With information on social media able to travel around the globe at near speed of light, media ‘rules’ such as news embargoes are a little retro in what is now a disrupted information space.
Traditionally, a press release or information regarding a newsworthy event might be embargoed, meaning that while the information has been shared with a specific audience, it is prohibited from being released to the public or widely disseminated in any way until the specified date.
Hear something juicy by word of mouth these days and its almost guarantee that everyone and their Auntie Dorothy has already shared it across at least one media channel. Rapid information sharing has never been so easy by so many people, which raises the stakes for embargoed news.
When old news is good news
An example of embargoed news might be as follows; imagine John Lennon was still alive and after much negotiation with the promoters, a large venue had secured a booking for the musician to perform a concert.
Once the deal had been confirmed, both the promoter and the venue would share the news to a group of contractors, suppliers and local media in order to co-ordinate plans in preparation for the public announcement of the imminent event.
Marketing materials would have to be written, approved, signed off and printed according to strict marketing protocols. Box offices would need to prepare their ticket booking calendars and have the listing uploaded. Hotel accommodation would need to be booked. Advertising space across a variety of daily, weekly and monthly publications would need to be secured and key media informed so they could schedule the news into their publishing calendars and have adequate time to gather additional background news about the artist to prepare accurate or in-depth news features and interviews.
This would be when a press release would be sent with an embargo informing the recipients of the event but stating upfront that they would only be able to share the news on a specified date.
An embargo is usually agreed between both parties – the side announcing the news and the side receiving it. Should the embargo be breached – perhaps by a gossip columnist looking for a scoop or an editorial intern unaware of the meaning of an embargo, it can have serious repercussions for all involved but especially regarding the legal agreements between the promoter and the venue, as well as the reputation of the publication or media title.
Additional industries such as government communications, the health industry and scientific news sources may also make use of embargoed news.
Quoting ‘Off the Record’ does not guarantee anonymity
Just as there is a source to every river that flows to the sea, shared information has a way of finding itself back to the creator and it pays to only ever share information that is accurate, factual and which represents integrity of knowledge.
It still amazes me how often I hear client revealing information about their company or personal life with a throw-away line about ‘this part being off the record’ when being interviewed by the press.
You are never off the record whether you are speaking to an editor or journalist – or your best friend – and should only share information with the knowledge that it immediately becomes public knowledge the minute it leaves your mouth.
In the same way, unless a publicist has a firm business agreement in place with the media outlet, sending out a media release with an embargoed date does not ensure your request will be followed.
How do you experience five star luxury when on a mobile tented safari in the African bushveld?
It’s a matter of simply deciding which pristine natural wildlife reserve or Big 5 game region you would like to experience and leave the finer 5-star details to your hosts.
As the only 5-star rated mobile safari outfitter on the continent – and a World Travel Awards winner as the World’s Best Glamping Operator, Hayward Safaris has been taking big-group corporate incentive teams, royalty and Hollywood celebrities on safari for 25 years.
You can be forgiven if, like one or two safari-virgin guests, you are initially wary of what some might perceive as ‘ bush camping’. This perception always evaporates into open blue skies as soon as you are welcomed into camp.
What sets Hayward Safaris apart as the best safari experience in Africa?
We bring you five star reasons that will have you tracing in the footsteps of some of the most renown adventurers on the continent whilst being hosted in complete comfort and style, as your senses take in all the colour, vibrancy and excitement Africa has to offer.
Firstly, what is 5-star in South Africa?
A five-star rating assures you your experience is outstanding. South Africa’s star system is an internationally recognised system of quality assurance evaluated by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Five stars is the best possible quality experience you can receive in the country. According to the TGCSA, your safari is a top notch, first class safari – and Haywards Safaris is the only mobile safari outfitter to hold a 5-star lodge rating.
The Tourism Grading Council applies strict internationally acknowledged criteria to its grading process and is known as a world leader in this industry. With a single glance at the star rating, international visitors can recognise world-class quality and service excellence.
“When we promote our five star graded mobile safaris to event professionals and international meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) agents, we are helping South Africa achieve the highest level of quality assurance which improves the country’s competition edge globally,” says Owner and Adventure Extraordinaire Peter Hayward.
“Our five -star rating assures international guests that they are receiving the optimal value for their money and give the customer expectation the paramount position it deserves. We are passionate about South Africa and want to show all it has to offer. We can only offer a complete experience if every detail of a guest’s safari event or expedition is delivered to the highest standards of service.”
What sets Haywards apart from other safari experiences?
