The stationwagon comes to a screeching halt in front of the reception area at the hotel. Before the porter gets a chance to let us out – in the customary five star fashion – my two daughters and I all leap out the car very ungraciously, the two of them practically falling over each other to get out. “Hurry Mom, I need to wee!”
“Me too, me too!”
With a blushing “thank you”, I brush past him and start running up the ramp to reception, a five year old dangling from one hand and a three year old from the other. At the front desk, almost out of breath, I quickly enquire about the direction of the bathroom. Hannah (the oldest) pipes up again, “MOM. I. NEED. A. WEE.!”
“Yes darling I know, that’s why I had to stop and ask the lady where the bathroom is. Try and be calm please, you don’t need to be so loud about it.”
We are now rushing down a flight of stairs towards the very posh club house – no children allowed – and I still have them by the hands. In the process Georgia’s one shoe comes off. “Wait for me!” She’s wearing her worn-out shiny pink platforms, the same ones she wears every day as she refuses to wear anything else. If I try and persuade her to put something else on, I always get the same reply. “I want my high heels!” The same goes for the pink dress she’s got on, worn almost to shreds. As she looks up at me, I notice the remnants of her Friday afternoon school baking project still smeared across her cheeks. Today it was chocolate cake and she must have tucked into it in the car on the way here. The words “street urchin” jump to mind.
A very stylish German couple, dressed to the nines in their very expensive golf outfits comes walking past us. Instead of the glowers I expected to see, they greet us in a very friendly manner…all ooh’s and aah’s over the kids, who I realise must be somewhat cute in their eyes.
I smile and shove the kids past them into the ladies room. “There, now you can make a wee without announcing it to the whole world.”
“Oh, well, actually I don’t need to wee anymore.”
Georgia shakes her little head and echoes “Me also.”
I force a smile through gritted teeth, while I quickly wipe Georgia’s face. “Okay then, let’s go find your dad.”
We find him in the Club Lounge, on the terrace overlooking the 18th green of the Montagu golf course. The terrace is crowded with golfers and business people, men and women clad in their very finest. On the table some fresh orange juice and champagne awaits us and I practically slump down in my seat with a sigh of relief to settle down for a few minutes. Two sips into my drink the girls, glasses already empty start up. “Can we go to our room now? When can we go for a swim? Do you think the kids club is still open Mommy? Please can we go now?”
That was the start to my weekend. I hoped it wasn’t any indication of how the rest of it would go…and then it started to rain.
The room is quite far from the main part of the hotel, but as we stepped outside a beaming porter pulled up in a six-seater golf cart to take us there. Even in good weather it’s quite a distance for small kids. It doesn’t matter too much though, because the ride on the cart delivers quite a thrill for my little urchins.
The hotel is a fine blend of modern luxury and classic elegance. Their 115 luxurious bedrooms and suites are all fully equipped with everything you could need. Complimentary wireless internet, full air conditioning, complimentary coffee and tea making facilities, safe, hair dryer, slippers, international plugs and so on.
Our luxury room is lovely, with a king-sized bed in the bedroom, a double sleeper couch in the lounge area, as well as a single bed under the window. With four of us there, I could have done with a little bit more packing space, but the rooms and the ensuite bathroom are spacious. We have a complimentary bottle of champagne and things are looking significantly better. I start to relax. The rain is coming down hard now but the atmosphere inside is warm and cosy. We don’t feel like going out in the rain, so Carl gets us some pizzas from the restaurant. Feet up with a glass of wine in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other, I know the weekend is going to be great.
The next morning, we head to La Cantina for breakfast. Children under 12 years get a 50% discount and those under 6 years old eat for free. Open Friday to Tuesday from 18h00 – 22h00, the Italian restaurant offers a very relaxed dining experience, even with small children in tow. The breakfast buffet is a treat and we leave the restaurant quite full up. I hope the girls don’t end up with sore tummies after the enormous pink and green smiley face flapjacks they just ate.
I rush off to reception to meet Michelle Buys, Fancourt’s marketing executive, while Carl takes the girls to explore the hotel surroundings.
