“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy’. ” Sylvia Plath’s words, and a perfect descriptor for my staycation at La Petite Ferme. The blue chip property with its prime position against the Franschhoek mountains and exceptional outlook over the Valley is soul therapy and, unsurprisingly, ranks as one of the Western Cape‘s most iconic boutique hotel destinations.
A (WAY OVERDUE) RETURN VISIT
This seems to be my year for reconnecting with exceptional places. A month ago I visited Lanzerac in Stellenbosch after an absence of 35 years. Last week I was fortunate to do a staycation at La Petite Ferme (LPF), my first time back since 1990 when I was there for lunch with my husband-to-be, Paul van der Spuy – I even have a photo to prove it, as below. That’s us, really!
CUISINE & WINE
After a fire razed the original restaurant to the ground in May 1996, the owners and staff threw their weight behind the rebuild efforts and the new restaurant opened for business in record time six months later. Today it sports a fresh, modern look and Chef Kyle Norris has done wonders with the cuisine, described as ‘country cuisine with a fresh contemporary touch’. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and at LPF, it is an event as is lunch which is particularly legendary. Chef’s new autumn menu is now available as well – I can’t wait to try it out. Talking about his success, he is quick to point out that it’s all about teamwork, saying, “with camaraderie among Chefs and our team as intense as a tarragon reduction for béarnaise, our single existence is to make people happy.”
One of the highlights for visitors is the vine orientation and wine tasting conducted by Avron Williams. LPF is a boutique winery that produces a full range of excellent wines – red, white, rose and Method Cap Classique (MCC). Cellar and orientation tours are by appointment and the tasting venue just beneath the restaurant is a beautifully styled and unique space, especially when compared with other tasting rooms that tend to be a tad bland and the same wherever you go.
THE AFRICA SUITE
La Petite Ferme is a wonderfully intimate hotel comprising four Manor House Suites and five Vineyard Suites. Following a major refurb of the latter last year, each suite now has a gorgeous contemporary look and feel, a far cry from the original reed ceilings and Cape cottage-style furnishings and décor. The changed up interiors, by Clinton Savage, are spacious and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout that allow natural light to flood in. The bathrooms, living areas and patios with private splash pools (and peacock visitors) have uninterrupted views over the valley below that will take your breath away. At dawn and dusk the mountains are tinged with a pantone of mauve and blue hues and it’s like standing inside a Monet painting.
I stayed in the Africa Suite – muted tones interspersed with bold graphics and plush carpeting giving way to cool marble tiles underfoot. As far as the exterior goes, Savage hasn’t strayed too far from the Cape vernacular (an informal version of the old Cape Dutch style), paying careful attention in his re-imagining to the heritage of the wine farm and the area.
And can I just take a moment to say that LPF has the BEST slippers ever – adjustable, velvety soft – the #wearalldayeventowoolies type, and Chef Kyle’s rusks in the little canister next to the kettle are completely addictive. (special thanks for the takeaways by the way!)
Top notch hospitality is in this estate’s DNA. A few staff members like Estie Williams (Avron’s mother) and Charmagne Floris have several decades of experience at LPF between them and their commitment to their place of work is obvious. The welcome received from each and every person, no matter their rank, is all about eye contact and genuine warmth, and there is clearly camaraderie and loyalty between owners and staff.
Autumn is here, my favourite showstopper of a season. As the summer slips away, there’s a window period of predictable weather with balmy days and soft sunshine. It’s a particularly glorious time to celebrate life in the Franschhoek Valley, so why not book a Fall staycation at LPF? Failing that, any time of year will satisfy as each season brings its own magic.
My staycation at La Petite Ferme was arranged through Manley Communications. All opinions are my own.
La Petite Ferme: Franschhoek Pass Road, Franschhoek / + 27 21 876 3016 / www.lapetiteferm.co.za