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“A very special place with fabulous hosts”

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The Retreat at Groenfontein
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 25, 2014

We had a some drama on the way to the Retreat with two flat tyres at the base of the Swatberg Pass (one more than we had spare, unfortunately) with extreme heat and a two-year-old and our dogs with us. We phoned Grant in a bit of a panic and he had organised a tow truck, new tyres and was on his way to us within minutes. We really could not have asked for a more accommodating welcome and continued help as it took us the next few days to sort out the situation.

The Retreat is, as the name suggests, remote, with at least 20km along a gravel road to reach the guesthouse. But it is well worth the drive through the quaint farms and lovely mountains - we even saw giraffe, hartebeest and zebra on our drive in. Once at the Retreat, is a pleasure to have your meals organised and have nothing to worry about except how to while your time while you are there. Grant and Marie have really put their heart and souls into the place and it shows. They show and old school hospitality that is a nice change from some of the more stuffy modern places. As others have said, the rooms are not "white linen with air conditioning" fancy, but the hosts' hospitality more than makes up for it. It was lovely to share nice farmhouse meals with our fellow guests, who were all interesting. As it was very hot while we were there, the dam and pool were wonderful to cool off in. It felt very much like a farm. It was also nice to be able to bring our dogs and feel welcome. We will definitely be back.

Room Tip: We stayed in one of the suites at the top of the hill overlooking the Swatberg mountains, lovely.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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1  Thank AspengirlinAfrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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170 - 176 of 270 reviews

Reviewed December 29, 2013

Simply a wonderful place to stay in a beautiful location. You can tell its going to be special as you drive the 20 or so kilometres up the dirt road from Calitzdorp and you will not be disappointed when you arrive. Marie and Grant are very welcoming hosts. The rooms are lovely with some nice homely touches - we stayed in one of the two garden rooms with great views out over to the Swartberg foothills. Spend an hour or so on the deck in the sunshine watching the many colourful 'resident' birds that fly back, forward and around you! Or climb up on the Klipspringer Trail behind the Retreat to get a real feel for your surroundings. As for the food and the overall dining experience - we can only echo what other reviewers have said - fantastic cooking and a great way to meet your fellow travellers. Not to be missed! Brian and Lorraine

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Brian S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MarieLittleKaroo, Owner at The Retreat at Groenfontein, responded to this reviewResponded March 16, 2014

Dear Brian and Lorraine
Thanks very much for your kind words - it was a real pleasure to meet you both and we look forward to the next visit!

With many thanks and best regards
Grant & Marie

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Reviewed December 27, 2013

The host, Grant, proceeded to remove ticks from the dog's skin right beside me while we were eating dinner at the table. I was horrified, I love dogs but taking ticks from the dog, putting them on the table beside me and squashing them to kill them certainly took any appetite I may have had away. Grant did this 3 times, once loosing the tick on the table. This was also witnessed by my husband. We had a poor start to our visit as there was a flood across the gravel road 13km to the property. We had driven from Tulbach which was over 5 hrs due to roadworks. With no phone coverage at the flood we had to drive back towards Calitzdorp to phone The Retreat. They were pretty unhelpful on the phone. We had to drive back 8km to Calitzdorp, 10/15km on the main road and 45 km on a gravel road to avoid the flood. It was 7.45 pm when we arrived. We got a very brisk greeting from Marie. She told us dinner was ready and we were to come to the veranda right away. Her tone was dictatorial like I was back in school again. Were were both quite tired after our ordeal of a journey and would have liked a quiet meal. Marie said, "sit there" pointing to my chair at the communal table. Her manner was bossy and overpowering. Price was a rip off for what we got.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Catherine F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MarieLittleKaroo, Owner at The Retreat at Groenfontein, responded to this reviewResponded March 9, 2014

Dear Catherine
I'm so sorry that you had this very unfortunate experience at the Retreat. I will make very sure that it never happens again and Grant is being very careful where he removes ticks from the dogs. If you would ever consider returning to visit us, we would like to give you a free night and we will endeavour to give you a very different experience. I hope you will accept our sincere apologies.

