lodges and businesses too. Ultimately those with entrepreneurial spirit are encouraged and empowered to start their own businesses, or work in partnership with Mhondoro.
Located in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province), Mhondoro recently purchased two large tracts of land adjacent to the reserve, where it has established an Eco-farm, and the soon-to-be-launched sustainable Farmhouse project. Back at the lodge, the Mhondoro Wilderness School operates from an old storeroom that was transformed to provide world-class schooling to a growing number of children from the local workforce.
Membership to the Mhondoro Loyalty Programme is offered in three tiers. In each case, members make a donation towards the community projects at a set fee and purchase accommodation credits to be exchanged for room nights. Discounts are offered at a rate of 15% for Silver; 20% for Gold; and 25% for Platinum membership. The discount applies to accommodation, spa treatments, premium wines, as well as curio shop purchases. Credits bought are valid for a year and once spent, members qualify for the additional benefit of free lodge nights at a rate of 2 nights per Silver member; 4 nights per Gold member; and 6 nights per Platinum member per year.
The CEO of Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, Fritz Breytenbach shares his excitement about the project. ‘Our loyalty programme is designed to not only provide obvious financial benefits to our individual members, but holistically it creates the opportunity for repeat guests to contribute and become part of the greater good. The reserve is surrounded by several impoverished communities who will benefit directly from funds raised through our loyalty programme. A portion of the membership fee will go directly towards developing and running these community projects in a responsible and accountable way, aimed at creating more employment, upskilling talent and educating children. These projects are real and tangible, and we are proud of the fact that our guests have the option for site visits to these during their stay at Mhondoro, where they can witness for themselves the magic created by paying forward. In the words of Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
TSWALU KALAHARI RESERVE FEATURES AMONG THE WORLD’S BEST RESORTS IN THE CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER 2023 READERS CHOICE AWARDS
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve has been included for the first time in the annual Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards, placing 12th in the Best Resorts in South Africa category for 2023.
Being voted onto this prestigious list reflects Tswalu’s continued commitment towards regenerative conservation supported by nature-based tourism in one of the most remote destinations in South Africa, the southern Kalahari.
By voting for Tswalu, guests have graciously acknowledged ongoing efforts to provide an exclusive wilderness experience in three, sustainably run, luxury safari camps spread across 114,000 hectares (280,000 acres). These representthe lowest guest footprint in a private reserve in South Africa, an experience further enhanced by the guarantee of a private vehicle, guide and tracker with every booking.
“Being acknowledged amongst our incredible industry colleagues is, in itself, an incredible accolade. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve showcases the richness and diversity of what South Africa offers as a wildlife destination and is driven by two ambitions: to create an inspirational experience for our guests and a conservation vision to restore the Kalahari to itself. With every guest contributing directly to the sustainability of the reserve in a true model of eco-tourism, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to each and every person who voted for us and for being such an integral part of our journey of restoration”, says Russel Binks, Head of Marketing, PR and Sales for Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.
In announcing all the winners, Condé Nast revealed that more than 520,000 Traveler readers shared first-hand travel knowledge by rating their best travel experiences of the top hotels, cruises, countries, cities, resorts, trains, airlines, airports, spas, islands, luggage, villas, and tour operators across the globe. Now in its 36th year, the Readers’ Choice Awards, with their unparalleled legacy as the travel industry’s longest running and most prestigious accolades, remain the ultimate symbol and acknowledgment of excellence within the travel sector, highlighting destinations that have made an impact on their discerning audience.
The 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards are now live on Condé Nast Traveler’s website at https://www.cntraveler.com/inspiration/readers-choice-awards and celebrated in the magazine’s November issue.
Having earned its reputation for delivering tailor-made celebrations that exceed all expectations, The Plettenberg Hotel has now gone the extra mile to focus on the ultimate ‘wedding celebration for two’. Known as a ‘Secret Escape’, it is essentially an elopement package tailored for couples seeking an intimate celebration without the stress and demands of a traditional, big wedding.
Part of The Liz McGrath Collection, the 5-star Small Luxury Hotels of the World property promises a unique wedding experience imbued with luxury and elegance, against the backdrop of Plettenberg Bay’s breath-taking vistas.
