And the great thing about our two night anniversary was booking the accommodation quite close to each other meaning the distance travelled between the two locations was a mere 50 or so kilometres.
So the second night was smack in the centre of Graff-Reinet. One of the pokey little towns that is taking on a bit of a transformation with an injection of funds from various private sources. The latest being a 2 year multi-billion rand refurbishment of the Drostdy Hotel right on the main street of town. Having read great reviews about the refurbishment itself and not so great reviews about the staff and service we were a little uncertain of what awaited us.
Sadly we blew our timing and arrived on a Saturday just after midday which is when the entire town (with the exception of a supermarket) closes for the weekend. All intentions we had of exploring the town on foot went out the window when we discovered that, plus the temperature was in the mid 30’s…score zero for planning.
Our arrival was typical 5 start hotel reception efficiency and after signing in we were escorted to our room via the car to collect our (excessive) luggage. The young man assisting us was so nervous he was breathless, and we both felt sorry for him. As it transpired the hotel has a programme linked to a hospitality training scheme whereby staff are assigned to this hotel for a full year of training – hence the somewhat negative reviews about service. However the hotel had by now been reopened for almost 4 months so we had our fingers crossed.
The standard room we were shown to was luxurious by anyones standards with all manner of upmarket toys (a huge hit with gadget man) – wall mounted TV with remote, aircon that actually worked, minibar fridge fully stocked, a fancy capucchino machine, as well as plenty of cupboard space, a huge bathroom complete with his and her sinks, claw tub and rain shower (scoring well with both of us). The whole place was light and airy and as modern inside as any big city international hotel, and we were right alongside one of the three swimming pools within the hotel complex.
Using the excuse of the town now being closed, plus the early start we had had, combined with the heat of the afternoon we spent the next couple of hours lazing beside the pool, alternating between reading, dozing and cooling off in the freezing water. A perfect afternoon, that received high scores from us both.
Dinner that night was an upmarket affair in the hotel restaurant. Having been seated at a table that was discretely private we were then treated to probably the most wonderful evening I have had in a long time. Assorted staff members; waitress, head waitress, wine waiter each took the time to wish us a happy anniversary and to chat briefly about marriage in general. A range of compliments were passed about how happy we looked and what an inspiration we were (this from the youngest staff member). And it all came across as very genuine and not at all forced. A complimentary bottle of wine with our meal was offered and gratefully accepted. Each of our meals was delicious and beautifully presented. Neither of us could fault anything from the moment we walked in until the time we left. What a perfect evening, and another perfect score.
Retiring to our room we were delighted to find red and pink rose petals strewn across the floor, a petal heart on the bed with chocolates in the centre, plus a chilled bottle of champagne complete with ice bucket and glasses amidst a rose petals scattering. Just delightful.
Breakfast the next morning was a cold buffet affair with hot selections to order. A great start to the day, and, as much as we dawdled for as long as possible, all to soon it was time to leave this haven and get back on the road again.
But what a true oasis. One we will return to -and soon, as a certain persons birthday is at the end of this month.