Just an hour outside the hectic pace of life known to many a Joburger, lies the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountain range. Historically known as the Macalisberg Mountains, according to a book penned by George William Stow in 1905, this profusion of quartzite played host at one time to pre-historic man, including the famous Mrs Ples, in and around the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
During the mid-1800s the range became known as Magaliesberg (Mogale’s Mountain) after an important chief of the time; Mogale meaning sharp or brave person. And so it has been that, for over 2-billion years, this range has provided a tranquil setting to those who call these plains home.
An iconic landmark of more recent years is the African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa, Autograph Collection, nestled amidst the range, a bastion of country charm and elegant style. My first encounter with the property was in the late 1990s as my family and I celebrated Mothers Day at this fine establishment.
Needless to say, when the chaps from Mount Grace recently contacted me to experience the property once again, I was packing my bags. I even packed my friend Marlene in too, to enjoy this country getaway with me.
A Charming Country Retreat
From the minute we arrived, Mount Grace lived up to her promise of country charm. I have always found country folk to be friendly, so much so that often we Joburgers look upon them with uncertainty and a hint of mistrust.
Meeting Durrayne Lesshope, the guest relations manager, upon our arrival, was an absolute treat. In my travels, never have I come across a manager who so intrinsically lives out the ethos of the property he represents. It was as though Durrayne had welcomed us into his very home, and spent time walking around the property with us.
This turned out to be rather advantageous as there is quite a bit to keep you occupied at Mount Grace. From an award-winning spa, to hiking trails in the Magaliesberg Mountains and an abundance of country fare at the two restaurants on site or just a lazy afternoon in one of the many lounges, sipping cocktails while the fire crackles in the background.
Check out what Durrayne had to say in this video I put together of our chat.
Walking the Magaliesberg
After a great night’s rest, Marlene and I awoke early and set out, cameras in hand, for a walk along the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountains. Ever-the-gracious host, Durrayne shared stories about the property, dating back to the 1930s, as we scaled the mountain. He was most patient with me, with the splendid scenery making for phenomenal photo opportunities which often saw me wandering off into the veld. Perhaps along similar paths used by Mrs Ples in her day, I thought.
Having built up an appetite, it was time to experience some of the country fare on offer that Durrayne had spoken so highly of. The Twist Restaurant was to host us for breakfast, amidst a profusion of fresh-everything, everywhere I looked.
Time Out at the Mount Grace Spa
With accolades including a World Luxury Hotel and Spa award, the Mount Grace Spa and Bush Spa could keep you occupied the entire weekend. Treatments range from the traditional facials and massages, to an indulgent journey through the hydrotherapy garden and even an underwater music experience in the flotation pool.
Double rooms allow for shared treatments with your partner, or that special friend. Marlene and I opted for separate rooms as we soothed away the Magaliesberg-miles trekked earlier that day. A (country) gentleman should never lead a lady on… it’s just not cricket.
Dinner in an Antique Cellar
In true country flamboyance, dinner on the Saturday night was an affair to remember. The recently-revamped Rambling Vine restaurant, now a child-friendly venue, played host as Marlene and I sat down for a time of reflection in the restaurant’s cellar.
Just like the spa, this award-winning restaurant headed by Executive Chef Stuart McClarty celebrates all things country. With spoils designed as country garden style food and paired with wines from a list which has been awarded a Diners Club Diamond Award for the last three years, indulgence came in the form of slow roast lamb cutlets with mustard and pea puree, paired with croquette potatos and a mocha tiramisu to finish. This, from deep within the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Sundays are for Balloons and Picnics
Sunday morning saw Marlene and I up early once again and headed out on a quick 30-minute drive, in the general direction of Hartbeespoort Dam, in search of Bill Harrop. Bill has been operating his original balloon safaris since 1981 and, like Mount Grace, is a local legend on this side of the Magaliesberg Mountains. Be sure to see more of our adventure, which definitely should be on your country getaway to-do list, in the video above.
Farewells are never pleasant, but in true Mount Grace style, they had one last surprise up their sleeve. All guests are packed a country picnic to take with them upon departing, however we opted to enjoy ours on the lawns outside the spa. I could not have conjured up a more fitting ending to a country getaway.
Enjoy Mount Grace Country House and Spa Your Way
Mount Grace has a variety of rooms on offer to meet your country getaway needs, from standard and deluxe rooms to one-bedroom villas. Durrayne’s hospitality comes standard with all options.
In fact, Mount Grace are so determined to get you out into the country that they are offering a special deal to facilitate this. From R2 600 per room per night, you too can create your own country getaway and explore the majestic Magaliesberg. The offer includes a country breakfast and romantic turndown, as appropriate, and runs until 22 May 2020. For more details on this deal click here.
A big thank you to Durrayne and his team for hosting us and allowing me the opportunity to take some time out in this grande dame of the Magaliesberg Mountains.