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A Sparkling Diamond in South Africa’s Wine Country…
Winery, fine dining, art museum, the home of a wealthy friend. Delaire Graff Estate is part of the exclusive Relais & Chateau network so you know it both has culinary chops and high-end accommodations. Beyond that, the first hospitality effort by the legendary jeweler Laurence Graff feels like a cross between visiting the home of a well to do friend and getting a peak at his art collection, curate specifically for that home. With just 10 one-and-two-bedroom lodges, but seven more to be added by year’s end, you can visit for the day, overnight, or if desired, takeover the entire estate for either a corporate event or personal celebration. Either way, if you are in Cape Town, it’s a must visit, less than an hour by car or 15 minutes by helicopter to one of its on-resort helipads.
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In This Issue:
Delaire Graff Estate
3. Restaurants and Bars
4. Spa and Fitness
5. Full Takeovers
7. Key Contact
8. VIP Security Reports
9. Jet Card Insider Reports
10. Your Favorite Special Reports
A. Private Aviation Headlines
Delaire Graff Estate
If Laurence Graff
is the King of Diamonds, his first entry into hospitality is definitely worthy
of royalty. Now over a decade old, his Relais & Chateau winery estate in
Stellenbosch features only 10 villas, but soon to be expanded to 16 and then
17. It’s a popular daytrip, an hour’s drive from Cape Town, or you can arrive
by helicopter (there are three helipads). I would strongly encourage staying at
least one or two nights although if you have the time, longer would be fine too,
particularly if you want a base to explore the many neighboring vineyards. The
area is considering the Napa Valley of South Africa.
At Delaire Graff
Estate there is no detail too small, starting with the driveway from the main
road lined but an array of flowers and plantings. The parking area that leads
to the reception entry area offers dozens of Instagram worthy opportunities,
gardens in the foreground, vineyards in the lining the valley, multiple green
mountains of varying shapes and sizes in the background. We try not to use lots
of platitudes in these reports, but breathtaking comes to mind.
winemaker are both traditional artisan crafts that are centuries old, but today
combine state-of-the-art technology and systems at leading producers. It’s
apparent that Graff brings that approach to Delaire, both in the design,
construction and aesthetics across the property. You won’t find any musty
cellars. Everything in the working winery is new, high-tech with spotless white
floors. Of course there are the traditional aged woods for barrels to age the
wine and an award-winning winemaker.
entrepreneur is a leading collector and owner of art. He has been selected by
Art News as one of the world’s Top 200 Collectors for 15 consecutive years with
works that span from Renoir to Andy Warhol. At Delaire, however, he uses the property to display only
his works from South African artists, paintings and unique sculptures around
the buildings and on lawns throughout the property, including gardens and
lists Graff’s net worth at $4.6 billion, claims his modern and
contemporary art collection is worth more than $600 million and he collects
vintage cars, including period Ferraris, Aston Martins and Mercedes. His
climb in the jewelry industry began after “dropping out of school at age 14 and
scrubbing toilets as a jeweler's apprentice in London's Hatton Garden.”
I mention all of
the above because Delaire to a large degree feels like visiting a very wealthy
friend’s home instead of a hotel. For the main building that houses the winery,
restaurants, bars and wine tastings, the entry way feels more residential than
hotel, although a giveaway would be the Graff boutique just off to the left. In
the separate enclave where the villas are located slightly further up the hill
there is another reception area that again feels more like a central area in a
home than the typical hotel lobby. You walk out to the pool, fitness room or
spa across a Koi pond where you will instantly make new friends until the fish
realize you don’t have anything to feed them.
recently listed Delaire as one of the six best places to visit in the entire
country, writing about its location, “Perched high above the Helshoogte Pass,
Delaire offers the full 360: to the west is the distant outline of Table
Mountain; east lies the tiny Franschhoek valley, cupped by mountains so close
it feels like you can reach out and touch them, while the lodge itself is anchored
on the slopes of Botmaskop.”
And then the place
itself: “Graff has made sure the gardens and interiors are as spectacular as
the panorama. There’s a serious investment in local design and art that
elevates this beyond a mere hotel experience. There are two excellent
restaurants; a spa that uses diamonds and 24-carat gold in its treatments; and
a tasting room so glamorous you could shoot a Bond scene there. Service is
intelligent, with lots of unexpected touches, such as the arrival of canapés and
champagne at dusk so guests can toast the setting sun.”
"The Delaire Graff
lobby's high ceiling is laced with a bamboo and reed texture,
its walls marked by a sort of woven-grass wallpaper. Were it not for the
fireplace, you’d think you were in an art gallery. And anywhere else, the
massive exotic flower displays in the center would dominate your attention; but
here, it's a series of Lionel Smit’s
enormous Malay Girl portraits that draw your eyes immediately.
Bell’s life size, antique-looking sculptures. An atrium that leads to the
spa is filled with a shallow pool in which koi fish swim among water
plants, above which are mounted a number of Bell's bronze Sentinel human
figures, and a dog standing in an African style pirogue canoe.
Eclectic is an understatement.”
While I don’t
think Trip Advisor review are particularly helpful, I like to read the Poor and
Terrible ones to see if there are any common themes. While 93% of the 294
reviews are Excellent or Very Good, of the four negative ones in the past year,
three were related to the spa and two touched on high prices. I didn’t use the
spa, so can’t comment on those points, but if your objective is to do South
Africa on a budget, I suppose bypass Delaire. Personally, I found it to be one
of the most beautiful settings I experienced, and the prices were all
reasonable for what you would expect to find at a world-class 5-star resort.
