A distracting destination
In a previous life you’d never catch me in a place where bingo hour is on the agenda, never mind the highlight of the day. But that was then. Now I have two small people to entertain and life is very different.
In my world, “family resorts” have replaced boutique hotels, horror hour has replaced sundowner time and I’m really okay with “organised fun”, as long as I can have half an hour of peace before boredom sets in and we have to find a new activity that pleases everybody.
An hour of reading or an elusive nap for mum and dad is the new holiday nirvana, and if that means my sons have to be subjected to Tricky Trevor and his not-so-funny jokes, then so be it.
The Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg is a place of great distraction — a good thing in my book. The kids are entertained with a choice of swimming pools, putt-putt, a jungle gym and activities in a playroom that could do with a bit of a scrub (not that the toddlers will notice). Tweens and teens have a place to meet in the form of their own clubroom and BBM romances happen before your eyes, if you care to notice. For the adults, there’s a pretty spectacular 18-hole golf course as well as hiking, biking and fishing. There’s also a small wellness centre for a quick massage or workout in-between breakfast/lunch/dinner.
The area is incredibly beautiful and hotel rooms look on to the Champagne and Cathkin peaks — where the view constantly changes, depending on the weather or time of day. The family rooms are spacious and comfortable, consisting of a main bedroom and living area and a separate room (with single beds) for the children. For a small fee, you can request a bar fridge for snacks and drinks, which comes in handy.
Out in the Champagne Valley there’s quite a lot on offer: mountain walks, horse riding and a canopy tour operation. There’s a dam for fishing and you can also go rafting, quad-biking or go-karting with Four Rivers Rafting and Adventure. Falcon Ridge put on a daily raptor show (depending on the weather) that is pretty impressive and, for a spot of culture, there are regular performances by the Drakensberg Boys Choir, or you can visit the famous Ardmore ceramic studio.
Central Drakensberg is also something of a foodie destination, from cheesecake at Scrumpy Jack’s Farm Stall to delicious breads at the Valley Bakery, Coffee Shop and Art Gallery. There’s also the Thokozisa Deli & Wine Cellar if you need to stock up before heading back to the hotel.
At the hotel, you can opt for timeshare chalets, which means you get the best of both worlds — you can organise mealtimes around your own agenda, and there’s always the option of joining the pool bingo crowd, if you really want to.
Perfect weekend getaway for: Families with children/teenagers
Accessibility: Four hours from Jo’burg on N3 towards Bergville.
Hotel: Two adults R1 230 per person, per night, sharing. This includes dinner, bed and breakfast. Children: 0 – 3 years free; 3 – 5 years R220 per night;
6 – 12 years R 370 per night;
13 – 17 years R640 per night
Timeshare chalets: Two bedroom, two bathroom R1 735 per chalet, per night, fully self-catering. Thee bedroom, three bathroom R2 200 per chalet, per night, self-catering
Contact: 036 468 8000 or email [email protected]