Kids and luxury don’t always go together; fine dining, elaborate decor and beautiful, breakable thing are not well mixed with children. However we have found a few places where kids clubs, babysitters, lush carpets, gourmet meals and elegant interiors have found a brilliant way to exist for families travelling with young kids.
So whether you’re on the lookout for a safari, a beach getaway or a winelands break; there’s no need to feel you can’t bring the kids (however appealing this option often is). Spoil yourself and the family and indulge in one of these decadent stays…
All inclusive Safari
Gondwana Family Lodge at Sanbona Game Reserve
If you’ve ever ventured into the bush, you’ll know what a truly magical place it is. But when traveling with young kids not old enough to join a game drive ( in reserves with predators); this could prove to be quite a damper on your trip. Vaughan and I dreaded not being able to go on game drives together and having to tag team ( as we do at mealtime and most other times) with one of us remaining with the kids while the other could venture in the bush.
Turns out we were so sweetly surprised it was crazy. During my birthday week we arrived at the refurbished Gondwana Family Lodge only to discover that yes there was a kids club filled with an outdoor playground, sand pit and a wealth of toys but here’s the game changer- a babysitter assigned entirely to our family and kids for our two night stay.
I nearly wept for joy when Vaughan and I got to venture out on my birthday morning at 6am only to spot lions, a cheetah, giraffe and a gorgeous herd of elephants whilst our babysitter sat in our room until it was wakeup time, then gave them breakfast.
Some mealtimes she would take baby Joshua allowing me to really savour my meal and eat with two hands plus she spent lots of time with Caleb while he lived his best life in the playroom. It was officially one of my best birthdays and I can tell you now that there is nothing better than a babysitter while you’re on safari!
Situated in the Karoo, the lodge itself is luxurious, elegant and chic in every way; from the lounge to the swimming pool area to the dining area and our large room with a sleeper couch set up for Caleb and a cot for Joshua. This was one place that blended luxury and kid-friendliness very well.
Babysitter, cuisine and boma aside; our favourite part of this lodge ( especially Caleb’s favourite) was the skeleton garden where he could embark on the Kids on Safari programme with his book and identify the various skulls of different animals and collect their dung on their respective pages. To this day, he requests by name to wear his Kids on Safari cap from Sanbona.
This was one lodge where staff, including management went out of their way to assist us with the kids. Even when the babysitter wasn’t around, managers on duty would come play with the kids, offer to hold the baby while we ate and generally spoilt us for life.
And then there were the game drives sans the kids…
To book your family safari within the Western Cape, visit Sanbona Game Reserve.
Boutique Villa on the Beach
Tintswalo at Boulders
The last time Caleb saw the penguins at Boulder beach, he was really young so we were excited to check into a bed and breakfast ( an ultra lux one at that) which was literally a few steps from the boardwalk leading through the penguin colony to Boulders Beach. Plus we had previously enjoyed a romantic couple’s escape at Tintswalo Atlantic and this was our chance to visit Tintswalo’s latest property on this side of the peninsula.
Once I laid eyes on the explosive fuchsia roses and King proteas in blasted glass vases and swanky navy and green couches; I knew I’d love this place and also instantly wished we had come without the kids. Being a boutique villa which operated as a bed and breakfast, we shared lounge and dining areas with other guests while we had our own luxury suite downstairs with two plush beds ( our toddler was overjoyed that he had his own huge bed), a camp cot for Joshua, a corridor of cupboards and a magnificent bathroom with a view looking out onto the porch and trees along the boardwalk.
Our favourite part of this property was the kids penguin room by far which was filled with toys, books, dinosaurs and building blocks and two beds ( for those families wishing to rent out the entire villa as a big group and have the kids stay in here). The views from spacious balcony here were just what you wish for when visiting Simonstown and we were granted one rainy day and one very hot morning when we enjoyed the beach and basking penguins.
Whilst our toddler refused to eat, we delighted in a three course breakfast of muesli and yoghurt with fruit followed by a chacuterie platter and a hot breakfast with fresh, plunger coffee. This latest offering from Tintswalo is perfect if you want luxury but not keen to stay in a hotel plus you want to be right beside the beach and the penguins.
To book your stay at Tintswalo’s newest property, visit Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa.
Self-Catering Cottage in the Winelands
Endless Vineyards Boutique Lodge
As far as this list goes, this cottage is far more down to earth but still focuses on the finer things in life. Located on the exquisite Wildekrans Wine Estate, each cottage is quite spacious with two bedrooms, really comfy beds, small lounge with dining table in the kitchen area as well as two bathrooms with both a bath and a shower plus a braai area on the porch.
There isn’t much for small kids to do here but it made for a great one night stay and open lawns and grass always makes for a good play area. The award-winning Forage restaurant was closed when we went, but we loved the neighbouring restaurant on the estate where Caleb could enjoy the playground with swings and a slide.
I’m not sure if it was the cows, the blossoming orchards, the young vineyards or the kids playground at the restaurant that inspired him, but this was the one of the first times Caleb grabbed our camera and started shooting us and the blissful scenery. Turns out, he’s quite the natural.
While this is a self-catering cottage, we had breakfast at the restaurant and dinner is served at Forage. the setting, the wide open spaces, the quiet outdoors would also make this a great romantic couple stay ( just saying).
To book your stay; visit Endless Vineyards Boutique Hotel.