Who needs rose-tinted glasses when you can explore beautiful Plettenberg Bay from the flower-filled comfort of Kurland Hotel?
Text: Nicky Furniss
I make life for my partner very difficult, because while other girls favour tulips and proteas, my favourite flowers have always been sweet peas – not something you ever see in the cut flower display in Woolies. When I was a child my mother planted sweet peas every Autumn and when they emerged each Spring, she would train their tendrils up bean poles so that we would have bunches of purple, pink and white blooms all over the house for months. I can still remember the feel of the texture of a sweet pea stalk lying in my hand, not to mention the beautifully heady scent of their flowers.
And so, I was momentarily transported back to the sunny days of my childhood when I headed to my first breakfast in the dining room at Kurland, where the tables were crowded with silver and glass vases of fresh flowers. And not just my beloved sweet peas but also large, overblown roses – the kind we used to gather in huge bouquets from my grandmother’s rose garden; the type that open all the way without flopping their heads over; the kind that still smell, lending their perfume to that of the sweet peas to create their own nostalgic fragrance.
It’s All About Family
But then, it is hardly surprising that Kurland evokes happy childhood memories, because it too – long before it became a five-star hotel, renowned for its polo facilities and onsite spa – was a family home. In fact, the same family have owned the estate and its late 19th century farmhouse since 1941. The earth and clay clod house was added to over the decades, eventually swapping its paraffin lamps and candles for electric lightbulbs, and its old sheds and stables with cottages and a new barn. Generations of the Behr family experimented with
farming the land with the likes of chicory, grain, fruit and Tung nut trees, but it was the swathe of pine trees planted by the family’s patriarch, Baron Peter Behr – a Russian émigré who is credited as one of the discoverers of the Namaqualand diamonds – that bore the most fruit, or should we say, timber. All the while it steadfastly remained a family home, until Nicolas’ grandson, Peter, and his wife Dianne initiated a new chapter in the old estate’s life by turning it into a hotel. The family touches remain though. From the décor, and the
old-fashioned rose garden, to the warm hospitality of Peter and Dianne themselves who have created a family in their staff, many of whom exhibit an almost proprietary pride as if they were welcoming you into their own home. Then of course, there is the silver service room service trays, the obligatory afternoon tea, and the G&Ts on the large, rambling veranda as the horses nibble in the paddocks below. And while Kurland may now be best known for its connection to polo, this is the kind of polo where the dogs and children are allowed – nay, encouraged – and you are welcome to don your wellies, and leave your Louboutins in the cupboard. So non-society types need not feel intimidated – although there is always the option to dress up for a fun day out when the estate hosts its polo tournaments.
A Plett to Suit All Tastes
The nearby town of Plettenberg Bay, is also made in this mould. There are certainly opportunities to dress up in your finest, or strut your latest bathing suit on the lovely beaches, but you can also just as easily pop on your plakkies and be a tourist for the day. One of Plett’s latest dining successes is The Bungalow – which with its beach view, pool, and row of surfboards propped up on the fence – is wonderfully relaxed. Pull up a chair, or a bean bag, or even a beach towel around the pool and feast on delicious light meals. And there is no need to change out of your cozzie. For a night out, The Fat
Fish is a firm town favourite. You can expect to wait for hours to get a table here in season, and rightly so. Their sushi and seafood are exemplary and they also go out of their way to promote the area’s locally produced wines, many of which are excellent.
Hermanus may be SA’s whale Mecca, but Plett has its fair share of these giants of the sea. Ocean Blue Adventures offers fantastic whale-watching trips, where, depending on the season, you can see everything from Humpback and Bryde’s whales to dolphins and even sharks. One aquatic poser that is always guaranteed is the Cape fur seal. You’ll often see one bobbing alongside the boat, while the Robberg Peninsular is the seal version of Kurland, with thousands of them making themselves very much at home on its rocky shores. You can also toast the seals with a glass of bubbly in hand on board a yacht as you sail around the bay, nibbling on strawberries and sunbathing on deck. Based in Knysna, Ocean Sailing Charters have magnificent yacht that you can charter for a more exclusive view of Plett, not to mention being the best place for a sundowner.
Whether you have spent your day enjoying the comforts of the other half, or gone incognito as a tourist for a day, Kurland offers a warm welcome home, with a wallow-worthy bathtub and a fluffy bed awaiting, and the heady perfume of sweet peas.
Plett from the Air
Plett Air Safaris offers scenic flights over the area offering breathtaking views of the entire Plettenberg Bay coastline. Should you wish to add a touch of safari to your seaside holiday, Plett Air Safaris also off ers fl ights to Shamwari Private Game Reserve and Kwandwe Private Game Reserve as well as a direct link to the historic town of Graaff -Reinet for visits to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve and Samara Private Game Reserve. Visit www.plettairsafaris.co.za for more information.
Kurland: email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kurland.co.za.
Ocean Sailing Charters: www.oceansailingcharters.co.za
Ocean Blue Adventures: oceanadventures.co.za
The Bungalow: www.thebungalowplett.co.za
The Fat Fish: www.thefatfi sh.co.za
Plettenberg Bay Tourism: www.plett-tourism.co.za