Brian Berkman revisits South Africa’s Garden Route and its award-winning Fancourt Golf Estate and finds all Covid-protections and more in place.
From QR codes that replace the usual in-room hotel information to fogging the rooms with nano-silver and hydrogen-peroxide which remains active for seven-days against viral particles, guests at The Manor House, the five-star award-winning 18-roomed hotel can continue to rest assured.
Fly directly ito George International Airport which, because of its diminutive size, promises a speedy passport and baggage turnaround. The Fancourt Estate is home to three of the most highly-rated golf courses in the country and is nearly the same size as George. 2020 awards include Africa’s Best Golf Hotel: Fancourt Hotel & Country Club (South Africa) and South Africa’s Best Golf Hotel: Fancourt Hotel & Country Club by The World Golf Awards. As a golfer, taking a suite in The Manor House may be the only way to get to play on the highly prized Fancourt Links course.
Owned by the Plattner family, founders of German software giant SAP, Fancourt has had a hugely positive impact on the neighbouring communities in terms of job creation. Wherever possible, they source locally – from materials and labour to build and continually upgrade the estate – to fish and seafood from the nearby coast.
The Manor House General Manager Jayne Barlow says that even the generous selection of bathroom amenities are sourced locally. How many hotels have you visited that offer exfoliating body scrub, foot scrub and lip balm as part of the in-room amenity? This is just one of many examples where The Manor House exceeds expectations.
Originally the accommodation of Henry Fancourt White, then called Blanco House, the mansion was built in 1859 to exacting specifications and today is a listed building and national monument because of its historical importance. White was so expert in the built environment that he was called upon to build a mountain pass over the Outeniqua mountain to connect the coast with the in-land Karoo.
The Manor House retains its historic bones but interiors are elegantly appointed with contemporary and bespoke furniture. Interiors, in greys and whites and shades of black, are sumptuous. Everything is generously sized – suites are practically gargantuan and new 65-inch TVs allow you stream your own music and video content in addition to YouTube, Netflix etc.
When it comes to the tea and coffee station more is more: There’s a Lavazza Espresso machine with six pods at the ready (always and invisibly replaced the moment your turn your back by your concierge) and a selection of fine imported and local teas. The mini-bar and selection of premium spirits are included in the room rate. Where other hotels have a kettle, here they have an electronic water dispenser to deliver the perfect temperature water for your desires.
There is a gym in the standalone fitness centre which also includes an indoor pool which would rival a top commercial gym’s. The spa is located in its own Roman baths-style area of the main hotel building and the pool now uses oxygen rather than chlorine to purify water. Swimming in it feels like being in velvety Champagne.
Some of the changes since Covid-19 include having your temperature taken once a day and then given a wrist-band to prove it. Masks are required by staff and guests alike and there are sanitising stations at each entry point.
The Manor House has also had a recent upgrade. The original timber floors have been treated and buffed and are mirror-like in their gleam. Wallpaper has been replaced and things are looking spiffy.
“We have just had news that The Manor House has been recognised as South Africa’s Leading Country Hotel, an award by World Travel Awards – this is the third consecutive year we have been so honoured,” Barlow says. “This is wonderful news,” says Peter Dros, Sales and Marketing Director at Fancourt, “And we’re still smiling! It is a real reflection of the Manor House’s commitment to outstanding service. A visit to The Manor House is an experience, and this award means a lot to the team who pride themselves on creating the perfect stay.”
Graham Cooke, Founder World Travel Awards, says despite the incredible challenges faced by the travel, tourism and hospitality industry over the course of 2020, this year’s World Travel Awards nomination programme reported record visitor traffic and engagement from the public voter (the all-important tourism consumer). “This shows that as the global recovery begins, the appetite for tourism has never been as keen and this offers hope and much-needed encouragement to us all,” says Cooke.
At the Fancourt Estate, your options of where to dine are many and varied. “We have invested in creating private dining spaces on platforms in the gardens, in the upgraded gazebo and in the library where we offer guests themed platters – Land for beef, Sky for duck, Water for seafood and the Earth menu is a vegetarian offering, all of which come with the option of paired wines.
We also want our guests to tell us what they want to eat – anything from a roast chicken to burgers – every experience we offer at The Manor House is tailored to the guest.” Barlow says adding: “We have adjusted our afternoon offering to canapés and sparkling wine served in the suite rather than as a spread in the lounge as we did before and the breakfast buffet now comprises sealed jars and covered small plates of cheese, charcuterie, and cut fruits while whole fruits are individually wrapped. We want our guests to feel pampered but as safe as possible at the same time.” Barlow says.
The guest experience is as exceptional as possible.
Tell me more about The Fancourt Estate, Western Cape
The Fancourt Estate, near George, South Africa.
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Suites from £580.