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CityPress - - T# - Haga Haga, East Lon­don, Wild Coast

had never met a cage fighter be­fore, let alone a Cameroo­nian cage fighter. But here I was, af­ter a pic­nic, slip­ping and slid­ing up a path away from a beau­ti­ful re­mote beach in Haga Haga in the Eastern Cape on the arm of Al­fred. Al­fred was a cage fighter. He is very strong, rather tac­i­turn, and has a French ac­cent. “Did you have a stage name?” I asked. “Non. I am Al­fred,” he said. Si­lence, as we slipped and slid a bit more. “Did you make money?” “Non. Other peo­ple made money.” “Did you ever lose a fight?” “Non. I was a body­guard.” Al­fred works, trains and coaches guests at the lovely, five-star Miarestate Ho­tel & Spa.

No, you don’t go there to be­come a cage fighter. You go there as a guest to en­joy lux­ury, ex­clu­siv­ity and pam­per­ing, spec­tac­u­lar Wild Coast scenery, game and su­perb food.

You take scenic hikes, go horse rid­ing over the coastal dunes, swim or surf on a se­cluded beach and la­goon where whales and dol­phins frolic and drift. Or if you want to get more ac­tive, you can use the small gym, or box with Al­fred as a rosy dawn breaks over the In­dian Ocean.

Miarestate Ho­tel & Spa is the love child of Nonkqubela Noloy­iso Mazwai. One of South Africa’s bright­est stars in min­ing, she de­scribes her­self as an Eastern Cape coun­try girl who is far more at home there than the big city.

When she lost her daugh­ter, Mia, in a road ac­ci­dent, Mazwai bought a beau­ti­ful old farm house 75km from East Lon­don, as a per­sonal re­treat. Tucked away among an­cient milk­wood and fig trees, and sur­rounded by rolling lawns, a cou­ple of kilo­me­tres from the coast, it was the per­fect place to find so­lace and rest. She called it Miarestate.

Friends and visi­tors urged her to share its beauty and so Miarestate Ho­tel & Spa was born.

To­day, set among 740 hectares of coastal and val­ley for­est, nine com­fort­able guest rooms – in­clud­ing two ex­ec­u­tive rooms with pri­vate, heated plunge pools – pro­vide the per­fect fives­tar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. There’s even a small ex­ec­u­tive con­fer­ence cen­tre tucked away on the edge of the for­est.

Be­cause there are no dan­ger­ous preda­tors in the wildlife re­serve, it’s safe and com­fort­able for adults and chil­dren to go walk­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, to just dod­dle along on a bi­cy­cle, or go CREA­TURE COM­FORTS on a guided game drive.

The ho­tel is very child-friendly, with all sorts of ac­tiv­i­ties to keep chil­dren in­ter­ested and en­gaged while the par­ents have a spa treat­ment or en­joy let’s-get-away-from-the-kids time.

Bles­bok gaze be­nignly at us, ze­bras graze, blue wilde­beest ca­vort and im­palas twitch their fluffy white tails as Me­lanie, Miarestate’s gen­eral man­ager, Sonja from Get­away mag­a­zine and I go bird­ing early one morn­ing. It’s win­ter, so the birdlife is not as spec­tac­u­lar as in sum­mer, but we tick off some qual­ity birds: a crowned horn­bill, a Knysna tu­raco, a fish ea­gle, a jackal buz­zard.

On the very edge of a thick pocket of en­demic for­est, we stop at the ho­tel’s two com­fort­able wooden cab­ins, a per­fect hon­ey­moon re­treat or a hide­away for guests who want al­most com­plete iso­la­tion. A river runs through the for­est and as we clam­ber over step­ping stones into its green depths, vervet mon­keys watch us cu­ri­ously.

On the beach we look for shells and sip chilled wine.

Back at Miarestate, the in­ter­na­tional chef and his team have pre­pared a fab­u­lous menu for us de­signed around the finest lo­cal pro­duce and com­ple­mented by a top South African wine list.

If you love the finer things in life, nat­u­ral beauty, ex­clu­siv­ity and a get-away-from-it-all ex­pe­ri­ence, this lux­ury ho­tel will hit the spot. Pric­ing:

Bed and break­fast in a deluxe room is R1 295 per per­son shar­ing (full board, in­clud­ing meals and ac­tiv­i­ties, but not al­co­hol, is R1 995)

Su­pe­rior room, bed and break­fast is R1 545 per per­son (R2 245 full board)

Ex­ec­u­tive suite, bed and break­fast is R2 045 per per­son (R2 745 full board) Turk­ing­ton was a guest of Miarestate Ho­tel & Spa. Con­tact the ho­tel on 043 841 1152,

or visit miarestate.co.za

beach at Miarestate is a great place to watch the an­nual sar­dine run, which starts in May or June.

PHOTOS: MIARESTATE HO­TEL & SPA

A PIC­NIC WITH A PUNCH

The ho­tel pre­pares pic­nic lunches at your re­quest

A cosy lounge at the lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel OUT OF AFRICA Guests are free

to walk in the game re­serve as there are no

preda­tors

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