“We are a big group mobile safari outfitter which caters to between 40 and 200 guests either for a corporate events, product launches, safari destination weddings or exclusive private safaris. Our first question to you is, we have a 5-star safari camp, where would you like it?”
The Hayward’s 5-star experience is not accessible to just anyone. Haywards doesn’t do FIT or single tourist bookings. A mobile 5-star camp is an exclusive venue set up in remote areas for large synergistic groups. It provides an exclusive and secluded private event experience in some of the most remote and pristine nature environments to be found in the world.
Each experience is rooted in the positioning of the mobile camp and your bespoke access to the extravagance of Nature herself.
A mobile safari takes you out of the four walls of a traditional safari lodge and brings you into direct commune with your environment where you wake, sleep, partake in walking safaris, game view the Big 5 in private reserves where there are no other vehicles to be seen in your photo frame. Experience night drives, game tracking and wildlife tagging, sunset cruises, and engagement with rural communities who offer a glimpse into the vast wisdom of their heritage.
A Hayward’s Safari is hands-on and tangible and reminds you of your earliest origins.
For those who don’t want to waste time or budget on complicated logistics or the hassle of travelling long distance to Big 5 safari destinations in long-haul regional destinations such as Mpumalanga, Namibia, or East Africa, Haywards Safari Headquarters offers a Big 5 camp location set within a private section of the Dinokeng Wildlife Reserve, just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg International Airport and offers a safari experience that surpasses the Kruger in intimate safari encounters. .
Each group safari experience is distinct to the other. This is because each group is offered a bespoke event orchestrated from the start to meet the client’s specific requirements. In preparation for your arrival, Haywards have ordered and stocked your hand-picked wine list, your imported whiskies, brandies and cigars.
Each evening is themed specific to the aspects particular to your event and daily activities and entertainment proceeds according to your preset travel programme.
The South African Corporate experience should be at home
With strong international safari aspiration, many of the Hayward’s mobile safaris are booked by international agents for global corporate conglomerates.
“We would like to see more incentive professionals keeping our blue-chip corporate incentive groups based here in South Africa. We have an internationally recognized incentive and event offering which helps us to support our growing tourism economy in South Africa.
Instead of sending corporate travel budgets and event funding over-border to Mauritius, for example, we ask event professionals to consider our own exclusive incentive offerings. Many South Africans already vacation in Mauritius and it’s an experience they can book themselves on their own budget.
“We are a world class experience as evidenced by the guests we have hosted over the years and South Africans should have the opportunity of experiencing it too.
While we do offer very exclusive mobile lodges in the Kruger National Park, it is a completely private experience where you won’t see another vehicle or group as you are hosted in an exclusive area set aside just for you. The same goes for the Okavango Delta, the Cradle of Humankind or a private safari in the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site where we offer a Big 6 elite service and adventure experience that is totally intimate and private.
Where does South Africa’s service standards play a part?
The only way to understand the level of safari service offering is to visit the Hayward’s client feedback page on their website. Every safari event is rated personally by individual guests over a 10 point service offering. Feedback is examined and anything below 9.5 out of ten points is given in-depth attention.
As a five-star offering the Haywards mobile safari camp is complete with a butler service there to prepare hot water for your en suite bathroom, a turn down service, escort you to the dining tents and bring you morning coffee and biscuits. Not just the butlers however, the entire staff crew are there to know the guest’s names, anticipate their needs, share information and advice and provide a bespoke and personalized service through attention to detail.
Your luxury accommodation features the sophistication of king-size beds, extra seating, Africology skin and bath products and detailing which is carried through to the luxury Spa, private Club lounge and gourmet 18-course dining events rendered with extravagant white nights décor and entertainment typical of safari trader experiences of days past.
“We have never received a rating below 9.5,” says Hayward, “We proudly claim to be extraordinary in every manner. I have never missed a single safari event since our inception.
“This is not a helicopter-style management camp. My team is a professional core outfit of game rangers, guides, highly trained, armed and experienced in working in the bush and there to protect lives. In camp we have private housekeepers, butlers, chefs and silver service waiters on 24-hours attendance necessary on safari; if you’ve never seen a herd of elephant walking through camp it can be quite staggering especially if you come from Europe or the US.
“We only work with the industry’s best and most renowned scientists and astrologers, entertainers and event professionals, and we have even had the privilege of staging the Dire Straits rock band who played for a private clients 60th birthday party.
The niche mobile 5-star safari differentiation
Responsible tourism makes up a large part of Hayward Safaris offering as well as its eco and conservation focused accomplishments.
