Responsible Traveller

Situated on a southerly slope of the Helderberg Mountain, and named after the rare and endangered Silver Tree (Leucadendron argenteum), is the luxury boutique hotel Silver Forest Lodge. And much like its name sake, whose leaves have a metallic appearance and the luxurious feel of silk, this boutique hotel offers sophistication, luxury and style.

It’s clear that our hosts, Penny Rodenhurst and her partner (in business and life) Keith Barnett are no strangers to hospitality, as we’re greeted with smiles, bubbly and the enthusiastic wagging of Fudge – an adorable wire-haired terrier. Our garden suite is

beautiful, decorated in tones of silver grey, textured with velvet, silk and linen, and punctuated with the richness of gold. A wall of forest bathed in the soft glow of sunset, covered one wall… and a peak behind the bathroom door revealed the lush greenery of yet another forest. Large wallpaper forest scenes are a recurring theme here, adding to the natural ambience and tranquillity of the location. A delicious English breakfast in the Acorns Bar Lounge was followed closely by our departure for some much anticipated wine tasting at a few of the wine estates that are virtually on their doorstep. Penny and Keith take pride in promoting all that is local – not only do they serve local wines, but they delight in having their guests experience them at source. So with Keith at the helm, and together with another couple, we set off to experience a few of these estates. These vineyards, located on the southern slopes of the Helderberg, are influenced by both a maritime and mountain climate thereby producing some wonderfully unique wines. Where better to start than where it all began… at

VERGELEGEN. Founded in 1700 this estate oozes character, it’s a place where world class wines rub shoulders with historic events and political heavy weights (like Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu). We stroll the expansive gardens and wander  alongside 300 year old camphor trees – standing beside these huge trees one cannot help but feel insignificant in the big scheme of things. As does walking through the historic residential
Homestead (also dating back to the 1700’s) with its authentically furnished rooms and historic Vergelegen timeline. From its inception with Willem Adrian van der Stel planting the first vines, to the days when Sir and  Lady Phillips transformed it into a floral treasure
trove (don’t miss the rose garden) and when the Barlows planted the first orchards. To Anglo American’s huge investment in viticulture and historic restoration in the late 80s. We sit on the patio of the tasting centre, sip on Vergelegen’s Flagship and Reserve range… whilst overlooking clipped hedges and swathes of lavender.

The nearby LOURENSFORD ESTATE, once part of neighbouring Vergelegen, is where we get to pair the deliciousness of dark chocolate with the smoothness of premium wines… Chardonnay with orange, Merlot with cherry, Shiraz and chili, and my best, the honey liquor & mint, each one complementing the wine to perfection.

Next up was the MORGENSTER WINE AND OLIVE ESTATE, for a wine and olive tasting experience, in keeping with the Italian concept of producing fine wines and olives together. We sit around an old oak table from a French monastery – what stories the aged timber could tell! The deliciousness of the wine followed by lessons in olive oil – like wine, your nose and taste is individual… the smell predominantly like freshly mowed lawn and green apples, the after taste somewhat peppery. We learn that it’s really good for your health, and not to keep it on the kitchen counter!

Did I mention how wonderfully cosy the suites are? Returning from a day of wine tasting, one ‘comes home’ to a snug and welcoming space with the wood burner ‘magically’ lit in your absence (I do think that our Butler Ryan had something to do with this though). Delicious cappuccinos and a choice of fine Toni Glass Collection teas accompany fresh scones and red velvet cake for afternoon tea… then there’s the indoor/outdoor bar which is well stocked with local wine and a great selection of craft gin – loved the Inverroche. This is a place where meals come ‘home cooked’ with love or casual around the pizza oven.

And did I mention the spa? The SILVER FOREST
SPA is all about luxury, relaxation… and pampering! No weekend (especially when there’s
fab food and much wine involved) is complete without a whole lot of pampering. So once you’ve enjoyed a great sleep-in (the block-out curtains are amazing) and a wonderful breakfast, it’s time to venture to the Spa. Start off with an hour in the Forest Thermal
Suite with its subdued yet colourful lighting  and tranquil feel. This is where hot tubs, steam room, sauna, chilly plunge pool and rain showers await – remember the health benefits of hot/cold temperatures for the body. The detox in the steam room surely preparing the body for another morning of wine tasting? We are in the Winelands after all.
Next up is an hour of bliss as the stresses of past deadlines, future deadlines and all else work related gets firmly massaged away and all that fills the mind is the tranquil background music and the thought of a wonderful afternoon nap. We’re in the ‘Winter’ room, but the closest to winter is the backlit scene of bare branches on the ceiling – I’m lying beneath a fluffy duvet on a comfortably heated massage bed… Did I mention that the heating for the spa is thanks to a heat pump and that all the water at Silver Forest is from a borehole? With the ongoing drought in the region, one can relax with the knowledge that all potable water is from a borehole and that the lovely lush gardens are watered with grey water from the laundry.
Another day, another wine tasting… this time Keith and Penny introduced us to a few of the wine estates located on the northern slopes of the

Helderberg Mountain. The HIDDEN VALLEY WINES tasting centre is a beautiful piece of modern architecture making use of rock and wood to blend seamlessly into a valley of indigenous vegetation, olive groves and vineyards. The outdoor terrace with its expansive views is inviting, we enjoy the sunshine while tasting a selection of beautiful wines in equally beautiful bottles. Later we stroll beside the imposing sandstone wall to the Willie Botha Gallery, where his sculpted works are on view – near the entrance is a large sculpture of a face, the same image that graces the wine labels.

A stone’s throw down the road is ERNIE ELS WINES, a name that was previously only beautiful, dassociated with golf, but now equally so with fine wine. We appreciate the view from the outside seating area and before long we’re sipping the crisp and fruity Chenin… while  watching wannabe pros tee off under the ‘shadow’ of the Big Easy. We’ve drunk wine, talked travel, and tried to solve the world’s problems, but all good things must come to an end…

The old adage ‘arrive as guests and leave as friends’ certainly rings true at Silver Forest
Boutique Lodge and Spa. This is where Keith and Penny (and the fabulous Fudge) welcome guests into their ‘home’ – a truly tranquil space where relaxation is ensured and the personal touch guaranteed. •



Andrew or Susan
TEL: +27 21 426 0991
FAX: +27 21 422 0337
SKYPE ID: tcorp_andrew