‘Do like Balou’ in the Overberg this Holiday Season
Take your lead from Balou the bear this holiday season and ‘forget about your troubles and your strife’ at the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa. Of course as the song lyrics caution, you have to know the tricks of the trade in order to survive, and this is exactly where the Arabella’s Kid’s Club at Balou’s adventure centre comes in. Balou’s offers a secure fun-filled environment where children can enjoy stimulating and creative activities, whilst mom and dad relax with a round of golf on the Arabella Golf Course – recently selected as “Best Golf Course in South Africa”, or a well deserved break at the award winning Arabella Spa.
The Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa, which was voted both South Africa’s “Leading Luxury Hotel” and “Africa’s Leading Family Resort” in 2009, is situated in the Overberg, a scenic hour’s drive from Cape Town – in fact it will probably take you longer to pack up your brood, than to get there. The Overberg region is situated on the Southern most tip of Africa and is the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans …
Also known as the ‘whale coast,’ the area best known for its superb whale watching, stretches from the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in the West to Swellendam in the East, and from the Riviersonderend Mountains in the North to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the South. It is easily accessible over the dramatic Sir Lowry’s Pass along the N2 or by a meandering coastal road along the sea cliffs from Gordon’s Bay, through the magnificent Kogelberg Biosphere. It can also be journeyed to from other regions of the Western Cape such as the Winelands, the Garden Route, the Breede River and the Klein Karoo.
But once you’ve survived the car trip – what to do when you arrive? Apart from the coastline’s beautiful, child-friendly beaches, the Overberg proffers slow country rambles, which are perfect for walks, hikes and biking, through nature reserves and farmlands framed by rugged mountains and pretty fynbos landscapes. The Overberg lies in the heart of the famous Cape Floral Kingdom and is well-known for its prolific fynbos vegetation, boasting more than 8 600 plant species, many of which are unique to the area.
Animal inhabitants include many mammals, a wealth of birds, as well as reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial invertebrates, not to mention aquatic invertebrates and fish. The area is also home to prolific birdlife, including approximately half of the Blue Crane population, South Africa’s national bird and an endangered species which thrives in a man-made crane-friendly habitat. Legendary wild horses, remnant from the Boer War commandos roam freely on the plains of the Rooisands Nature Reserve and add a mystical air of intrigue for visitors, both young and old.
A cultural melting pot renowned for its hospitality, the Overberg is rich in history. This is evident in the area’s many museums, some, such as the preserved mission stations of Elim and Genadendal, which occupy entire villages. There are plenty of outings to amuse children of all ages including the Harold Porter Botanicals Gardens, the Toy and Miniature Museum and the Village Museum, both located in the quaint town of Stellenbosch. For creature lovers, Butterfly World, the Cheetah Outreach and Birds of Prey Sanctuaries, the Lion Park, as well as the Crocodile Farm, Monkey Town, Tygerberg Zoo, Wiesenhof Game Park and Stony Point Penguin Reserve – one of only two breeding grounds on the South African coastline – are sure to delight. The fascinating Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp is well worth a visit and the Fairy Glen Picnic Site and Fairy Forest will capture the imagination of any little girl.
There are also the quaint seaside towns of Hermanus, Kleinmond, Pringle Bay and Gansbaai to explore; and inland, the historic towns of Stanford and Greyton. The nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley boasts some of the Cape’s finest, award winning wine estates, many of which are child-friendly. A tour of the scenic Winelands will showcase a variety of the area’s highly acclaimed wine cultivars, including a visit to Blaauwklippen, one of South Africa’s oldest wine estates.
For the energetic, mountaineering, biking, hiking, walking and running trails are in abundance, as well as quad biking and water sports such as shark cage diving, white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, diving and angling. For out-of-town visitors and tourists, a Cape Town city tour will reveal the heart of the vibrant mother city, whilst a visit to the nearby townships provides an authentic slice of South African life. Game viewing experiences are also at your finger tips, with an opportunity to view the Big 5, a mere 2 hours drive away. Whale watching in-season and other eco-marine activities such as dolphin, seal and great white shark adventures, from land or boat, are on offer, whilst a birds-eye view of the whales congregating in Walker Bay during calving season can be enjoyed by helicopter.
When it comes to selecting a family friendly milieu, the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa offers it all. Children are heartily welcomed and child guest facilities cater to their every need, ensuring a relaxed stay for kids and parents alike. On arrival, welcome age appropriate treats add an extra sprinkling of magic for young guests. The Balou Kid’s Club is open from 09:00 – 17:00 on Saturdays and Sundays and during school holidays and caters for children aged four and up. Age appropriate leisure entertainment includes arts and craft activities, board games, puzzles, books, Lego, a fun jungle gym, DVD’s, Sony Playstation and plenty of facilitated play. Other activities include outings, horse riding, tennis, golf, mini cricket, putt-putt, scavenger hunts, volleyball, Olympics and lively competitions.
For younger children, the hotel offers an experienced babysitter service that care for children in the comfort of your room. The hotel’s expert chefs take special care to create uncomplicated and enjoyable children’s meals, guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning young gourmet. For complete peace of mind, the hotel will ensure that rooms are adapted to be baby or child friendly including thoughtful extras such as nightlights, plug socket covers, anti-slip bath mats, baby baths and playpens. To make your stay as comfortable as possible, other special baby / children items specific to your needs are available on request.
With so many fun filled activities to choose from, the Overberg is an ideal family breakaway. Hole up with your cubs at the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa this summer and enjoy more than ‘the bare necessities of life.’
For more information, please contact the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa – Telephone +27 (0)28 284-0000.