A big group Sacred Safari is a high-end safari camp which is based within local communities and generates funds for future community empowerment and education within a conservation mindset. Each safari groups participation contributes significantly to the areas visited, within schedules, special programmes and projects.
The conservation of the land through a ‘leave no trace’ principle, together with heritage tourism initiatives and Haywards own corporate social investment arm Celia in Africa is what underpins the mobile safari, while maintaining a sustainable tourism business offering for the international market.
“Each safari event or expedition in South Africa, or in any of the other country destinations we visit is backed by our five star grading imperative which provides a real partnership for quality and one that unlocks business growth and contributes in growing South Africa as a competitive global destination,” confirms Hayward.
Put on your pith helmet and get set to safari – and if you don’t have one, Haywards has one for you so you can immerse yourself in your once-in-a-lifetime romantic Out of Africa style safari escape.
About the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa:
The TGCSA was established in 2002 and operates as a business unit of South African Tourism and is the only officially recognised quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa. Visit www tourismgrading.co.za for more.
About Haywards Grand Safari Company:
Hayward’s Grand Safari Company provides private groups of 40 to 200 VIP guests with an authentic 5-star mobile tented safari camp experience in pristine wilderness reserves across the African continent. Each bespoke luxury camp guarantees clients total event exclusivity and superior guest comfort.
Rated as the only 5-star mobile Safari in Africa, hosts Peter Hayward and Celia du Preez, are appointed by leading multinational blue-chip companies, royal contingents, presidents and renown celebrities alike for their award-winning brand launches, internationally acclaimed celebrations, weddings and superior conferences and events, ensuring Hayward’s remains the epitome in authentic, Out of Africa style and luxury.
With headquarters based on a 2 500-acre private game reserve north East of Pretoria in the all new Dinokeng Region of the Gauteng Province South Africa, Hayward’s have been creating once-in-a-lifetime memories for global clients for well over 20 years.
A luxury home? An art collector’s gallery? Or a Castle of Views in one of the finest positions to take in the beauty of Chapman’s Peak on Cape Town’s internationally sought-after Atlantic Seaboard coastline? We’ll let you decide… Private viewing to purchase by appointment below.
With priceless 180-degree views across the Bay of the most famous tourist attraction in Cape Town – Chapman’s Peak Drive look out point – this designer Hout Bay home, built by German travel author and international lifestyle personality Dieter Losskarn, is now available for sale on the private property market.
Commanding attention from its front row position in Hout Bay Heights overlooking the Bay’s private Yacht Club, popular Bay Harbour Market and vibrant fishermen’s wharf, its three-story elevation is a marvel of expansive space which stretches across three levels of floor to ceiling windows.
Designed and built by owner Dieter Losskarn, just four years ago, it stands as homage to his passion for German precision, sleek lines and superlative lifestyle living. Having travelled the world in his pursuit of a lifelong passion for fast and rare cars, Dieter Losskarn chose South Africa’s freestyle living as his home over 25 years ago.
Bay Harbour House is his fourth designer home in the country, and third home he has dreamt, designed and brought to life from a ground up vision. It’s no surprise he is a celebrated figure in Cape Town’s society circles with a life lived without template, where days are filled with fine dining, fine destinations and fine… well everything actually.
Architecturally exact, Bay Harbour House maintains a light-steel ‘bone’ structure complete with exposed ceilings which anchors a ‘rib cage’ of steel lines as an interior design feature. The intention is a replica of a classic luxury car showroom, mirrored by smooth polyurethane floors and vast silent sliding steel-framed doors and windows. Offering character all its own, there’s no showmanship, rather a call for simple elegance as a backdrop for his particular passion… cars, bikes, luxury classics and vintage memorabilia.
Bay Harbour House is open plan living at its finest, and its expansiveness begins the moment you find yourself idling on the crest of the driveway as the gate quietly slides open; the yellow-flowering devil thorn trees parallel to the perimeter wall there to witness your first ‘oh wow’ moment of taking in the Bay and sheltering mountains. This is a panorama offering the first of many such views to reveal themselves on your tour, with all the drama of a theatre’s red velvet curtain being drawn across the stage on the Greatest Show on Earth… one in the panorama of Hout Bay, that is.
SLEEK AND IMPERIAL LIVING
The exposed aggregate driveway mirroring the look of the surrounding granite descends the incline and sweeps right into the ground floor garage… ‘garage’ being a largely irrelevant term in its usual sense of the word. Here, one conjures five-star gallery space with private dining areas to be more apt… unless you’re a petrol head that is, but you better be a Mercedes Benz or Porsche driver if you want to give this ‘garage’ any credit.
