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.

I take it all back. Julie’s favourite place in the universe is not Pringle Bay, not the Sea Point beachfront nor even the Hermanus cliff path. Her favourite place in the universe, so far anyway, is a balcony overlooking the Poort, on Mossel Bay’s rocky peninsula, The Point.

From the second-floor balcony at The Point Hotel and Spa, Julie was transfixed. With the keen attention of an umpire at a Wimbledon Tennis Grand Slam, she watched the dassies (Rock Hyrax) that live on the rocks directly in front of the hotel’s balconies.

She was immovable. No longer interested in us or going for walks, unless the walk was for an even closer look at the dassies, she stood sentry on the balcony, moving her head from side to side to maintain solid surveillance. We even left her alone on the balcony in the room while we went for breakfast as she was not welcome in the buffet restaurant and when we returned, we weren’t even missed.

The primary attraction of staying at The Point Hotel and Spa is the location. There is another hotel just a block away with the same name, which is confusing. The appeal here is of near proximity, about 50 paces from the hotel’s front door to a natural tidal pool that has been enhanced by showers and changing cubicles and safety ropes across the rock channels in the event that the tide is too great. There are also areas from which it is considered safe to jump into the water and a few sets of stairs, albeit mostly mossy and slippery, to allow for easier access and egress.

At low tide, the Poort is calm, and the soft sandy floor is easy to walk on for many hundred meters towards the sea source. In high tide, the waves that crash over the rocky areas, create white water and excitingly strong currents. And, because this part of the Indian Ocean is nearer to the warmer sea currents, it is a pleasure to swim in.

There is a paved and popular walking route along the coast in Mossel Bay which is dog friendly, as are many of the beaches like Santos Beach, about five minutes car journey from The Point. At Santos there is a shark net to protect swimmers and the wide bay is very popular with swimmers and kayakers alike.

Adjacent to The Point Hotel and Spa is a Spur restaurant, which is not pet friendly, and the Mossel Bay Zipline, which runs from St Blaize Lighthouse on the hill above the hotel, down to the sea, which is. Equally pet-friendly and a wonderful experience is Le Perron, a restaurant on the old train platform.

Within the harbour area there are several restaurants and Julie enjoyed watching the seagulls from the outside area at Sea Gypsy, a relaxed and affordable option. But Julie’s best experience was sharing an Eisbein bone at Le Perron. Owners and staff love dogs so much they even brought her a zinc plate on which to eat her bone, although she grabbed and munched it while lying on the sandy floor beneath our table.

“Her favourite place in the universe, so far anyway, is a balcony overlooking the Poort, on Mossel Bay’s rocky peninsula, The Point.”

Notable things about The Point Hotel & Spa are that the best rates are via; bathrooms are equipped with loo and standing shower as well as a bidet shower adjacent to the loo. There is a handy pull-out tea and coffee drawer, and all rooms have balconies with chairs and air-conditioning inside the room. Importantly, there is a lap-top computer sized digital safe.

We can’t wait to return.

If a cottage built from river stones and local timber overlooking the Breede River is your idea of paradise, then add rows of fruit orchards, olive groves and mountains wherever you look and you’re probably at Dixon’s View, a self-catering and pet-friendly cottage on the White Bridge Farm Accommodation in Wolseley. With Ceres and Tulbagh in nearby, this is the perfect location from which to explore the Witzenberg Valley.

This is a working farm and the wedding venue The Olive Rock is a short drive from the cottage.
There are neither fences around the farm itself nor around Dixon’s View and we did encounter other large dogs on the farm as well as a troop of baboons one morning, moving through the orchards in search of breakfast.

The Winterberg Inn and its Harvest Bistro restaurant is a short walk away and you are welcome to bring your dogs if you dine in the pretty garden or on the terrace. They are famous for their pork ribs which gets a coffee-based rub before being slow cooked. Equally pet-friendly is The Creative Hub. A farm stall, yes, but much more than that. You might, for example, find winter-warm zip -up vests made from Masai blankets and exquisitely fine ceramics too. A large selection of local wines and spirits is also available as well as local cheeses, charcuterie and the now famous Pappaslick pies. Peppi Stanford, the owner, is also the owner of White Bridge Farm Accommodation and a passionate agent for positive change.

Take time to seek her out, if you can, and learn more about the Marimba group she arranges as well as the sculptural artist who creates monolithic birds and dragons from steel drums and other recyclables.

The accommodation at Dixon’s View is ideal for a couple. While there is an open mezzanine above the main bed with two single beds, there is a steep bamboo ladder to reach it and both areas are open to the rest of the room. There is a large shower and a loo on the ground floor. The open-plan space includes a comfortable sitting area in front of a fireplace and a small kitchen that has a fridge, microwave, an oven and an induction plate. There is a kitchen/dining table made from an old tree. Outside, there is a large timber deck with a teak table, canvas umbrella and a fire pit in which to braai. From this vantage point you look into the river and the lush trees that climb up its banks. There are rough stone steps to help you down to the riverbed.

There are other accommodations also available to rent on the farm. Otter’s Landing is the closest to Dixon’s View and a good option if you are travelling together with family or friends that you like but don’t love. This means that they are easy to get to at just 30-odd meters away but far enough so you have your privacy. Whiskey Yankee is another, larger house to rent and nearer to the wedding venue.

There are guest rooms near the main homestead available too, also some distance away, and while one is ideal for self-catering, the other is not.

Dixon’s View is affordably priced from R1300 for two people or R1400 for three or four people. This is the kind of place that invites you to kick off your shoes and relax into the rhythm of the farm. And, if you are lucky, the beat of the Marimba drum.

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