BEST FOR: Families
A dilemma for many parents in need of downtime is: “But what will we do with the kids?” Answer: a bush holiday with all the trimmings. Shangri-La Country Hotel & Spa in Modimolle, Limpopo (an hour from Jo’burg) is bang in the middle of the bushveld and ideal for tired adults with energetic offspring. While you recover your Zen in the spa, the kids will be entertained with a supervised school holiday programme that includes cooking classes, action cricket, touch rugby, swimming pool games, painting and clay-modelling. Once you’ve had your me-time, join them for game-viewing: the hotel’s fenced breeding programme means you’ll see plenty of springbok, impala, nyala and rare antelope species. There’s also adrenaline-pumping fun close by in the form of zip-lining, 4×4 trails, hot-air ballooning, horse-riding and abseiling. Tel: +27 (0)41 718 1600.
BEST FOR: A country escape
If the wine estates of the Swartland revolution have piqued your interest, book lodgings in Riebeek-Kasteel, a charming hamlet in the heart of this rural area. While country inns and French Provençale-style boutique hotels are plentiful, we discovered the quirky Red Tin Roof, a laid-back guesthouse with loads of appeal. Owned by journalists Jacques Pauw and Sam Rodgers, it’s a fun space (packed with artifacts, art and memorabilia accumulated from their global travels) where guests can chill out, eat and sleep. Expect sculptures from Mali and the Congo, ancient Arabic scripts from Timbuktu, Vietnam war posters and an original Chinese poster celebrating the life of Chairman Mao. Tasty meals celebrate boere-retro cuisine in the on-site Swartland bistro. Think burgers on vetkoek, biltong-laden pizza, mealie bread and slaphakskeentjies (cocktail onions in mustard sauce). Tel: +27 (0)22 1000 292.
BEST FOR: Couples
While big-name estates might lure you to the winelands, seek out a tucked-away sanctuary at which to stay. Webersburg Wine Estate near Stellenbosch describes its accommodation as “romantic, relaxed and refined” – and we couldn’t agree more. While there are beautifully decorated rooms in the Jonkershuis (historically the residence of the farmer’s eldest son) and charming cottages, it’s the original manor, built in 1786, where you should rest your head. This handsome Cape Dutch building boasts yellowwood floors and ceilings and has been decorated with antique furniture and plush fabrics. This expansive house can be booked privately and peaceful lounges and an inviting swimming pool could easily make you feel as if you’re lodging at a private residence. And let’s not forget the sublime wine. We recommend you and your partner celebrate with a bottle of the estate’s Méthode Cap Classique Brut. Tel: +27 (0)21 881 3636.
BEST FOR: A seaside holiday
Durban beachfront hotels and resorts have long been the haunt of SA’s holiday-makers and sun seekers, and now there’s another property worth checking into too. Tsogo Sun’s refurbished Garden Court Marine Parade needed a makeover after 30 years of guests streaming in and out of its doors. Although freshened up and modernised, the core elements of its Seventies architecture have been retained to ensure the property doesn’t lose its vintage cool. It features 352 sea-facing rooms and a pool on the 30th floor – think expansive views of the beachfront, harbour and city. A great option if sun and fun on a legendary Durban beach fun are your kind of getaway. Tel: +27 (0) 31 337 3341.
BEST FOR: A bush retreat
Want a secluded bush holiday with at least some creature comforts? Gondwana Game Reserve’s tented eco-camp offers a close-up wildlife experience without too much “roughing it”. Situated on a 1 000ha private game reserve on the Garden Route near Mossel Bay, this is the only fynbos reserve in the world where the Big Five roam freely. The camp’s all about participation: the five-night conservation getaway is aimed at guests learning bush skills and getting involved in veld and wildlife management, as well as with the local community. Expect game drives, cheetah-tracking and vegetation surveying, after which you return to your tented camp (powered by solar energy or gas with private en-suite bathrooms) for a hearty fireside meal. And it’s not all work: there’s time out for hammock lazing and swimming in a reservoir pool. Tel: +27 (0)21 555 0807.