Get pampered, feel treated, sit back and relax. It’s time to find a fabulous spa in the countryside.
Rest assured that the Country Life team has taken time out of their busy schedule to visit each of the places on this list. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Now, you have this list of spas and retreats from around the country to choose from.
1. Lanzerac Spa, Stellenbosch
The appeal of the Winelands is naturally the wine, although the craggy mountains, rolling vineyards, elegant architecture and cuisine play fine supporting roles. Add a spot of massage and you’re as close to hedonistic heaven as it gets. Lanzerac offers a package that subtly combines it all. The new spa, which opened early last year, has a pool and Jacuzzi that overlook the Jonkershoek peaks and spreading vines. Upstairs mani-pedi treatment stations and cubicles share the same view, but while you’re undergoing an AromaVine Pinotage Massage (or any other of the many options), and having your tension knots pummelled, the only sense that matters is touch. Locally produced in Stellenbosch, the award-winning TheraVine, one of the two product ranges used, is appropriately based on the powerful anti-oxidant properties of grapeseed oil. At the deliciously designed Vitality Corner, you can also add a spoonful of the powdered, magic ingredient to your raw juice or smoothie. There’s also a sauna, steam room, mist room, Rasul chambers, NeoQi Mediq cocoon, gym and treatment room for the disabled. My best was the posttreatment,
complimentary glass of Lanzerac MCC.
021 887 1132, [email protected]
Words Nancy Richards
Read up on the history of Lanzerac here.
2. Angala Boutique Hotel & Guest House, Franschhoek
Set in the rolling vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley, it is certainly a space held by angels, as the play on its name attests. The main area has extensive views and the surrounding gardens are lush and exotic. The hotel is simply decorated and each room has its own special story. Individual treatments are done in your room and there’s a wide range to choose from. Shiatsu and yoga are also on offer. There is a solar-heated, ozonated pool and a Jacuzzi in the glorious gardens. It is tempting to order Champagne to go with the other bubbles but, if I am doing this for my health, I can see this isn’t a good idea. The sauna feels like I have just landed in modern Japan, with normal and infrared heating, and the steam room helps the detox. Angala also offers heavenly, healthy food and the toss-up after lunch is to explore or simply stay and commune with the angels at Angala’s natural pool. The angels win, although I know there is a whole lot to do in the Cape Winelands. It just means I will have to return.
021 874 1366, [email protected]
Words Sue Adams
3. Lodge on the Lake and Wellness Spa, Wilderness
The open front of this boutique B&B reveals an expansive vista of Wilderness’ famous Island Lake, and it’s hard not to be in awe of its lofty setting. This same view sets the tone for the lodge’s wellness spa, which doesn’t only overlook the water, but enjoys the sounds of the abundant bird life that calls Island Lake home. This means all treatments come with their own, natural soundtrack which, on the day I visited, included the unmistakable call of the African Fish Eagle. I opted for a full body massage, followed by one of the lodge’s signature hydrotherapies – the Forest Stream Milk Bath Ceremony. A generous spa bath is filled, to which a bath bag of salts and herbs is added, followed by a generous glug of ‘bath milk’. A 20-minute soak in this soothing, fragrant blend rounded off my treatment. More invigorating hydrotherapies, body scrubs and wraps are available, as well as full use of the steam room and rim-flow plunge pool on the deck just outside the spa. After my treatment, this is where I sat back and indulged once again in the lodge’s elevated lakeside locale, sipping spring water while delighting in the antics of the waterfowl below.
044 877 1097, [email protected]
Words Bronwyn Mulrooney
4. Bodhi Khaya Retreat, Overberg
This haven of peace and tranquillity is set on 217 hectares, in the foothills of the Witkransberge, in the heart of fynbos and milkwood country. Blending Buddhism with South African culture, ‘bodhi’ means awareness in Sanskrit and, going beyond the meaning we all know, khaya is a sense of belonging and a spiritual base. The retreat offers hikes along 30 kilometres of picturesque trails, walking meditations along the labyrinth path, and quiet time in the Meditation Hall that left me rejuvenated and relaxed. Meals are lacto-ovo vegetarian and vegies are freshly picked from the garden. Accommodation ranges from dormitories to self-catering. I chose self-catering in the original farmhouse that dates back to the 1820s. Well-appointed living and sleeping areas, as well as a log fireplace, make this an ideal option for families or groups. When you drag yourself away from this spiritual haven, remember to keep your camera at hand – the view over Walker Bay is spectacular.
