With its picturesque mountain and ocean landscape, South Africa’s Garden Route attracts dreamers and romantics from all over the world. The Outeniqua Pass spectacularly winds its way through the mountains before settling in George below. Here you will find the internationally esteemed golf and leisure estate Fancourt which has hosted the likes of Tiger Woods and Ernie Els in the past.
A bucket-list getaway for golf-loving couples, The Manor House is a romantic 18-suite adults-only luxury boutique hotel hidden in a secluded part of the estate. Here they can build their romance through golf on three of South Africa’s best golf courses, including The Links, the country’s Number 1 course. Non-golfers and honeymooners will be delighted with the sophisticated style and idyllic setting and fun activities like a gin masterclass, wine tastings and a visit to a strawberry farm can all form part of a romantic stay.
Steeped in history, The Manor House is an impressive 1850s Cotswold-styled mansion – the former home of British engineer Henry Fancourt White after whom the estate is named. It received a brand-new look in 2020, with luxuriously refashioned guest rooms and public areas sporting a fresh appearance. An immersion into both luxury and nature, a large pond at the entrance sets the lush scene – replete with a garden pagoda for lapping up the day in quiet comfort.
I am met at The Manor House reception by hotel manager Jayne Barlow and enjoy a delicious breakfast in the gazebo amidst tropical vegetation. Then I head to the leisure center where E-bikes and e-scooters are freely available for daily rides around the property. Lunch is served at The Club Lounge, and the perfectly prepared wagyu burger with shoestring fries comes highly recommended.
A stay at The Manor House includes access to Fancourt’s award-winning spa with the voluminous Roman Bath as the impressive centerpiece, and then a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and pool. A range of wellness treatments are on offer at the spa or can be arranged in your room for the socially distanced conscious.
Dinner at Monet’s is a gastronomic delight. The wonderful ambiance is offset by the fine cuisine served here, and I thoroughly enjoy the Costata Di Manzo, which is grilled rib-eye steak topped with balsamic & rosemary butter, grilled plum tomato, and served with a side order of rustic cut chips.
After an eventful day, it is time to retire for the night. Suite no 8 is where I’m staying for 2 nights. With only 18 suites, no two rooms are the same, and mine is beautifully decorated in shades of turquoise and grey. There is a separate lounge area and a private terrace overlooking the pool. The rooms are every bit opulent and spacious and amenities fans will take pleasure in the extensive basket of offerings including balms, scrubs, and soaps. The rooms are arranged around a central pool courtyard, which spills into the tropical gardens. Blissful to say the least.
The prospect of a morning at leisure is just perfect to delight in what else is on offer at The Manor House. I retreat to the library, with a myriad of books sorted in order of color. It’s a cozy place and Lucy has mastered my cappuccino preference – not strong but with lots of milk froth. Every drink seems to come with something delectably produced by the pastry chef – the yummiest red velvet cupcakes make their appearance at afternoon tea.
If you’re up for an outing during your stay, the nearby Redberry Farm offers strawberry picking and a collection of cozy eateries. A big drawcard is finding your way through the hedge maze, the largest permanent maze in the southern hemisphere. For the beach-lovers, it’s a short and scenic drive to Vic Bay – one of South Africa’s most underrated beaches.
Today’s visit to Cape Saint Blaze in Mossel Bay is met with anticipation; we will be crafting our own gin. The gin masterclass is very informative and interactive. The distilling process entails a choice between Earth, Fire, and Air as your base. Once completed, your gin gets bottled, named, and is yours to keep.
Next up is a wine tasting at a new wine farm in Victoria Bay, Donegal Wine Estate. The tasting room was built in 2019, constructed 23 ft underground, 65 ft long, with a 98 ft long tunnel. A definitive recipe for good wine aging as can be said during our tasting. The Chardonnay proves popular, as does the Shiraz.
Back at The Manor House, the best has been saved for the last night – dinner at Henry White’s. The scene is set with white tablecloths, flickering candles, and creative cuisine by a team of chefs. For Amuse, we feast on honey-glazed rainbow trout, fennel, lime aioli, and microgreens. The starter is pan-seared scallop risotto, burnt corn, and vanilla, followed by a palate cleanser of pineapple and gin sorbet. The main course consists of dukkah spiced ostrich fillet, sweet potato fondant, broccolini, smoked prune puree, and fresh berries. To conclude this scrumptious meal, dessert is poached pear, meringue drops, and cinnamon-infused crème Fraiche.
In the wake of a hearty breakfast, a fun golf tutorial is presented on The Links. While I may not be a golfer, I was intrigued to see Fancourt’s offerings. Nic Grundtvig is Fancourt’s knowledgeable Golf Director and introduced me to the three distinct champion courses: The Links (rated number one in South Africa), Outeniqua, and Montagu – all designed by local golfing legend Gary Player. There are two ways to play at Fancourt – by joining as a member or as a hotel guest: yet another reason to call the Manor House home.
The Manor House has a coveted allegiance to the global Leading Hotels of the World network, one of many achievements for owners Dr. Hasso and Sabine Plattner who have made significant investments into not only the club but also the city and country. Fancourt has long been a byword for golf in South Africa, but with The Manor House, unreservedly, clearly also luxury.
** Views expressed are the author’s own.
https://manorhouse.fancourt.co.za / Tel. +27 (044) 804 0000
Garden Route tours and activities can be booked via Tours for South Africa (TFSA) www.tours4sa.com / Tel. + 27 (0)44 873 5700
Getting There: Airlink operates direct flights from Cape Town to George. https://www.flyairlink.com/destinations/flights-to-george
Book direct on www.flyairlink.com, on the FlyAirlink app, or your favorite Travel agent.