CHECK IT OUT MANOR HOUSE AT MONT ROCHELLE HO­TEL, SOUTH AFRICA

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Richard Bran­son’s Mont Rochelle Ho­tel in South Africa’s Fran­schhoek wine re­gion has opened a pri­vate Manor House villa. Sleep­ing up to eight guests in four suites, the lodg­ings pro­vide that ex­tra fil­lip of luxury, ded­i­cated staff, in­clud­ing an on-call chef, and two swim­ming pools, one in the court­yard and the other over­look­ing the vines and moun­tains.

A gleam­ing white ex­am­ple of tra­di­tional Cape ar­chi­tec­ture, the pri­vate villa also fea­tures a gym and games room and offers easy ac­cess to the ho­tel’s wide range of fa­cil­i­ties, which in­clude a day spa, horse rid­ing and wine tast­ing.

Bran­son pur­chased the Mont Rochelle Ho­tel, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, two years ago and un­der­took an ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment of the 26-room prop­erty be­fore it joined the Vir­gin Lim­ited Col­lec­tion, a co­terie of hotels, sa­fari lodges and is­land re­treats that re­flect the bil­lion­aire’s travel pas­sions. The el­e­gant ho­tel sits hilltop on a pri­vate 39ha vine­yard with re­lax­ing con­tem­po­rary in­te­ri­ors where com­fort is key and a sense of fun pre­vails.

DON’T MISS: Mont Rochelle’s com­pli­men­tary wine tast­ing (con­ducted by head wine­maker Justin Os­borne), avail­able daily in the restau­rant or 150-year-old wine cel­lar; or per­haps a jaunt by horse­back with a pic­nic ham­per is more your speed.

DINING IN: There are var­i­ous op­tions for Manor House guests. Whip up din­ner in the smart kitchen, or ask the ho­tel to dis­patch that pri­vate chef. Pop across to the ho­tel’s res­tau­rants, with brand new head chef Dar­ryll Ra­ga­van in the kitchen. Miko serves a range of international dishes with an em­pha­sis on lo­cal pro­duce (try the tan­door-spiced os­trich carpac­cio or spring­bok loin with rose­mary gnoc­chi). Ad­join­ing the cel­lar door, a cork’s pop from The Manor, The Coun­try Kitchen is a more ca­sual af­fair with a large out­door ter­race and serv­ing the likes of West Coast mus­sels and roost­erkoek, a tra­di­tional South African bread.

DINING OUT: The Manor House is a 15-minute walk from the his­toric village of Fran­schhoek, home to sev­eral bistros (a free shut­tle op­er­ates from the ho­tel).

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Pack your walking shoes to ex­plore the re­gion’s 43 cel­lar doors or hop on and off the handy Wine Tram.

CHECK­ING IN: Rates from ZAR46,800 ($4200) a night based on eight shar­ing, min­i­mum two nights, in­clud­ing pre­mium South African wines, break­fast and a choice of a three-course lunch or din­ner daily, mini bar, house­keep­ing and Wi-Fi. More: vir­gin­lim­it­ededi­tion.com.

ALSO TRY: Farm­house Inn, Sonoma County, Cal­i­for­nia; The Louise, Barossa Val­ley; Six Senses Douro Val­ley, Por­tu­gal; Alan Pye Cot­tage, Huka Lodge, New Zealand.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE

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