Pets Need a Break too

Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.

An upmarket and fully versatile property which can be used as a weekend getaway, or an extended vacation for the whole family

After adopting Julie into their forever home, luxury-travel writer, BRIAN BERKMAN, and husband, JP, don’t want to leave home without her. The good news is that they mostly don’t have to.

There are colourful stories told about Schaap Island in Yzerfontein, a promontory that intersects the coast like a sharp incisor tooth, which is inaccessible during high-tide and, the story goes, was used to safely lodge and graze sheep and other livestock at night. As you enter Yzerfontein, about an hour and a bit from Cape Town, there are two strange-looking pits with National Monument insignia. These are among the original lime kilns in the area where black-mussel shells were burned until the carbon oxidized to mix into lime which was used for building and agriculture. A walk along the coast still shows the millennia mussel shells on the beaches and between the rocks.

Atlantica is designed to entertain. With seven luxurious bedrooms (six are en-suite), this is perfect for a getaway. There is an undercover braai area on one side of the house, and a patio with seating for 12 or more, with an adjustable awning, on the other.

There is a plunge pool, a very large open-plan kitchen, walk-in pantry and scullery, complete with dishwasher and washing machine, which leads to a games room with table-tennis table, darts and a library. There is a loft above it with additional accommodations. Do note that the stairs to the front door, and from the sitting area and balcony to the kitchen, are quite steep. As a pet-friendly property there are tiled floors, that can easily be kept clean.

We took Julie on a sea-front walk soon after we arrived, and we encountered another dog that was not on the lead. The other dog seemed friendly enough, at first, and came to meet Julie, while the owner caught up. In a millisecond a happy situation turned very bad and the dog bit Julie on her leg. She was yelping! Blood was spurting! We were panicking. The other dog’s owner suggested we take Julie to the local vet which we did, and he paid the bill. The vet cleaned the wound and gave us medicine for the next week. Very fortunately, Julie didn’t need stitches.

Of course, when we travel, and especially when we travel with children or pets, such a situation can really dampen the trip. We can only imagine what might have happened had the other dog’s owner not been a decent human. While we will probably always think of Yzerfontein as the place Julie was bitten, we will also remember a kind pet owner who took responsibility for their pet’s actions. He even checked-in on all of us the following day.

Exclusive use of the property is guaranteed, whether there are two or 16 guests. Rates are R2000 for two people plus R500 per person per night sharing, thereafter. The full house rates of R9000 per night applies for 16 guests, but also, irrespective of the number of guests, full-house rates are applicable between mid-December and mid-January, and over the Easter weekend. There is no mobile phone reception, but there is free and fast Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as Netflix and Apple TV.,
079 157 9932.

Being welcomed with open paws. While the Park Inn by Radisson, on Cape Town’s Heerengracht, on the foreshore, is ideally placed for people attending the theatre at the nearby Artscape Centre or the Cape Town International Convention Centre, which is within easy walking distance, it is also super convenient for a city break, where you are sufficiently close to feel the vibe, but sufficiently far away not to hear it.

The Park Inn by Radisson is among the growing number of hotels who understand, and most especially so since surviving lockdown together, that our pets are essential members of our families, and we don’t wish to travel without them. So, it is especially heartening to know that you and your four-legged family will be welcomed with open arms, or “open paws” as the welcome letter puts it, and special treats for Julie.

This is a four-star graded hotel, but the third-floor room we had, with a balcony overlooking the Foreshore fountain, could easily have been a five-star room. There are 120 rooms in the hotel, and all come with coffee machines and Lavazza pods, as well as a kettle and a selection of teas. Usefully, there is a lap-top sized safe and an ironing board and iron in the room, along with free Wi-Fi internet, Smart TV and a super-snazzy leather office chair on which to swivel, if the moods takes you.

But the best reason for staying here isn’t the smart room or new state-of-the-art gym, also on the third floor, but Harald’s roof-terrace and bar on the 11th floor, which seems to frame Table Mountain in such a spectacular way, you’d imagine it was purpose built to do so.

There is a tiny pool and an AstroTurf “grassy” patch with doggie bowls and loads of high tables at which to perch, and comfortable loungers too.
You and your dogs are welcome throughout the hotel and even in the RGB ground-floor eatery for all day grazing and where a delicious breakfast is served.
It has been a while since we have been in the Foreshore and the whole area, from the fountain which is now looking glorious and working full-time, to the neat landscaping along the Heerengracht, seems much upgraded since we were there last. Julie loved our walks long the grassy patches and into Green Market Square, and while we have lived in Cape Town all our lives, this most recent visit suggested that the city improvement projects, and local government safety initiatives, are really succeeding.

The Park Inn provides secure undercover parking, albeit via Thibault Square, which you must access from behind the hotel. We had the feeling that everything was switched on – all the staff we encountered – from the welcome at the front door, to ordering delicious food on the rooftop, were ready, friendly and efficient, but not in that sometimes-bristling way that makes one a little uncomfortable. We can’t wait to go back, if only because Julie so loved the special doggie-bed they provided for her and her being the near constant centre of attention.

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