If you’re going to treat yourself, you might as well try something new or different. Here are three less-discovered luxurious SA getaways for your consideration.

The Old Rectory

Like The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay? Try The Old Rectory instead.

If you’ve visited Plett at any time in the past 10 years, you might have wondered whether the seemingly endless renovation of the Old Rectory, the run-down national monument dating from 1770, nestled behind The Wedge, would ever be completed.

But after 10 years of painstaking endeavour, the original buildings have finally been re-imagined as an intimate and upmarket boutique hotel of just 18 chic rooms. It was designed by SA firm Gabriel Fagan Architects and the team’s loving and respectful attention to detail is evident in every millimetre of the renovation. It’s made the long wait for completion worthwhile.

Just a few steps away from one of Plett’s safest swimming beaches, The Old Rectory is a luxurious, private oasis. The interiors bring a fresh, modern chic to coastal design, the landscaping is indigenous, water-wise and generous, the restaurant offers a sophisticated menu and the spa even offers an indulgent couples room, complete with very sexy shower for two.

Book via www.rareearth.co.za

Morukuru Ocean House

Love Grootbos near Hermanus? Try Morukuru Ocean House in De Hoop Nature Reserve for a change.

Imagine you could build the holiday villa of your dreams. No expense spared. What would your criteria be? Breathtaking views? Privacy? Glorious surroundings? A private beach?

Ed and Anka Zeeman’s Morukuru Ocean House has all of the above but adds unique extras you might not have thought to demand: views from each bedroom of the busiest whale nursery in the world. World-class decor by one of their native Netherlands’ finest interior decorators. A private rock pool, deep enough to snorkel in, off its very own private beach. Sand dunes to surf down and drink sundowners on. Zebra and grey rhebok wandering over the fynbos directly in front of the house. A private outdoor bath in which to drink champagne as you soak among the fynbos. A private chef, cellar and fully customised menu.

How about knowledgeable guides to help you explore the reserve’s glorious 35,000ha, 1,600 plant and 260 bird species? All this and more could be available to you.

Sleeping 12, the villa is a perfect multi-generational holiday option — as wonderful for a summer beach holiday or a midwinter hiking or whale watching break.


Tswalu Kalahari

If you thought Singita was the last word in bush luxury, try Tswalu Kalahari next time.

Tswalu Kalahari is just three hours from Cape Town. By private jet. Not cheap, but the expense is certainly worth it to reach Africa’s largest privately owned game reserve, which occupies 100,000ha in the Northern Cape.

Originally a hunting reserve owned by the maverick part-owner of Manchester United, Tswalu is now owned by the Oppenheimer family and operated by Relais & Châteaux. The reserve is divided into two parts by a national road, allowing for guests to enjoy both predator-rich and predator-free game experiences. In the predator-free side guests can board a balloon for a jaw-dropping morning flight, or gallop Mrs O’s horses across the bush and sleep out under the stars.

In the predator side of the reserve you can walk up to a cheetah in the wild and admire large and glossy prides of black-maned Kalahari lions from a safer distance. Rare black rhinos are doing well on the reserve, colonies of meerkats flourish and it also boasts privileged sightings of shy and wonderful pangolins.

I’ve been writing about and visiting bush lodges for most of my adult life. Tswalu Kalahari more than earns its position in my top three.