Every individual wedding-for-two is designed around the unrivalled setting, world-class cuisine and wines, and exceptional service, with exquisite accommodation to match. The Secret Escape offer comprises of two nights in the luxury of a Premier Suite with a bottle of wine upon arrival; and Full English breakfast daily, served on the terrace or in the restaurant overlooking the bay. A private wedding ceremony is included with thoughtful touches like an elegantly designed bouquet and boutonnière; a scrumptious small wedding cake; a bottle of Villiera Cap Classique to seal the deal; and the services of a skilled photographer to capture up to 36 treasured moments.
Set in the heart of the Garden Route, hugging the magnificent coastline, The Plettenberg also offers an unforgettable honeymoon experience. Graced with golden beaches, verdant forests, and a temperate climate all year round, Plett is a romantic destination that enchants every season. Within easy reach of The Plettenberg a myriad of adventures is waiting to be explored, including endless stretches of golden beaches, Robberg Nature Reserve and guided forest trails, as well as horse trails, skydiving, sunset cruises, ocean safaris and snorkelling with seals, to name but a few.
Back at The Plettenberg, the ultimate in seaside luxury awaits. Newlyweds can unwind at the Fresh Wellness Spa, soak up the sun at a choice of two swimming pools or take a picnic to Lookout beach. As the sun sets, sip on cocktails at The SandBar and savour seafood delights at the Restaurant at The Plettenberg, before the happy couple returns to their beautiful room where they may be surprised by a special romantic turndown service to celebrate their honeymoon.
The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel & Spa (Constantia, Cape Town) has unveiled the new design and interiors of its restaurant and public spaces, following an extensive re-design of The Conservatory Restaurant and Terrace, as well as the Lounge and Bar area.
The hotel’s public areas have been transformed into welcoming, modern spaces that pay homage to its magnificent gardens and ancient Camphor trees. HotCocoa Interiors & Design have created a richly layered, and refreshingly whimsical new look that is reflective of the rich heritage of this iconic hotel and restaurant. The key design focus was to create a relaxed, indoor oasis by opening the interleading spaces to the lush gardens; with floor-to-ceiling views intrinsicallylinking guest dining and relaxation areas to nature.
The CEO of The Liz McGrath Collection, Jacqui Elliott says the upgrade of the interiors is set to take The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel & Spa to another level. ‘Moving with the times to complement the design of our guest bedrooms which are constantly being refreshed and upgraded, our grand old lady is stepping up with a contemporary new look. With its forest garden theme, The Conservatory Restaurant is set to truly live up to its name as a tranquil, yet vibrant modern space to relax and enjoy world-class cuisine and beverages. It is a space that was designed to appeal to a sophisticated audience of locals and international travellers alike, and we are therefore very excited to open our doors and welcome guests to enjoy our 5-star hospitality and service.’
MHONDORO SAFARI LODGE & VILLA in the Waterberg has launched its new Overland Safaris product, offering bespoke, guided itineraries for small, private groups of up to 14 guests, to Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and around South Africa. Currently three different itineraries are offered with set departure dates between May and September, with a Namibian itinerary to be added in 2024.
CEO Fritz Breytenbach says: ‘Mhondoro has earned a reputation as a luxury safari destination of note within the Welgevonden Game Reserve, and now offers more adventurous guests the opportunity to explore further afield whilst still enjoying the Mhondoro standard of guiding, cuisine and service, presented as a luxe, glamping wilderness experience.’
Hosted by a dedicated safari guide, chef, butler and maintenance crew, up to seven guests may be transported in each of the two custom-designed Mhondoro Landcruisers. Enclosed for longer distance travelling, these comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles have sunroofs and charging points, but also convert seamlessly into open game-viewing vehicles with raised, pop-up platforms as roof height vantage points.
Accommodation is provided in glamping tents with comfortable beds and crisp, fresh linen, set up in spectacular sites that include some unfenced, wild camping in nature reserves, complete with the basic comforts of a gas-heated hot shower and toilet facilities. Other nights may be spent in some of Southern Africa’s most famous, well-established wilderness camps, while some itineraries also include the option of stays in luxury lodges along the way. All food preparation is done by the chef on open fires with the focus on wholesome, high-end camping meals, including potjiekos, braais and fresh bread baked daily, all enjoyed along with premium quality wines and other drinks around the campfire.
