Opulence without ostentation: Finding the epitome of elegance in the Cape Winelands

Family focus carries through into the design and furnishings.

Many years ago, a fellow I admire said, in his opinion, the most beautiful pictures were those painted most simply.

We were talking about journalism and what constitutes good writing, and Kevin said he believed one could maximise a story’s impact by almost completely eschewing adjectives and other “curly” words.

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The concept is similar to the commonly used “less is more” but, in architecture, I see it in terms of elegant simplicity … a marriage of form and function that is simultaneously austere and pleasing to the eye.

It’s hard to achieve but, oh, when the architect gets it right you’re left asking yourself what the fuss is all about but, at the same time catching your breath in admiration.

Some of the art in the hotel. Picture: Jim Freeman

The Hazendal 34-room hotel on the wine estate of the same name at the edge of Stellenbosch is a case in point: without being in any way over the top, it’s one of the most spectacular places I’ve stayed in many years.

As Goldilocks might say, it was “just right”.

The Hazendal is the latest addition to the rapidly growing portfolio of hospitality management company Newmark Hotels & Reserves that comprises 23 properties including several upmarket hotels in central Cape Town.

(One of these, the Onyx Apartment Hotel, occupies one of the most desirable addresses in the Mother City. A mixed-use property situated on the Heerengracht at the bottom of Adderley Street, it offers incredible views of Table Mountain.)

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Stellenbosch benefits enormously from Cape Town’s popularity among travellers – nearly 320 000 people visited the city in December by virtue of its proximity (just over 40km) and the presence of numerous quality wineries, abundant natural beauty and a host of ancillary activities.

There is, however, a dearth of actual hotel accommodation in Stellenbosch and the town loses out on significant potential tourist revenue.

This, says Hazendal Wine Estate general manager Carly de Jong, was one reason the estate’s owners built a hotel on the property.

Drink up the past. Picture: Jim Freeman

The farm dates back to the turn of the 17th century when it was granted to Christoffel Hazenwinkel, a German settler in the stillyoung Dutch colony.

Noting an abundance of hares and no doubt believing this augured well for his future, he named the property Hazendal (Valley of Hares).

Hazenwinkel sold the farm after about 25 years and it changed hands fairly regularly – acquiring its Cape-Dutch character and style in the process – until 1831, when it was bought by Izaak Bosman, and in his family it remained for five generations.

Their tenure marked the transformation of Hazendal into a wineproducing farm.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr Mark Voloshin acquired the property in 1994. Hazendal Wine Estate is now managed through a family trust, with dayto-day business managed and directed by the husband and wife executive team of Shlomi Azar and Simone Voloshin.

“The Hazendal operation has gone through huge expansion over the past eight years,” says De Jong, “following the owners’ decision to make the estate a top-class attraction in the Winelands.”

A dish, Nicoise with Kingklip, available at the hotel. Picture: Jim Freeman

The Hazendal is proof of the project’s success.

Located on the extreme northwestern edge of Stellenbosch, Hazendal Wine Estate is the only one of its kind in the area to have diversified its activities to the extent that producing quality wines till relatively recently seemed to have been an afterthought rather than primary focus.

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“We appeal to international and local visitors of all ages. We pride ourselves on being able to offer what overseas tourists have come to expect from the Stellenbosch wine area while still remaining authentic and relevant enough to cater for the locals who support us throughout the year.”

Billing itself as a “destination wine farm”, Hazendal offers not the obligatory wine tastings (in an exquisite lounge with one wall lined with backlit bottles and another overlooking the modern winery) as well as dining options that include a deli, food truck, picnics and openfire outdoor eatery.

A view from the patio. Picture: Jim Freeman

In case you think the place is snooty about wine, the latter offers a range of hand-crafted beers.

Hazendal also recently launched a range of eastern European-style vodkas that are, as far as I am aware, unique in South Africa in that they are grape rather than grain-based.

Fine-dining is provided in The Hazendal restaurant under the watchful eye of executive chef Michelle Theron.

Other attractions on the estate include an 18-hole par-three golf course, driving range and putting park, padel court, spa, art gallery and – my personal favourite – the owner’s collection of classic and, in some cases, very rare Bentley and Rolls-Royce motorcars.

For the youngsters from five to 13 years old there’s Wonderdal, a supervised interactive edutainment centre, and a junior putting park.

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Kids’ birthday parties are arranged and hosted.

The only other wine estate I know of that compares for the scope of visitor activity is Spier and that’s on the other side of town.

All in all, says De Jong, it made sense to open a hotel so guests didn’t need to drive back to Cape Town. Instead, they could stay a night or two to relax or continue their exploration of the Cape Winelands region.

A view from the pool. Picture: Jim Freeman

The Hazendal opened in mid-October last year. It has not received its star grading but, she says, “like everything else on Hazendal, it’s of five-star standard”.

“Our family focus carried through into the design and furnishings of the hotel rooms.

“There are two wings, one comprising luxury rooms and suites looking onto the Bottelary hills, and the other comprising interleading rooms overlooking the swimming pool.”

The exterior makes use of traditional whites, blacks and charcoals to blend in with existing Cape-Dutch estate architecture.

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Offsetting this austerity is an interior featuring vibrant art, natural light and greenery galore.

Talking of plants, walking down the corridor from reception to the restaurant, my eyes were drawn to a gentle shimmer on one of the walls. It was a montage of individually painted paper flowers fluttering in the day’s soft breeze.

The interior. Picture: Jim Freeman

I was entranced but a little sad. Surely if the breeze picked up and became the notorious Cape southeaster, this delicate beauty would be shredded?

Keen to visit the The Hazendal Hotel Stellenbosch?

Enter our competition to win a luxury long weekend in Cape Town for two people courtesy of Newmark Hotels and Reserves. The trip includes 2 nights at The Onyx Hotel Cape Town and 1 night at The Hazendal Hotel Stellenbosch, valued at R25 000.


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