Coastal escape

Plett … still (and always will be) the perfect destination for a mid-year coastal break.

With its plush boutiques and smart complexes, Plettenberg Bay is hardly a sleepy seaside village getaway. But, in spite of the dramatic development that has taken place in recent decades, the town remains a shrine to nature’s bounty. And there’s nowhere better to enjoy the view than at the Sky Villa Boutique Hotel, part of the Cape Summer Villas Collection.‘Plettenberg Bay always has the most wonderful sunrises,’ my mother tells me, reminding me of how we used to sit, hands wrapped round steaming mugs of coffee, watching a small red ball slowly climbing the horizon. That was back in the nineties, when Plett was our family holiday spot. And, although much has changed since then, the grandeur of the sunrise certainly hasn’t. That’s what I’m thinking as I watch that same red ball from my balcony, its rays refracted in a golden splash on the surface of the lagoon. Just beyond this gilded spectacle, the beach beckons…

It’s no wonder that Plett’s legendary scenery draws legions of holidaymakers, local and international alike. But the same craggy beauty which makes it a joy for the eyes also makes for outstanding exploring. While it’s tempting to sit and take in that balcony view, I know there are even greater splendours beyond the hotel.

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There’s the famed Robberg hike, for instance – a favourite way for locals to spend the weekend. The walk takes you from rocky dunes (watch out for the views of seals at play) to wave-splattered beach. Then there’s cruising down the Keurbooms River, where shadow plays on fynbos-festooned mountains and amber-coloured water laps at private beaches. If ever there was a place that called you to spread out your towel and turn off your phone, this would be it – but, then again, that would be a wasted opportunity. The smooth, calm waters also make this an ideal spot for trying out your stand-up paddling skills. But if that idea doesn’t grab you, perhaps the thought of cruising slowly down the river, bubbles in hand, will.
Plett’s beaches are also a favourite party spot for whales and dolphins. We played tag with them out on the ocean, and although the dolphins proved somewhat shy and elusive, nothing could beat the exhilarating sensation of streaming over azure blue waves.

Then there are those boutiques and bakeries. Those who love browsing through interesting stores will find time flies as they meander down Plett’s high street, refuelling occasionally with a flat white and slice of buttery cake.

As much as all these activities are food for the soul, there’s just as much fulfilment to be found at the hotel itself. It’s as though every angle and corner of Sky Villa has been carefully designed to make you stop and stare – inside the hotel, a luxe palette of metallics is offset by moody wallpapers and floral fabrics. Clearly, this establishment hasn’t been created merely as a place to relax; it’s also intended as a treat for the senses.

The hotel’s gardens are even more pleasing. Flurries of fynbos make for a smudgy pastel landscape, while the vista rolls all the way down to that sapphire sea. You can’t blame a girl for wanting to take it all in – which is why I spend much of my stay at the heated pool on the rooftop bar. The espresso martini I’m sipping certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

The panorama from the restaurant is similarly spectacular. That might be the reason the hotel is fast gaining a reputation as a favourite breakfast destination, although it’s the dinners that really get my mouth watering. The menu draws on Mediterranean influences, so expect plenty of fresh, bold flavours that pair perfectly with your coastal location. My all-time hero dish is Live By Chocolate, a chocolate experience so densely delicious it will take care of all cravings for the next week: think a duo of mousse, lashed with butterscotch sauce and finished off with a dollop of home-made ice cream.

Of course, life isn’t just about dessert (would that it could be). I also loved the avocado and salmon tartare, with a liberal drizzle of sesame oil complementing the Asian complexity of the dish, while the pork belly received lavish praise from my companions. A word of advice – go hungry! Sky Villa’s portions are generous, to say the least, and you’ll definitely want to do them justice.

After just one weekend here, I feel cosseted and cocooned – and more than ready to tackle life below the clouds.

Info …
Rates (per room on a bed and breakfast basis) range from R2200 for a standard mountain-facing room in low season up to R9900 for the presidential suite in high season.
Details: Sky Villa: Capesummervillas.co.za; Ocean Blue Adventures (whale and dolphin watching): oceanblueadventures.co.za; SUP Keurbooms (stand-up paddling and champagne cruises): standuppaddling.co.za

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