Highlights of the unforgettable Botswana and Zambia overland safari that departs from Maun, includes a Ntwetwe salt pan quad-bike adventure and meerkat family experience in the Makgadikgadi region; the forest and open savanna woodland of Nxai Pan National Park in Northern Botswana; and wild camping at Khwai Magotho between the Moremi and Savuti (Chobe) National Parks on the edge of the Okavango Delta. From there the adventure continues via Kasane, the meeting point of Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe, with the option to end at Mukwa River Lodge on the Zambezi River, incorporating a visit to the Victoria Falls.
Departing from the Waterberg, Botswana itineraries can easily be added onto a stay at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, covering Mapungupwe National Park, the Tuli Wilderness and the mighty Limpopo River, before returning to Mhondoro.
Those guests who prefer to stay within the borders of South Africa, may opt for the Cape Town itinerary which starts in Port Elizabeth, visiting the Mountain Zebra National Park, Camdeboo National Park with a traditional farm stay, the Swartberg Nature Reserve and Gamkaskloof, which is know as ‘Die Hel’, onto Oudtshoorn, Montagu and Paternoster with Cape Town as final destination.
Breytenbach says Mhondoro’s Overland Safaris will cover some of the most scenic reserves and wilderness areas of Southern Africa, as well as the ancient waterways of the Okavango Delta where itineraries will include scenic flights and boat trips, and Mokoro excursions. ‘We are pleased to offer a small selection of bucket-list itineraries for those who yearn for a true African safari experience, yet one that is guided and managed by professionals to offer a safe and hassle-free safari. Families with children older than six are welcome, along with those who have a special interest in birds, stargazing, photography, and elephants! Experiencing the local sights, sounds and the wonders of Africa’s wildlife will be the order of each day – guaranteed.’
Plettenberg Bay made world headlines recently when it was certified as an official Whale Heritage Site (WHS), one of only three in South Africa. Plettenberg Bay joins The Bluff and Algoa Bay as the third Whale Heritage Site in South Africa, and one of only seven fully accredited Whale Heritage Sites worldwide where local communities ‘celebrate, respect, and protect cetaceans and their habitats’.
The Plettenberg Hotel, widely recognized as the ‘best address’ for visitors to stay in Plett, says it has noted an increased demand from guests wanting to experience whales and dolphins in their natural habitat in an authentic and natural way. The hotel is part of The Liz McGrath Collection and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, attracting nature enthusiasts locally, and from across the globe seeking to witness thewonders of the natural world.
Plettenberg Bay is situated between two Marine Protected Areas (Tsitsikamma and Robberg) on the Garden Route and supports a wide diversity of ocean wildlife, including iconic species like Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Killer Whales (Orcas) and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. The area is well known for its terrestrial and marine diversity surrounded by the Tsitsikamma Mountains, Indian Ocean coastline, indigenous forests and endemic fynbos vegetation. This Marine Protected Area serves as a crucial feeding and nursery ground for a wide variety of resident and migratory cetacean species, with the Southern right whale being one of the most notable and representative inhabitants.
Some of the most significant trends in travel seen post-Covid is a renewed interest in sustainable travel and nature-based experiences, as people become more aware of the impact of tourism on the environment and local communities. Melissa Theron, the General Manager of The Plettenberg says that the new-found Whale Heritage Site status is set to further elevate marine tourism in the Garden Route town, as it provides a clear marker for discerning guests wanting to support sustainable practices in marine culture, heritage, and biodiversity.
‘We are very proud of this accolade and look forward to more guests drawn to Plett as a responsible marine tourism destination. Apart from whale watching boat excursions, here at the hotel, our guests take great delight in dolphin and whale watching on site – from their rooms, the two pool decks or the restaurant terrace during meals. For many guests, the highlight of the day is being the first to spot a marine sighting and being able to ring our brass whale-watching bell to announce a sighting off-shore – an unforgettable experience for young and old!’
