Wanderlust – It’s time to warm to winter

It is un-Brrrrr-lievable how quick this year is going, we have chills just thinking about winter (which seems so far away in this hot weather… but winter is coming [ahem Game of Thrones fans]). And yes, winter can be fresh but there’s also so much more to it than just the weather – especially when travelling in South Africa. Now’s a great time to book a winter getaway – after all, the early bird gets the worm.

Think about exploring Cape Town…
A world-famous holiday destination for good reason. When winter arrives, the beaches might be less appealing but there’s still loads to do from amazing shopping to South Africa’s best dining and a host of live events. If that wasn’t enough our properties offer spacious accommodation in which to relax and get cosy – you won’t want to leave! Not to mention, Mount Sierra has an indoor splash pool, perfect for the warmer days when the kids want to play and there’s also great daily entertainment on offer.
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Indulge in an aromatherapy full body massage, proven to help with several winter-related conditions, like dry skin, anxiety and insomnia or you can really heat things up with a hot stone treatment – the perfect winter warmer.

It’s no coincidence that winter and wine share the same first letters; farms in Durbanville and Stellenbosch will still be serving wine, so get your blood pumping with a glass or two of red and even better… most restaurants will be offering winter specials 😊. What’s more – you get to skip the summer holiday traffic – so what’s not to like?!

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Flights are cheaper at this time of year and it’s easier to book fantastic entertainment as most things are less busy. Why not shop to really look the part as you’ll be saving on so much during your winter getaway? Embrace the winter fun with your wardrobe too!

Something else to do – go snow hunting 😊! Some of us have never been in snow before or would like our friends or family to experience it. Book to stay at one of our properties [link] and you never know – you might just get lucky. Even a trip to Cape Town could see you enjoying snow-filled days in the impressive Tulbagh or Ceres scenery! Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to the weather, but you have to cast a line to have any chance of catching a fish 😉).

If taking a break in the outdoors is what you’re after
Make your winter “wanderful” with entertaining activities and magical moments wherever you choose to wander 😊. Consider a hot air balloon ride, going to a concert, doing a relaxing road trip to a nearby town or filling your days with laughs by making the most of our amazing outdoor activities and entertainment programmes.

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Winter’s also the best time of year to go on game drives at South Africa’s amazing reserves, some of which are just a short drive from our properties on the KZN North Coast. The grass is shorter at the game reserves in winter so it’s easier to see further and there’s usually less water around too, so you know the animals will swamp any waterholes, dams or rivers which makes them easy to find. Plus, those late afternoon sundowners just can’t be beat!

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Look no further than our properties like Gethlane Lodge (Burgersfort), Qwantani (Sterkfontein Dam), Magalies Park (Hartbeespoort) or Hole in the Wall (Coffee Bay) for a taste of the great outdoors. Drinking a cup of coffee (or something else 😉) watching kids roast marshmallows on the fire is one of the priceless little things that makes winter so special – and this time of year is filled with “wanderful” activities that you can discover, especially at our unique properties 😊. Again, nearby activities will often come at a winter discount and the resorts are just as great as always.

If you haven’t tried them before, Gethlane Lodge is home to wildlife, has an amazing entertainment programme and magical sunsets, and lies just an hour’s drive from natural wonders including the Blyde River Canyon.

At Qwantani spectacular views over the vast dam and onto surrounding mountains are breathtaking in the clear winter weather! There’s also horse riding and great activities like Boma Braais which are perfect for the whole family to keep warm and experience the thrill of the outdoors.
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Magalies Park, less than an hour’s drive from the centre of Pretoria, is another winter “wanderland” thanks to its unbeatable facilities and service. In the superb surroundings, you can play golf, go fishing or have sundowners on a barge cruise! There’s also a spa onsite and loads of other attractions in the area.

For a taste of the sea, visit the unspoiled Wild Coast at Hole in the Wall near Coffee Bay. Here you might just be surprised by warm weather which is just perfect for horse riding or hitting the driving range on the beach, going for hikes and eating seafood at the resort’s famous braais. You’ll be following the sun by having a relaxing winter getaway at Hole in the Wall without even knowing it 😊.

Life’s lekker (amazing) at the sea…
Whale watching is also recommended in winter as is experiencing the world-famous Sardine Run on the KZN South Coast which our Margate properties are perfectly located for!

Did we mention that South Africa’s best waves happen in winter (really) and that’s why all the surfing competitions happen at this time of year 😊?! A great day out could be watching your first surfing competition with snacks or a GNT in hand or why not take some longboarding lessons yourself 😉?
Make your winter sparkle with spoils from Cazabella, the jewellery is perfect for those nights out on the town, going to the theatre or having dinner with someone special 😊.
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Wander into the warmth of a happy, fun-filled holiday this winter – there’s so much to explore and do – and it’s the cheapest time to travel too 😊.

