The drive through the macadamia, litchi, and granadilla (passion fruit) orchards on the road leading to Summerfields Rose Retreat and Spa convinced me that my weekend stay on this working farm-cum-spa was going to be the an idyllic weekend retreat. But when the receptionist inquired, “What kind of champagne would you like to drink with your bath?” I knew I had found a destination suited to my persona. Every detail only reinforced this sentiment, from my luxury tented suited along the banks of the Sabie River, to the farm to table ethos of the two restaurants on the property, to pre-dinner drinks around the fire, to fresh cut roses everywhere. This place had seemingly been designed with me in mind.
I had booked a two night package stay at Summerfields and my first scheduled activity was a 30 minute back and shoulder massage, but a last minute conference call resulted in a postponement of the treatment until the following day. Even idyllic weekends away involve a few hours of work! Upon wrapping up my call, I was driven to Summerfields Kitchen where a sumptuous three course meal was served in front of a roaring fire. Many of the vegetables and herbs were sourced from the organic gardens and the food was fresh and delicious. Fat, happy, and relaxed after dinner, I retreated to my room to find a tub full of piping hot water, a brut Rose on ice, a platter of tropical fruits grown on the farm, candles, and rose petals strewn around the outdoor tub. Unwinding with a book and glass of bubbly in a giant tub, was sublime, even if the indulgence was intended for two.
My package include a full day tour of the Panorama Route, although I could have elected to do a game drive in Kruger. I was fetched at 8:30am the following morning so breakfast in bed was arranged. Seriously, this place thought of everything. Despite the clear weather in Hazyview, we encountered heavy fog as we made our way along the route. Instead of starting at the bottom and making our way up, my guide decided to head straight for the furthest destination – the Three Rondavels before continuing on to Bourke’s Potholes, God’s Window, the Pinnacle, Lisbon Falls, and Lone Creek Falls. The route can get get quite busy in peak tourist season, but most of the lookouts were remarkably uncrowded despite being the first day of winter school holidays in South Africa.
My two favorite spots along the route were the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Potholes. Blyde’s Canyon is on the northern end of the Drakensberg escarpment and is reputedly the third largest canyon in the world, although by what measurement I am not sure. It was formed by the Blyde River or Glad River. Early voortrekkers (pioneers) named the river upon the joyous return of an expedition party that had been presumed dead. In their prolonged absence, the members of the party who were left behind, named another river in the area, the Treur River or Mourning River. The two rivers meet at Bourke’s Potholes where interesting grooves have been formed in the rocks. The entire area is breathtaking and I can only imagine what it is like on crystal clear day when you can see all the way to Mozambique.
After a long day, I returned back in time for the spa treatments included in my package – a back and a foot massage. The following morning I had a bit more time to relax and slowly made my way to the River Cafe, for a delicious breakfast which featured perhaps the best culinary invention ever – homemade bacon jam made with bacon that had been smoked with macadamia nuts. Unreal. After breakfast, I slipped into my robe and traipsed along the raised walkways to the spa for a full body massage. The spa salas are open to the river and it’s almost as if you are having a massage completely outdoors and surrounded by nature. No fake nature noises that other spas employ are needed.
Summerfields is just outside of Hazyview and is an ideal jumping off point to explore the Panorama Route or to work out all of the knots after jostling around on a safari vehicle in Kruger or nearby Sabi Sands. Or if you are looking for a romantic weekend away with your partner, hop on a plane to Nelspruit and drive 50 minutes to Summerfields. Admittedly, I am already plotting a return visit, although this time I think I may just check myself into the spa and never leave.