Brookdale Estate has released three new white wines, crafted by winemaker Kiara Scott Farmer at the young Paarl winery on the slopes of the Du Toitskloof Mountains. Under the leadership of the owners, the Rudd family, Brookdale continues breaking down boundaries to define its own path within South Africa’s wine industry. The new release includes the second vintage of the lauded Brookdale Estate Sixteen White Field Blend (2022) and the fifth vintage of the flagship Brookdale Estate Old Vine Chenin Blanc (2021), as well as a brand-new Southern Rhône-style, white blend, called Brookdale Estate Bradbourne (2022).
With each harvest, Kiara Scott Farmer takes an intuitive approach, responding to the growing and harvest conditions in order to curate the vine which creates the wine. She says: ‘Wines like these are largely made in the vineyard, and polished in the cellar through minimal invention practices.’ Kiara creates room in her winemaking process for the wine to reveal its potential. This means that no two vintages receive the same treatment – there are no formulas and there is no recipe. Kiara prefers to use vintage-specific techniques which allow the grapes of that particular year to showcase their terroir best.
The award-winning 2020 vintage was a hard act to follow, but the newly released Brookdale Estate Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021 meets high expectations once again, in celebration of old-vine Chenin Blanc. This vintage is yet another triumphant display of Paarl’s terroir and wine producing status of complexity and balance. The winemaker’s tasting notes refer to ‘Ginger spice and sourdough unfolding on the nose, laced with pineapple freshness, peach tea and a hint of vanilla pod. Richly textured, weighty stone fruit coalesces with vibrant, tropical nuances. On the mid-palate apricot tanginess balances creamy, salted lees. The acidity is sewn right through, fine and mineral, along a seam of subtle spice. Quince, peaches and poaching pears simmer to the finish, echoing long and resonant with fruitful generosity.’
Brookdale is a proud member of South Africa’s Old Vine Project – a collective of certified heritage vines. At the Trophy Wine Show in 2022, the Brookdale Estate Chenin Blanc 2020 took Gold with a top score of 97/100 placing it first in its category, winning the coveted Rosa Kruger Trophy for best Old Vine Wine. The wine was produced from Old Vine Chenin Blanc planted in 1985.
The maiden vintage of Brookdale Estate Bradbourne (2022) is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. Paarl is a region well-known for producing quality blends, and these varieties are particularly suited to this climate. Carefully selected, the four varietals were picked at different stages and crafted into a traditional, Southern Rhône-style blend. ‘Clean aromas of Asian pear, white honey, blossom and crushed chalk. Textured and detailed, the palate has a floaty feel, like club soda. Young quince, apples and melon abound, curving along a line of salted butterscotch to a deeper shade of waxy honeycomb. On the mid-palate the sensation of peaches and cream is run through with a lifted, lemony acidity as the wine crests into a citrus-toned finish.’
‘The sum is greater than its parts’, is how Brookdale’s owner Tim Rudd explains his passion for the lost art of field blend winemaking, discovered during his travels around Portugal. The second vintage of Brookdale Estate’s Sixteen White Blend (2022) is once again totally representative of the vintage it stems from, and in line with the winemaker’s philosophy, not much altering was done to produce the wine. Winemaker Kiara Scott Farmer says: ‘Sixteen white varietals were planted as bush vines and the fruit was picked at two different stages due to the variability of the grapes. Expect a sense of quiet luxury on the opening chords; thatch, heather, white blossom and French linen give way to green pineapple, lemon balm and fresh honey. The fruit weaves richer on the palate, silken ribbons of peach, apricot and peardrop. A squeeze of limey acidity enlivens and sculpts around lush fruit, going flintier to the side palate and evolving into an appetising mineral-saltiness on the finish.’
The iconic Marine Hotel in Hermanus has opened a new Conference and Function venue. With exemplary service and awe-inspiring views of Walker Bay, the versatile event space boasts beautiful natural daylight to make the most of its unique setting, complemented by its world-class offerings.
The light and airy event space is perfectly suited to corporate events and executive strategy meetings and getaways. It also lends itself to hosting intimate, exclusive weddings and other private events and celebrations. Half- and full-day conference packages are available, promising excellent value with the inclusion of state-of-the-art audio-visual and conference equipment suitable for in-person and hybrid events. The facility can accommodate up to 80 guests cinema style; 60 seated school room style and 56 U-shape; or up to 30 delegates in a boardroom configuration.