There are other
excellent places to stay in the wine lands. The alternatives have more of a
farmhouse or historic styles, so Graff with its art filled hallways and lawns
and use of all African woods and materials with a clean, modern aesthetic, high
ceilings and large floor to ceiling windows provides a setting that makes you
feel you are part of the dramatic landscape, and definitely a different
There are four
levels of accommodations to cover the 10 lodges, each of which have one or two
bedrooms. Six new lodges are under construction, due to be ready in April, and
then later this year a four bedroom lodge. The lodges are separate from the
reception area (pictured above) for hotel guests. In that main building a few minutes walk down
a floral pathway and art filled gardens is gym, spa, a shop, pool, private
cinema and Indochine restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Keep in mind that the difference within
the two-and four-bedroom categories is the view, not the size. With the new
lodges, numbering may change. I recommend taking a bit of time and confirming
the view you will be getting (you want unobstructed mountains and vineyards)
and requesting a specific villa based on that.
The Owner’s Lodge
The Owner’s Lodge at
1,400 sq. ft. provides an entry over a running water feature (as do all the
lodges). You end into a high-ceiling foyer looking out into a living room split
between a sitting area with working fireplace and dining area. Outside is your
own heated private pool and garden.
There is a butler’s kitchen near the entry
making it possible to have a full dining experience in your lodge, inside or al
fresco on your deck. Bedrooms are located at opposite ends of the building
providing a nice level of privacy. Both have walk-in dressing areas.
Also 1,400 sq. ft.
with a full-size pool and two full bedrooms there are views across the
Simonsberg mountain range and the estate vineyards. Floor to ceiling windows
provide plenty of natural light in the living area. It’s the same floor plan as the Owner’s Lodge.
The 861 sq. ft.
Luxury Vineyard Lodges offer valley views. The layout and design is similar to
the two-bedroom lodges, just with a single bedroom instead and smaller terrace,
garden and heated plunge pool.
The Deluxe Garden
Lodges are the same as the Luxury Vineyard Lodges, just with garden views
instead of the vineyards and mountains. My recommendation is to book your stay
based on availability of the above categories.
3. RESTAURANTS AND
In addition to the current offerings, a new Italian restaurant is under construction on the hillside behind the winery building which should like the others offer spectacular views. The resort operations, including restaurants, are eco-friendly recycling all waste, including water which is then used after treatment for irrigation and landscaping.
With its David
Collins Studio designed dining room, including massive fireplace, or expansive
stone terrace with some of the hotel’s best views, we found the international
menu diverse, interesting and excellent. Dishes such as watermelon carpaccio,
homemade pasta, roasted fish and ostrich filet were fresh, light and well
Indochine with its
location adjacent to the lodges serves breakfast for hotel guests. For lunch
and dinner it’s Asian inspired with local ingredients straight from the
estate’s own greenhouse, including fresh Asian herbs, micro greens and
The Wine Lounge
Accented by high
ceilings and African woods, the lounge offers a wide variety of wine tasting
options. Designed with a copper roof and full-length glass walls, traditional
dry packed stone and oak-trussed ceilings make way for an expansive traditional
teak floor. Lionel Smit’s African Woman and collaborative work by Robert
Hodgins, William Kentridge and Deborah Bell create an elegant, modern, relaxed
Wine flights are
offered along with a menu of light accompaniments and you can sit outside on
the terrace or when it’s colder next to a working fireplace.
Private Dining and Events
Vinoteque is the
basement wine cellar private dining room that can accommodate up to 18 guests. Additionally,
the are an array of indoor and outdoor venues for private cocktails or seated
4. HEALTH AND FITNESS
There is a
residential sized pool and sun deck with spectacular vineyard and valley views.
The area is only open to hotel guests and is quite private and a good place to
catch some sun from its hilltop location.
The small gym
features Technogym weight machines, cardio as well as dumbbells and is fine for
most workout needs unless you are a powerlifter.
There are six spa
suites, including a couples’ suite, each with ensuite bathtub and toilet. There
is an extensive menu from light, medium or deep pressure massages. You can
choose from hot stone, cool marble or Bellabaci cups for your treatment. There
is also an aromatherapy massage, body exfoliation, hyrdo jet bath and treatment
cocoons, vanilla enrichment, a lavender and peppermint cooler, plus a variety
of facials. You can choose from 45 minutes to four hour and full day rituals.
5. FULL TAKEOVERS
The hotel is
popular for full takeovers, weddings, top corporate retreats and product
launches. One top carmaker has used Delaire to host dealers and top journalists
taking over the hotel for several weeks and then rotating the VIPs every couple
nights. The local roads are apparently world renowned among driving
aficionados, both for the curves, views and lack of interest by the local law
enforcement to interfere with your driving pleasure. Up to 24 guests can be
accommodated at one time, but that will expand to over 40 by end of the year.
Delaire maybe the only winery in the world where you can buy a million dollar necklace. I am told the Graff store does a brisk business, which probably reflects the clientele the resort attracts. There’s also a 100% Capri boutique featuring hand-made in Italy linens for women, men and children. There’s casual modeling at the main restaurant as a pleasant distraction from the views and food. Vanashree Singh features a Vana boutique with South African made accessories made with sustainable exotic materials, including ostrich, stingray and python.
7. VIP CONTACT:
CEO Johann Laubser at Johann.Laubser@delaire.co.za or website
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DG Amazing Experiences
is by luxury expert Doug Gollan
My name is Doug Gollan. I am a strong advocate of the private aviation industry. You can read my frequent coverage of private jets and luxury travel at Forbes.com.
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