Its high gloss polyurethane floor and uniformly spaced windows at both seated and standing eye-level provide the second ‘oh wow’ moment as you rip your gaze away from the polished luxury cars parked there to that mesmerizing and highly addictive view. Against the opposite wall are two separate alcoves, one serving as the Losskarn laundry and the other housing an overflow of vintage enamel signs which didn’t make it up onto the gallery-style walls upstairs.
Exit through the orange and black hazard-framed interior garage door and you enter the entrance hall featuring the first of two front doors to Bay Harbour House. One, being located at ground floor and serving as the main access to the first of the houses’ three en suite bedrooms with signature wrap around windows; and the ascending stairwell to the second floor, where the second and main front door is accessed from a hanging steel walkway leading from the property’s pedestrian access gate.
TAKE MY BREATHE AWAY
Mounting the stairs, bathed in the electric blue LED trim lighting and you’re met with the entire length of the home’s façade in picture windows confronting that magnificent view… third strike and the crowning glory of that ‘ow wow’ moment really hits home. The view is simply breathtaking.
Overlooking some much expansive space outside and across the bay to the blue sun-tipped mountains, it’s here the 7 metre high ceiling comes into play, providing as much space-play above and around your head as that offered by sea and mountains outside… it’s a surreal feeling of floating on a seascape of beauty.
LUXURY LOUNGES AND MANCAVES
The second-floor expanse is broken only by the stairwell opening you’ve just ascended, and the floor to ceiling fireplace which anchors the living room, dining area and kitchen where Dieter Losskarn’s hobby blends old with new. It’s a blank canvas waiting to be a Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Heat treated metal doors, metallic silver mosaic bathroom tiles and European interior fittings throughout the house reflect and deliver Dieter Losskarn’s straightforward luxury ascetic that speaks of focused intention rather than frills. It’s a modern interior take on simplicity delivered without slog… there is simply no place for dust to settle, the house offers a pristine backdrop waiting to be filled with the incoming owner’s own personal inspiration in interior intentions or their own classic design collections.
Step out onto the balcony and a fresh breeze rushes to meet you as you take in a visual cocktail from the Noordhoek side of Chapman Peak Drive and lookout point across the sweep of the Hout Bay harbor, beach, and Hout Bay village and into the lush hips of the Constantia valley and Kirstenbosch Gardens just beyond the lip.
The top and third floor in your ascent is dedicated solely to the main bedroom. Offering a separate alcove shower, enclosed toilet opened to its own majestic view and the coup de grace of the ablutions; a free-standing copper bathtub in prime position in front of the sliding doors and bedroom balcony looking out onto ‘that’ view, you reign over ten metres in elevation.
In the bedroom, Dieter Losskarn has filled his man cave with a bespoke petrol-head bed, hand-tooled cupboard constructed and adorned with man-cave emblems and memorabilia from Hollywood film companies and his bespoke writing desk which takes pride of place in his office facing Chapman’s Peak drive that if you were any closer you would be looking eye to eye with hikers traversing its jagged peaks. Across the bay however, the only thing you might see are the occasional vehicle headlights and Tintswalo’s private beach lights come on as a summer dusk falls like a velvet mantle on this piece of Cape Town heaven.
BESPOKE HOUSE FOR SALE: PRICE R5 950 000
There is no For Sale sign outside Bay Harbour House, neighbored by a church, an upmarket Guest House and an adjacent empty plot (the last one with a view!) waiting for a sharp-eyed business man wanting to make the most of its prime positioning. For those interested in the property for commercial use and the imminent development of the harbor, rest assured, no one else may build in front of your view and the rest of the mountainside is already claimed by a Russian business man continuing development of the renowned Lichtenstein Castle and surrounds.
Viewing by appointment: Mercédes Westbrook on C: +27 789707633 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
My dinner date at BOCCA, the Italian word for ‘mouth’ taught me two things: don’t be late for a German appointment and BOCCA proprietors Guido and Adnana Brambilla mean to tantalise every single one of the
10 000 taste buds in your mouth.
Find BOCCA at the junction of Bree and Wale street in Cape Town’s trendy CBD just a short stroll up from the V&A Waterfront to share in romantic sunset dinners, family-gathering celebrations, or if you are one of the city’s many singular tech-head imports needing a shot of divine sustenance during one of your coding marathons… we saw all three varieties of patrons there on its split-level interior where the focus is firmly on fine food creation rather than just fancy interiors.
