F&HE editor Rosanne Buchanan reports back on a visit to this elegantly revamped estate.
WHERE IS IT? At the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains near George, Western Cape.
THE HISTORY… Once a family country home, it was voted best luxury golf resort in 2011 (World Luxury Hotel Awards) and is a member of GreenStaySA. Henry Fancourt White bought Blanco House (The Manor House) 140 years ago. Sadly, he died a poor man and his only son and heir succumbed to mushroom poisoning in the early 1900s.
THE MANOR HOUSE… This is the new R30-million boutique hotel, complete with personalised butler service and fine quality furnishings. The 150-year-old building is a national monument with elegant, modern decor. There is also the option of the five-star Fancourt hotel, with 115 rooms offering views of the golf course.
ROOMS ARE… in a word: luxurious, with glamorous touches like chandeliers, aromatherapy body products and shimmering dusting powder in the bathrooms.
FOOD IS…. more luxury, but in an understated environment. Executive chef Viktor Malek has experience at international five-star hotels, cruise ships and Cape Town’s ICC. Henry White’s is the fine-dining option. Viktor’s food philosophy is about adding value and paying attention to little touches, so he has introduced a pre-starter, almost an amuse bouche but more a canapé designed to thrill the palate – like the strawberry juice topped with fennel oil, served in a shot glass. His other focus is using one ingredient three ways, playing with texture. Viktor also believes in hitting the ‘sweet spot’, but lightly. “There’s no focus on rich, creamy desserts; we prefer the lightness of mousse and smaller desserts in shot glasses. The trick is to offer lots of variety.
“It’s not fine dining anymore, it’s about fresh dining,” he says, explaining food is all about the quality of the ingredients, which he sources mainly regionally. He also forages for his own mushrooms as the area is known for its delicious wild mushrooms. Another highlight is the La Cantina for more informal family dining (expect a few gourmet twists and authentic Italian fare by chef Vito Fanizza). You’ll find Norwegian salmon served on risotto Milanese, lobster ravioli and his homemade limoncello.
BEST-KEPT SECRET…Although the estate is 16 years old, the revamp has breathed new life into the culinary offerings. The estate has three golf courses, six residential estates (200 homes) and the hotel/spa on 613 hectares.
WHO GOES THERE? It’s an obvious choice for golfers but there’s also a fabulous spa and kids’ club so it’s popular with families and for romantic breaks.