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Reviewed December 10, 2013

Some reviewers have already said it, if you love nature walks, tortoises along the way, friendly dogs coming begging for your food, or strokes at least, and chatting the evening away with lovely people around a few bottles of Pinotage, then this is the perfect place to unwind. It's located at the very end of a very long gravel road and getting there is already part of the experience! At the end, Mary and Grant will welcome you as a friend, serve you fabulous, mostly organic food from their own garden or a farm nearby, and offer you shelter in a spartan (and this only means no wifi and no minibar in the room), yet tastefully appointed room or suite. A little paradise!

Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Swisscheese_Zurich
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 22, 2013

If a guest wants a place with an easy access road, fluffy white towels and pristine white sheets, a fridge and kettle in the room, and romantic candlelit dinners for two, this is not the place to choose. But if an extraordinary out of the way place is wanted, with tortoises roaming a well established garden with huge pelargoniums and irises, the opportunity to do spectacular walks over nearby hills, and to see loads of stars at night without light pollution, then this may fit the bill.

We had a slightly more exciting arrival than we had really wanted. Because of heavy rains, we had to take a longer route (29 km rather than 20 km) over a bumpy gravel road to avoid flooded bridges and causeways in order to reach the guest house. Marie, our host at the guest house, went to great lengths to help us, and arranged for a local farmer to drive our car across the final flooded causeway entrance to the guest house. We were probably very unlucky with this weather as the area is semi-arid.

Marie made us feel very welcome and took great care to ensure we would be happy with the dinners her staff prepared. She clearly adores the Retreat and its beautiful garden and enjoys sharing it with her guests. Her three friendly dogs are an important part of life at the Retreat, and as Marie said, the house is “pet friendly”.

We enjoyed the communal breakfasts and dinners with fellow guests, on the balcony overlooking the garden. It was also good fun to go swimming in the nearby reservoir, with the odd terrapin swimming past. Definitely a most unusual and memorable place to stay.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Ann L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2013

A wonderful Surprise

What a surprise to find such a green oasis in the heart of the Little Karoo. The 20 km drive along a dirt road to The Retreat At Groenfontein was breathtaking. The setting and scenery of this 3 star Guest House is amazing. The warm welcome from the hosts Marie and Grant is a great way to start your stay. The rooms are spacious and provide a cool respite in summer and the fireplace ensures your warmth in Winter where the snow capped peaks of the Drakensburg loom overhead.
No telephone or TV here. Just peace, tranquility and a wonderful retreat from the world. ( WI-Fi available at reception) For the energetic there are many hiking trails in the Swartberg Mountains ranging from very easy to a little more demanding. Clear pools in the river and a swimming pool will keep one refreshed. Great home style meals are excellent, as are the local wines. I really hope I get the chance to return one

Room Tip: The suites come with excellent views ie room 6..
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank 829PaulC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2013

My husband and I have been staying at the Retreat two times. Lovely comfortable accommodation with the a wonderful view of the Swartberg; what more can you wish. On a hot day swimming in the cool waters of the dam. Trails through the Karoo veld and a lovely garden full of birds a retreat in the true sense of the word.

Delicious cuisine and a fine selection of wine.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Service
Thank Anette M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Retreat at Groenfontein

Address: Groenfontein Valley, Calitzdorp 6660, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Calitzdorp
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Calitzdorp
Price Range: $63 - $165 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Retreat at Groenfontein 4*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This award winning destination, a nature reserve, 20kms from Calitzdorp, adjoining the Swartberg World heritage site, offers simple luxury, friendly service, and a relaxed ambience, with delicious, wholesome meals and caters for vegetarians and food intolerances. Evenings are spent in the company of fellow guests and friendly hosts. In this haven of tranquillity enjoy birding, walking trails, relaxing in the lovely gardens, at the dams, river or pool, or do day outings to attractions in the area, such as ostrich farms, Cango caves, Swartberg pass, and others. ... more   less 
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