5 bespoke family-friendly destinations to retreat to this Easter

ZAMANDOSI CELE zamandosi.cele@inl.co.za



African News Agency



JUST like Christmas, the Easter holiday period is much loved and widely celebrated. For South Africans, it’s a time to take a breath and enjoy some much-needed time with loved ones. If you are looking for family-friendly destinations to explore on home soil, then here are five bespoke destinations to consider. Akademie Street Boutique Hotel – Franschhoek, Western Cape This 5-star hotel exudes a sense of luxury with its nine stunning suites. There is plenty to do in South Africa’s “Valley of dreams”, from exploring wine farms to enjoying delicious cuisine from impressive restaurants. Some of Akademie’s suites have their own plunge pools, fireplaces, and private hot tubs for a relaxing soak. According to the boutique hotel’s website, hospitality and comfort lie at the heart of the Akademie Street experience. “The discreet, personal service is warm and welcoming, attentive and unlimited,” it says. A stay at one of the boutique hotel’s cottages starts from R9 000 a night. &Beyondphinda Game Reserve – Kwazulu Natal This is an impressive 29 866ha of protected wildlife land between Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in Kwazulu-natal. It is home to Africa’s Big Five, as well as 436 bird species. The reserve is particularly well known for close-up sightings of the elegant yet elusive cheetah, as well as the rare black rhino. Often described as “Seven Worlds of Wonder”, the reserve is a tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes and pans. The reserve is also close to the unspoiled beaches and coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, offering a combination of bush and beach adventures. Guests can go on interpretive game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles, led by professionally trained &Beyond rangers and Zulu trackers, as well as explore a wide range of optional adventures at the beach, such as snorkelling and scuba diving. Phinda is home to six magnificent lodges, each with its own charm and character: Mountain Lodge, Rock Lodge, Forest Lodge, Vlei Lodge, Zuka Lodge and Phinda Homestead. A stay at &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge family cottage starts from R46 800 a night. Cape St Francis Resort, St Francis Bay – Eastern Cape Cape St Francis and its sister town, the canal-side “Little Venice” of St Francis Bay, are among the most inspiring places to spend downtime on the Eastern Cape coastline. Swimming is a major attraction as the sea remains warm most of the year and the wide beaches stretch from Seal Point to Shark Point, with a sheltered tidal pool for kids. Bordering the beach at Cape St Francis and just 90 minutes from Port Elizabeth airport, Cape St Francis Resort ticks all the boxes as a beach holiday destination. The resort’s setting, and a selection of accommodation options from conventional hotel rooms to three and four-bedroom cottages or luxury beach villas, appeal to couples, families and anyone who loves a beach holiday. All are suitable for either a bed-and-breakfast choice or a self-catering option. The region is known as a water sports paradise with surfing, kite-surfing, surf-skiing and canoe paddling on the beautiful waters off both Cape St Francis and St Francis Bays, as well as on the nearby Kromme River. For golfers, the top-10 rated St Francis Links offers the keen player an excellent challenge of links golf, with the nearby St Francis Bay Golf Club offering an easier but still challenging round of golf. A stay at one of the sea-facing villas, Nautilus Place, starts from R6 500 a night. Nkomazi Private Game Reserve – Mpumalanga Described as a “family glamping destination”, Nkomazi is a five-star hotel alongside the Komati River in Mpumalanga. It has 14 glamping tents, each furnished style, with all the comforts of luxury accommodation. The six Deluxe Tents offer panoramic views of the reserve while six Luxury Tents are surrounded by nature, with extra proximity to the soothing surrounds: they are river-facing. The hotel offers activities such as picnics along the Komati River and excellent fishing opportunities. The Komati River is home to numerous species of freshwater fish. This is a fantastic way to wind down, relax and enjoy being a part of the reserve. Nkomazi Private Game Reserve also offers incredible game-viewing opportunities, with four of the Big Five – lion, Cape buffalo, l eopard and elephant – as well as antelope, giraffe, zebra and cheetah. A stay at Nkomazi starts from R7 911 for two a night. Amalfi Cove – Knysna (Garden Route) Western Cape If you are looking for a beach and forest escape, this retreat is for you. Amalfi Cove is on the cliffs of the picturesque Knysna coastline with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Knysna has a lot to offer, including beaches where you can participate in kiteboarding, boating, windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and swimming. Amalfi Cove villa is a great find on Airbnb and perfect for a family seeking privacy at the self-catering villa. Whether you’re here to work from home or spend time with family and friends this Easter, everyone will appreciate the tranquillity of the area, breathtaking views and being able to indulge in the true beauty of nature, comfort, and relaxation. It boasts undisrupted 180-degree views from all three en-suite bedrooms, each bedroom designed with large closet space, a dual vanity and an ocean-facing relaxation bath for some much-needed recharging. A stay at the villa starts from R7 100 a night. Enjoy!