Sometimes when I write about my favourite subject; – luxury travel, I imagine that I am a director of an orchestra and my ensemble is hanging on to my lead – this due to my teen years of having played the violin, I suspect. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the food and wine experience meets and supersedes my high expectations, I somehow connect it to a Mozart piece…
Arriving at the entrance of Walkersons Hotels, our home for 2 nights was a novelty of its own. The winding downward path leading to the main hotel reception is endearing, you are awestruck by the splendour of the hills and rolling grassland, pretty wild flowers, lakes, and the occasional Nguni cow spotted here and there. A reminder that it is a working farm. You get the sense that you are far away from everything and reality – perfect settings to invigorate your senses!
Walkersons Hotel has a warm, understated opulent feel to it, expressed in the use of rich textures and colours, stone – which was a vision put in place by the original owners www.walkersonhotel.co.za. The hotel is also dotted with fire-places, emphasizing the luxurious and comfortable feel. We arrived just in time for lunch served outside on the terrace of the hotel overlooking the well-maintained gardens and lake. Our Sunday lunch was a light introduction to what was to be our Gastronomic Rendezvous!
We then drove to our own private house called the Waterfall House, where we spent two nights. Walking into the Waterfall House,
I thought it would be cold as the shared spaces are tiled and it is very open and airy with high ceilings, mostly glass doors and windows. In addition, the fact that it is built on a hill and stands high up in comparison to other
accommodation on the estate. To my pleasant delight, the house was very cosy. It has a deliberate calm, comfortable, and luxurious feel with an up to date modernity. I don’t know what went into the interiors… well planned!
Waterfall House has 5 spacious bedrooms, a large and functional kitchen that is fully equipped, lounge and dining room areas, TV and games rooms – these open to a very spacious patio. All the stylish bedrooms which are individually decorated with some pop of colours, are en-suite, each with a generous bath and equally generous shower space, plus separate toilet! Two of these are upstairs – with three downstairs. A perfect space for ‘girls fun away from home’ – also ideal for families or colleagues travelling together!
I thoroughly enjoyed my bath times – the most relaxing bath I have had in a very, very long time. I am not sure whether it is the idea of my bathtub set in what felt like the middle of the valley? I think the owners with the architects of the property really took guests’ comfort to heart.
The windows in the bathroom have an option to either shut the blinds for utmost privacy, or take in the view from outside – exhale! This trend follows throughout the impeccable design of the house where beautiful exteriors seem to have been drawn into the space – creating an illusion that the structure and nature are in unison! The icing on the cake though, the majestic waterfall that I could watch endlessly, not only from my bedroom upstairs, but from inside my bed – precious! I got used to the noise of the water gushing down this feature, that on my first night back home, I suffered from withdrawal symptoms… true story. We had a few leisurely moments in between our fun filled activities that we slotted in some snoozes – the best snooze for decades!
The Science of Sleep by Shut Eye Specialist Colin Espie
‘Sleep is not an optional extra; It is a fundamental requirement.
It is the quality of as well as quantity of our sleep that matters – and it’s why a reliable schedule is a critical part of being a healthy sleeper.’
Sunday night continued our amazing hospitality and culinary marathon, all with a South African Flair to it, and inspired by locally sourced produce. Our tantalizing gastronomic ride was flawlessly engineered by the culinary maestro himself – the award-winning Chaine Chef Adri van Wieringen.
I say he is a Gastronomic Rockstar! You will have to visit Walkersons Hotel to relate. Adri prepared a gourmet braai for us, starting with some lovely fresh salad, some freshly baked ciabatta bread, fresh catch of trout salmon, – things that melt in your mouth, making your palate go Oui!
For my main, I had a perfect medium rare beef fillet that literally melted in my mouth – paired with a creamy mushroom sauce with hints of rosemary and some pepper! Unpretentious, stupendous food… We also indulged in the most beautiful bread I have ever had anywhere in South Africa – part of every meal! Some irresistible delights!
Adri’s love for food finds expression in how effortlessly he delivers each one of his dishes with pride and uncomplicated finesse. I could not stop myself from having a one on one with this ‘Maestro’.
