The term “home away from home” may be something of a hospitality cliché, but I’ve never visited a place where this description is more apt than Walkersons Hotel, Spa & Cottages in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga.
From the warmth exuded by the General Manager, Kate Christie, to the unpretentious country kitchen fare lovingly prepared by Chef Adri van Wieringen, and of course, the cosy but undeniably five-star accommodation, no matter how long your stay is here, it’s not going to feel like long enough.
Our group was lucky enough to stay at the new self-catering Waterfall Cottage… but to call it a cottage is certainly a misnomer as it’s truly vast, with five en-suite spacious rooms, each with a jaw-dropping view of the nearby dam, endless green hills and Dullstroom’s Scotland-esque misty landscapes. Added to this, there’s not one, but two lounges (one featuring a pool table) satellite TV, and a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with SMEG oven, dishwasher and laundry facilities. Of course, there’s a couple of fireplaces strategically located throughout the house, best enjoyed while curled up on one of the plush couches with a glass of bubbly or whisky in your hand.
While you’d definitely be forgiven for opting to hibernate in front of the fire, there’s plenty to do if you’re the active sort. Despite it being high summer during our visit without a cloud in sight in nearby Belfast, Walkersons treated us to the wintery conditions I was hoping for, perfect conditions to don a jacket and walking shoes and explore the enormous 800-hectare estate. There are several residential properties dotted around the grounds, all featuring the traditional look of natural stone walls, plaster and wood, blending in perfectly with the surrounds and the 22-year old Walkersons Hotel.
Another great way to spend the day is in the Amani Spa, where a range of massage therapies and beauty treatments are on offer. Alternatively, you can head to one of the trout-filled dams to try your hand at some fly fishing – a sport that our group didn’t quite manage to master – but there’s always next time!
The GM, Kate Christie, explains that Walkersons is a very popular half-way option for international guests returning from a bush experience elsewhere in the province when making the journey back to Johannesburg. She adds that it’s a great place to wind down from the hectic schedule of early game drive wake ups and busy safari schedules, truly affording visitors the opportunity to relax and recuperate for a couple of days.
And as for the food… well, that deserves its own article, coming up soon on Travelbones.
Waterfall Cottage is available at a weekday rate of R4 700 for the unit per night (Sunday to Thursday, or a weekend rate of R7 900 for the unit per night (Friday, Saturday, Public Holidays or long weekends). The rates apply for 2017. Guests can dine at the hotel with breakfast costing R205 per person, dinner R375 per person, and an á la carte menu for lunch served on the terrace. Families, or children under the age of 12 years, will be seated in the family dining room or on the terrace.