CELEBRATE WITH TASTE
Once you’ve dived into your first urban Italian cuisine experience offered up by maestro chef Guido, you will be loudly joining the buzzing fray as people revel in its flavour sensations offered up in a snappy array of sublime food, conversation and laughter .
BOCCA has an Italian calling for inspiring a food celebration, as only the Italians know how, delivered to your private table. It’s a recipe for never leaving and always returning. As petite hostess Adnana says “You can come by yourself and sit at the counter for a glass of wine and a few small plates or arrive as a group and experience a selection of dishes. It’s really a place for people to connect over food.”
There by invitation of a local foodie friend, my dinner partner and I were served a special BOCCA chef’s table, with each dish accompanied by detailed explanations from master chef Guido, so I benefited from an Italian lesson in the finer details of the variety and preparation of our particular dishes.
Putting his new menu into context, Guido says: “It’s all about uncomplicated Italian flavours, the kind you would enjoy if you were invited for dinner in an Italian household.”
We felt right at home at BOCCA with both of us delighting in each dishes unique sampling.
Guido and Adnana are particularly intent on sourcing the best local ingredients for their menu at BOCCA, adding their Italian flair to locally sourced South African products which they acknowledge as being of top-notch quality.
The local Stracciatella with roasted cherry tomatoes and confit eggplant was a first for me and I nearly swooned. Rich, creamy and almost the consistency of thick yoghurt, I was in heaven. The Polpo of Atlantic octopus with potatoes and basil pesto – a classic Mediterranean-inspired BOCCA dish was as breath-taking.
The star of the show for me however was the Polpettine; interesting for someone who ricochets between thoughts of turning vegetarian and eating all the crackling off the roast pork. Polpettine is a finely ground meatball of beef, pork and lamb to be dipped into a fresh ‘mayo verde’. Each bite is a series of new tastes unfolding one on top of the other and I couldn’t stop going back for more, nicking more than my fair share of it.
Before the arrival of the Brambilla’s, BOCCA was famous for its pizza and nothing has changed. With their imported Acunto oven – which cooks pizzas in 90 seconds, at temperatures topping 450°F – the dough sees a process of slow fermentation before being thrown by hand and pushed into its fiery heat.
The latest member of the BOCCA pizza family is their little PIZZETTE which is rolled smaller – about 16cm across – than a traditional pizza, and which means you can enjoy your favourite pizza flavours while still having space to try a variety of other new dishes served at the table.
We shared the Amatriciana with smoked cheeks of pork and pecorino on a puffy yet crisp base which was so ridiculously delicious it’s hard to view it as mere pizza – at least the takeaway sort of pizza I have previously come to know.
Not being a sweet tooth, I decided to forgo dessert for another glass of Sauvignon Blanc complements of Cape Town’s accessible Uber services but my dinner partner absolutely raved about the Tiramisu with Mascarpone Cream, declaring it the best he has ever tasted; high praise indeed with my own odious time-keeping long forgotten after a bacchanal of such fine fare.
Even as the happy last patron leaves BOCCA and midnight prepares to settle over the city, Guido is setting the next day’s fare in motion, placing his larger cuts of beef, lamb, poultry and port into the heat of the pizza oven for gentle slow roasting in preparation to start another staple Italian day in the kitchen.
Expect the menu of this upscale eatery to change four times a year as Guido works the South African seasons with his own brand of passion, dedication and hands-on approach extended with authentic Italian hospitality for every and all types of diners through their welcoming BOCCA doorway. It’s a guaranteed to be mouth-watering with the perfect selection of small plates ideal for sharing.
BOCCA is open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday from noon until 22h00 with last orders are taken at 21h30. Visit their website at https://bocca.co.za/.
Connect with Guido and Adnana Brambilla’s BOCCA on social media via @BoccaCT on Twitter; @boccaCT on Facebook; and bocca_ct on Instagram
Firehorse Media is a South African communications and PR consultancy owned and managed by Mercedes Westbrook, whose career as a journalist, editor, managing editor and communications consultant spans 22 years experience in the print and digital industry. Email her on email@example.com or C:+27 789707633.
It was our Great Escape! Five days of freedom from deadlines and the frenzy of the city sparked by the Christmas marketing glut that seems to binge earlier each year.
With Cape Town retreating in the review mirror of our new humming-bird blue 2019 Toyota Hilux, we dashed through touristy Hermanus and north along the mountain-fringed coastline, before turning left at the vintage village of Stanford and onto the R326 in our search for Napier, our first surprise stop on our small town writer’s road trip.
