South Africa Travel Guide
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Mont Rochelle, the latest addition to the Virgin Limited Edition family, is showing off its sexy new look, as evidenced by these photos we just got our hands on. In seemingly record time, the VLE team pulled out all the stops to open their doors last month in time for the peak travel season in South Africa's Cape.
Mont Rochelle is only about an hour's drive from Cape Town to the vineyard town of Franschhoek, so that's a plus right there. Franschhoek is considered the "French Corner" of the Cape. (that is actually literally what it means in Dutch) so expect to wine and dine as well as chill. The combination of 100-acre setting in the Klein Dassenberg Mountain Range, a French-inspired manor house, and a flag bearing the name Virgin Limited Edition, should translate nicely to a great escape.
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Based right on the promenade in Camps Bay, with the Twelve Apostles mountains behind it, it has 11 rooms – or, technically, suites. The hotel is named after the French Chateau de Marly (a 17th-century palace for Louis XIV), which is slightly random, given its location and all, but does at least give you an idea of its lux factor.
Because these are seriously swish rooms. We’re talking huge, marble-clad bathrooms with rolltop tubs and walk-in showers. Floor-to-ceiling windows opening out onto balconies overlooking either the mountains or the sea. Ceiling height coffered headboards and modern chandeliers overhead.
Previously an Orient-Express hotel, where a Sunday afternoon at La Belle Terrasse is one of our all-time brunch favorites, we can expect a new spa, two new restaurants, and a new bar in addition to the redesign of all guestrooms and suites.
If this is a little too bold for your tastes, perhaps you prefer the more subtle way of incorporating the print in the window treatments as seen below, which also shows how different the color schemes and decoration between the various room types will be.
Shark Week fans, this one’s for you. Not only is the best nature show on TV returning this weekend, but we also bring you a killer package that will let you get up close and personal with those toothy fish we have all grown to love, hate or just be fascinated with. If you happen to have a strong sense of adventure, South Africa might already be high on your list of ultimate destinations. Going on safari is probably the first thing that comes to mind, ripe with danger from angry hippos, charging rhinos and velociraptor-like ostriches (look it up, we dare you). But lets not forget what is lurking where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
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The Westcliff Johannesburg
You guys, the hotel news keeps rolling in so fast we can barely keep up with it. In order to get us all up to speed, we’ll give you a brief rundown of some of the latest news & rumors for Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Rosewood and SBE that have us mighty intrigued.
Starting in South Africa, Business Traveller reported last week the venerable Westcliff Johannesburg will move from Orient-Express to Four Seasons, and based on our own investigation, that does look to be happening. If you’ve had Sunday brunch at the glorious La Belle Terrasse, spent time at the pool, and wandered its cobblestone streets and lush gardens, you know this place is easy to fall in love with. If indeed ‘substantial’ renovations will be part of the transition, things will only get that much better.
Surprising as it might be, late next year will be the first time Four Seasons will get in on the luxury hotel action in Dubai, with a 237-room resort at the northern end of Jumeirah Beach. More in the Middle East should follow in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah, and Kuwait. Like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons is also planning on Kyoto and Casablanca, and if that wasn’t enough, we’re hearing about South America (with a number of hotels in Brazil) and various rumors elsewhere as well.
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Last week, Hilton Worldwide opened the 183-room DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Town - Upper Eastside, the brands first DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in South Africa. Yes, the name is a mouthful, but we can swallow that if it means a new affordable option for Cape Town.
We’ve noticed lately Hilton’s been stylifying (yeah, made that word up) their DoubleTree brand, and this newly reno’ed, upscale property is no exception. The lobby is filled with white latticework and vibrant nature colors of green and blue. Rooms are a mix of earthy browns, greys and whites. The Rooms range from executive and suites to two-story loft rooms located on the penthouse floor with sweet views of the city’s skyline.
The duo haven't starred in anything together since 2004's 50 First Dates. In that one, Barrymore's character suffered from a short-term memory disorder, meaning every date was technically a "first date." And according to the WSJ, this new movie will center around "a couple who, after surviving a dreadful first date, find themselves at a family resort with the kids from their respective previous marriages."
