Few regions provide the “town and country” experience as does South Africa, whose untamed wilderness is complemented by sophisticated urban enclaves. Cape Town is the ideal fly-in destination (private jets can land at the international airport by arrangement), with its varied cultures that contribute to a fabulous mix of shopping, dining, architecture and music.
For the “town” portion of your itinerary, we suggest three nights at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (www.12apostleshotel.com) on Victoria Road. Just 10 minutes from the heart of Cape Town proper, this member of The Leading Hotels of the World is nestled into a dramatic mountain range on the edge of the sea and boasts its own helipad for those who wish to fly in.
The Sea Facing Rooms and Suites overlooking the Atlantic are the obvious choice (insider tip: Request Room 103, the “Shell” room), however some prefer to gaze at the dazzling Twelve Apostles Mountain Range. The Presidential Suite, with its convenient “his and her” bathrooms, has the most dramatic views.
The Sanctuary Spa is a main event here, with a range of seven treatment rooms. Besides being an accredited Clarins Gold Spa, it’s also been sanctioned by Leading Hotels’ Leading Spas program. Speak to Spa Director Taffryn Kinsey (021 437 9000; [email protected]) to reserve all treatments ahead of time, including the signature Moya Crystal Massage, which realigns the body’s seven Chakra points.
Executive Chef Roberto de Carvalho has designed a menu around Fybnos—a plant that’s indigenous to the Western Cape area—to create unique dishes and flavors. The Crispy Duck is the most popular dish. Book three to four days prior to arrival to ensure seating. Those wishing to dine off property should sample La Colombe (Constantia Uitsig; Spaanschemacht Road, Constantia; 21 794 2390).
Concierge Duncan Gain ([email protected]) is an expert at booking customized Cape Town experiences, including helicopter rides, sunset cruises, day safaris, day tours to Cape Point and the Winelands, trips to Robben Island, whale watching, hikes, and tours of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
General Manager Clive Bennett ([email protected]) is a great contact for agents with VIPs staying at the property.
Bennett also oversees Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat (www.bushmanskloof.co.za), a South African Natural Heritage site reachable in 50 minutes via a daily fly-in air shuttle from Capetown International. If guests prefer, a guided road transfer (a three-and-a-half hour drive) can also be arranged.
The hands-on managers at this Relais & Chateaux “country” retreat are Fred and Josie Stow. Ask Fred ([email protected]; 27 27 482 2627) any question about big game lodges; he’s worked at Garonga Lodge in Limpopo Province and at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve. Josie, the guest relations manager, is the ideal contact for VIPs.
Deluxe rooms, all with fireplaces, are the way to go here, with large patios overlooking the reserve, which is home to the rare Cape Mountain zebra, as well as over 150 kinds of birds, including the African fish eagle and the Malachite kingfisher. Bathrooms provide the ultimate necessity: his and her sinks as well as separate baths and showers.
The two-room spa is run by Liezel Sieberhagen ([email protected]; 27 27 482 2627), who is also the most experienced therapist; request the Gingko Elixer Massage or the Hot Stone Therapy for a unique experience.
We recommend Head Guide James Gradwell for outdoor excursions, which can include rock art excursions, evening nature drives, hiking and mountain biking, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, stargazing and swimming in crystal-clear rock pools.
A “Heaven on Earth” package combines a stay at each property and includes value-adds such as game drives, breakfast in bed, Afternoon Tea, spa treatments