IN 1800, Lady Anne Barnard and her husband, Andrew Barnard, colonial secretary to the Governor at the Cape, built the first English country house in Southern Africa and named it The Vineyard. You can almost hear the plumminess of acting governor of the Cape Colony, General Dundas, in his correspondence with Lady Anne: “Upon my word, this is a dashing thing to build a house such as this at the Cape, Lady Anne”.
Today, The Vineyard is one of the most environmentally-friendly, progressive hotels in Cape Town. The eight acre property in Newlands is home to a diverse range of fauna and flora is as innovative and groundbreaking as it was when the original house was built in February 1800, the website informs us. “You are able to see the remnants of the first english style house to be built in the area, gracefully merging with the contemporary interior styling and luxury features expected from a modern hotel.”
The garden, even when only viewed from the comfort of your room or while walking to the spa, are exquisite. Garden tours can be arranged, or you can amble about on your own. Natural eco-friendly principles are used to maintain the garden and as a result, owls have made their homes in the boxes provided in the garden and many birds and animals, including a spotted genet, visit this urban oasis.
An award winner for sustainable tourism (Skål Sustainable Tourism Awards 2018), other practices in place at The Vineyard include two renewable energy projects, nearly all lights are LEDs, timers on external lights, central control of air conditioners in the conferencing centre, efficient hot water storage, air-conditioner controls in rooms (which I turned off completely because more often than not I can’t work the damn things anyway, and with big sliding windows which were open, I didn’t need it), and energy-efficient laundry and dishwasher facilities. On top of that, The Vineyard is recycling 92% of all waste.
Certified a Fair Trade Tourism property, The Vineyard’s new deluxe self-catering apartments have been awarded a five-star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa. While all of this goes on quietly in the background, it can certainly inform your environmentally conscious choice of accommodation when in Cape Town. Even if you’re not aware of these efforts, your stay is going to be comfortable.
At the shallow end, I loved the big squishy feet pillows the size of small boats. Walking through the garden to Angsana Spa was so pretty; even in winter when the trees are bare, I find them striking. A late Friday afternoon massage was just the thing to knead out all the stresses of the week. Based on my request for a focus on my neck and shoulders, a Javanese massage was recommended. Adapted from ancient Balinese techniques, this deep tissue massage relieves body tension and promotes better sleep patterns. Harmony massage oil works to harmonise the mind, as music is to the soul. That’s what the website says. I’ll say “What? She’s sitting on top of me?” and “well, that was pretty awesome, can I have a nap now?” The answer was no, due to dinner engagements but the therapist did have to hoist me up from the bed.
There are five dining options. Head to the Garden Lounge for in-betweener snack attacks or a glass of wine. Splash Cafe is over on the other side, next to the gym, overlooking the pool (see below), and close to the spa. The Long Cafe is where coffee lovers unite; and Myoga is the fine dining experience by Mike Bassett.
The Square is the hotel’s signature glass-ceilinged restaurant where you get your breakfast, as well as light, easy à la carte lunches or classic, contemporary dinner fare from seasonal menus. In the morning, you can help yourself from the extensive buffet or go all-in with a hot brekkie. I’m guessing this is a popular spot for local non-hotel guests too; for R95 you get eggs done your way, plus five additional items (bacon, sausages etc), as well as tea, coffee or OJ, toast and jam. That’s a pretty flipping good deal.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©