THE MANOR HOUSE
No fanfare at Fancourt— just private, luxury lolling
Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate is 7km from George Airport, where guests enjoy access to a private lounge.
Spread over 613ha, the estate was once bigger than the city.
"The whole reason for this estate is Henry Fancourt White," explains its marketing manager, Michelle van der Westhuizen, as we admire the views from one of its three Gary Player-designed golf courses.
"He was brought from England to help build the Montagu Pass in the 1840s. The estate was transformed into a hotel and golfing destination in 1989. Then Hasso Plattner and his wife Sabine bought it in 1994 and expanded from there to make it what it is today."
Fancourt has about 280 privately owned houses and new developments in the works.
"We’ve been lucky because we’ve had unseasonably hot weather for winter, which has helped the grass grow much faster than expected," Van der Westhuizen says.
"The watering of our gardens, golf courses and the washing of our golf carts all happens with water on the estate. We don’t use municipal water at all."
Still, there was a note in the bathroom explaining that a plug was only available on request. While George has light water restrictions that would make a Capetonian drool, Fancourt has chosen to be conservative.
Guests can soak away guilt-free in a heated Roman bath in what was recently voted Best Hotel Spa in SA at the annual Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Awards. It’s one of the hotel’s child-free areas, but there is a dedicated kids’ club with structured activities.
The leisure centre has a teen lounge with games, a cinema, a fully equipped gymnasium, and indoor and outdoor pools.
The vast property can be explored on bikes and on walking and running trails.
While it is easy to imagine Fancourt buzzing with activity – the hotel has several thousand people on the property during major golf events — The Manor House serves up discreet silence and privacy.
Nominated as Africa’s leading boutique hotel in the 2018 World Travel Awards, it’s a meticulous remodelling of Blanco House, White’s original residence dating back to 1859.
"This is very much its own hotel, not connected to the rest of Fancourt," Van der Westhuizen says as we explore some of its 18 spacious suites.
"No kids under 16 are allowed here at all, which makes it exclusive for those who want to be on Fancourt but don’t want to be out among everyone else."
Fancourt invests heavily in renovations and restoration. The latest addition is a gazebo that will serve afternoon tea and evening canapés.
Manor House has a well-stocked library, stately bar, secluded swimming pool, fine-dining restaurant and a private butler service.
"We have a couple who come back every year over the festive season – they’ve booked three years in advance – and in the first of their three weeks here they don’t leave Manor House," Van der Westhuizen says.
"He’s a CEO who travels 300 days a year and she also has a phenomenal career.
"They hardly see each other, so this is their time. They don’t have to do anything, be anywhere, or see anyone. They’re just here to unwind," she says.
Yiga was a guest of Fancourt.