If you don’t speak fluent golf, the conversations you overhear at Fancourt could have you clutching your pearls and feeling slightly shocked. Call me old fashioned but threesomes, foursomes, dimpled balls and firm strokes are not generally part of my daily vocabulary.
The good news is you do not have to speak golf or even own golf clubs or dimpled balls to enjoy all on offer at Fancourt. This estate is so much more than a top notch golfing destination, sporting 3 courses that are all ranked in the Golf Digest Top 20 in South Africa. If you are a golfer you will find everything you need to know about the golf here.
For those whose conversations are not handicapped or littered with bogeys and bunkers there is plenty to do while speaking plain English, or any other language.
The Roman Baths.
This is my kind of water feature. Tranquil and tasteful, with a hint of naughty Roman decadence, the 31 degree C water caresses, hydrates and energizes while evoking thoughts of toga clad gods and champagne feasts. A dip in these waters is a perfect way to refresh and rejuvenate after a walk, game of tennis or day out in the car.
Walks and Trails
The paved trails that meander around the estate, through groves of trees, past green fairways and down leafy lanes are a lovely safe option for a jog, brisk walk or leisurely stroll. As a photographer, I loved the useful note next to my bed giving me the weather and sunrise and sunset times for the following day. This made it easy to plan my walk, armed with my camera, to coincide with the astounding sight of the sun rising over the Outeniqua mountains.
For the more energetic visitors and MTB fans, Fancourt offers challenging trail runs in the nearby Witfontein Nature Reserve , and MTB Trails in the surrounding Geelhoutboom farmlands. Mountain bikes are available for hire at the Fancourt Activity Centre.
I have often seriously contemplated selling my car and buying an Eco Rider or Segway. I would even consider taking up golf if I could go from one tee box to the next on an Eco Rider. They really are so much fun and bring out the grinning kid in the most serious adult.
So how do they work?
You stand on the little footplate, grab the handle bars, lean forward and off you go. Speeding and weaving is very tempting but not encouraged sadly. If you go too fast the handle bar column pushes back in a most disconcerting manner, forcing you to slow down. I highly recommend a guided Eco Rider tour of Fancourt, even if you ignore the scenery and just connect with your inner kid.
Ease out the aches and pains after a day on the golf course, or just go for some pampering because you are on holiday. The Spa at Fancourt offers all the usual beauty treatments, but the Signature Roma Stone Placement Massage is better than a hole in one. You will feel twenty years younger, and so relaxed you will barely have the energy to walk to the Roman Baths for the recommended fifteen minute soak after this treatment. Trust me, go on and spoil yourself.
Eating and feasting
Fancourts four eateries all offer excellent cuisine paired with wines from the Waterford, Jordan and Graham Beck wine estates, and Exec Chef Des Morgan makes sure that excellent food is par for the course.
When the weather is fine, Monet’s, the café bistro style deli is the place to be for breakfast, lunch, coffee or snacks. Open from 7am until 5pm daily.
For a casual, relaxing meal, La Cantina offers great fare with an Italian flare. Their pizza is legendery in the area and the tiramisu should be compulsory. Open daily from 06:30 – 10:30 and 18:00 – 22:00 Sunday Lunch: 12:30 – 14:30
If you want to watch sport, talk sport, or listen to endless golf chatter, The Club Lounge or 19TH Hole is the place to be. Open from Monday – Sunday: 08:00 – 00:00 and the Club Lounge Menu is available from 08:00 – 22:00
Saving the best for last. Allow Chef Petrus De Kock to delight your palate with a culinary experience in the exquisite Manor House. Henry Whites offers classic European cuisine paired with the finest South African wines.
Monday to Sunday (October to April): 19:00 – 22:30
Tuesday to Saturday (May to September): 19:00 – 22:30
Reservations are essential.
Tel: +27 (044) 804 0535 E-mail: [email protected]
The cross bunkers are only on the course, and whatever your preferred lie, Fancourt has a bed that will exceed your expectations.
The Five Star Hotel has 115 rooms, the Manor House has eighteen suites and includes a personalized, butler-style service.
Self-catering options are also available on the resort in the privately owned lodges.
Fancourt is a perfect base for exploring the Garden Route.
For a detailed range of activities, the info desk at Fancourt can advise you, or you can look here.
A few of my personal favourites are as follows.
Wilderness Beach and the Touws River Mouth
A short drive through the scenic Kaaiman’s River Pass will take you into the little village called Wilderness, and the prettiest beach ever. Ideal for long walks, or fishing and swimming in the marked areas. The lagoon and river mouth are ideal swimming spots for young children, and the town has some quirky shops, eateries and places to buy an ice cream.
At the far end of the beach look out for the paragliders floating on the thermals before landing on the beach
Take a walk along the boardwalk alongside the Touws River, keep an eye out for birds.
A 65km drive via the N12 will take you to Oudtshoorn, ostrich capitol of the world and home to the Cango Caves.
From the Cango Caves it is a fairly short drive to the start of the Swartberg Pass, one of South Africa’s greatest scenic drives.
A 60km coastal drive will get you to Knysna, one of the towns that was affected by a wildfire in June 2017. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Knysna is functioning and ready to welcome visitors to experience the magic of the forests, lagoon cruises, Waterfront area, restaurants and shops .
Featherbed Reserve and Knysna Heads Cruise.
The Featherbed Company are the obvious choice for a cruise with a difference on the Knysna Lagoon and out to the notorious Knysna Heads, two cliffs that rise high up above the lagoon and create a choppy, narrow channel out to the open sea. The choices are the John Benn Floating restaurant , the Paddle Cruiser, the Heads Explorer Catamaran or the Three Legs open ferry .
The Featherbed Reserve was badly burned during the June 2017 fires so the fabulous eco experience on this reserve is not available. I spoke to Dianne Pepler from the Featherbed Company and she told me that all the vegetation was lost but fortunately no landslides occurred.
Pepler explained the plans to restore the reserve saying “ Featherbed Nature Reserve was predominantly coastal forest and coastal Fynbos. We are currently in talks with botanists, horticulturists and environmentalists as well as conservationists to advise us on the correct methods of erosion prevention in our efforts going forward re-establishing the reserve. We will be introducing an alien vegetation eradication programme and we are investigating the introduction of bees into the system as they play a fundamental role in the cross pollination process within the eco system.”
Pepler then reiterated that all their vessels and restaurants are fully operational, so support them by having a great experience on the water and at one of their eateries.
While in Knysna a visit to the forests where elusive elephants live and the history of goldminers and woodcutters comes alive. Millwood Forest and Jubilee Creek are well worth a visit.
After a day exploring, coming home to the serenity of life at Fancourt is like a dream. Everything you need is right there and life is good.
Fancourt is about a 5 hour drive from Cape Town or a 45 minute flight with AirLink.
Disclosure. My stay at Fancourt was as a hosted media trip. Opinions are my own.