Hidden away on a macadamia and litchi farm in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga, you’ll find this truly special place: Summerfields. On a working farm, with macadamia nuts, litchis, granadillas and lots and lots of roses, there are 12 luxury tented lodges, a spa, River Café bistro restaurant and the more upmarket Summerfields Kitchen restaurant. Alongside the Sabie River there is a wooden deck swimming pool area with terrace, outside bar under the lapa, overlooking the beautiful famous river called Sabie. If you are lucky enough, you might see hippos and crocodiles in it (so rather not swim there….). We spend two nights and two days at this magic retreat near Hazyview and I did not want to leave. Today I’ll share my photo diary with you.
The rooms – tented suites – are situated along the river, and are all more or less the same; King size comfortable beds with crisp bed linen, air conditioning as well as a roof fan, mini bar, coffee and tea facilities, complimentary mineral water and some bar snacks (roasted and salted macadamia nuts from the farm!), soft lightning, a spacious cupboard, electronic safe, bath gowns and slippers, outside bathrooms with a ‘rain shower tree’, free standing bath, separate outside toilet, double vanities with two mirrors and enough quality toiletries available. There are fresh cut roses everywhere. It’s a very romantic, luxury tented suite in the middle of nature. You can relax on your day bed and read a book, be lazy, nap a bit while listening to the sound of the birds. There is no TV or Wi-Fi in the room, and no music docking system or whatsoever. I did not really miss it, but if you are addicted to some music or back ground BBC-news, it might be not the right place for you. Wi-Fi was available, free of charge, at reception, but very slow. Again, I didn’t really miss it, but if you have work that needs to be done it can be a bit of a problem for you.
One evening dinner was served at the Summerfields Kitchen. This upmarket restaurant at the entrance of the estate, situated above the organic garden, is a must-visit, if you’d ask me. Menus change to the season and what is available from the garden. Chef Natia van Heerden worked in several award winning restaurants in South Africa, for example Test Kitchen, Cape Town (number 1 restaurant in South Africa’s according to Eat Out Awards) and Terroir (Stellenbosch, also in the Eat Out Top 20), and that experience – together with her graduation at culinary school – you can taste in her food. She is absolutely talented and the dishes we had were so balanced, beautiful presented, but still recognisable what’s on your plate (I don’t like too fancy dishes that look like ‘baby food’ and taste even worse). We were blown away by the extreme delicious menu we had at Summerfields Kitchen. All vegetables, herbs, eggs, nuts and most fruits come from their own garden. Bread is home baked sourdough, served with a Parmesan cream. There is a ‘show off organic garden’ in front of the Summerfields Kitchen restaurant, but most of the products come from another, bigger garden, located next to the rose farm. If you do the 5km Parkrun or walk, which is signposted on their estate (very clever!) you will pass this organic vegetable garden. The beautiful roses from the farm are for sale by the way, also if you don’t stay at Summerfields.
More about the food: I had a beautiful gazpacho (cold soup) for starter, with garlic, herbs and vegetables from the garden. The Mr. had the quail, and he was so nice to share it with me. Oh, and that was delicious. Quail is not easy to prepare as it can easily be under- or overdone, but I can tell you: this little bird was cooked to perfection. The cuisson could not have been better. What a taste! For mains I had fresh kingklip with pearl barley, tomato, cucumber and garlic while the Mr. had a lamb-shank risotto, with sage and tomato (the lamb isn’t on the photos above – the shot was too dark – sorry).