‘Til next time, it’s time to warm to winter!

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Planning the perfect romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day…

It’s almost 14 February, the internationally-recognised day of LOVE. If you’ve planned a romantic getaway, even if it’s just to spoil yourself – good on you, you’re doing better than we are! For those of us that have left things a little late – don’t stress – here are some tips to have a memorable Valentine’s Day and how you can celebrate “Valentine’s Day” with the one you love.

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Valentine’s Day is all about sharing and celebrating with those you love. It doesn’t have to be a hassle and it definitely shouldn’t break the bank 😊. If you’d like to book into one of our luxury resorts with our amazing First Group Valentine’s specials that include couple’s wellness treatments or magical touches like food platters and sparkling wine in your room – book now!
Here are a few great ideas if you are looking for other ways to ignite the spark this Valentine’s Day…

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If you’ve booked into one of our cool properties after Valentine’s Day for a Honeymoon for example, make sure you use the VIP room menu! What it is: A service where you can order amazing extras like romantic turndowns, rose petals in your room, sparkling wine and snack platters – basically you’ll live like a King and Queen. The great thing about the VIP room menu is you can order it all year roundfor special occasions. Yes, you read that right! So, here’s our second tip, maybe you can’t get away now, due to a lack of leave or for other reasons, so if you haven’t booked to go away over 14 February (or until our Valentine’s specials end), book now  for some other time this year and have an amazing belated Valentine’s getaway! We’d suggest surprising your partner or family with the booking confirmation over a scrummy pancake breakfast that you’ve cooked up on Valentine’s Day (or over a candlelit dinner the night before if you need some time off from cooking 😉) and it’s up to you if you want the destination to stay a surprise or not 😊. That way you won’t have to make any excuses why you didn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day – you made the effort, in time, and the surprise trip’s just going to happen a little later in the year 😉.

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Other easy ways to make the day special are little outings or meals out. Our properties have great new menus, why not visit on the weekend of 16 and 17 February for a delicious meal with your loved ones? Another great idea is taking the day off on Thursday to go for a road trip somewhere you’ve been dying to visit for ages like a day visit to La Montagne for a pizza at our recently refurbished Italian restaurant if you live in KZN or you could even spend the day doing fun activities nearby (it’s mid-summer in South Africa so maybe cooler activities in the sea, at a river or even relaxing around a resort’s pool 😉).

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Lastly gifts go a long way – beautiful flowers and chocolates are always well received but what about gifts that your loved one would cherish for years to come or the prezzi of an ultra-relaxing massage (who doesn’t love those 😉?). Share the love with your kiddies, with a membership to the Fred First Club! It’s a great gift because they’d get a hamper of goodies that’s worth more than the membership costs, a FREE milkshake on their birthday at certain properties and they’d also get to enjoy Fred’s amazing entertainment and competitions all year long.

#MakeMagicalMemories this Valentine’s Day one way or another, you and your loved ones deserve them!

Please share whatever you do for Valentine’s Day with us on our social media using the hashtag #FirstForLove.

Til next time,

Happy holidaying – let’s share the love!

New Year’s Resolution – Travel More

With the silly season now over and some great new memories to hold onto, what’s 2019 got in store for us?

We hope you loved the delicious recipes that Chef Sam shared with you in our last blog, we certainly did… SCRUMMY! So, some of your friends and family have probably told you what their New Year’s resolution is for 2019. Maybe its to help out at a charity, empty clutter out of their home, see more of their friends or even eat more greens… Well, this is our suggestion for a great resolution: Travel more!

There’s something magical about visiting your favourite places or exploring new ones and you can do this with your favourite people or alone if you feel like some peace and quiet. You might not have heard this but medical studies have shown that people who travel more live longer… really! Before you say people that travel are the ones with money for medical care or good quality nutrition, these studies compared top earning people, some who chose to work throughout the year and others who took holidays and the people who chose to take a break somewhere cool generally live for 3 years longer! Crazy. It seems that a real break does more good for our health than we knew – and who likes getting sick or burnt-out anyway?!

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Let’s plan for our healthy resolution. Are we going somewhere new or to an old trusty – our home away from home? Now’s the time to book to make it happen otherwise we might procrastinate and we all know that a week turns into a month and before you know it – the year is gone and you didn’t get to do the travelling you’d hoped for.

