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.BY BRIAN BERKMAN
Brian Berkman says this animal sanctuary also has a world-famous painting pig.
Here animals and their betterment take centre stage but we humans are welcome too.
With a no-meat policy, Farm Sanctuary SA in Franschhoek, set on a gorgeous wine and fruit farm, nails its love-for-animals colours to its front gates with a request to keep animal products far away. But, there is no militancy here, no finger wagging or horror tales of animals in captivity bred to meet our human hunger. Yes, there is a message that is hard to miss, but it is delivered in the most elegant and generous way possible. And while the accommodations at Farm Sanctuary are animal friendly, dogs that might bark or chase the rescue cows, pigs, chickens, and goats, are asked not to enter the main barn area where the animals roam.
Joanne Lefson, a former professional golfer and zoologist, is a brilliant marketer and creative thinker who has not only turned her efforts into raising funds for further animal rescue, but also made the argument for the high level of sentience and creativity that animals have in a powerfully visual way. Pigcasso is a pig that paints and with Joanne’s help, Pigcasso is a global phenom. From the 2019 sold-out Swatch watch straps with Picasso’s paintings to a range of original artworks, NFT’s and, being launched in September, a book with a forward by Dr Jane Goodall.
Within Farm Sanctuary there are seven different accommodation offerings all accommodating two people. We stayed in Farm Retreat which looked onto a pear orchard and the Franschhoek mountains beyond. Very stylish, this open-plan room has a comfy corner-unit couch sitting room, wrought-iron bed, double basins and large yet quick-filling bath with a shower and toilet behind closing doors. Pigcasso’s paintings and other images are brilliantly displayed here and form the bed-side view which is behind the mirrors above the double vanity. It may be tricky to explain but, take it from me, it is ingenious interior design. These are not self-catering units. There is a kettle and microwave, but no food prep or wash-up area. Within another nearby barn-like structure, there is a bean-to-cup coffee machine, a couple of well-placed pieces of high-end gym and yoga equipment, and a lap pool with sun loungers nearby. The main barn and container accommodation is some distance away on what might even be an adjacent plot of land as it is separated by a road that passes through.
Certainly, Julie would not sleep a wink (and, consequently, neither would we), if we were lodging on the open mezzanine above the barn. While this must be a special place to spend the night and lovely to do so in a romantic four poster bed above the animal pens, I can only think that dogs raised on a farm would not put up a fuss. No matter, though, as there are plenty other options on the farm for dog lovers.
And despite its rural setting, Franschhoek’s main drag is very close by so taking your meals in the village, considered a culinary capital, is certainly not a hardship. Dogs are welcome at Terbodore Coffee Roasters Café which is a charming location under the trees and next to the river on the main street as you enter Franschhoek from the Klapmuts side. Across the way is Tapasco with its classic bistro red and white check tablecloths. We enjoyed an especially fine breakfast there. The Elephant and Barrel is a local gastro pub a couple of blocks away and in a wind-protected courtyard just off the main street. The fabulous spare ribs are served cut into individual ribs for ease of eating and the battered hake and chips with a tower of onion rings was pronounced excellent.
Accommodation from about R2000 per night
including cleaning and service charges.
Visit farmsanctuarysa.org and pigcasso.org
Brian Berkman says this charming wine and fruit-producing town is perfect for a visit with your pets. Explore McGregor with your four-legged family.
With more sunshine on account of its near semi-arid climate, the town of McGregor is a charming destination within two hours of Cape Town and in the heart of the Langeberg Mountain Range. And with the Robertson, Ashton, and Montagu regions nearby, there is much to explore.
There are a number of properties in McGregor that are managed and let by Be In McGregor. Laurel Cottage and Ons Huisie are two of the loveliest.
Laurel Cottage is a large house with stylish furniture that mixes antique-looking heirloom pieces with comfy-put-your-feet-up leather sofas. This juxtaposition is perfectly illustrated in the combination of smart and contemporary light fittings above the kitchen area and the brass beds and tapestry-style carpet wall hangings in the bedrooms. The old and new mix perfectly. The many windows on both sides of this property allow light to stream in and all have shutters for privacy when you want it. The front garden of Laurel Cottage is richly planted with olive trees, fruit trees and shrubs that immediately communicates a generous bounty. Inside, the home is equally generous and not only on account of the space but also the attention to detail. In the kitchen, for example, there is a large fridge/freezer, dishwasher, microwave, electric oven, gas hob and Nespresso coffee machine and plenty work surfaces if a team of you want to cook together. Laurel Cottage owners are clearly foodies when you consider the quality of the cutlery, crockery, and cooking utensils they are happy to share with rental guests.
There is a wood-burning stove which successfully heats the large and open-plan sitting and dining area and there is a Weber and a fire-pit outside too. Pet owners will appreciate that the large property is fully fenced so pets will be free to roam the full extent. There is also an alarm, monoxide detector as well as a smoke detector fitted. Two bedrooms have double beds, and one has two single beds. The main bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with a gorgeous slipper-style bath and an outside but private shower. The other bedrooms, on the opposite side of the house, share a large Victorian-style shower room. Air-conditioning in all bedrooms will keep you cool as will the long but narrow swimming pool in the centre of the front garden.
Ons Huisie is just around the corner from Laurel Cottage and offers guests an entirely different experience.
Best suited for a couple, this is a small house, one of the original to be built, with thick, whitewashed walls, thatched roof, and reed-covered ceiling. Ons Huisie has a massive water-wise garden designed with paths on which to explore and naturally shaded areas with tree-stump seating in which to contemplate. Ons Huisie also comes with two portable reclining chairs that are extremely lightweight and comfortable, so it is easy to move them anywhere around the garden. There is also a six-seater outside table with bench seating under the verandah and near the outside braai. Like Laurel Cottage this property is fully fenced.
While there is accommodation in two single beds on a mezzanine level at Ons Huisie, it may require some dexterity to reach it. This property is more affordable than Laurel Cottage and the reduced price reflects that only the basics are offered here. An advantage of Ons Huisie is that it has smooth concrete walkways from the parking area into the house which makes porting luggage on wheels very easy and possibly a wheelchair too.
Both properties are within easy walking distance of the main shops and restaurants in McGregor including the charming MM, Made in McGregor, which has home-grown fruit, vegetables and deli items along with many organics. Temenos Retreat, with its charming garden and two restaurants, is also a recommended place to visit.
For vast mountains, open skies, food, wine and something a little more esoteric, McGregor offers these and more.
Reservations: +27 (0) 72 307 7399, firstname.lastname@example.org | www.beinmcgregor. co.za