Farm 215 might sound a little austere but don't be put off. More like a private nature reserve, this is 'eco-friendly' done properly, combining luxury and a passion for the environment, but remaining laidback and friendly. The two main co-owners, partners Maarten and Henki, epitomise the spirit of the place: Maarten the driving force behind all the envionmental projects and Henki who takes what the environment produces and conjures up delicious food.
We stayed in one of the three fynbos suites. These are freestanding units along a 300 m path away from the main homestead and powered by solar electricity. The homestead includes a suite on the ground floor with a nice garden and a couple of rooms above. There's also a newly built dining/bar area which has the same flowing design as the fynbos suites. Last, there's a 25 m infinity pool that stretches impressively into the distance.
Getting to Farm 215 involves driving about 14 km along a gravel road, which really makes you feel you're escaping from the rest of the world. The fynbos suites add to the feeling of peace and isolation, and it's hard to beat sitting on the veranda, sundowner in hand, soaking up the Overberg landscape. The three rooms in the fynbos suites flow one into another and reflect good design with little in the way of skimping on creature comforts. One slight drawback is that the separate toilet and shower have walls going up to about 2 m, which means that this is a place for couples who don't mind hearing each other's 'activities'!
Maarten is happy to arrange activities off the farm like horse-riding and so on, but we were content to do a 8 km trail which exposes one to the beauty and variety of the fynbos that he's trying to rescue from invasion by alien vegetation, e.g. pine trees. There are also plenty of vineyards in the region, and a good starting-point is the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, with big names like Hamilton Russell and Paul Cluver. Nearer to Farm 215, there are a few vineyards around Stanford, such as Raka and Boschrivier, although some require an appointment for wine tasting and/or may not be open at weekends.
The food at Farm 215 is plentiful and varied, and Henki is happy to cater for any dietary requirements, frequently drawing on his grandmother's recipes. While you're waiting for food, there's a splendid variety of books on display, with Henki's shelf concentrating on the artistic/exotic and Maarten's on flora/fauna. There's a separate shelf devoted to cookery books, with a number of alien invaders like Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater (but no G Ramsey, thank God). The wine list is concise, reasonably priced and generally locally sourced. Top of the list of reds is the alluringly named and thoughly exceptional Chocolate Block from Boekenhoutskloof.
All in all, a wonderful place run by delightful people, ideal for gay or straight couples or anyone just wanting to escape from the rat race for a few days or more. And Maarten and Henki offer a 20% discount for return visits. Thanks, guys - we hope to be back!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Farm 215 is located in the Cape's undisturbed Overberg. Farm 215 offers luxury, tranquility, privacy, space, original food and exceptional floral beauty. Panoramic views over the plains towards the ocean, vineyards hugging the lake and endless mountains. Located in a pristine private nature reserve of 800 hectares, farm 215 is a shelter from the daily routines of life and a haven for the conscious traveler. Certified by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. ... more less
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