For dessert we shared the vanilla panna cotta and seasonal berries, with gooseberry and litchi sorbet. Very nice. After the Graham Beck Brut bubbles we had, we ordered a bottle of the Ataraxia Serenity 2010, a great red blend all the way from Hemel and Aarde Valley (Hermanus). The dinner at Summerfields Kitchen was one of the best I ever had in South Africa, and I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone. Summerfields Kitchen is open Tuesday – Saturday for dinner. You can also reserve a table here if you don’t stay at the farm. But I recommend you – if possible – to do so, because otherwise you will miss out breakfast…
Breakfast and lunch are served at the fully licensed River Cafe, which is open daily. Here one can also find a lounge and library, with views over the Sabie River. Breakfast is a feast for all senses. Home baked bread with homemade granadilla (=passion fruit) jam and macadamia butter (sort of very luxury peanut butter ohhh), croissants, matured Cheddar, brie, farm butter, cold meats like Parma ham or salami, and then there was also the à la carte menu. Think: Fruit salad with creamy yoghurt and muesli granola, scrambled eggs on toast with bacon, rucola and garden mushrooms, and what about ‘The Ultimate Bun’: a perfectly baked white bun with fried eggs, melted cheese, bacon, tomato and rucola. Yum…
One can soak up the sun, relax or simply watch the streaming water of the Sabie River from the wooden deck next to the lapa. Summerfields Spa is next door and here you can enjoy a lovely treatment. What about an Aromatherapy Massage in one of the romantic wooden cabins overlooking the river? Or a facial, pedicure, manicure, scrub, body exfoliation treatment or hot stone massage? There are half and full day packages, single or couple possibilities and most include lunch at the River Cafe. You can plan a day out of Spa and pampering, whether you stay in the Summerfields tented lodges or not. It’s romantic, rustic, special, surrounded by nature and the smell of essential oils and spa products. That, together with a glass of wine and a lunch at River Cafe, makes your day out complete.
The other evening we enjoyed a braai (South African word for ‘barbecue’) at the boma (means: ‘to enclosure’ or ‘being fenced up’ in Swahili – this dates back from the 18th century when during the colonial wars tribesmen would fence up their livestock and homes with latte sticks. Nowadays you see these bomas often and the well known romantic ‘boma dinners’ in areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya or Botswana). During our boma braai, we enjoyed fresh salads, roasted vegetables, sweet corn, bread from the braai, and different meats like lamb chops, sausages and steak fillet. It was all nice, but not super special. The food was fresh and good, but not exceptional like the food we had at Summerfields Kitchen. Also, the fillet was finished within 5 minutes (thanks to some greedy guests from Belgium) and was not replaced with another fillet – which I found strange. The staff of the restaurant that evening was also a bit slow and for example did not know what different gins they had in the house, and about the fact that half of the wine list wasn’t available that night. But still; I liked the setting around the boma, the candles and the fire in the middle. The food was not special but it was good, and so was our evening. Our evening became more special at the end, when we came back in our room: the staff surprised us with a romantic turn down, including a bottle of bubbles and fresh fruits. Rose leaves everywhere, beautiful smell of roses and bath foam. Candles. Very nice. Loved it!
On the 100 hectare grounds of Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa, there is a parkrun, too. About 5 km walk or run, signposted well with wooden boards and signs. While they spoil you so much with all the food, it can be good idea to walk or run a bit during your visit. That’s what we did and it was lovely. You run through the orchards of litchi and macadamia nut trees, as well through forest, alongside the Sabie River and past the roses farm and organic vegetable garden. On Saturday morning they host the weekend Parkrun here – 5KM timed run which everyone can enjoy now on more places in South Africa, as well as in other countries in the world. It’s a great event and stimulates people to work out, wherever and whenever.
Furthermore Summerfields is not far from Kruger National Park. It’s about a 30 minutes drive to one of the entrance gates of Kruger (Phabeni is the closest by) and therefore Summerfields is the perfect base to plan day-trips into the most famous game reserve of the world. Also, the retreat isn’t far from the well known Mpumalanga Panorama Route; God’s Window, the Three Rondavels, MacMac Waterfalls and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Places as Graskop, Sabie and Pilgrim’s Rest are all not far away from Hazyview, and can be easily explored within a full day tour.
Summerfields Rose Restreat & Spa is situated on the R536 – Sabie Road Hazyview, South Africa about 5km from Perry’s Bridge and 10km from Phabeni Gate of Kruger National Park. Click here for road directions via Google Maps.
*Note: I have not been asked or paid to write about Summerfields. It was my own idea. All images (made with Canon EOS M3 camera) and views are mine.
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