Tried and Tested
• Four Seasons The Westcliff
• Mabula Lodge
First conceived as an enclave of luxury townhouses in 1997, Albwardy Investment (Dubai) and Hotels Properties Limited (Singapore) bought The Westcliff from OrientExpress Hotels in 2013. A R200million($14m) revamp replaced the wistful pink colonial nostalgia with a more modern handwriting. The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg, run by the eponymous Canadian-based group, reopened late2014.
WHERE IS IT?
Situated in the heart of the prestigious Parks neighbourhood just 22 kilometres west of O.R. Tambo International Airport and 36.6 kilometres south of Lanseria, the address is 67 Jan Smuts Ave although it's actually tucked away in Woodview Drive.
Our spacious room 925 on the second floor – one of 12 suites and 105 guest rooms – offered a balcony overlooking the main pool, and terry bathrobes so thick and fluffy I could barely close my case. Nah, just joking, though I couldn't resist pocketing the Terres d'Afrique toiletries found in the marble bathroom featuring double vanity basins, rain shower, bathtub and private loo (non-negotiable, in my view). Expect free wi-fi, flatscreen TV, iHome docking station, Power Hub with guest connectivity panel to charge electronic devices, an espresso machine, large comfy bed, a sofa, and hand-embroidered cushions. Guests can download the convenient Four Seasons App, enabling services and amenities at the tap of a finger.
RESTAURANTS & BARS:
While there are five venues, the two loftiest – Flames and View – accessed via a glass elevator, are most popular. Sweeping vistas and a serene sense of space come free with the menus. Open daily, Flames, an upmarket grill house, is a magnet for brunching businessmen, lunching ladies, or couples wanting to watch the sunset from an expansive patio. We enjoyed starters of kudu carpaccio and charred baby octopus with line fish ceviche, followed by a tuna tataki, served with Asian tabbouleh salad and mint labneh, washed down with a bottle of 2014 Thelema Carbernet Sauvignon. Oh, and a tasty cheese platter for afters. The urban chic View, open Wednesday to Sunday, offers breakfasts and three or four-course dinners with wine pairings for evenings of culinary rapture. Plush decor with touch-friendly textures from sumptuous velvets to crisp linens create a convivial dining space and I enjoyed an excellent eggs benedict for breakfast. You can also pick up a snack at the street-side, French-inspired Westcliff Deli offering gourmet food on the go. The Apres Spa Bar & Lounge offers light bites and cocktails. For those who value their privacy or prefer to stay in their bathrobes, there's also in-room dining.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES:
With 1,457 m2 of function space, the hotel's 13 meeting rooms, grouped in one building, can accommodate between four and 400 delegates. High-speed internet access and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment comes standard and groups can socialise between conferences in the divisible Arcadia Ballroom's prefunction foyer or in Jacaranda and Rose gardens.
There's an outdoor lap pool and a large, outdoor family pool. The Health Club offers nine treatment rooms for massage, skincare and beauty, including one for couples. Men's and women's changerooms each featuring a sauna and steam room. Think weight training, studio classes, and certified personal trainers on request. The post-treatment relaxation room and a small selection of snacks and signature spa teas created by African luxury tea brand Yswara are reasons to linger. Before and after your appointments, you can relax at Après Spa, the city's only outdoor spa lounge for drinks and light cuisine.
If mad, bad Jozi is a troubled teen on Tik, the Four Seasons Westcliff is a serene dowager in diamonds, a tranquil retreat for meetings, conferences, staycations or celebrations, far from Eskom strikes and demands for wage hikes. An allround game-changer with eye-popping views, there's nothing else quite like it in the city.
Caroline Hurry ■