Tintswalo Atlantic, Cape Town Utopia
The winding Chapman’s Peak coastal drive, which embraces the Atlantic facing mountainside, offers a scenic drive to what feels like the edge of the world. Blanketed in indigenous fauna and that wonderful white haze that only a seaside location can boast, the drive to Tintswalo Atlantic is already a screenplay of postcard worthy views. Arriving at the hotel feels like a bit of a mystery at first, as I’m asked to park my car in a secure lot and wait for a vehicle to transfer me to the boutique hotel. As I’m escorted down the steep mountainside, it makes sense as to why I’m not able to drive down myself: the winding single carriage brick road makes for a challenging drive. As I feel myself gradually being cut off from the outside world, I may as well be ferrying off to a remote, private island destination.
As explained by the driver, Tintswalo Atlantic is the only hotel that is located within the natural beauty of Table Mountain National Park, which is also a National Heritage site. The hotel is built elevated above the ground, in an entirely eco-friendly manner. Constructed under strict requirements that if, at the end of Tintswalo Atlantic’s25 year concession agreement, the South African National Parks board requests that the structure be removed, the hotel can be deconstructed with no damage to the environment; simply plucked from the mountainside without a trace. At the base of the mountain, a friendly Tintswalo Atlantic host assists me from the car.
After the quiet of the air-conditioned vehicle, the ocean’s roar is everywhere, and I realise just how close to the water’s edge I am. Thick with the scent of salt, the gorgeous coastline air begins to soak into my skin and hair – nature’s beauty therapy! My luggage is whisked away, and I’m led to the main hotel reception.
On the exterior, the buildings look like humble, timber frame homes. It is only once I enter the hotel that I realise that I have truly arrived at a five-star, world-class hotel, with every single detail carefully attended to. The host explains that the hotel’s design and décor has been personally facilitated by the mother daughter owners, Gaye Corbett and Lisa Goosen, who are well travelled and clearly have impeccable tastes. The hotel is bright with daylight, thanks to the abundance of floor-to ceiling windows and sliding doors. With light hickory wooden floors, light lime washed beams and light painted walls –it feels like I have arrived in paradise, and every beautiful item, mirror, artwork and piece of furniture is the perfect colour, texture and hue for its designated space. Never before have I seen such harmony in décor, understated yet glorious. This is elegance!
The Tintswalo Atlantic staff members are charming and warm. If you are really fortunate, the delightful General Managers Ryno and Melissa du Rand will be there to greet you themselves, but any of the welcoming staff will make you feel as though you have arrived home. After being handed freshly made lemonade with fresh ginger, served stylishly in a Martini glass, I am ushered through the hotel for a quick tour of the facilities, the lounge, the restaurant and the main hotel deck.
The view is mesmerising, and endless. Hout Bay harbour stretches out before me, yawning into the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. The pebbled beach is quite literally at the foot of the deck with white waves crashing onto the shore just meters from where I stand. Across the bay looms an iconic mountain called The Sentinel, its dramatic profile rising above the humble fishing villages of Hout Bay and Hangberg. Hypnotised by the views, I feel as though I could stay here for hours. With some hesitance, I tear my eyes away from the scenery, as my host asks if I am ready to check into my suite. A short walk along wooden pathway sends at a beautifully carved door. I’m told that each room is named after a different Island of the world, and then decorated to reflect the personality of that island.
My suite is called Sicily, named after the Mediterranean’s largest Island, which forms a part of Italy. As I enter, I am left breathless by the knowledge that for tonight, this is my own private sanctuary. I have somehow wandered into a timeless Italian utopia, with light beachy tones, classic designs, and subtle, soft splashes of blues and beige. From flawlessly treated wooden floors and ceilings, to textures and fabrics that have been hand selected to give this suite its own persona, to the giant freestanding tub in the en-suite bathroom, I am surrounded by understated luxury. Add to all of this, more floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors throughout the suite, and my own private balcony overlooking the beach with panoramic ocean views!
After a brief tour of the room’s facilities, my host departs, leaving me to settle and unpack some personal comforts – not that much is needed here! A jar of home-made cookies tempts me, as does my very own illy coffee machine! After helping myself to a fresh espresso, I spend some much needed time on my patio chair, breathing in the sea rich air and letting time pass me by. Once I’ve whiled away a full hour paging through a magazine, I decide to change into my swimsuit and head back to the main hotel.
The hotel features a heated swimming pool, built directly over the beach – with the weather co-operating so well, it would be a sin not to take a dip while here! Heated to a delicious37 degrees, the water provides a balmy swim just a stone’s throw from the frigid Atlantic surf, which is crashing onto the pebbled beach just beyond the deck. Later, the sun descends toward the horizon as I am welcomed onto the hotel deck for refreshing sundowners and the most delectable canapés that have graced my taste-buds – mouthfuls of pure delight, some of them served straight from a braai. I have to resist the urge to completely overindulge myself, because I know that dinner consists of five courses! So I sip my cocktail instead and watch as the sun disappears behind The Sentinel.
The kaleidoscope of colours that evolve before me is just inconceivably beautiful – this deck is arguably the best location to watch a sunset in Cape Town. I can only imagine that marriage proposals, birthdays, weddings and special occasions would be simply unforgettable here! However, dining at Tintswalo Atlantic is a special occasion all on its own. The kitchen is managed by executive chef, Jeantelle van Staden, and it’s my lucky day, because she is on duty and in top form. It’s explained to me that the menu at Tintswalo Atlantic changes daily, and that the chefs are able to cook according to each guest’s preferences– I’ve never heard of such a personalised culinary (and overall!) experience, and it’s one of the things that impresses me most about this hotel.
I don’t want to give away too much, but I do take Chef Jeantelle’s advice when it comes to one of the courses, and I order the Confit Duck and Feta Bon Bon, which is served with Minted Peas, Spiced Plums and Shitake Mushrooms and Cinnamon Jus. This is one of the Chef’s favourite meals, and I can understand why! She explains that they confit the duck overnight. The meat is then left to cool, before being shredded and layered over a cube of truffle marinated Danish feta. This is then crumbed and deep-fried… it is heavenly!
I must also mention that there is a large window between the dining room and the kitchen, which makes for a wonderfully personal, interactive cooking encounter, and it’s fascinating to watch as your meals are prepared right before you. This is a huge highlight, whether you are a serious connoisseur, or a casual diner.