Dalene recently spent a weekend with her family at Kosmos Manor, a five-star guesthouse on the banks of Hartbeespoort Dam, where the water laps, and so does the luxury.
The soonest we could make our Friday escape from the city was 18h30, so we arrived at Kosmos Manor just before 20h00. (without traffic - like heading home to Pretoria on Sunday - the drive is only 40 minutes.) Google Maps took us to the Manor's front door on Simon Bekker Drive, but parking is on the lower end of the property, near the Kosmos Marina. Like, you can drive your car straight into the dam if you're not paying attention. The staff met us there and whisked our bags up the stairs. I had pyjamarized my boys before we left and by the time we arrived, our four-year-old was asleep. Our seven-year-old was not. Kosmos Manor doesn't really cater for kids - in the jumping-castles and face-painting kind of way - yet they were super chilled about him leaping about on the Persian carpets in his stokies.
The Luxury Family Suite was occupied so we were upgraded to the Sapphire Presidential Suite, which has a King-sized bed in the main bedroom and living area, and a second bedroom with a single bed. The staff made up a bed in the spacious dressing room for the snoozing four-year-old.
In the main living area of our suite we were welcomed by a generous selection of chocolates, biscuits, tea and instant coffee. (The manageress, Ockeline van Vuuren, has recently taken the reins, and, being a coffee snob, I was thrilled to hear of her plans to set up a 24/7 luxury coffee station for guests. I was also thrilled by the filter coffee at breakfast.) Our suite boasted the lavish amenities of a fireplace, air conditioning, satellite TV, a fully-stocked bar fridge as well as complimentary bottled water, ample cupboard space, a safe, an old-school writing desk and stationery, and a sofa with coffee table books, well, on the coffee table.
Floor to ceiling glass sliding doors open onto the patio of the suite, and the bonus of arriving in the dark was that we got to wake up to the surprise view of a hot air balloon on the horizon just as the sunrise burnt off the mist shrouding the dam.
Downstairs we were greeted by a buffet of cold meats, cheeses, muffins, cereals, fruit, yoghurt et al, followed by a hot breakfast of our choice. We breakfasted with some other guests who waxed lyrical about the three course meal they'd enjoyed the night before. Lunch and dinner are available on request. You can also order in a spa treatment, or hold a small conference at the guesthouse. The dining room is part of an open plan reception and lounge area, complete with plush couches where you can watch a DVD or enjoy afternoon tea and cupcakes. The décor is an eclectic mix of elaborate oil paintings and antiques (the owner is a keen collector), with hints of Turkish palaces and African earthiness. This living area spills out onto the pool deck and a view of the dam and distant shores. Also spilling about everywhere are bowls of chocolate truffles, deck chairs, beach towels and general tranquillity.
After breakfast we explored the gardens and both pool areas. I saw a cat dashing about the place. Then I saw that my husband appeared to have been drinking heavily, or crying. He's allergic, and we hadn't brought antihistamine. Ockeline graciously came to the rescue, and when he could see again we checked out the maps and brochures she had given us, and headed out for the day.
You could spend a week or two in this neck of the woods and not get to all the attractions, activities, markets and fine dining. We drove along the Hartbeespoort Dam wall, where we marvelled at the view and the genuine roadside charm of guys selling wire giraffes and fake Oakleys, through the old tunnel and on to the Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway - a cutting edge Swiss addition to local tourism. Instead of ice-cream at the clifftop restaurant, we opted to trundle the circular walkway to take advantage of the breath-taking vistas.
We returned to our suite (sweet) patio at Kosmos Manor to regroup, eat lunch, and watch the speed boats with the rocky outcrops of Hartbeespoort looming behind us. There's something about being on the edge of a massive body of water that brings perspective and peace. Mind you ... there's also something about an enormous outdoor shower and deck chairs.
We spent the afternoon at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre (De Wildt). What a privilege to spend two hours in the presence of these beautiful creatures, and the people who commit to ensuring their survival and wellbeing. Supper was at Pizza Del Forno at the Damdoryn Centre in Hartbeespoort. The vibe was great, the service superb, the pizza delish, and the cappuccinos sublime.
Back at Kosmos Manor, our boys decided to try out every feature of the bathroom, from the heated towel rails to the bidet. The latter prompted some interesting conversations. The bathroom of the presidential suite is vast. You could host a small dinner party in there, for several presidents. There's a deep corner bath with what appeared to be an expansive, expensive, chrome slab of a soap dish. But when I turned on the tap to run our four-year-old a bath, the water came out of said silver slab in a solid stream to rival the opening of the Hartebeespoort Dam sluice gates. He stared wide-eyed and amazed and declared solemnly: "It's a miracle." Meanwhile, our seven-year-old was whooping in the multi-headed shower, ecstatically dodging the jets of water coming out of the walls.
We watched TV, drank tea, and fell asleep to the sound of total silence. After another fab breakfast on Sunday morning, we headed home, but not before our boys declared that they wanted to "live here forever." If you're heading to Harties for a conference, a romantic getaway or just to see the sights, look no further than Kosmos Manor.
To find out more about Kosmos Manor and to book a weekend away in Hartbeespoort, click here.