Michelle is a vibrant woman who passionately tells me about Fancourt and all it has to offer its guests – those who come to play golf and those who don’t. The hotel naturally offers state of the art conferencing facilities. The Fancourt Spa, which incorporates a sauna, steamroom, tepidarium and gymnasium with personal trainer, includes a magnificent heated indoor roman bath and Jacuzzi (no children under 16 allowed), a hair salon and Cherot, Fancourt’s exclusive ladies fashion boutique. Other facilities include two golf shops, a deli, a mini cinema and a jewellery shop.
All three of their 18-hole Gary Player designed golf courses (Montagu, Outeniqua, and The Links) are rated in the Top 20 in South Africa and the world-class Golf academy is manned by full-time teaching professionals. The Taylormade Fitment Centre offers custom fitting – which is basically building a club designed to match your individual swing characteristics so that you hit the ball longer and straighter with better control. Previously available only to PGA Tour professionals, the two-hour custom fitting experience is beneficial to men, women, and junior golfers of all ages and skill levels.
If you’re a bit of a hacker like my husband, or have never ventured into the world of golf like me, there are plenty of other activities to keep families busy, including fishing, cycling, mountain biking, picnics, horse riding and walking trails.
We end our tour at the kids club, adjacent to the heated indoor pool. Of course we find Carl and the girls here, all three of them sitting at the mini tables on the mini chairs. Hannah is doing some colouring in with one of the kids club’s friendly staff members while Georgia is playing with play dough. Carl is simultaneously building three Disney Princess puzzles. He seems so engrossed in what he’s doing; you got to love him for it.
The Kids Club is one of the best we’ve come across so far. It offers fully supervised fun activities with loads of arts and crafts, puzzles and board games. The room is enormous and sports an indoor jungle gym, a doll house and various children’s toys to keep your child amused. Activities are planned to accommodate all ages and interests and during the school holidays they set up an hourly programme of events for the kids. Older kids can make friends or just chill out in the Teen Lounge upstairs. There are loads to keep them entertained there.
Even though it’s still drizzling outside, it’s not really cold and we all feel like going for a swim. What bliss it was to spend three hours in the heated indoor pool at the kids club. The club supervisor brought the girls some armbands and two swimming boards.
After our swim we left them at the kids club to go and relax by ourselves. This is what’s great about a supervised club…some time to yourself.
Dinner at La Cantina was delightful. I couldn’t decide which were more appealing, the macaroni and cheese the girls ordered, Carl’s fillet steak, done to perfection or my lamb chops? They were all excellent. The extensive wine list offers a good range of well-priced bottles and by-the-glass options, as well as some Italian big-hitters if you can afford a humble R2000 a bottle.
The kids wanted ice-cream for dessert and since we were out, we let them have it. Within minutes they caught their second breaths and were chasing each other around the tables. Our section of the restaurant was relatively quiet so they didn’t cause too much of a disturbance, but we still took our coffee outside.
Back at our room there was a trail of rose petals scattered from the door to the bedroom and all around the bed. The girls were each left a gift of colourful, pretty smelling bath toys, which they packed away alongside the pink play dough gifts, which they brought from the kids club earlier. These will be just some of the little treasures they take home with them. The rest will be embedded in their memories for some time to come.
We left the next morning after a wonderful time at Fancourt. I realised, contrary to what I expected, that you really don’t have to play golf to relish every moment at Fancourt.
We leave the gates of the estate and head for home. Ten minutes after we pass the last garage I hear it…”Daddy, please stop, I need a wee!”
Main switch board:
Tel: + 27 (0)44 804 0000
Tel: + 27 (0)44 804 0010
Email: [email protected]
Fancourt is situated across 613 hectares of lush countryside in George, on South Africa’s renowned Garden Route (southern Cape).
GPS coordinates: 22” 24” 23.22” E 33” 57” 4.40” S
Ten minutes from George Airport.
420 km from Cape Town (4 hour drive)
320 km from Port Elizabeth (3½ hour drive)
(Images courtesy of Fancourt Hotel)