AALDERING LUXURY LODGES IN STELLENBOSCH
A five-star pocket of privacy and peace in the heart of the Cape Winelands
There are vacations and then there are retreats. The former are fun, but often busy breaks from work; the latter are restful, soul-soothing escapes from everyday life. What the luxury lodges at Aaldering Vineyards & Wines in Stellenbosch’s Devon Valley offer is a real, rejuvenating retreat.
Sitting pretty in the centre cradle of this quiet working wine farm, the three connected guest houses that make up the five-star accommodation are a picture of stillness and serenity, with tranquil views of budding vines, glistening dams and undulating hills cascading from each lodge’s terrace. An inviting pastoral calm embraces the whole estate, and complete exclusivity is the order of the day. And with so much privacy and so little opportunity for disturbance or distraction, it’s easy for guests to quickly be swallowed by the sense that this is their very own little secluded property.
“We want visitors to feel like it’s their wine farm,” says Dustin Osborne, Aaldering winemaker and general manager and a man that’s as passionate about crafting premium vino as he is about making sure overnighters are comfortable. “If you want your own piece of vineyard for a few days, this is the place.”
Guests can watch the sun sink over ‘their’ grapes as they laze on the lodge’s cosy veranda, trot through the modern cellar while greeting staff members at work and even help out with all the plucking and picking during harvest season.
The country-style feel of the whole setting is, undoubtedly, the property’s greatest drawcard, and it’s helped along greatly by the design of the lodges. Though only erected in December 2013 on the raised bank where Dustin used to burn the vineyard clippings, the three houses were built in the old, grand Cape Dutch style, and exude a bucolic charm coupled with a ‘home away from home’ allure.
“That’s the idea behind the thatching and the architecture, you’re on a farm, so you want to feel the farm vibe,” explains lodge overseer William Mukondwa, who boasts a big smile and even bigger passion for his work. “People don’t want to come from town and have the same thing here”.
The guest houses’ interior space, which was decorated by Dutch estate owner Marianne Aaldering, boasts a number of pastoral touches too. Overnighters can walk barefoot on terracotta tiling, let the morning light in through slatted wooden shutters, store belongings in antique wardrobes and on ornate dressing tables, bathe in buttery sunshine on the cute porch, cuddle up next to a crackling wood fire in the spacious lounge and get lost in a cloud-soft king-size bed garnished with fluffy pillows.
Not to mention, the breakfast that greets each guest on waking is a homey, farm-y treat. Served daily in the slick and trendy tasting room, the morning meal is a feast of honey-swirled yoghurt, fresh fruit, crisp bread rolls, cold meats and cheeses, eggs, bacon, boerewors, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. It’s satisfying enough to make the soul sing.
But it’s not all about traditional, rural features and offerings here. In fact, the lodges blend antiquity with a number of modern comforts, resulting in a harmonious mix of authenticity and luxury. So, while it may be the thatching and comfy furnishing that give the B&B its charm, it’s the glossy, all-white bathroom, contemporary kitchen finishes (the lodges are semi self-catering), sexy Nespresso coffee machine, Wi-fi enabled iPad, flat-screen television and sleek hi-fi system that make the accommodation deserving of its five-star status.
Similarly, if visitors do crave their fix of the bustling urban world, the Stellenbosch town centre, with all of its restaurants, museums, book stores, bars, nightclubs and nearby golf courses, is only a 10-minute drive away, and the ebb and flow of Cape Town’s city centre lies just 45 minutes down the highway.
Though, there’s enough to do on the farm as well, particularly for those keen to forget about the car keys. There’s the option to swim or fish in the on-site dam, walk the edge of the 24-hectare estate, challenge fellow guests to a game of Scrabble or backgammon, enjoy a free cellar tour and wine tasting under the guidance of none other than vino expert Dustin, and, of course, visitors can always opt to just sip and swirl the weekend away (a stay comes complete with three complimentary bottles of Aaldering’s award-winning wine: a tropical Sauvignon Blanc, a rare Pinotage Blanc and a rich red Pinotage).
After all, that’s what a retreat is all about: escaping the loudness of the outside world and embracing life’s simpler pleasures. So, whether you use the Aaldering lodges as a base from which to explore the scenic Cape Winelands or as a weekend hideaway, you can look forward to the sort of stay over that brings you back to centre and enlivens you from the inside out.
Tip: Lodge guests are entitled to a free laundry service and a complimentary car wash; just be sure to book the latter, as well as the wine tasting session and cellar tour, with staff a day in advance.
The Bill: A stay at one of the Aaldering luxury lodges is priced at R2500 per night, and this includes breakfast, three bottles of estate wine and all the other luxurious extras. There’s a minimum stay of two nights throughout the year.
Booking the Aaldering luxury lodges: To book a stay at the guest house, make a reservation online at Aaldering.co.za or contact the lodge via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (+27 (0) 21 865 2495).