Enveloped by calm rolling farmlands as far as the eye could see, we must be forgiven for entertaining wild thoughts of an even deeper escape from the disruption of life in general. How wonderful it would be, we mused, to find a homestead here and simply disappear.
It seems Google maps was as distracted by the rolling peace because it could only find Napier in New Zealand at first shot. Finding my reading glasses, we landed back in the Western Cape both physically and digitally.
Tyre Tracks to Distant Horizons
Napier in the Western Cape is your next destination on the map when looking for a road less travelled. (Apologies to Dr M. Scott Peck for borrowing his book title, but I’m pretty sure he’d approve the likeness of horizons).
It’s the type of town you would miss if you blinked too rapidly, but most likely to become a firm and favorite getaway for travelers looking for small town quirk untainted by technology; tranquil farm stays; and idyllic day trips spent exploring the Cape Agulhas region.
For a mind-watering taste teaser watch the 60 second Explorio clip here, it’s exactly what you will see and provides a wonderful celebration of Napier’s ‘sky line’ and country roads which feature regular sightings of Blue Crane, South Africa’s graceful national bird.
Secret Getaway Far from the Maddening Crowds
Headed towards a newly-opened accommodation establishment; Stellar Overberg Traveller’s Lodge is guaranteed to recall your connection with nature. No big branding, no brash marketing, instead Overberg Traveller’s Lodge is a small town secret which was whispered in our ear. One we are delighted to be able to share with you too.
Originally a working wine farm, Tibor and Doris Tokay, together with their two young children, sold up their home in Switzerland and bought the property in May this year to offer travelers genuine ‘Old World’ hospitality according to the individual visitor’s needs.
Sharing a bottle, made from their own Sauvignon Blanc grapes at the long table of their homestead patio where they so warmly welcomed us, their love of Africa really came to the fore.
Tibor has a strong association with South Africa having spent his childhood here. Doris’ began hers when Tibor first brought her here at 18 years of age, a journey which culminated in them celebrating their wedding vows shortly thereafter. So began their journey of nearly 30 years travelling with their two children through Southern Africa until they chose Napier to settle in as their new life and home.
Swiss Family Robinson in Napier
With admiration, I sat and enjoyed their view which evidenced the hard work and passion they have poured into their wine farm.
The winery has been converted into four double luxury rooms with a circular Boma and long lap pool stretched out before it. A family suite is situated closer to the main farmhouse. Tibor runs tours and day trips for international guests and locals make use of this luxurious but practical farm stay as a roadside stop for families and small private groups such as bike tours.
The farm cultivates four different types of wine and olives after which each of the four suites are named. Our suite was super spacious at 37m squared, with a gorgeous European flair evidenced in the bathrooms.
Tibor is a fantastic photographer and each suite features magnificent shots of wildlife and vast landscapes gathered on their family travels. Doris matches his skills in the garden. Apart from the grape vines which gently quiver in the breeze trimmed by beautiful hand-stacked stone walls, she has also recreated a Fynbos garden set with the loving care of a botanist. Buckets of fresh pink and green hues of flora colour the guest patios, followed through inside each bedroom with small touches of fresh flowers, stones and grass details in the bedroom and bathroom.
Everything thrives at Stellar Overberg. Their tousle-haired children can be seen running through the vineyards to feed the free-range chickens, nimbly ducking past the scarecrow in its pink Onesy and side stepping the myriad of baby tortoises which choose to call it home too.
In the evening as the sun sets in a dramatic display of orange, reds and purples, the frogs begin their chorus from the edge of the forest. As an avid dog-lover, their three pooches offer each a character all of their own. Their latest rescue Emma, showing strong cross breed connections with a jackal stole my heart completely but if you’re not a dog lover, the dogs can be kept away from the guest suite accommodation.
Free Range Al Fresco Fare
Apart from the delicious welcome bottle of wine, the highlight of our stay was our breakfast basket delivered to our patio table after our leisurely morning dip in the pool.
Using their own free-range eggs, it was the most flavourful scrambled eggs I have ever enjoyed. Using only local products from the surrounding farms, we were served fresh berries, cultured yoghurt, baked breads and aromatic coffee too.
We waved our goodbyes soon after, not with a slight twinge of regret for having to leave such peaceful freedom. With a well-functioning Internet connection, Stellar Overberg is a writer’s retreat heaven… or anyone for that matter who enjoys upmarket country living. As one of the newest guests to have enjoyed their unique blend of Swiss South African hospitality, this gem is going to become a firm favorite for all who first journey here.
