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Small Hotel, Big Break: Luxury goes green at Spanish Farm Guest Lodge

For the eco-conscious looking for a high-end retreat, this mountainside gem perfectly pairs sustainability and comfort

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By House & Garden South Africa | March 16, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Set on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains above Somerset West, Spanish Farm Guest Lodge offers an oasis of calm only forty minutes from Cape Town’s city centre. Here, luxury and ecological responsibility find a sophisticated balance that doesn’t compromise on comfort. A member of the Raw Africa Boutique Collection, Spanish Farm showcases the group’s continued commitment to eco-tourism and nature conservation.

That the lodge is an award-winning, five-star venue is a testament to its achievements in both hospitality and sustainability.

Photo: Supplied

Spanish Farm’s beautifully appointed self-catering villas designed by Lennard & Lennard Architects blend into the natural setting of the lodge’s indigenous garden. Wood, steel and glass make for light, airy living and sleeping quarters that allow for both a sense of privacy and an expansive openness. The carefully considered layout of the villas highlights the breathtaking views seen from the upper floors, framed by large sliding doors that open onto the untreated wooden balconies. The outlook spans the Helderberg Nature reserve to the left, Somerset West valley ahead and – looking right, across False Bay on clearer days – the southern peninsula from Muizenberg to Cape Point. In the foreground, a lush fynbos garden, and beyond; mountains, sea, and sky.

The interiors throughout the villas are finished to the highest standard and furnished with locally produced pieces and carefully curated objets d’art. A muted palette invites nature’s tones indoors, with grey and stone hues extending a calming ambience. Yet it is the buildings’ exteriors that are all the more striking for their ingenuity. The villas’ green roofs are as much a standout design feature as a practical consideration; their plantings filter air pollutants, absorb storm water, insulate the buildings and providing a habitat for birds. Another innovative use of plants in the natural swimming pools eliminates the need for harsh chemicals and, in turn, supports the local wildlife with a source of abundant, fresh water.

Images: Supplied

The garden at Spanish Farm, too, deserve special mention, having received a South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Award in 2016 for its abundance of colour. Its more formal flower beds, indigenous plantings, mature trees and terraced lawns shaped by Graham von Hoesslin Landscapers feature numerous flowering plants endemic to the regional and greater South African floral ecologies. Most were chosen not only for the brilliant saturation of their blooms, but to support an array of pollinators, from butterflies to birds. Arranged over the four-hectare stand, the garden leads the eye from the lower end of the property upwards, towards the precipitous mountain face above the lodge’s highest point. That the property was initially overgrown with invasive alien trees and vegetation makes the family’s accomplishment all the more noteworthy.

While some of Spanish Farm’s ecological practices are apparent to visitors – among them earth-friendly bath products, solar-power panels and recycling provisions – many others pass unseen, such as the lodge’s rain water system, green cleaning solutions, and energy conservation strategies. A walk to the lower end of the garden reveals a vegetable patch and chicken coop, where fresh produce and eggs are harvested for the guesthouse and kitchen waste collected for compost. Guests, however, might happily enjoy the tranquil luxury of their chosen villa without knowing such measures are in place, so seamlessly the green features have been incorporated into the beautiful setting. At Spanish Farm, the pairing of environmental responsibility and high design finds eloquent expression in its architectural elegance, natural beauty, and understated opulence.

Hotel address: 40 Silverboomkloof Road, Spanish Farm, 7130, Cape Town

Prices from: From R3000 per room in the guesthouse (breakfast included) to R7550 per self-catering two-bedroom villa per night. A smaller studio villa is available from R4050 a night, and a honeymoon villa from R5900 (both self-catering).

Written by Lucienne Bestall

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