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“Truly "spiritual" and a very special place run superbly”

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The Retreat at Groenfontein
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 8 June 2011

Tranquil and peaceful in a setting second to none, this beautifully restored historical home with latter built annexes welcome one into such a relaxing atmosphere that it was only with much effort that we wrenched ourselves sadly away at the end of our stay. This is a birders Paradise of note, with many rare species positively identified in our far too short 3 day stay, not to mention the interesting Karroo vegetation, the tinkling crystal clear stream, the shy but inquisitive little buck seen on a walk and the many enormous wild tortoises which abound. Our suite was extremely comfortable and superbly dexcorated and equipped, to say the very least, and the ever-changing awesome and outstanding views were everywhere just so setting-up and satisfying. Quite how Grant and Marie, together with their well trained and extremely pleasant staff, manage to give guests such extremely high standards of service and absolutely superb cuisine at all times, especially in this beautiful, isolated and secluded wilderness without the mod-cons taken advantage of by most, really amazed us!! Well done to you all, and please keep it up till we at least manage a return visit with the rest of our family. It is also extremely satisfying that friends who we recommended the place to returned totally in agreement of our sentiments and of our very positive report - they too are all planning return visits asap.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank DavidJohannesburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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211 - 217 of 268 reviews

Reviewed 8 June 2011

My fiancee and I decided to take a couple of days break from the backpackers operation in the Easter Cape and We had seen a brochure of the Groenfontein Retreat..and how nice and tranquil it looked in the valley. We set off..drove thru Oudtshooern and took the turn off (30km) on the gravel road to the retreat. People would've in general complained about the..at places..windy road with steep cliffs (hold both hands on steering wheel!!). But once we arrived there we taken aback of the lovely situated 'little village' and were welcomed by Mrs Marie Burton with a nice cup of tea (many selections!!). We were shown to our bungalow (Nr 7) which was very luxurious. And being cold on this day of 22nd May '11, we lit the ceramic (ball) forep[lace and lay down to rest.
Supper was had and enjoyed in the main house..where the host Grant had many knowledgeable theories and experiernces from previous ventures in Namibia and Botswana. We enjoyed the food (whith many courses and choices). There were 5 other guests fropm Germany and Sweden with whom we had interesting converstaions.
The next morning we got up early and decided to take aa walk around the 'village' and took a stroll towards the silos..where we came across 'Donna trail' we assumed it was an easy trail..which it was..and very much enjoyed..with a nice view of the village. Unfortunately it was time for us to drive on as we were meeting up with my cousin in Kysna that afternoon - but we will be back for more 'personal' hospitality.
Terry and Lesley

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Panorama62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 June 2011

On our route towards Prince Albert, we decided to check out Marie and Grant's Retreat for the night -- and what a discovery it turned out to be. We ended up staying three nights, thoroughly enjoying the exhilirating mountain walks, also along Nel's River with the baboons barking in the distance -- and just chilling out by the little pool or with a good book in the cozy Victorian setting. We also took advantage of the Retreat's vicinity to the spectacular Cango Caves -- but the cherry on the top has to be the surprisingly creative dishes that Marie puts on the table, always a real treat, along with the warm hospitality and interesting company. We will really aim at returning on a future trip.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Luc-Etienne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 June 2011

Imagine the dinner scene :
In winter, an inviting ambience created by the lighting, the cosy and tasteful furnishings, the welcoming fires, and a dinner-table set for good food and good conversation. Guests are seated at the long dinner-table by Marie and, without fail, the occasion is enjoyable. The Retreat seems to attract an interesting array of guests, from all over the world as well as South Africa, and the three-course meal is always delicious. The discussions around the table sometimes carry on until late - none of the dreaded 'polite conversation'. In summer, dinner is served at the same long table, but on the verandah - to the enchanting backdrop of the night-skies, and sometime a full-moonrise. (The only sadness on a recent visit being the absence of Marie's father, a grand old man of 91 and an institution at The Retreat, who had just passed away. He will be missed by many guests for the courteous, charming, non-complaining example he set of growing old gracefully.)

As if all of that is not bounty enough, imagine the breakfast scene next morning :
Another long table, on the verandah that stretches the length of the house, facing out towards the mountains and overlooking the extensive gardens below. The birds are fed at the same time as the guests, and one has the feeling of attending a 'Concert of Nature' - the birdsong and activity against the backdrop of the gardens and the mountains is an unceasing source of delight and interest. And guests have a grandstand-view while they eat their breakfast of choice at a leisurely pace.

