SOA Road Trip Part 3 – Bid Huisie

Following our first two blog posts of Blogger Erik Brits, the next stop on his South of Africa Road Trip took him to Bid Huisie in the Karoo.  Here is his experience of our hidden gem in the town of Prince Albert.

bidhuisieview

Philosophising in Prince Albert

You often hear the term “a little village in the middle of nowhere” in conversation, and most of us have our own interpretation of this. In your mind’s eye do you see the vast open spaces of the Karoo, and suddenly three windmills and a post office appear? Or do you envisage hectares of rugged Zululand bush, opening up suddenly onto a thick-beamed wooden lodge overlooking a waterhole? These, and all sorts of other philosophical questions, were what I reflected on while spending the night in my idea of nothing and nowhere.

You see, Prince Albert might technically be quite easy to get to these days, but cradled in the Swartberg mountains as it is, you certainly wouldn’t guess it – especially if your chosen route was the Swartberg Pass (and it should be… it really should be!)

Depending on how recently it has been graded, the pass will be a slow but steady drive, or a bumpy slippery affair, but with the sweeping views, and the often incredible winds at the top, it is guaranteed to feel like an adventure of note. After an hour or so, you will finally come to your first sign of civilisation, and suddenly Prince Albert will pop up. The town itself is wonderfully charming, with a wealth of heritage remaining, and a strong inclination towards the artistic, as most of the Karoo tends to have.

I spent a wonderful night at Bid Huisie, a beautifully preserved small old church – now a two bedroom self catering cottage owned and managed by South of Africa. The cottage was well positioned just off the golden mile (the stretch of the main road where everything happens, quite literally), and captured the old-world charm of the village perfectly. How appropriate, then, to spend an evening in the prayer house reflecting on life, love and everything.

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Stay tuned for the next part of our SOA Road Trip.

Shangri-La wins Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Award

sltripadvisorIt is easy to see why visitors to this earthly paradise choose Shangri-La as one of the top 25 hotels in South Africa.  Renowned for offering visitors a view of past guests’ experiences, Trip Advisor announced its “Travelers’ Choice Awards” for 2014 this past week.  Shangri-La, who received their first “Award Of Excellence” from Trip Advisor in May 2013, is proud to be recognized in as the country’s top 25 bargain destinations in this year’s Travelers’ Choice selection.

Guests wanting to escape the madness of modern life knows why Shangri-La’s name (described in British author James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon) is so fitting. Lush tropical gardens, a trickling waterfall and leafy stone pathways blend with luxurious pampering in 49 en-suite rooms to offer a delightful sense of tranquillity.  In the open veld bordering this tranquil country hideaway hotel, wild monkeys and baboons play in the trees, while laid-back resident ducks and tame cats amble around.

For couples, friends, families and small groups that enjoy peaceful natural surroundings, finding your own piece of paradise at Shangri-La is just an hour’s drive from Gauteng!

ROMANTIC PACKAGE

To celebrate the fantastic Trip Advisor Award, Shangri-La is offering a “Love & Romance Package” in time for Valentines Day!

Spend two nights during the weekends of January, February and March at the only hotspot recommended by Cupid and receive breakfast on both mornings as well as your choice of one dinner for 2 people on either the Friday or Saturday evening.  Guest are treated to a bottle of sparkling wine and a small gift for your loved one on arrival.

Pay only R2640 for 2 people for a 2 night stay.  Offer valid 20th Jan 2014 – 31st March 2014. Excludes public holidays and long weekends.

For reservations, call 087 820 5999 or e-mail bookings@southofafrica.com.

VALENTINES DINNER

Apart from winning several Diners Club Winelist Awards, Shangri-La is famous for its unique take on South African cuisine.  Probably most notable for its much-talked about Butternut soup, which has been a family recipe first offered to guests when the hotel opened 23 years ago, this favourite amongst Shangri-La guests is included in the Valentines Dinner menu. Spoil your beloved with a romantic candle lit dinner at Shangri-La Country Hotel this Valentines Day, Friday 14 February 2014.  Pay only R195 per person for the delectable 5 course dinner menu, which features a selection of traditional South African dishes with a modern twist.  Reservations are essential.  Call 014 718 1600 to book your table.

The “SOA” Road Trip – Part 2, Seaside Cottage

Seaside Cottages 14Following the recent publication of the “SOA” Road Trip by travel journalist Erik Brits, we are proud to publish the second extract.

PART 2 – SEASIDE COTTAGE

Having been spoilt rotten by our first night’s luxury at Abalone House, we felt that we needed to experience the seaside village feeling as well, and moved to Seaside Cottage (also owned and managed by South of Africa).

Seaside Cottage holds more true to the theme of a fisherman’s cottage, and being self catering you are also isolated from other guests. Although the couch was more than comfortable, the new ambiance inspired us to sample more of the area, so we checked out the Columbine lighthouse and the magnificent rock structures of Tietiesbaai.

That evening we snuggled up under all the provided blankets, but I must say that if it had been summer we might have spent the entire day in the pool – look at that view!

**  For more photographs, view Nightjar Travel’s Instagram feed here.