Grootbos Private Nature Reserve – South Africa
Hotel Type: 5* luxury eco reserve.
Location: Overlooking Walker Bay, on the southwest tip of the cape – two and a half hours from Cape Town and 20 minutes from Hermanus.
Style: Contemporary eco chic.
Rooms: Luxury suites and exclusive villas with views of the reserve and the Atlantic.
Ideal For: Immersing yourself in nature.
Swimming: Each lodge has its own swimming pool.
Dining: Each lodge has its own restaurant, each serving excellent cuisine made using locally sourced ingredients.
Children: Special attention is paid to children’s activities with a programme focused on inspiration and education. Children can expect to choose from horse riding, kite flying, beach excursions, treasure hunts and orienteering exercises.
Activities: Enjoy whale watching, guided walks along the coast or Milkwood Forest, or a guided trip to view the whales (from July to December). Get to know your bearings and see everything the reserve has to offer either via horseback or a 4×4 drive. There’s also the chance to visit Klipgat Cave, to enjoy a boat trip to Dyer Island, and to take a wine tour.
Spa: The Bloom Wellness Spa uses specially-produced products made from natural ingredients from the reserve. Treatments include facials, full body massages, manicures and pedicures.
Accessibility: Forest Lodge and the villas are wheelchair friendly.
Low Season Price From: £770 for two adults in a luxury suite.
High Season Price From: £1,064 for two adults in a luxury suite.
Open From: All year round.
The natural and spectacular beauty of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has to be seen to be believed. 3500 hectares of pristine wilderness on the southern tip of Africa, on the edge of the Atlantic and full of rare and unique species of plants. And due to its biodiversity, it is designated as a Floral Kingdom – one of only six on the entire planet. The animal and bird life is no less impressive, and this is the only private reserve where you can see the big marine five – whales, white sharks, penguins, seals and dolphins. Here, the Lutzeyer family have created a collection of luxury eco lodges and villas for guests to enjoy an immersive experience in nature and her full glory. The hospitality is flawless – expert guides reveal the wonder of the reserve with an inexhaustive list of carefully curated activities and a team of chefs create unforgettable gastronomic experiences. It is no wonder that Grootbos is consistently ranked as one of the top places to stay in the world.
It’s all about the outside at Grootbos, thus the design and architecture of the villas and suites are totally inspired by the surrounding nature and the wide, expansive views. There are two Lodges, each with a collection of free-standing suites and two exclusive Villas. All of them are set in tranquil gardens, or amongst the trees, with large wooden decks and fabulous views of the ocean. Even the bathrooms have a view! Each Lodge shares a heated pool, terraces and gardens, a communal living area and a Spa and wellness area. Garden Lodge is ideal for families. Built with local materials and designed to mimick the branches of the surrounding milkwood trees, it comprises 11 luxurious stand-alone suites. Each is configured differently, from the One Bedroom Luxury Suites that can sleep two adults and two children (on a sofabed in the living area), to the Two Bedroom Family Suites and Two Bedroom Luxury Family Suites that can accommodate up to five. We love the contemporary design of Forest Lodge, and of course the simply incredible views of the reserve and the Atlantic from the floor to ceiling windows and decks. It features 16 suites in total, two of which have their own plunge pool. Each suite has one bedroom, with some sleeping up to four people (children must be 12 or over). The bathrooms are luxurious with underfloor heating, and the suites also come with outdoor showers with a view! The villa experience is a whole new realm. Set apart, with their own pools and enormous terraces looking out over Walker Bay, the villas are fully catered and come with a butler and private guide. Interiors are luxurious with bedroom suites opening out onto the terrace, open plan living areas adorned with local art, a gym and a private wine cellar. Villa 1 has two master suites and four luxury bedrooms. Villa 2 has one master suite and three luxury bedrooms. And both have their own light aircraft landing strip.
Each Lodge has its own restaurant – Red Indigo at Forest Lodge and The Garden at Garden Lodge. Every ingredient is either sourced locally or grown on the reserve’s own organic farm – and you really can taste the freshness. The bounty of the ocean is on every menu, together with trout from a local farm, and all pork comes from the reserve’s hand reared pigs. Make sure you try the Grootbos honey – made from the nectar from some of the world’s rarest flowers. The reserve has a passionate culinary team, resulting in truly exceptional cuisine – and the views from each restaurant are pretty outstanding too. The dining also extends to picnics on the beach or out in the reserve. And of course, being South Africa, you can be assured of an extensive and excellent wine list – try the five course pairing menu.
Grootbos is a wilderness haven for children and the team here have created a magical programme of activities designed to educate, enthuse and inspire their younger guests. Expert guides take them on treasure hunts, beach excursions and trips through the reserve teaching them about the extraordinary biodiversity of their surroundings. Don’t be surprised if they come back laden with insects and porcupine quills! There is pony riding, orienteering, cave exploring and bird spotting – and a lot of fresh air!
To explore the reserve and the ocean beyond is to grasp a real understanding of the incredible biodiversity around you. Whatever pace you want to take it, and wherever your interests lie, Grootbos has an activity that will leave an indelible print on you. Let the immensely knowledgeable guides take you on a botanical tour of the reserve, showing you the enormous range of species of both flora and fauna. Take a guided walk through the fynbos (literally “fine bush” – the vegetation only found here), along the coast or see it all on horseback. Grootbos has its own bee colonies, where their resident beekeeper will show you the hives and teach you about the intricate lives of the bees and how they are so integral to the ecosystem. You can become a twitcher for a morning – the bird life is vividly colourful and mesmerizing, then go fatbiking in the afternoon on the dunes along Walker Bay. A day trip will take you to the southernmost tip of the continent, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, with some wine tasting on the way back. The waters around the Cape are renown for their marine life, and a boat trip out will hopefully reward you by seeing a Southern Right Whale, or at least a pod of dolphins. For adrenalin, there’s also shark cage diving! Or you might want to give that a miss and head for a shady milkwood tree for a massage from one of the beauty therapists. Suffice to say, that whatever you do, you’ll remember it for a very long time.
When you’re in one of the world’s most biodiverse places, responsible living is everything – and the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has been awarded several international accolades for sustainable tourism. Here, it’s called “progressive tourism”. The Lutzeyer family are committed to conservation, and set up the Grootbos Foundation to protect the Floral Kingdom and develop the communities within it. The ethos at Grootbos pervades every aspect of the operation from using clean energy sources, such as solar power to implementing eco-friendly water and waste management practices. Produce is grown on the reserve’s organic farm, and drinking water comes straight from a sandstone aquifer and is bottled in recycled glass bottles. All these initiatives help support local jobs and therefore the community as a whole.