Which tells us two things: one, they clearly have a theme going here. Second, they'll be filming at a resort.
Sure enough, an insider confirms that the entire cast and crew will be heading to Sun City Resort in six weeks to begin shooting the film. The resort, which is two hours from Johannesburg, is made up of four hotels totaling 1,301 rooms, with botanical gardens, outdoor pool, hiking trails, golf course, man-made lake, and a casino.
The Palace of the Lost City Hotel (pictured above) is modeled after a "fairytale African palace," while the Cabanas Hotel is the top choice for families (so we're guessing that's where the actors will end up doing their thing.)
Concerning the three-month shoot, Barrymore told the WSJ that she's "a little worried" about the long-haul flight and "making sure there's medevac if anything happens." We can't say we blame her—when you're that far away from home, the last thing you want to deal with is an injury. How else are you supposed to enjoy the zip slides?
Rates at the Cabanas Hotel from $165/night.
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Tucked away in the heart of Johannesburg's Sandton district, The Maslowis a new hotel that's changing the face of travel to the largest city in South Africa. It's so fresh to the scene that when we were at the New York Times Travel Show last week, the country's own tourism reps didn't know about it!
Tempting world business travelers, the hotel pays respect to the world's most famous entrepenuers by naming each of their 12 conference rooms after the inspirational business people from the past. We're talking about Rockefeller, Astor, Edison, Venderbilt and Carnegie; the movers and shakers of modern day business. Even the namesake is from famous physcologist Abraham Maslow.
All 281 rooms are outfitted with calming contemporary design and free in-room WiFi. Since we have even asked how much hotel-room bathtubs get used, The Maslow offers guests the option to stay in rooms with 'power showers' or the full tub and shower set-up. With 135 of the standard rooms boasting the shower only, we know where The Maslow stands in the argument.
At first glance, you’re not sure what to look at when you go out onto the gorgeous patio of this suite at the Lion Sands Game Reserve at Sabi Sand in South Africa. The infinity pool is sure inviting, and during this time of the year when the temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees, you’d want to shed your khakis and take a quick dip.
But, what’s that lurking in the midst? It seems all is too quiet on the western front and you best keep your eyes peeled. After all, this is one of the most high-end safari experiences in Kruger National Park area and you didn't come here for nothing. In fact, this is the best time of the year to be on safari—the dry winter season.
So, this view is great and all, but surely there’s more to it than just grass?
But fear not, we're not going to be roughing it here - each massive safari tent comes with en-suite bathroom complete with these lovely open air hot showers. By day you may see all sorts of wildlife wander by (there are no fences, so animal encounters inside the camp are common), at night the view is equally stunning looking up at the star-filled sky.
We'll have more on Selous Safari Camp, as well as other lodges and retreats in Tanzania, for you soon.
The art gallery at the Ellerman House contains one of the best collections of contemporary South African art in the whole world. As a result, it's become a favorite among art collectors who go just to admire the hotel's private collection as well as take trips to other galleries in Cape Town.
But it's not just the art that's special here. The gallery itself, which is located in a cellar underneath the pool, is a fairly interesting space too. Because Ellerman House sits on a hill, the cozy gallery manages to both feel like an underground hideout while also offer some stunning views of the Atlantic ocean. And though you wouldn't exactly want to spend the duration of your stay holed up in the vault (it's only one room big), it certainly makes for a peaceful retreat.
Or, in the case of one recent guest, a great spot for napping.
Lots of hotels have presidential suites. Though we can't manage to get a video camera into all of them, we can sometimes get excited when we learn of a particular guest that has stayed in one.
Back in June, in the days leading up to Mandela Day, Michelle Obama visited Cape Town, where she reportedly toured the District 6 Museum and lunched at the Kitchen, a small deli on Sir Lowry Road Woodstock. Her hotel of choice? The Table Bay Hotel, where she, Sasha, and Malia slept in the Table Mountain Presidential Suite.