South Africa: Member Postcards: World Cup Fever
World Cup Fever
Postcard from Cari Gray, New York, October 2009
Next year, from June 11 to July 11, South Africa will host the World Cup—the first ever in Africa. The 64 matches will be played in 10 venues across the country, including Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Preparations are underway to receive 450,000 visitors from around the world, driving both tourism and investment. Some top hotels, which typically shut down for winter, will be opening up. In fact, properties as far away from Cape Town as Paarl are already sold out (these include the gorgeous Grande Roche, nestled in the vineyards 45 minutes away). Other hotels, such as the Pezula Resort outside of Knysna, are being taken over by teams for training camps. Fans can combine game watching in Nelspruit with another form of game watching in Kruger National Park, home to exquisite safari camps including Singita and Londolozi, and new accommodations are also sprouting up to coincide with the event and capitalize on the world’s attention. In Cape Town, the lavish One & Only opened to great acclaim down at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront; in Johannesburg, designer Sumari Krige has created the new, very luxe ten-suite boutique hotel, Athol Place (www.atholplace.co.za).
One of my favorites discoveries on a recent trip, however, was Hartford House (www.hartford.co.za), a special property in the Midlands, in the KwalaZulu-Natal province at the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains (South Africa’s largest peaks). The lush, green, rolling landscapes of this region bear a strong resemblance to England. Art galleries, craft boutiques, and local specialty food producers line the country roads; there are also many horse farms, including the Summerhill Estate, which boards the stallions of the Rulers of Dubai, and has over 800 thoroughbreds. Hartford House is a small family- owned lodge located on the Estate grounds that was once the home of Colonial Natal’s last Prime Minister. It’s a lovely sprawling property owned by horse breeders Mick and Cheryl Goss, with twelve suites, a spa and pool. It’s also home to Chef Jackie Cameron, who at age 27 is a force of nature and was just pronounced one of South Africa’s Top Ten chefs. For her nightly five-course meals, she uses the best ingredients, including artisanal cheeses, locally raised meats and fresh garden herbs. Her combinations of flavors and techniques are very original. Especially noteworthy are her soups, which she frequently accents with sorbet or ice cream; a personal favorite on my trip was roasted butternut soup with pear custard ice cream, pumpkin seeds and curry oil.
Read on about this member’s visit to Culinary Cape Town and the Winelands
Read about a philanthropic safari in South Africa
For tailored travel advice on how to plan a trip to South Africa, contact our booking department by calling 212-988-2611 or by sending an inquiry.— The Editors 11/09/2009