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“Completely worth the journey”

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The Retreat at Groenfontein
Certificate of Excellence
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
37 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Completely worth the journey”
Reviewed November 23, 2009

As previous reviewers have mentioned, this guest house is "off the beaten track". And that is why it make it so special. We would have gone twice the distance to get to the Retreat. Complete seclusion and quiet - surrounded by a lovely scenery.

It is the little things that make it so special. Being met by Marie (and the two dogs!) as soon as you drive up to reception; the complimentary port in the room; fresh tea provided upon arrival. And the walking trails that have been marked out for the guests - ranging from 20 minutes to 90 minutes.

Grant and Marie are great hosts and I honestly don't know how they can so warm, friendly and chatty, day after day.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Princess_Denise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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258 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (58)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2009

The Retreat is a very special place. Nestled in a pretty isolated valley near the Swartberg Mountains, the setting is spectacular and the hospitality is at a similarly high level. Due to its position, the Retreat offers breakfast and evening meal in with the price - both of which were excellent - served with other guests in a very sociable dining room. There are superbly marked walking trails for all standards of hiker and the views are breathtaking. Grant and Marie are truly excellent hosts. We stayed in a luxury room and it was just that with a real fire and a view to die for from the verandah. The lovely garden was home to a large array of beautiful bird life and it was very relaxing. A proper retreat in fact.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank HYTT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toronto
Level Contributor
20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed March 22, 2009

We stayed here for one night on our way from Cape town to Kynsa. This place was wonderful - off the beaten track but that adds to the charm - and after a 19Km drive on the gravel road it was quite exciting to arrive at the retreat at the end of the road - the location is fantastic, with views over the mountains, and there are a number of walks you can take. You have drinks before dinner, and then eat communally with the other guests and the hosts which is great fun (as we didnt have much of an oppoortunity to talk to other travellers previously). The food was great - we had ostrich carpaccio, lamb with a ton of side dishes, and tiramisu and cheese to finish - huge portions and delicious! Breakfast was equally wonderful. We only stayed one night unfortuntely, it would be great to stay two nights (at least). This is a great base to visit the the Swartzberg pass and congo caves. The only compliant we had it there was no a/c - and it was 40C! But as they run on solar power and a generator - I can see how this wouldnt be possible. We had a great stay and were sorry we didnt book for 2 nights.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank jessie12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lymington, Hampshire,England
Level Contributor
292 reviews
93 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 257 helpful votes
Reviewed November 14, 2008

No mobile phone, no TV, gravel track through the bush to absolute tranquillity.

We stayed in one of the new suites in a separate building - it was extremely comfortable. Sitting room, dressing room, two bedrooms and a huge bathroom. Sitting on the verandah in total peace watching the setting sun bathe the mountain in pink light was bliss.

It's excellent for birdwatchers, there are wonderful walks, local wildlife includes buck, leopard and baboons and we nearly ran over a puff adder sunbathing on the road when we left.

Dinner was OK - tasty enough but not haute cuisine. Breakfast was excellent and served on a verandah overlooking a bird table with constant antics from the weaver birds and cape starlings.

There are guests that stay there for six weeks!!!!

We would happily return

  • Liked — The tranquillity
  • Disliked — Curtains let a bit too much light in in the morning
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
2 Thank yachtjudge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Knysna, South Africa
Level Contributor
52 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed April 29, 2008

We arrived at the Retreat on a rather overcast day and just managed to escape the rain. Our room was nice and cosy with a great bed and inviting deep tub. We started the fireplace, opened some port and sat there listening to the first rain drops. It was magic. Soon it was time for our delicious dinner. Everyone sits at one big table and you can choose to engage as much as you like with the other guests. Mary and Grant made every effort to make sure our stay was as enjoyable as possible. There are some fantastic walks one can do on the property and the afternoon tea was especially welcome. Thanks for a wonderful time.

  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank gbwt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bad Toelz, Germany
Level Contributor
48 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed February 26, 2008

In Feb 08 we stayed at this little place unfortunately for only one night.
The rooms are huge and beautifully decorated in African style. The owners, Marie and Grant are more than helpful. We did not fell like guests, but like familiy members.
The dinner was delicious - I have hardly had such a good filet Wellington !
The Retreat has own hicking trails - one leads you to some pools in a river where you may take a refreshing bath. We had unfortunately bad weather and the river was to high to cross it.

We were really sade, that we only stayed one night - but Marie was booked, so that we could not stay longer.

Sylvia and Udo Richter
Munich

  • Liked — The beatuiful room and the friendly owners
  • Disliked — N/A
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
1 Thank TaurusMunich
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scotland
Level Contributor
66 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2007

Calitzdorp is a v small town on Route 62 some 50km west of Oudtshoorn. The only interesting accommodation we could find in the area (from the www) was the Retreat at Groenfontein. We gave it a try. What a great experience! For a start it's a long way from anywhere. 35 minutes of dirt road from Calitzdorp leading eventually to a dead end valley. The navigation is no problem but europeans might get an unwelcome sense of being a long way from civilisation!

An old farm, very old, has been converted into a guest house. Another separate lodge/chalet has been built to add more accommodation slightly away from the main house.

The term Retreat describes the place well. There is little to do but go on long walks, read in beautiful surroundings, laze by the pool and socialise with other guests. The walks are marked trails over the foothills of the Swartberge mountains. They vary in length from an hour or so to 3-4 hours. We took a long one. Some navigation skills are needed but the views were stunning and the sense of isolation equalled in the UK only in the north of Scotland. Proper waking shoes recommended!

We returned from our walk late afternoon, bathed and changed for pre-dinner drinks. At this point I should say that the whole stay reminded us of a country house weekend. You go to stay with friends, not knowing who the other guests are, but expecting lively and invigorating company and conversation. We got it!

There were a dozen or so guests of various nationalities (Brit/NZ/SA/German), we introduced ourselves to each other before dinner and all sat at one large table, partners separated. Our hosts ate with us and also waited and served drinks. Just like a normal dinner party really. We had an outstanding evening and it proved to be one of the highlights of an eventful three weeks.

Our room was slightly shabby chic but good, the bed was the most comfortable of our trip. The bathroom was small but fine. Dinner was very good and the wine flowed freely and, naturally, breakfast on the terrace was excellent.

The Retreat would not suit everyone and, to a certain extent, the sucess of the evenings depends on the right mix of guests. However the hosts were skilled and steered the evening without effort. We really, really enjoyed our visit.

  • Liked — Exceptionally comfortable bed
  • Disliked — Size of bathroom.
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank PennyScotland
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $
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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