And it’s free at the A4 Arts Foundation
The Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch
Spacious village-style accommodation on one of SA's most historic, forward-thinking farms
At the four-star Spier Hotel in the Stellenbosch Winelands, guests aren’t just offered a bed and a morning meal; they’re promised a full farm-style experience. Tucked away on one of the oldest and most celebrated wine farms in South Africa, the family-friendly lodging has 1100 hectares of pastoral pastures, leafy vineyards and spectacular scenery at its doorstep, and guests are invited to get lost in the bucolic beauty of the grounds.
The main reason that overnighters have this rare privilege even in today’s crazed, commercial climate is because Spier continues a tradition of farming that stretches all the way back to 1692 when the property was first established. Burly cows still feed in the distance, chickens still peck happily around dusty paths, ancient grape vines still lift their heads to the afternoon sun and the property as a whole, though now quite contemporary, still exudes a sense of natural balance and pastoral calm. What’s more, on slow ambles around the venue, visitors will also encounter a scattering of old gabled Cape Dutch-style buildings, including the Manor House and South Africa’s first dated wine cellar (1767), that have been beautifully preserved.
The hotel itself, though erected much more recently in 2000, was also built to reflect a slice of the Cape’s diverse heritage. The 153 tastefully appointed rooms are found in a cluster of colourful, flat-roofed buildings that are reminiscent of homes in the historic Bo-Kaap and arranged in the style of a little village to, as General Manager Joep Schoof says, “recreate the intimate and relaxed atmosphere of a small town where pedestrians have right of way.”
And in addition to boasting a quaint hamlet-style set-up, like the grounds as a whole, the accommodation channels that serene farm feel too. All of the chambers – there are standard and superior rooms as well as four suites – boast a large fireplace and terracotta tiling in the en-suite bathrooms, and the downstairs ones open onto shaded outdoor patios. Plus, those rooms that don’t face onto a lush courtyard with a swimming pool (the houses huddle around six such quads) peer out over sprawling lawns and hulking mountains and are serenaded night and day by the sweet, calming sound of the bordering Eerste River.
But of course, as much as the Spier Hotel is inspired by the heritage and farm ambience of its location, it’s also all about contemporary comfort, on-trend touches and an innovative approach to hospitality. In Joep’s words, “the focus is both on where we’ve come from and where we’re going”.
So, in line with keeping up with the times, the quarters all come with various modern conveniences, like minibars, hairdryers, safety deposit boxes, flat-screen televisions, tea and coffee stations and enormous beds, and they’re sunny, airy and incredibly spacious. To make overnight stays easy and comfortable for families, there are also a few inter-leading rooms as well as toy boxes, plenty of play spaces, babysitting services and a children’s clubhouse that runs fun kids’ programmes.
Another stand-out feature of the accommodation – and example of the farm’s progressiveness – is the striking contemporary artworks that adorn the walls. Spier is an avid supporter of the local arts and its vast collection of pieces by emerging and established artists (including some well-known names like Tamlin Blake and Ricky Dyaloyi) is exhibited throughout the hotel and in the farm’s various communal spaces. Needless to say, sleeping at this spot is almost like resting your head in a cosy, inviting gallery.
But aside from its cultural commitments, where the four-star property is really showing off its pioneering potential is within the realm of responsible tourism. The hotel was one of the first in the country to be Fair Trade-certified, it incorporates a number of eco-friendly touches (like water-wise showers and electricity-saving key cards), recycles 100% of its waste water and supports neighbouring communities through entrepreneurship projects.
On an even broader level, the whole farm does its bit for sustainability by adopting a very forward-thinking sustainable farming approach. This organic agricultural method works in harmony with the environment’s natural cycles to rear healthy, happy cattle and hens and cultivate plump vegetables and legumes, all of which go directly to the winery’s on-site Eight restaurant or the hotel’s elegant dining space.
When guests are not tucking in at one of these two spots, picnicking on the ground’s rolling greens or sampling award-winning wines in the state-of-the-art tasting room, they can take a stroll out into the pastures – there are a number of tours on offer – and see for themselves how this Cape Winelands destination is pushing forward and promoting a fertile, balanced ecosystem.
It goes without saying, a stay at Spier will leave visitors with much more than just the memory of a good night’s sleep; it’ll anoint them with a rested soul and the sort of rejuvenating joy that comes with living the farm life.
Tip: As Spier has no less than 12 different conference and function venues, it’s a great place to stay if you’re hosting or participating in business meetings, seminars, workshops or any other sort of event. The rooms can accommodate anywhere between 14 and 450 people. Audiovisual and presentation equipment can be supplied.
Booking a room at Spier Hotel: To book a stay at this beautiful farm, phone +27 (0)21 809 1100 or email email@example.com.
By Dayle Kavonic
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