The middle of the year can be a bit of a downer. Not only is it freezing cold in South Africa, but the toll of the year starts to hit a slump and the summer holidays are just out of reach. Even though we’re half way through the year, we still have half way to go and sometimes we need a reboot. A little ‘pick me up’ that gives us the fuel to push on and to empty out the cache that has been weighing us down.
Just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, tucked away near the Magaliesburg Mountains sits African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa. A very popular name on the lips, I had never actually been to Mount Grace and wanted to immerse myself in the experience of what they had to offer.
Just a few days is all that’s needed to escape the city traffic, the noise and the freezing cold. That’s not to say Mount Grace is exempt from the weather. They cater to every winter need with heating in your room and electric blankets on your bed, fireplaces in cosy nooks with comfy couches and an array of books to read, heated pools, and loungers and outdoor seating perfectly positioned across the garden to catch the sun. All of this on the backdrop of the Magaliesburg mountains, surrounded by trees and with the sound of flowing streams and rock pools. Mount Grace brings a country charm in its look and feel. Staff are always friendly, constantly checking on you and if there’s anything you need. And I wasn’t the only one getting this special treatment as I observed many conversations between staff and other guests. The atmosphere is hushed and calm, and it forces you to suddenly be aware of yourself and be present.
Upon entering the boomed gates of African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa, you are met with warm and friendly staff at reception. The grandeur of the room sets up the atmosphere for the start of the stay. A table with refillable drinks and light snacks (a delicious slice of chocolatey goodness) is front and centre. After a brief introduction, you and your luggage are whisked away in an uber to your room. Yes, Mount Grace’s uber is a golf cart where the driver will pick you up and take you anywhere on the property.
Our (my husband and I) luxury suite on the second floor over looked the surrounding areas and was in perfect view of a gorgeous sunset. The room is spacious, clean and modern with a free-standing bath tub and massive shower. The room has the usuals like tea and coffee station, study desk and chair, a couch and wardrobe, but also includes an iron and ironing board, white fluffy gowns and slippers, and of course the electric blanket. Our room was decorated with rose petals and towel swans, along with a bottle of champagne.
After a quick freshen up, it was dinner at Twist Restaurant for a buffet. The food is plentiful, both in variety and quantity. Chefs are always constantly checking and refilling food, as well as cleaning up the stations. The hot plate station allowed you to have your cut of meat cooked to your preference. The food is fresh, flavourful and hearty. At the table waiters quickly clear your tables so that you are not left with dirty dishes and glasses are always refilled when necessary.
The main building has 3 mains areas to relax after dinner. Each individually decorated and accompanied with large couches, books to read and boards game to play and a giant fireplace. The Ladies Bar is available for drink orders and a television usually shows the latest sport. Ubers are readily available to take you back to your room and you needn’t wait long. Back at our room, the turn down placed our slippers at the bedside, lavender on our pillows and a sweet treat at our side tables.
Breakfast the next morning was again at Twist Restaurant, and the breakfast buffet did not disappoint. Again a wide variety and quantity, the food was reminiscent of a full South African farm style breakfast with grilled tomatoes, sausages, hash browns, mince, baked beans and more. At the hot plate station a chef made you an omelette, egg or even waffle to your liking. Freshly baked goods still warm from the oven with cheeses and preserves, as well as refillable fruit juices. There’s also cereals, oats and fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Instead of using the uber we decided to take a walk to the spa for our massage while avoiding some baboons (who were more afraid of us) and winding through some stairs to the top of the hill. The spa is like a little pampering haven. We were warmly greeted and shown to the change rooms to put on our gowns and the unfortunate ‘one size fits all’ slippers which are rather comical for a small foot person like myself but I didn’t mind. There are many treatment rooms and although the spa was busy, there was plenty of space for people to relax. Our couples hot stone treatment was a full body massage using warm oils and hot stones to massage the whole body, which was absolutely divine! The room temperature is warm with gentle music playing in the background.
Afterwards while waiting for our next treatment we had full use of the spa facilities which included a jacuzzi, rock pools, steam room and heated pool. There are plenty of loungers out in the sun to relax on, which we quite enjoyed, and fruit infused water as well as a tea and coffee station at your disposal.
It was my first time trying the flotation pool, and although a little hesitant at first, both myself and my husband really enjoyed the experience of floating in the warm salted water feeling relaxed and weightless. After a quick shower in the change rooms, with a fresh towel and bathroom amenities supplied, we had lunch at the Spa Cafe. The limited menu has light healthy meals, salads and drinks, and the seating area over looks the garden with large windows bringing in plenty of light.
With the afternoon at our leisure, we took a stroll exploring the place. It’s an easy walk and breath of fresh air. We then joined what seemed like the rest of the guests on the lawns for afternoon drinks and delicious scones as the sun began to set. Other guests read or even took a nap on the many loungers, and you could hear the very faint laughter of kids at the Kids Club where they are entertained with daily programmes.
The nights are chilly, and this time we tried Mount Grace’s second of two restaurants, Rambling Vine. A fine dining la le Carta restaurant warmly decorated with blue and turquoise tones, two fireplaces and accented with homely artwork pieces that make it feel like a cosy yet sophisticated dining room rather than a restaurant. The menu has familiar and South African favourites, and although a little more pricey, the food is beautifully presented, absolutely delicious with generous portions and served hot. Your glass is always refilled with complimentary sparkling or still water, and tables are quickly cleared and staff are informative about the menu.
With rather favourable conditions in your room for a good night’s sleep including block out curtains, waking up early for a hike the next morning was rather difficult. Highly recommended by the staff, there are a few hiking trails in the surrounding areas with great views and photo opportunities. Although I was a bit nervous while signing my details upon beginning the walk, I was thankful that they checked our details at the end to make sure we returned safely. Not the most fit person, I opted for the shortest route of 2.3km which we were able to enjoy at a leisurely pace. It’s quiet and beautiful, with just the soundtrack of nature around you. Afterwards breakfast was a familiar scene, and a great departure offering.
For a great winter break with a country charm, a personal touch and attention to detail, visit the African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa website for specials on accommodation and spa treatments: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-deals/details/jnbmm-african-pride-mount-grace-country-house-and-spa-autograph-collection/1323151
*This was a trade exchange with African Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view and experience.