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- Day in the life of a Grootbos guest
By Mrs Willmott - Date of Holiday 22.0710 - 27.07.2010 - Trip Advisor Comment
We have just returned from, what has to be said, one of our best holidays ever and we have done a lot of travelling.
Day 1 - 22.07.10
Arrived at Grootbos, was met by a member of staff. Instead of the usual, fill out these forms, can we have your passports etc, we were asked, “would you like some lunch.” After lunch we were shown to our cottage. It was fantastic, two toilets, a front room, three showers a huge bath a very large bed in the bedroom. The front of the cottage was floor to ceiling with windows, every room in the cottage had a sea view. We had coffee and tea making facilities, a fruit basket that was topped up everyday and a real log fire. The only thing missing to make it a real home from home was a kitchen, but who wants to cook when they are on holiday? After relaxing for a short while we went to reception. We were asked if we wanted to look at the activities list. We had already booked two shark dives and a whale watching tour when we organised our holiday, (best to book in advance to avoid disappointment). We sat down with our guide Billy, (who looked after us from start to finish), on looking at the list of activities, which included horse riding and many tours we discovered that most were included in the price of the holiday so you can do as much or as little as you like without it costing a penny. We are very active so we picked lots of activities. We were then asked if we would like to go and see the whales from the land. We said yes so off we went. Dinner is six courses (every night), yes six! It is however some of the best food we have had at a hotel. Following dinner we returned to our room to find the staff had already made a fire for us. They did this each night we were there.
Day 2 - 23.07.10
Whale watching. At 8.45am we were taken to “The Great White House” for a whale watching tour. The tours were run by a company called “Marine Dynamics” After a short briefing we were walked to the boats and climbed aboard, it was not long before we where sailing along side many whales. We then went to see the seal and the penguins, we even saw a shark while we were on our travels. “Marine Dynamics”, were very professional indeed. They had great knowledge of the area and were very respectful of the Whales and other animals we saw. The tour lasted about two – three hours. The tour was also filmed and you got the chance to buy the DVD when you returned to dry land. We then went to Danger Point to see the lighthouse. Following Lunch we decided to take a 30m flight in a very small four seater plane to view the whales from above, it was a magical experience.
Day 3 - 24.07.10
Shark Diving. Again we were taken to “The Great White House” for our Shark Diving experience. Again it was with “Marine Dynamics”. Following our short briefing we walked to the boats (just down the road) and boarded. We all got changed into our wetsuits on the boat. Soon there was shark activity and the first group entered the cage. The sightings were excellent. Then it was my turn. In I got. The water was absolutely freezing and after seeing my shark I was out of there. Don’t let that put you off though people were in the cage for at least 20 minutes at a time and you just have to see these sharks in the water, there is something special about it. This was also filmed and the DVD was available to buy. The tour lasted around 3-4 hours. We were collected from the tour and returned to Grootbos for Lunch. Following lunch we went on a tour with our Guide Billy. Grootbos is not just a Hotel. They run a teaching school. They teach 12 young local people a year how to grow plants, raise animals, use computers and more or less give them the knowledge they need to find work. This is provided free of charge to the students. The school makes additional money by selling the surplus produce and the cuttings/plants that they grow. We walked around this facility which is on the Grootbos land. We then planted two trees. We also have the GPS co-ordinates so we can track our trees from year to year. We then went to the Whale house for a glass of champagne and watched the sun go down.
Day 4 - 25.07.10
My husband decided that he enjoyed the Shark Diving so much that he went back again, I did not, I still had not stopped bobbing up and down from the day before! I spent the day at leisure around the grounds. We completed our day with a horseback ride around Grootbos. That was just breathtaking.
Day 5 - 26.07.10
We spent the morning exploring the caves along the beach, we then drove into Hermanus for the rest of the day exploring the many types of birds and flowers. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea where we watched the Whales and ate great food. We went to a few museums after lunch and walked around the market. All at our request.
Day 6 – 27.07.10
As we were leaving at 2pm we spent the morning shopping in Stanford and Kleinbaai. We arrived back at Grootbos in time for some lunch prior to departing for the airport.
I will say although the rooms were cleaned daily (they were spotless) and the fires made, the bed turned down each night we never saw the housekeeping staff, unlike in most hotels where they seem to hang around for tips or bring you towels that they forgot to leave earlier!
This is a truly magnificent place; they have the balance completely right. There are lots of things to do should you want to. There are also many places to sit and just relax. All the staff are amazing, everyone is really friendly and welcoming. One night I asked if, as a surprise, the chef could make my husband a pizza and they did. Nothing was too much for anyone. We also played around with the menus, picking only what we wanted every night, six courses is just too much for us! Just to mention the breakfasts, there were lots of cereals, cakes (the muffins are great) and cooked options available and they were very nice. I had something different every day.
Our guide Billy was also one of the best we have had on a holiday; no matter what we wanted to do we did it. He has an amazing knowledge of everything as he grew up in the area; he has a great sense of humour and is very passionate about showing people around the area. We also did not feel like we were locked into doing things either, it was not regimental like some holidays. Billy would just say, see you in the morning about 10am and we will see what you want to do. That was great because you do not always know how you will feel the next day.
The weather was ok, remember it is their winter; it was very cold in the evenings so wrap up warm. We took jeans and jumpers with us, oh and a coat. Don’t worry about dressing up too much for dinner either; there is no strict dress code. My husband wore a smart pair of jeans and a clean pair of trainers each night and there was not a problem.
Whale watching and shark diving – We had read many reviews online about the people running these activities. There are a lot of companies that do these tours. We were a little concerned before leaving England about what kind of an experience this would be. I have to say Marine Dynamics are very professional; they looked after us very well. No one was rushed or man handled in or out of the cage. We all got plenty of time in the cage. They also provide drinks, crisps and a roll should you get hungry. They have a website that you can book with directly from the UK, after being there I would not hesitate in booking directly with them from the UK. They run a very tight ship. My only advice is (if you have the funds) is to book two tours, just in case the boat cannot launch on one of the days (due to bad weather) or something unexpected happens. We booked two tours just for that reason. We went to South Africa just to see the great whites so missing them was not an option for us.
All in all this was an amazing holiday and one we will be doing again!