Head Chef Oelof Vorster takes conference breaks to another level with tailor-made offerings to suit the requirements of every individual event. Adjacent to the new venue, the dedicated Origins restaurant caters for meetings, conferences and events exclusively, seating up to 48 guests for meals or cocktails.
Michel Bouic, GM of The Marine says that The Liz McGrath Collection has paid heed to the requirements of the growing business community of Hermanus and the greater Overberg region for a world-class meeting venue that offers excellent value, with warm hospitality and service to match. ‘The venue is however also designed as an attractive option for executive meetings and smaller conferences from Cape Town and upcountry. Within 100kms from Cape Town Airport, we present a unique out of office work environment in this magnificent seaside setting on the famous Hermanus cliff path. At The Marine, conference breaks can be truly memorable as there are few places where one can breathe the champagne air and stretch your legs while watching dolphins and whales frolic offshore as you gather your thoughts for the next work session.
As a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, we take pride in our accommodation that is spacious and luxurious, offering delegates a choice of 40 hotel rooms and suites to choose from, some with sea views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.’
Less than 90 minutes from Cape Town, the seaside town of Hermanus offers a host of exciting experiences. For downtime and out of conference excursions, the area boasts a great variety of activities and attractions, from cold water swimming in the Marine tidal pool, to wine tasting in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, and sightseeing boat cruises, to name but a few. ‘At The Marine we promise successful conferencing with a good dose of Vitamin Sea – a holistic experience set to stimulate the senses and sharpen the mind’, Bouic concluded.
Brookdale Estate has introduced a new wine pairing to be enjoyed at its Tasting Room outside Paarl. Focussing on Brookdale’s range of lifestyle wines, the new ‘Mason Road Sip & Dip’ tasting includes the four wines in the current Mason Road range, each paired and enjoyed with a different, freshly made pâté and toasted baguette.
The estate has received wide acclaim for its Chenin Blancs, and it is therefore fitting to kick off with a tasting of the Mason Road Chenin Blanc 2021 and traditional Hummus. The wine is fragrant and inviting, opening with honeysuckle and pear drop, then evolving to an electric current of topicality, like an island storm – pineapple, mango, zingy squeezes of lime, the flintiness of rain. On entry a bloom of honeycomb precedes fleshy pear and that abundance of tropical fruit, around which an enlivening acidity sculpts and cools.
The Mason Road Serendipity Rosé 2022, one of South Africa’s favourite Provence-style rosés, is perfectly paired with an Olive Tapenade. A blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Cinsault, the wine has a pale salmon pink colour, with fragrant notes of hibiscus, fynbos-spice and wild strawberries unspooling on the nose. The palate is red-fruited and generous, plumped with raspberries, mulberries and sappy cherries; then lifted on the mid-palate with refreshing watermelon verve. Keenly balanced with a lemony acidity, all that beautiful, bright fruit is cradled in a fine-boned structure imbued from old oak ageing.
Moving to the reds, the ever-popular 2022 Mason Road Syrah presents dried violets and kirsch scent ripe plums, black olives and red cherries on the nose, complemented by a delicious Mushroom & Sunflower Seed pâté. Delicately savoury from a hint of smoked meat on the undertow, the Syrah shows fresh berry fruit on the palate, buoyed by a plummy acidity. Gently structured, the tannins layer in featherweight and fine along the bright red fruit profile. The finish tails in with a light dusting of black pepper spice, well balanced and refreshing.
Trailblazer Kiara Scott Farmer, the winemaker at Brookdale Estate, is known to push the boundaries of convention and her newly launched Mason Road GSM2022 is no exception. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Petit Syrah, this medium bodied red blend has a layered density of fruit, liquorice root, fennel seed and ground spice, preceding blackberries and bramble leaf on the rich, inviting nose. Red and black berries unroll to a juicy pomegranate finish, dusted with a hint of cacao. It is the final wine in the ‘Sip & Dip’ tasting line-up, once again perfectly paired with chef Gary Coetzee’s Baba Ghanoush.