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Kievits Kroon

As you drive through the outskirts of Pretoria near Lynnwood, into the well appointed entrance to Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa, past the polite gate-guard with the intriguing name of Idlers, you are immediately transported down to the fairest Cape. Everywhere you look, authentic Cape Dutch buildings dot the landscape. Irritably, I wondered why there has been such a proliferation of faux Tuscan architecture in the Johannesburg environs, when we have such a wonderful architectural heritage. Obviously manifestations of a stressed mind; what joy to arrive somewhere with the sole purpose of being de-stressed.

At reception we were politely re-directed to the Spa and told to check-in after our treatments, as we were behind schedule. Booked in for The Romance package, we made haste to the Spa, where I was unable to do justice to jugs of iced tea and platters of delicious snacks of fruit and smoked salmon (trout?), as I was required to be pampered. After a guided tour, which revealed unisex and female changing rooms, we donned slippers and gowns (more suited for a winter’s day), and were ushered into a treatment room. Which through a tinted window overlooked a large, Grecian styled, heated indoor pool.

If attending at Spas ever becomes an Olympic event, my partner Kym will definitely finish on the podium. She is a veteran of virtually every Spa in existence and thus a good judge of the finer details, which might easily escape an amateur like me. She was perfectly happy with the luxury Thalgo hand and foot treatment, the lavender and lemongrass full body massage, and the soothing scalp pressure massage. Kym rated them as good as they get; but was unhappy about the piped ‘new age’ music. We decided that relaxed, classical music would be infinitely more enjoyable while lying, as we were, meditatively, in a darkened room. During a piece that sounded suspiciously like someone giving birth to a whale, Kym asked if it could be changed, but apparently that was not an option.

After treatment we went into the steam room. I didn’t last long, I never do; they get far too hot for me and so decided to have a Swiss shower. High pressure jets of hot water from a million nozzles raked me until my whole body tingled and then a waterfall, reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark froze me to death. The overall effect? Surprisingly invigorating. My ‘vigour’ suitably ‘rated’, we slothed off to a large Jacuzzi, with a lovely view of the grounds and huge outdoor swimming pool, which all but relaxed me into a coma.

Eventually, reluctantly, we dragged ourselves back to check-in. A short walk took us to our room in a free standing chalet, which was delightful. With all the appointments one would expect from a 5 star establishment, it lived up to the promise of its Cape Dutch facade – all dark wood and white linen. It was everything I could do to stop myself from going to bed there and then. However dinner in the Granita restaurant beckoned, and after all my exertions letting people massage and spoil me, I was suddenly quite peckish.

While having a pre prandial drink in the lounge, the manager, Henk came over and had a chat. Without exception every staff member we encountered during our stay had a doctorate in charm and politeness, which included the smiling, friendly lady, who came to make up our room in the morning.

The Romance package includes a six course meal. I must confess to low expectations in this regard, given that Kievits Kroon is both a Spa and conference centre and my experience of conference venue food. The combination doesn’t inspire expectations of haute cuisine. However, ably assisted by the professional Hendrik, with his masterful grasp of the wine list he has perfected the art, spectacularly rare in Johannesburg eateries, of quietly materialising alongside one’s elbow, just as he is needed, we had a splendid meal. Kym started with foie gras, which to her surprised delight, was as good as she has eaten. So much so, she had it again for the main course. Prosaically, I started with mushroom soup, which was delicious.

For main course I had breast of duck – sublime. My last visit to a Spa in the ‘real’ Cape was combined with a dietary regime. For some reason, that establishment took great delight in removing every scintilla of flavour from the undressed salads they served in lieu of food. The crispy and juicy duck at Kievits Kroon was so far removed from that Spa experience, so delectable, it made me feel I was participating in an illicit activity. We then shared a desert of Crème Brule, which although completely unnecessary, was delicious. I’m not entirely sure about the practice, but granita (sorbet) was served between courses to cleanse the palate.

There is nothing like lots of good food, TLC and a Swiss shower to induce a good night’s sleep. Next morning, radiantly fresh and fantastically rested for the first time in ages, Kym went off for a facial. I snatched a last few winks. Eventually I forced myself to go meet her for breakfast. Still in her dressing gown from the Spa, Kym found she did not conform to the dress code and so returned to the room to change into something appropriate. Presumably the dress rules are there to cater for conference delegates, who I assume don’t spend their days in gowns as do the Spa patrons.
Breakfast was a buffet. It is difficult to judge how good a buffet is, so varied and plentiful is the food on offer, but it certainly didn’t lack for anything I wanted.

After breakfast we unwillingly checked out – I was getting used to life at Kievits Kroon – waved to Idlers and headed back to Tuscany. I mean Johannesburg. The only joy being it was barely an hour to home.

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