Mist envelopes me as I dip down a hill on the R43 towards Gansbaai. Low hanging cloud swirls like Scottish fog and I’m momentarily disappointed: I was banking on a blazing sun sinking below the horizon in a kaleidoscope of colour. Now the light’s turning white and I can barely see the taillights of the car in front of me – there’s goes my hope of capturing a spectacular sunset.
However by the time I’ve turned into De Kelders and begun driving along the craggy edge, I’m starting to feel an exquisite rush of enchantment. Suddenly the familiar fynbos morphs into a mysterious foreign landscape, as if I’ve been teleported across the seas to somewhere magical like the Isle of Skye (sans the drudgery of airport security, visas and long cramped flights). My mood lifts, unlike the cloud.
Nico warmly ushers me through the front door of Cliff Lodge, its interior bright and welcoming as he leads me up a flight of stairs to my room. I’m already taken by the art adorning the walls and in this weird half light, it feels more like I’m climbing towards a cruise ship cabin. He opens the door with a flourish and shows me around. The suite is elegant and spacious: a Manhattan penthouse transposed on a rocky ledge overlooking the Atlantic. I sink onto the four poster bed, the mist taking on a positively romantic hue as I gaze out at the swell sneaking through the fog. What an idyllic place for a honeymoon, romantic weekend or even a rejuvenating getaway to pamper yourself.
Ocean Suite is the chic cherry on top of Gideon and Gill’s award winning haven (with a further four rooms equally stylish, thoughtfully appointed and nautically named). There’s a telescope for whale viewing, flat screen TV and DVD player and even a Nespreso machine (in case of midnight emergencies) in the fully stocked mini-bar – though I soon discover both Nico and Gideon are exacting barristers who pride themselves on the quality of their cappuccinos. And, as someone who is an out and out caffeine snob, trust me these men know good coffee! I feel at home and instantly relaxed.
The massive balcony showcases the breathtaking view – an immense expanse of sea that stretches on forever. Looking out it’s rugged rock, crashing waves and endless fathoms of crystal cerulean… which in whale season, comes alive with mating couples and later, frolicking mothers and calves. And although you can charter a boat to take a closer look, you’ll be astonished how much you can see from the comfort of this lofty vantage point.
Waking refreshed after being gently soothed to sleep by the murmuring lullaby of the ocean, I admire the moon lingering high in the pastel pink sky, shimmering like mother of pearl. The mist has cleaned to reveal a magnificent vista and I’m awed by the epic beauty of this place as the light paints watercolours across the canvas of dawn. A great start to my day!
And it just gets better: downstairs a delicious array of cereals, fruit, yogurt and freshly baked goodies greet me along with the heavenly aroma of freshly expressed coffee. Gideon serves me one of the best flat white’s I’ve ever sipped as I sit soaking up the sunshine. Gill’s freshly juiced watermelon and mint is a revitalizing tonic… and there’s still a litany of delicious cooked delicacies to choose from. One is quite literally spoilt for choice.
This part of the Overberg is magical throughout the year but there is something particularly beguiling about winter with her wild storms and raging seas. I can think of nothing better than being curled up safe inside, basking in the warm glow and watching heavy swell crash against the rocks below. In fact, I’m such a devoted wave watcher that after sampling the sumptuous smorgasbord breakfast, I skip down to Die Stal to see the ocean shatter itself into white foam splitters, revealing brief rainbows in the spume. Later I’m lucky enough to be included in the local Kelp Kult and taken for a bracing swim in the Walker Bay reserve. Riding seaweed seahorses on the back of a rip, my spirit soars with sheer sensory delight of sea, sunshine and salt. It’s a lot like being a mermaid – and the irrepressible power of the sea has always fascinated me.
It’s significant to note most Cliff Lodge guests are based abroad and return at least once – if not once a year. Glowing feedback spread by satisfied visitors and consistently excellent reviews on Tripadvisor ensure this glamorous retreat is fully booked throughout the season. Both Gill and Gideon are remarkable hosts: warm, accommodating and perfectly professional. And they keep exceeding expectations. For the first time since moving to my little farm sanctuary, I feel reluctant to return home. Spend one night here and you’ll understand why: it’s heaven.
From now until the end of July, Cliff Lodge is running a winter special: 10% discount for a 1 night; 20% off if you stay for two nights and a glorious stay for 4, pay for 3 (they close from June 15th for a month).
My advice? Book now and treat yourself to the Ocean Suite: you’ll be delighted you did!