In their own words and African travel experiences, Tibor and Doris offer you a chance to be “touched by this country so close to our hearts, that you may take home the jewels of adventure and the dust of its red earth to remind you to return again one day…”
Small Town Secrets
New on the Vine
For a short time only, Stellar Overberg Traveller’s Lodge is offering a 15% opening discount. Visit their website at https://stellar-sa.vacations/ and book your stay at their affordable rates. Expecting their first season of grapes on the vine, 2019 is set to be an exciting year for them.
Special Occasions and Tours
With a large international network of incoming guests, Tibor offers specialised travel services which include airport transfers all the way to extensive travel planning for trips into Southern Africa. Custom plan your African experience with a selection of Fatbike rentals, guided day tours, airplane safari flights, support vehicles for motorbike and mountain bike tours and hiking expeditions. Or plan your wedding there and commemorate your special day in a small and special setting and make memories forever.
Tibor and Doris Tokay are wonderfully warm hosts and ready to help you organise your custom tour.
Mercédes Westbrook is a business and travel editor with over 22 years in the custom magazine publishing industry writing for local and international inflight magazines, and conference and incentive travel publications. She currently runs her own media and content creation company Firehorse Media at www.firehorsemedia.co.za.
Dieter Losskarn is a celebrated German travel author with six travel books under his belt published and sold in Europe and now translated into Dutch. He has also held the title of Motoring Editor for GQ South Africa magazine for the past 14 years and runs his own Taxi Cab of Good Hope day tour business in an original New York Checker Cab in Cape Town. Find out more about him at www.lossis.com
Renamed Prince Albert in 1845 in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, the 5-star De Bergkant Lodge is the Fabergé egg in which would otherwise just be a dusty Karoo town if it weren’t for this vintage jewel in South Africa’s upmarket establishment crown.
Owned by Swiss couple Renate and Michael Sönke Sönnichsen, its 1858 National Monument building is a hotel firmly ticked on most international visitor’s watch-list, thanks in large part to German travel author Dieter Losskarn’s personal travel book exposés which cover the depth and breadth of the crème-del-a-crème of all which South Africa has to offer.
Today, De Bergkant Lodge’s large luxurious rooms enjoy full capacity; indicating that the original Prince Albert is not the only one to enjoy delicious affairs of the heart at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountains.
Find me a Prince
Descend the 27 km Swartberg Pass and the shocking pink and white bougainvillea-lined streets announce your entry into town. On the very first corner on the left, De Bergkant Lodge nestles on lush clipped lawns with sparkling white buildings that comprise its stately setting and the couple’s own heritage home and herb garden, together with 10 luxury guest bedrooms and not one, not two, but three emerald-cool swimming pools, appropriately bedecked with languishing guests of foreign-tongue all enjoying the heat and the gentle afternoon lull.
As much a part of its history, the courtyard is dominated by a flourishing vine tree, its sinuous roots exposed to eons of visiting faces and feet – including that of the Republic’s own past-President de Klerk with his wife Marike – and today followed up by frequent ANC government officials who enjoy this oasis managed to international standards of service and pristine comfort.
There on a love affair of my own, I couldn’t resist a stolen kiss under its mighty boughs which draped grandly above in lieu of my own African-style mistletoe; and surely more lucky than that of our Northern counterparts icy Christmas sprigs?
History repeats itself more categorically on the walls of the high ceiling reception room where there’s a wealth of period collectables, paintings and whispered descriptions of past lives. The dominatrix-looking Queen Victoria herself attempts to look light-weight and elegant with her lace gloves poised across her wrists. On modern observation, her jowled jawline deflects the whole affect, but ‘her’ Albert must have looked past this physical faux pas and seen into the very heart of her bosom.
Heart is what you get at De Bergkant Lodge. A heart that ticks with reassuring precision, one you can rely on to bring you a truly fabulous five-star experience. A complete restoration rendered by Renate and Michael, has revived the evocative scent of its history but also delivered classical touches that speak of an eye for understated luxury.
The Protea suite, our weekend boudoir, was a haven of cool white linen expanses stretching across king size extra length beds, monogrammed towels and soft robes and nearly; but not quite, matched in size by its vast black and white tiled bathroom featuring a him-and-her shower side-by-side and a six foot ball-and-claw bath tub beneath a vast stain-glass window.