My desire was to get the backstory of his outstanding journey that would leave a sense of, “I’m the only one in entire world to uncover this piece of nugget…” in me. Adri, unknowingly indulged me… dream made! “Each morning when I think up a menu – e.g. for breakfast; I always go back to my numerous travels for SAA and recollect the beautiful cheese platter I enjoyed or the lovely muesli I had at a hotel somewhere in Zurich or another destination we travelled to. I then think of elements to add or reinvent to make it current and more enjoyable for our guests…” That, we experienced firsthand and looked forward to each one of our meals.
I remember the lunch we had following our long walk on day two, very light, tasty, easy on the eye too… The most amazing snack, cheese and desert platter, hit all the correct notes and chords! We complimented our meal with the Pink Sparkling Wine from Vredenheim – an elegant beauty!
On our last evening at Walkersons Hotel, we were treated to a formal candlelit, dinner made up of five coursed food & wine pairing where we all dressed up, added some lipstick! Very elegant and cosy settings with some roaring sounds occasionally coming from the burning logs in the fire-place.
For more on Walkersons Hotel Fine Dining and Chaine Chef http://www.walkersons.co.za/food-and-wine/[Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an International Association of Gastronomy established in over 80 countries world-wide. The association brings together culinary enthusiasts who share the same values of fine dining, quality and encouragement and appreciation of the culinary arts. For more information visit: Chaîne des Rôtisseurs]”
Quick Tip – When booking Waterfall-House you have the option of your own private chef and maitre d – the ultimate in fine hospitality!
Winding pathways make for easy walking whether light or brisk… with eyefuls of rolling hills, fly-fishing rivers and lakes sprayed all over the estate, hidden valleys, some revealing what was my own private feature from my bedroom.
We went on a light walk on day two after a hearty breakfast. The gentle air on our faces, a bit of drizzle from time to time, stopped to spot a pretty wild flower or two, some wild birds, and a crab (I took so many pictures) – a sight I had not seen in decades. A really refreshing walk – we got to cross a bridge or two, crossed a river and came up close and personal near the waterfall… dreamy! Oh, and we look further away up in the mountain…
A train! It is red… rides through the estate just for us… (millions of pictures again) Such an unusual and pretty sight and the sound of the engine! Swiss Alps Moment in Dullstroom!
Another best moment was on our last day, when we tried our hands at fly fishing very early in the morning. We had our expert instructor demonstrate how it is done, who then allowed us to follow his lead and try. I must say, he was so good that it seemed quite easy… One of us (Melanie successfully followed the instructions).
The rest of us, well… I hooked on lots of bushes behind me. I caught absolutely nothing inside the water where the fish was… But, I really enjoyed the experience – very relaxing, requires lots of patience and practice. I would gladly try it again.
A Final Word In Pampering – Walkersons Amani Spa
From the exteriors, you know it is going to be heavenly. Stone built structure, manicured garden. serene and elegant settings, all so welcoming! I had a relaxing 60 minutes facial and slept through it. My therapist had the most angelic and soothing fingers, add to that – a very light and much needed foot massage. I felt pampered.
Getting there, it all started with packing for our stay at Walkersons Hotel which was on a bit of a heavy side for summer. Having been to Dullstroom years ago, I knew that her climate would be temperamental at times, with lots of cloud covering and sprays of mist, making it cool. This is due to her being nicely tucked on the “opposite side of the Drakensberg to Kwa Zulu Natal and set in the Highlands Meander of Mpumalanga”.
Also, it had rained almost all week non-stop. This is my ideal type of weather as one gets to enjoy the outdoor activities with little care for sunburn or fatigue, and my Samsung phone camera needed not contend with the glare from the powerful natural sunrays. The weather played up adding to the already perfect getaway! A mere three hours at the most, from Johannesburg. I think we made it in a little over two and a half hours from the Gautrain Station in Sandton, our meeting point!
So, dearest travel friends – I would say that Walkersons Hotel Is 5* Star Luxury Country Living… [As How It Should Be].
To find out more visit:
Text & Images Rebecca Kambule (Owner Rempo Consulting).
Rebecca was hosted at Walkersons Hotel for a Media Visit in March 2017.