Lapping up luxury

Private castles and bespoke bath times at Knysna’s Pezula.

Some places are like a deep, slow breath.  Pezula Luxury Resort is such a place.  The property, which stretches out over one ridge of the Knysna Heads, is set apart from the whirl of the world.  Every detail is thought of, every whim is catered for.  Nothing’s too much trouble.  Whether you’re scoring a birdie on the 9th or ordering a bespoke bathing experience from the bath menu, Pezula makes laidback hedonism an art form.

The goal of Pezula’s Chairman, Keith Stewart, has been to create a lifestyle of effortless luxury for guests and residents of the estate. The gorgeous location, with views of the Indian Ocean and Knysna lagoon, is augmented by the Championship Golf Course and the Pezula Spa and Gym.  The latter has won numerous awards and was most recently voted one of the world’s top three Overseas Hotel Spas in the 2008 Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers Awards.

It’s not hard to see why.  Facilities include a 12m indoor heated pool, outside Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, sun bed, hair and nail studios and a state of the art gym.  Beautifully appointed treatment rooms deliver you into a world of sanctuary and calm, while skilled therapists smooth away tension with magic hands.   Earth tones and the sounds of running water make the interiors feel like an extension of nature.

The hotel’s gourmet restaurant, Zachary’s, is reason alone to visit the resort.  Chef Geoffrey Murray brings international experience to his kitchen, using only the very best of local organic suppliers in his African inspired interpretations of classic cuisine.  Although everything was a feast, Oom Hennie’s Garden Greens & Herbs salad is one of the most simple, yet deceptively delicious dishes I’ve tasted in ages.

Geoffrey is also apparently a generous believer in sharing the provenance of food, and will gladly discuss the ingredients (and their source) with interested guests.   Naturally, the collection of local and international wines available is unrivalled, all lovingly attended to by a very enthusiastic sommelier.

For all the foodie indulgence, there is also plenty of action on the estate.  Apart from the golf course, guests can canoe, hike, bird and explore the nature trails either on foot or horseback through the surrounding Knysna forests.  The Estate’s Field of Dreams sports complex offers tennis courts, a multi-purpose sports oval and a 300m golf practice range.  Plans are in place to extend this into an international sporting complex, including a 25m 4-lane heated pool.

Guests have access the stunning secluded Noetzie beach and its faintly surreal private castles.  In fact, as mentioned in the hotel’s magazine, “If you’re wealthy.  Seriously wealthy. And you want to be alone,” the breathtaking fully staffed Pezula Castle is available for private hire.

Those with the cash can invest in the Pezula Private Estate, the estate’s property development which includes a range of residential options.

Reassuringly, everything has been done to ensure that the estate has a minimal ecological impact.  Jessica Hayes, the estate’s Environmental Manager, tells me that every aspect of the development of the estate and resort has been scrutinised and planned with the surrounding environment in mind.  Rehabilitation of the indigenous forest, wildlife and conservation management and an environmental education programme are all under Jessica’s remit and she’s fiercely protective of this portion of the beautiful Knysna hills that she’s responsible for.

This is what really sets Pezula apart.  It’s people.  Natural, warm, passionate and genuinely interested, the people of Pezula offer that particular kind of service that’s hard to articulate.  That transcends the accolades and state of the art facilities.  The kind of service that makes you feel special and at home, whether you’re the president of a country or simply a writer from Cape Town.

Pezula Luxury Resort

TEL    : +27 (0)44 302 3333

Photographs by kind permission of Gideon Joubert.

Written for Moneyweb Life in November 08.

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