Prop­erty Re­view: Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Des Langk­ilde.

A sur­prise to me that is, but not to the hun­dreds of leisure and cor­po­rate guests who have stayed, played, ro­manced, and strate­gised at Cape St Fran­cis Re­sort and its con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties over many years - a fact that their re­view rank­ings on TripAd­vi­sor and Book­ings.com bears am­ple tes­ti­mony to.

Get­ting to the East­ern Cape's headland at Cape St. Fran­cis from Port El­iz­a­beth Air­port is a rea­son­ably short 90-minute drive past the surf­ing par­adise of Jef­frey's Bay and the gi­ant wind tur­bines that stand sen­tinel along the N2 free­way, which is just as well see­ing that I had 3 adults, two dogs and tons of lug­gage crammed into a Suzuki Ig­nis ve­hi­cle that I had col­lected in PE to re­view (see page 00).

Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort's re­cep­tion is con­ve­niently po­si­tioned in a sep­a­rate build­ing off Da Gama road, next to the re­sort's main ac­cess gate, and dou­bles as a con­ve­nience gro­cery, cloth­ing and trin­ket store. It also dou­bles as the vil­lage's (un­of­fi­cial) tourist in­for­ma­tion bu­reau and guests can book ac­tiv­i­ties and ex­cur­sions from the friendly, pro­fes­sional staff. St Fran­cis Tourism is the of­fi­cial tourist in­for­ma­tion bu­reau for the Kouga re­gion and is lo­cated in the ad­ja­cent vil­lage of St Fran­cis Bay.

There's cer­tainly a lot to see and do in Cape St Fran­cis, from kite surf­ing les­sons, trail walks, and bi­cy­cle hire to bungee jump­ing and sky div­ing. The main at­trac­tion though, is the re­sort's So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity Ini­tia­tive; Betty's Tour. Named af­ter the re­sort's em­ployee and tour leader, Betty Anos­ter guides guests on a tour of the Cape St Fran­cis SANCCOB ma­rine re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre and its pen­guin colony, fol­lowed by a town­ship tour at Sea Vista to meet some very spe­cial kids at the Tal­hado Chil­dren's Haven, and fi­nally a visit at Nomvula (a Xhosa word mean­ing “she who brings the rain”), which is a knit­ting group started by Frances Becker in 2008 and now em­ploys 15 full time knit­ters.

But I di­gress. Af­ter check-in pro­ce­dures had been com­pleted, and af­ter a quick tour of the on­site Joe Fish Restau­rant and Bar, I was given a site map in­di­cat­ing the lo­ca­tion of my ‘Fal­con' unit within the re­sort.

There are ac­tu­ally 3 kinds of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in the re­sort; the Fam­ily Beach Cot­tages are three and four bed­room self ca­ter­ing units, the Beach Vil­las are 5-star graded houses with five en-suite bed­rooms and plunge pool, and Club Break, which con­sists of 3-star graded one and two bed­room apart­ments lo­cated near the re­sort en­trance and close to the pool and restau­rant. All of these ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions can be booked on a self-ca­ter­ing or a bed and break­fast ba­sis. They are also all ideally po­si­tioned for easy ac­cess to the re­sort's main at­trac­tion - the beach. And what a beach it is! A pilot Blue Flag beach, the golden sand slopes gen­tly to the In­dian Ocean waves and stretch for kilo­me­tres along the curve of land be­tween the es­tu­ary and Granny's Pool. This is also where the world fa­mous surf­ing spot, Bruce's Beau­ties lies.

Fur­ther along the beach, to the right of the re­sort beach ac­cess, is the Cape Seal Light­house, which was built in 1875. The light­house ap­par­ently has a mu­seum and used to be open for guided tours to the top of the tower but closed for re­pairs to the stair­well, which, although com­pleted some time ago, never re-opened. A com­ment from a lo­cal im­plied that the light­house and its build­ings are cur­rently be­ing used (and abused) by Port­net of­fi­cials and their friends as a pri­vate venue for fish­ing and par­ty­ing.

Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort also has a health and beauty stu­dio lo­cated within the es­tate. But what im­pressed me most is the re­sort's con­fer­ence cen­tre. The cen­tre has four con­fer­ence and meet­ing venues; the aptly named ‘The Space' can ac­com­mo­date up to 300 del­e­gates in theatre style, the ‘Chapel & Theatre' up to 160 del­e­gates, the ‘Fran­colin Room' up to 35 del­e­gates, and the ‘Beach Break' for smaller meet­ings of up to 15 del­e­gates.

Of course, all of these con­fer­ence venues have state-of-the-art equip­ment, with break­away rooms, sec­re­tar­ial ser­vices, and ca­ter­ing op­tions. The re­sort's con­fer­enc­ing sec­tion has also been pro­vid­ing team build­ing pro­grammes for small, medium and large cor­po­rate com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, uni­ver­si­ties and schools over the past 15 years. Add to this the ac­com­plish­ment of hav­ing hosted the 2017 edi­tion of the Ex­pe­di­tion Africa World Se­ries Ad­ven­ture Race in May, and it be­comes clear why Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort re­mains busy even dur­ing the leisure tourism low sea­son.

Un­for­tu­nately, I sim­ply did not have enough time to ex­pe­ri­ence all that the East­ern Cape's Kouga re­gion, and Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort, in par­tic­u­lar, has to of­fer. But, to quote the words of a fa­mous time-trav­eller; “I'll be back!”

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Cape St. Fran­cis Re­sort at: Tel: +27 (0) 42 298 0054 | Email: seals@iafrica.com | Web­site: Capest­fran­cis.co.za

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