One of the many charms of The Retreat is that one can choose how much one wants to socialise, and how much one wants to pull away to do one's own thing - whether that means reading, sleeping, thinking, walking, birdwatching, or whatever. Those of a more reclusive disposition can have dinner brought to their room on request. For Grant and Marie, nothing is too much trouble. Whether it is preparing separate food for guests with dietary issues (all they require is advance notification which they alert guests to in their covering letter upfront), whether it is allowing guests to have their dinner or breakfast at a leisurely pace without chivvying them, or whether it is simply the very warm welcome they always give. These are real people - no false fronts and cosmetic smiles here. It feels like 'home' - except that one would never eat, relax, and be waited on hand and foot at home as one is here !

If this sounds like a personal plug - it is. I have been a paying-guest on many occasions and cannot extol the pleasures of a stay at The Retreat highly enough. Having just read a scathing review on Tripadvisor, I felt it was about time that I put my (more than) pennysworth in. It's all a matter of personal preference, and the beholding-eye. The many visits I have made have each been different - and I have always been delighted, never disappointed.

Room Tip: All the rooms are 'best'.
  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled solo
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Thank Penny469393
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2011

This was our first visit to south Africa. We spent the first five days in an excellent guest house on the outskirts of Cape Town exploring the city and beyond. We had a five hour drive along the amazing route 62 to Calitzdorp and then 20k on an unmade road winding through valleys, over brooks, brushing under lush greenery to finally arrive at the Retreat in the heart of the most wonderful mountain scenery. We had begun to feel anxious about where we were going to end up in as our previous hostess had never heard of it or the particular area. She had in fact been rather disparaging about our "uninformed choice".
We were greeted by the owner ,Marie, who was beside the car before we had time to get out ! She offered us tea on the terrace or anything else we would like.
Our bedroom was a converted milk parlour attached to the beautiful victorian homestead . We were a bit disappointed as the room had no view of the amazing scenery. We asked the following morning if we could change rooms. There was no problem and we moved to an annexe with a lovely simple room with its own verandah looking across the valley towards the mountains. the bedroom was in keeping with the simplicity of the place. Our bed was very comfortable , the furnishings were of good quality and in keeping with the style of the place. Magazines, maps and interesting books about South Africa were in the room.
Dinner was served on the lovely verandah at a long table with all the guests eating together with the family including Maries 90 plus father. Drinks were served prior to dinner on the terrace. Grant and Marie made enormous effort to introduce guests to one another and seat people beside who they thought would find each other interesting. The food was excellent,. There was not a choice but there were several accompniments to the main dish and a choice of deserts. Breakfast was self sevice on the terrace and Grant, Marie and Millicent made sure everybody was happy. there was a choice of hot breakfast along with a wonderful array of fruit, cereals, porridge, homemade jams cheese and cold meats. This was a very relaxing occasion.
Our hosts, Grant and marie made us feel like one of the family without intruding. Any we asked for or about they happily obliged. We spent 3 days at the retreat and regretted not spending longer. It is the kind of place that takes a day or two to relax and "switch off" There are lovely walking trails, a small pool with comfortable loungers, the most stunning scenery and most of all peace and silence to completely relax.
We liked everything about this place and would recommend it to anyone wanting something a little different. It is well worth the effort of going off the beaten track to stay here. The warmth of welcome is more in keeping with being a house guest and the feeling of having dinner on the terrace under the stars with not another sound of civilisation is something I will always remember.

Room Tip: Garden annexe, best views and privacy
  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank spring2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 April 2011

If you like peace, nature and the most amazing night sky you have ever seen this is the place for you. We stayed for two nights and enjoyed the most wonderfl time, great food, super service, wonderful staff and a location that must be hard to beat anywhere in the World. We will definatley go back.

There might no be aircon, but you don't need it sleep with the windowns open and enjoy the tranquility of the location and the soft night air. Who needs a hairdryer anyway?

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Hols70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2011

Just a lucky shot on the internet and there we were after some km of scenic dust-road from the highway at calitzdorp in this very friendly run guest house peaceful situated and at a mind blowing location. Apart from the staff and owners of whom one can only think very highly, the setting is in a valley with a small river surrounded by big mountains, Victorian style and beautiful rooms/apartments. The garden is great an done to perfection and as one has only power by generator it is remarkable how things get organized.
As it is quite some km out side the main road, one needs to stay for dinner, which is offered in the room price as is breakfast of 1380 for two ( we thought it was excellent priced ).
I do not write a lot of reviews, but the staff and owners made it such a fantastic experience that we even extended our stay and it is rightfully called the retreat.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank deleeuwenhof
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:
Region: 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 Speciality Lodging in Calitzdorp
Price Range: $80 - $163 (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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