Living in its genteel comfort with simple touches of modern technology, the rest of the world simply fades away as you slip into a time tracked only by the rise and fall of the sun in its trajectory across the azure-blue skies. Each day prepared for by a pool-side breakfast of Black Forest ham, luscious-red erotic figs and poached eggs with hand-crisped bacon. This, enjoyed in the presence of an exotic party of jostling Cardinals at the bird feeders; just as surely intent on their own breakfast victuals.
Your Dining Pleasure
Romantic dinner invitations are enjoyed at two notable restaurants on the town’s main drag. Hosted by Michael and Renate, our dinner at The Real Food Company saw local greetings called out to the town’s celebrated gallery owner Brent, another Prince Albert resident who frequents its casual atmosphere to enjoy a variety of exceptional dishes created by chef Jeremy, confirming it as a simple yet sublime eating spot popular with international foodies and locals alike.
At Olive Branch we met with Hendry, an up and coming celebrity chef who specialises in bespoke Karoo dishes compiled from his own home-grown roots. Newly-wed for the second time round, he puts as much love into his dishes as he would his new family. Find out where Hendry is currently cooking when next staying at De Bergkant Lodge.
The understated sophistication of De Bergkant offers you a holiday in the true sense of the word; a chance to take time out, and rest and restore your body and mind in elegant reprieve before you set out to face the hurly burly of the world once again.
Nestled in the ancient history of its surrounding rock formations, it offers a special ambiance that settles around you, that can only really be experienced, rather than explained. Powered by the flat desolation of the Karoo, it’s a journey to the heart of transcendent beauty in a landscape dominated by dust and rock and craggy aloe.
Small Town Secrets:
When in doubt say Darling
Look out for Pieter Dirk Uys’ latest show in February 2019 playing at Prince Albert’s Art Deco theatre The Showroom. As South Africa’s beloved entertainer on speaking terms (in cheek) with political high points of South Africa’s modern history, Uys or Tannie Evita as he/she is known, is a regular guest at De Bergkant Lodge when travelling on tour away from his home town of Darling and own bespoke theatre establishment.
Burning Black Rubber
If you’re looking for adventure activity, there is much to do from mountain biking to hiking. Take a Unimog ride up the pass and a cycle back down again from atop its 1, 583-meter peak back into town – expect some rubber to burn while holding hard onto those bicycle brakes.
When the ‘safe word’ is Die Hel
If you have 4×4 vehicle, chance a trip down into the depth of Die Hel. With its own rich settler history, it is a road not built for the faint of heart… the relief from your hairpin descent will be rewarded with a cold beer and home-cooked Karoo lamb chops at Fonteinplaas in the Oude Klowers Plaaskombuis, nestled at the bottom where you are pleasantly surprised and welcomed by the last remaining relatives of this lost community of long ago. Visit the Cape Conservation offices a few kilometers further along the valley to find out more about the flora and fauna of the region. We crossed paths with Kudu, Klipspringer and troupes of baboon while descending into its depths.
The Faberge Egg of the Karoo
While the rest of the town of Prince Albert might fade into a mirage of heat there is one other heart-stop you have to do… a trip to Avoova to claim a piece of local artisan work made from ostrich egg shell. Now an international name, Avoova produce a large collection of bespoke and truly authentic South African artifact gifts with which you can claim and return home with in memory of your Karoo experience. While there in its cool interior, ask about Obie Oberholzer’s book – you might even be able to pick up an autographed copy depicting a photographic history and the most expansive and creative production of an authentic Karoo love affair to tuck under your arm and share with friends and family back home.
Urban Slang or ‘your’ Prince Albert:
A Prince Albert is another term for a male piercing that sees a ring threaded in through the urethra and out behind the glans for decoration and sexual sensation. It’s so nicknamed from the modern legend that Prince Albert (1819-1861), had one. Perhaps more than just an affair of the heart, you probably won’t look at Queen Victoria quite the same again; or risqué Prince Albert for that matter…
Luxury Travelers of Europe:
Published in German and Dutch, find Dieter Losskarn’s travel books at www.lossis.com and explore more not-to-be-missed experiences such as that offered by the 5-star De Bergkant Lodge in Prince Albert.
Toyi-Toyi for a Toyota:
Our Prince Albert journey saw us test driving the latest 2019 Toyota Hilux in a striking humming-bird blue. Think solid work horse with futuristic fairings which saw us speeding up and down some of South Africa’s most rugged terrain… certainly a popular choice of South African adventurers, we encountered mostly Toyota 4×4 bakkies on the road, as we descended and then ascended the near sheer rock face in record time, something those first ox-drawn pioneers would have simply swooned for.