Living the life of luxury



P won a weekend at a five-star hotel in Franschhoek so we were able to celebrate her birthday in style.

Mont Rochelle

As you can see, the Mont X is a beautiful hotel set in the Cape winelands and it also boasts its own boutique winery. The weekend came with a complimentary five-course meal (with wine at every course), wine-tasting, cellar tour and so on.

The prizewinner

The prizewinner

P was ecstatic at her prize, although it did take some getting used to being treated as treasured guests. When we arrived in the trusty Tazz, we were whisked off for a complimentary drink while a porter lugged our bags into the suite. The maitre’d was hilarious. He oohed and aahed over us as if we were royalty and punctuated his exclamations with some fine hand-wringing and lots of superlatives.

“The King and Queen! I’m honoured! How has your stay been so far?”
“Fine thanks. We’re very happy.”

It was a little disconcerting having a slightly manic bald man approach us at regular intervals to enquire about our enjoyment of the meal. But I soon saw that he treated most of the guests this way and the old dears seemed to appreciate it, leaning in for some of that infectious enthusiasm.

At dinner on Saturday night, I looked around carefully at our fellow guests to see what kind of people can afford to stay in this kind of luxury. The model couple at the table behind us looked like they’d stepped out of an American soap opera (except with less bosom) and I couldn’t help thinking they regarded us as the poor relatives. I don’t get out much and so having another beautiful woman’s cleavage in my line of vision was a little unnverving. As much as I tried to give P my undivided attention, I was pretty curious to see what the other patrons were up to.

Across the way was a woman I could only imagine as Ferial Haffejee’s mean younger sister (FH is a highly regarded local newspaper editor). Whenever I glanced their way she gave me the evil eye as if to say, “Who YOU looking at? We black folk have just as much right to be here as you!” Which is ironic really, since of all the patrons we were clearly the least well-off. I did notice that FH’s mean younger sister and her husband had a moment during the Michael Jackson medley (movingly played by our Italian pianist Alfio). As soon as I made out the opening bars to “Heal the World” I noticed that evil eye and her consort were holding hands and feeling touched by the memory. (I’m not being bitchy here I promise.)

Pete on the couch

Pete on the couch

The couch was, if not to die for, one of the highlights of my stay. If that sounds camp or slightly sad then so be it. We also had a pretty funny after-dinner drink with a couple from Constantia. The husband was drunk as a lord and name-dropped shockingly. As he clipped his cigar and sipped his cognac, he let it slip that he mixes in the same company as Charles Davy (Chelsea’s dad) on his shooting trips to Zimbabwe. I actually liked him a lot (name-dropping and business ethics aside) and was rather disappointed the next morning that they seemed to shun us out of embarassment.

“J was terribly garrulous last night,” said Mrs Constantia when we passed them at breakfast. Since we were rather badly hungover ourselves, we could only nod in sympathy and try to reassure them that we weren’t about to trash their reputations.

The Country Kitchen restaurant

The CK restaurant

The main restaurant at Mont X has the ever-so-slightly pretentious name of Mange Tout (which refers to a snow-pea and also apparently means “eat it all”). This is the other one, the more downmarket Country Kitchen. Well yes. If downmarket means that it comes with its own boutique wine cellar with fantastic wines and is decorated in the style of Provence.

All in all, we had a fabulous time and were quite disappointed to return home. I guess there’s always Betty’s Bay hey dad 😉


10 Responses to Living the life of luxury

  1. Pete says:

    P says to remove the name so I have done so (although I really see no harm in mentioning it). If you have the budget for a five-star hotel stay in the Cape Winelands, this is about as good as they get. I would heartily recommend it. (Ok now dear?)

  2. Emily says:

    it’s funny you ask who can afford it. We sometimes wind up places like that if they are part of a hotel chain where my husband has racked up reward points.

  3. sandyphd says:

    I always say, never underestimate the value of a fabulous couch! Those mountain views are just stunning. I could look at them all day. In fact, maybe I will?

  4. tobeme says:

    Wow, sounds like you had a wonderful time and a memory to cherish.

  5. I did notice that FH’s mean younger sister and her husband had a moment during the Michael Jackson medley (movingly played by our Italian pianist Alfio). As soon as I made out the opening bars to “Heal the World” I noticed that evil eye and her consort were holding hands and feeling touched by the memory. (I’m not being bitchy here I promise.)

    I’m so sorry to tell you this, but nobody on Planet Earth could possibly relate that particular snippet without sounding, at the very least, mildly sardonic. There was much hooting with uncharitable laughter here at chez Rochester — at the couple, not at you.

  6. doctordi says:

    Yeah, I’m with Mr Rochester on this one. That disclaimer sealed it!

    Pete, that looks and sounds absolutely lovely. And may I congratulate you on landing a prize-winning partner… we’re always lamenting our lack our prize-winning skill in my house. And that’s a damn fine looking couch!

  7. litlove says:

    Wow. Luxury. I’m not sure I’ve ever been anywhere that could count as properly luxurious but it looks fab. Perhaps some hotel could make a fortune by vetting its guests, so you only get luxury companions – you know, unpretentious, intelligent, nice folk. You’d have to figure out quite a cunning psychometric test to spot them, I guess (and I’d probably never get in myself! 😉 )

  8. What a fantastic prize, richly deserved. Well done the lovely P. Oh and hi, P, nice to see you! *waves*

    I have to say the Constantia couple sound not unlike some relatives of mine. If the man had been R and not J, I’d have claimed them.

  9. Pete says:

    Emily – Thanks, that definitely makes me feel better. I thought everyone else was rich and we weren’t so I was quite envious.

    Sandy – A fabulous couch makes all the difference. I want one of those for my office (but perhaps not in those colours).

    tobeme – Thanks Mark.

    David – You’re right, I was being bitchy (although I like the reframing as mildly sardonic). I did feel some empathy towards them about Michael Jackson though. P tells me that the song was actually “One Day in your life” which is a much better song to my mind than “Heal the World”.

    Di – Thanks – P says she’s hoping for a trip to Mauritius next! As for prizes, I think you and Llew have a pretty good deal going there yourselves.

    Litlove – You know, it sounds ungrateful to say this but the whole “exclusive” vibe was not really for me. I loved the setting and the comfort and the pampering but I can do without the whole “rich and exclusive” feeling. Give me good conversation over nouvelle cousine any day.

    Charlotte – This guy would be so great for a short story so your relatives must be very entertaining. In the first few minutes he told us that they had to get married because she was pregnant and they proceeded to argue this point in front of us. When he was holding forth on South Africa and Zimbabwe, our waiter (who could well have been Zimbabwean) was standing quietly about three feet away like the invisible servants of old.

  10. doctordi says:

    Ooooh, the music clip to ‘One day in your life’ was playing as part of the endless loop of MJ hits when we got to our hotel down at the snow – it’s Michael as he was as a kid, and I got so choked up watching it I think you could technically say I cried.

    Pete, that’s an excellent way of looking at it, and an extremely nice thing to say. I’ll tell Llew he’s my prize the moment he gets off his ferry tonight. The gift that just keeps giving!

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