Africa Travel Managing Director Frances Geoghegan reviews Strandloper Ocean.
There is so much more to see in the Cape than just the mother city and the winelands, and one such place is the picturesque fishing village of Paternoster, 15km north-west of Vredenburg, and an easy 90 minute drive from Cape Town. It’s one of the oldest coastal settlements along the West Coast, and is that quintessential, picture perfect postcard-type place – a small fishing village with white-washed fisherman’s cottages dotted along an endless white sandy beach, reminiscent of a bygone era. Behind that very quaint exterior, there is a smattering of beautiful boutique hotels and guesthouses, and dreamy little cottages and houses to rent with family or friends, all top notch and beautifully run. There is also a really great gourmet scene, which uses local ingredients and local inspiration, (and of course, crayfish the size of buckets), and the well informed are now visiting in their numbers. Many, like myself, have been coming here for years to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this perfect beach location, but others come to see the flowers at the nearby Columbine Nature Reserve, or to see The Lisboa, wrecked on Soldiers Reef when it ran aground near Patenoster, and the first time that radio telegraphy had been used.
On my most recent stay this weekend, we decided to try out the best boutique hotel in town – the Strandloper Ocean, which is beautifully stretched out on the dunes, overlooking the sea, and surrounded by the sounds of nature. The 13 rooms are decked out in simple muted tones; furnishing and design are in tune with the local area - there are vases of freshly cut flowers from the fynbos heathland, colourful paintings by local artists adorn the walls, shells from the shore in the shape of hearts sway in the breeze on your veranda, and there are ostrich eggs on the side tables. Bag yourself one of the ocean suites, where you can be mesmerised when you wake by the deep azure water, and be lulled to sleep by the waves breaking on the shore. There is a 15km beach to walk on, which is right on your doorstep, and where you can watch the dolphins frolic in numbers close to the shore. The whales also come here to have their calves, and it’s one of the areas in South Africa where they linger for 10 months for the year.
There are many great restaurants dotted along the beach, where you can eat the best local fare but you don’t have to move beyond your outside patio to see a world of colourful birds – there are over 250 species in this area, from long-necked cranes to the oystercatchers, not to mention the owls that keep the area rodent-free, and which have their own special nesting boxes perched high on poles. The staff are charming, knowledgeable and cannot do enough to help you make the most of your stay. They will drive you to the local restaurants, and cleverly get the restaurant managers to call them when the bill is settled so that they are waiting outside to whisk you back to the hotel. There is a lap pool with loungers and your car is freshly washed every day, and is immaculate every time you get in to drive. Mike, the manager, is a mine of information on all you should be doing when you are in Paternoster – he will book you in to all the hot restaurants, arrange a treatment in the wellness suite, or just make sure your wood-burning fire is burning brightly when you return from your night out. The service is natural and warm; sincere and endearing.
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