In the week following World Travel Market Africa (WTMA) 2018, with the assistance of my South African Destination Management Company (DMC), I planned to do a tour along the famed Garden Route. While I couldn’t do the entire route, I did get a feel for this beautiful part of South Africa. Here are 5 unique discoveries I made during this super fun Road Trip through the Garden Route of South Africa!
1- Surprising History & Great Location
The first day of my post WTMA travels started with my checking out of my beloved Westin Cape Town. I only ventured across town to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Mowbray. The Marriott International had purchased the Cape Town based Protea Hotels in 2013. I was really interested to see how after 5 years how the integration into the Marriott fold had worked.
The Mowbray sits on one of the oldest Land Grants in South Africa. The main building is a converted Cape Dutch Manor House. For those who love history, this is a perfect place to stay in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
The River Club is nearby for those who love to golf. I attended a meeting at The River Club prior to WTMA and had a chance to speak with Jonathan, The River Club’s Sales Executive, tour the facilities, and see the course. The River Club, built in 1939 and now under new ownership, has undergone a deep renovation. Need a bit of inspiration for your game? If you hit a hole-in-one you win an Audi A1.
In addition, The River Club gets my award for one of the best named pubs in the world, “The Slug & Lettuce.”
2- The Best Afrikaans Sunday Brunch – Ever!
As we took off on a bright Sunday morning from Cape Town, we had a long 5 hour car drive ahead. I looked forward to traveling with my business colleague and family friend, Michael. Michael has all the qualities of the perfect traveling companion. He remains calm under pressure, and loves good food and luxury travel. So, leave it to Michael to find one of the best meals I’ve had in South Africa!
Located on South African Route 62, The Rambling Rose Restaurant in Montagu offers an exceptional Afrikaans Sunday Brunch. Having been traveling to and working in South Africa for 10 years now, the bar is set pretty high for delicious food. And, bar none this was the most delicious traditional Afrikaans food I have ever eaten. Their homemade Peri-Peri Sauce was so good, I ate half a large sized bottle. Nyom-Nyom!
3- When in the Western Cape, You Can Always Find a Local Wine!
The first overnight of our roadtrip was in the “Ostrich Capital of the World” Oudtshoorn. Here we stayed at Mooiplaas Guesthouse and Spa. In addition to getting the Estate Wine, another “Insider Tip” is to ask for “Guesthouse II.” If it is available this beautiful property is secluded across the road from the original Guesthouse. And, the staff is awesome. If you want to have wine with dinner, they will come and pick you and drop you off. And, be sure to take advantage of the Stargazing after dinner.
4- A Restaurant Who Can Even Cater To Jains
Located in the stunning town of Mossel Bay, Café Gannet Restaurant has a bright, relaxed-sophisticated interior and bar area overlooking the Indian Ocean. I met Managing Partner Janine at WTMA and was highly impressed with Café Gannet Restaurant’s ability to meet some of the most obscure dietary requirement, with one of those being the restrictive diet of Jains. The Restaurant has several stylish private rooms, perfect for a casual Business Dinner or privacy for a family traveling together.
We had a relaxing, delightful lunch and would make Café Gannet Restaurant a must-stop in Mossel Bay.
5- Small, Private Game Lodges Can Offer Niche Safaris
Would it come as any surprise that I believe each Safari experience has its merits? Located approximately 3 ½ hours (depending on road construction) from Cape Town is the Garden Route Game Lodge. The Lodge is going through a bit of an expansion. The owners of Garden Route Game Lodge are redoing the entire pool area, building a new spa, and adding more Villas. They are also acquiring more adjacent properties to increase their size.
We are placed in the Luxury Villas and the Owners’ eye for detail is clear. I found the amenities on par with 5 Star Luxury Safari Lodges. And, for those who are looking for a close Safari experience near Cape Town, Garden Route Game Lodge has exceptional Safari Guides. The other advantage with the location is that it is Malaria free. Thus, if you wanted to do a Beach / Golf / Wine South African Vacation, but still wanted to get in a Safari, this might a good place for you.
6 – Business Hotels Can Offer Great Services for the Weary Traveler
Nearing the end of my over two week Business Trip to South Africa, I chose to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch. This is in what is called “Techno Park.” This hotel is a Conference and Meeting Center. It is so large they offer to take you to your room in a golf cart.
There is an additional Protea property in Stellenbosch, which has a spa. But, I knew I wanted to get laundry don, completely repack my two huge bags, and prepare for the 22 + hours flight home, which included an 8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar. Thus, I wanted a hotel which catered to the Business Traveler.
Disclaimer: I do get upgraded by Marriott Properties, due to my Silver Elite Status. But, I pay for all my rooms. None of the above hotels were comped. This way, I believe I can give an honest, full assessment. I do not “owe” the owners of the properties a good review.
The last two days in Stellenbosch were spent Wine Tasting & Touring. I will cover those in detail in another blog post. I had a wonderful experience on the Garden Route. This was the first proper “Road Trip” I had taken in quite a while. And, it made me want to go back and visit all the other great Lodges, Restaurants, and Properties along the famed Garden Route of South Africa.