Words Olivia Schaffer
5. African Vineyard Spa, Kanoneiland
It’s not every day that you discover a place to indulge body and soul on a river island. My discovery was quite by chance. When I first stayed at the four-star guest house while on a Northern Cape roadtrip, my visit coincided with the opening of the Vineyard’s wellness spa and I was treated to a complimentary foot massage. The wellness spa is now celebrating its second birthday. A smorgasbord of luxurious face and body treatments are available, to be relished either indoors or outdoors in the tranquil riverside setting. Breakfast or a light lunch can be added for a full Vineyard pampering experience. The spa uses the Kalahari Lifestyle product range that combines African plant extracts and oils with tried and tested skin-nourishing ingredients. The skincare treatments include a variety of Kalahari specials like a Baobab Face Treatment – using a firming, skin-rejuvenating clay mask – and a Red Dune Sand Body Exfoliation to buff away dead skin, as well as a choice of deeply-relaxing facials, massages and pedicures. With only two bridges linking the surprisingly large farming island to the mainland, African Vineyard’s Wellness Spa is an out-of-the-ordinary retreat and a lovely spot for rest, recuperation and beauty treatments. You’ll find this gem outside Upington, 15 kilometres from Keimoes.
083 461 1724, [email protected]
Words Ron Swilling
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6. Peace of Eden Nature Lodge and Vegan Retreat, Knysna
‘Naturally beautiful and a little wild’, is how hostess Jen Harvey-Butcher describes Peace of Eden, an eco-friendly, vegan lodge in the forested heart of Rheenendal, Knysna. Its emphasis is on relaxation, rejuvenation and personal rediscovery in a natural setting. Jen helps visitors design their own unique experiences, with yoga, meditation, sound journeys and healing breathwork. These activities can be enjoyed at different venues on the property, like the riverside or lily pond, in forest clearings, or on the forest deck where I blissed out on a soothing reflexology treatment. Aroma massages, reiki and kinesiology treatments are also available. The retreats are not the only things carefully crafted – the food is too. At one of South Africa’s only vegan lodges, Jen prides herself on a truly artisanal approach to cooking a solely plant-based cuisine. A variety of self-catering accommodation is available, from whimsical cottages to rustic cabins and forest tents.
074 755 5859, 044 388 4671, [email protected]
Words Bronwyn Mulrooney
7. Brahman Hills, Nottingham Road
Just off the Nottingham Road exit on the N3, Brahman Hills is an excellent base for exploring the KZN Midlands. The hotel is fast gaining renown as a wedding and conference venue, but its secret weapon is the spa. Surrounded by a gorgeous garden, the building is a delight – airy and modern with generous porthole windows revealing the rolling hills beyond. I start with a head-to-toe exfoliation (a mix of sugar and rose-geranium oil) followed by a soak in a bubble bath that turns my skin to silk. After that, it’s a full body massage with locally sourced and biodegradable products that is so utterly relaxing I could happily curl up and snooze the afternoon away. For manicures and pedicures, a bright communal salon runs the length of the building. And for brides-to-be (or any small party) the Tranquillity Lounge or Champagne, Coffee and Chocolate Bar are available for pretreatment gatherings, complete with properly delicious eats.
033 266 6965
Words Tess Paterson
8. Walkersons Hotel & Spa, Dullstroom
Only ten kilometres beyond the town of Dullstroom, Walkersons Hotel & Spa is something of a legend. There’s the luxury of space – rolling savannah grassland that’s home to marsh harriers and grass owls and three species of crane. With its hike-worthy hills and inviting stone buildings, this is my kind of getaway; single malts and afternoon naps, with a few bracing strolls. Add a spa experience and you’ve got something quite special. Four permanent therapists offer manicures, pedicures and a variety of massages, and on the skincare side, you can expect Babor facials. There’s also a steam room for pre- or post-massage relaxation. I opted for an aromatherapy massage to iron out the knots, and emerged an hour later looking like a sleepwalker but feeling fantastic. For a real spoil, the Spa Ritual Packages offer two- to three-hour combination treatments, plus a delicious Walkersons spa lunch.
013 253 7000; [email protected]
Words Tess Paterson
Looking for more spas and retreats? Have a look at our list of the 6 Best Spas & Retreats in South Africa.
A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.