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The Retreat at Groenfontein
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Reviews (303)
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Reviewed November 6, 2012

I know that whatever I say will not sum up the Retreat at Groenfontein and how much I love it.

Jiggling along the stunning road from Oudtshorn, we were twisting and turning around the mountains and knew we were getting closer (you need to keep an eye on the number of kms you are doing) but nothing prepared us for the first glimpse of the Retreat nestled in amid the mountains. And we still had a few twists and turns before we got there which built up our excitement. And the Marie came out of the house to welcome us and we felt like we were long awaited friends who she was just expecting to turn up.

We were given the choice of rooms. It is true that Marie did upsell them (we were booked to a double, but the mountain rooms were available and she wanted to show us how nice they were and encouraged us to choose it) but it felt very much as if she wanted us to stay there because it was so nice and we would regret it if we didn't! So the upselling was done in a transparent and charming way, not in the least underhand. She basically said "well I will show you both, these are the prices for them and I'll give you some tea on the verandah so you can chat and decide which one you would like". When offering us lunch or tea she explained what was on offer but was never concerned if we declined - enthusiastic and welcoming.

The Retreat is splendidly isolated - from one of our walks we did a 360 panorama from the top of one of the hills and could not see another building for miles. But there is now a new tearooms and gallery about 10 minutes drive away (open at weekends only) which is good for lunch or tea and cake. The rooms are beautifully and simply furnished. They seem to have the knack of making it feel luxurious and comfortable without an excess of cushions and fripperies - simply and stylish, cool and with a colonial air. Wonderful!

We really enjoyed the food, especially as Marie is vegetarian and so we had some sumptuous bean casseroles! It was very very tasty homecooked food, rather than elegant cheflike food which made a nice change from other places we ate at in South Africa. We enjoyed the dinner party atmosphere at dinner as it was a change from eating as a couple every night and we got to share travel stories with everyone, from South Africa and beyond.

But for me the best thing was you can go for many walks, all well signposted and with extraordinary views, or you can relax in the gardens or by the pool, with extraordinary views. My husband recommends the rockpools for swimming in, but having already walked all morning I preferred to laze around the verandah and the pool soaking up the atmosphere and the sunshine. So it's perfect for both.

I can see why the hosts, the dinner arrangements and the lack of "additional extras" in the rooms might not be everyone's cup of tea, but we loved it and felt welcomed and like we had been at a weekend long dinner party in a friendly, cosy country home. We booked for one night, stayed for two and are already lining up friends and family to visit and a return trip for ourselves. If you want a holiday where you can be alone by yourself, then there are other options (please do still drive through the valley from Calitzdorp to Oudtshorn though!) but if you want somewhere a little special, a little different and in a beautiful setting, I cannot recommend the Retreat high enough. If tripadvisor would let me give 6 stars, I would.

Room Tip: The Mountain View rooms are worth the extra, but every room we saw was beautiful and cosy.
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Trurzy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2012

This is an amazing experience. The old victorian bed and breakfast tucked away in the Swartberg Mountains. It's a long drive down a dirt road to get to, but it is definitely worth it.

Building
The grounds are very nicely kept, and the house itself is kept very clean. The room was great, and nicely kept. They provided laundry service for us which was much needed and really convenient. This is a great place to relax and get away from everything.

The Area
They have really well marked trails up through the Swartberg mountains that provide great views, the possibility to swim in a natural spring, and really get to enjoy nature. The views are breathe taking and you really feel away from it all. The stars are amazing, and accessible just out the patio door from your room.

The Hosts
The hosts are wonderful and so welcoming. We were coming part way through the afternoon and needed a snack (they don't offer lunch), and accommodated us by putting together a cheese and veggie platter for us. Dinner is a family dinner where all the guests and hosts eat at a large table together. The food was wonderful and the home cooked meal was much appreciated after having eaten out the last two weeks. At dinner you get to know your fellow guests, and have interesting conversations about the world, about traveling or wherever the conversation leads.

For the price, this is a steal in our opinion with the amazing room, the amazing grounds, the wonderful food (Dinner and breakfast) and the wonderful conversation. We'd definitely recommend.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Brad C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2012

Arrived late at night and was still warmly received. Could only experience the surroundings the next day, and there is only one word for it "stunning". If you are a nature lover no better place to stay for a few days to experience nature. Accommodation and food were out of the books.
Thanks Grant and Marie for your hospitality. Next time I will spend a weekend with the family.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled on business
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2  Thank André B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2012

This is quite simply one of the most wonderful places I have ever stayed at. The warm hopsitality, the excellent food, the stunning location and the well equipped rooms make this a place I know we will return to as often as we can. To escape from modern life, yet live in comfort and surrounded by beauty, this is the place to head for, with wonderful walks, wonderful swimming and good wines too, what's not to like? (But it's possibly not the best place to bring younger children, I suspect, as it's a little remote and mealtimes aren't wonderfully child friendly)

Room Tip: Chose one of the more expensive suites - worth every penny
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Erskinemay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 11, 2012

We have stayed a few times at the Retreat at Groenfontein as a family and everytime has been magical, from the ambiance of the house, the cosy rooms, the walk to the swimming hole, the fresh bush air, Maries cooking and Grants smile. We felt at home and spoilt and it made special memories for us.

Room Tip: we have stayed both in the rooms at the house and the new ones at the back of the property. Different but both lovely.
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Narniagardenroute
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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