Travelling really is an investment. Think about it. Memories, rest and great health are all super valuable and lots of the happiest people are backpackers who don’t have loads of possessions or money in the bank. They love meeting new people from different cultures or backgrounds, experiencing new places and getting to know themselves better in all of these environments. If you were getting on in years, would you love to have albums filled with cool holiday pics or a photo of a better car? Will you really think back fondly about all the time spent at home watching TV?

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Let’s get this year right with a great holiday or two! Cut back on a couple of things and make those magical memories come to life! Are you going to try for a longer holiday or maybe a long weekend somewhere nearby? Maybe you can even fit in two long weekends away?

South Africa’s known for great weather but probably the best time of year across the country has to be autumn. Its warm and usually not windy, the days are normally filled with blue skies (perfect for outdoor activities and entertainment) and you can also explore with the benefit of less hustle and bustle by going out of peak season (getting better deals when eating out, cheaper accommodation and a whole lot more. For the best deals, you can join Vaczone where members get up to 50% off their main meal at 1000 restaurants across South Africa!!! As trying out local food is such a BIG part of travelling, these massive savings make it easier to travel for longer (and to eat out more 😉. Plus, all that money you didn’t use out of your holiday’s spending allowance can go towards your next amazing getaway – meaning another magical time away will be that much sooner!

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Places we love in autumn include Cape Town with less congestion on the roads than in December, it’s easier to get into great restaurants and the famous landmarks are all less busy (plus, the weather is just stunning 😊). Relax on Clifton’s famous beaches, shop at the V&A Waterfront or watch a Kirstenbosch Summer Concert before the end of March.

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Next up on our dream list of must-visit places is the Garden Route. If you haven’t been before, this unspoilt stretch of South Africa’s coast is one of the most unique places on earth. Super conveniently located for a great time are Knysna Chalets and Knysna River Club which are within walking distance of great restaurants, the lagoon (of course!) and Knysna’s amazing activities like boat cruises, hiking and so much more.

If Bushveld is what you’re after, we recommend Gethlane Lodge and Waterberry Hill in Mpumalanga 😊. This time we’d suggest going a little later in the year for slightly cooler daytime temperatures, possibly June or August. Have fun watching wild animals, splashing around the pool or dining on some hearty meals. From Waterberry Hill, it’s just a short drive to get into Kruger National Park – another must-visit destination which you could tick off your bucket list, if you haven’t been before, thanks to this New Year’s Resolution 😊 and money you’ve saved through Vaczone.

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Make 2019 a year worth looking back on with big smiles thanks to one or two great holidays! Now’s the time to make it happen and it’s all up to you; no one else is gonna do it for you 😉.

Let us know which cool places you are hoping to visit in 2019 and don’t forget, holidays are the best medicine, maybe even better than eating your greens 😉!
‘Til next time,

HAPPY TRAVELS!

The Last Straw – Be the difference

We all love our planet. With this in mind, we at Off Beat Holiday Club have been doing all we can to make a difference. From recycling to sourcing water locally or even onsite, hiring locally and even using renewable energy at some of our properties, we’ve been making a difference! Look out for our biggest initiative to date – the #TheLastStraw campaign.  Most of our properties are only providing plastic straws on request while we source alternatives in a war against plastic while we champion this initiative and raise awareness about pollution, recycling and alternatives. This has already made a major impact!

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Following our lead, are you ready to be the change you wish to see in the world? Not just at home but when you travel too (as we know you love to travel?!)

Getting away from the rush of everyday life (for most of us) and just taking some time for yourself is amazing. It’s time you will cherish, whether you’re with family, friends or are travelling alone. On top of having a great time, why not travel in a way that also makes the world a better place?

When it comes to travelling these days, almost everyone thinks about their impact on the world – which is super important! But how many of us also act responsibly, to do our bit which adds up?! We’ve come up with a few handy, convenient ways that you can be a more responsible traveller to join us in making a difference just like our #TheLastStraw initiative. Be the change!!!

First of all, what is a responsible traveller? It’s someone who travels in a sustainable way that benefits the country or area they’re visiting. To do this take note of the impact you’ll have and actively work towards travelling in a way that has the best possible impact. This includes wildlife, the environment, pollution, the local people and the economy, and your carbon footprint. Take a look at our helpful tips on being a more responsible traveller:

Start at home
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Yes, you can even make a difference before you leave for your trip!

  • Empty your fridge – a lot of our properties are self-catering, so don’t buy more new food at your destination than you need to! If you’re travelling by car, rather pack a coolbox and take everything with you. Now you can plan some of your meals ahead of time with what you have in the fridge. An added bonus, your fridge will use less power while you’re away and you won’t waste food. Maybe even turn it off to defrost, saving power and getting that chore out of the way 😉
  • Turn off your water & geyser – It’s a waste to leave your water on if no one is home because you might have slow leaks that you never notice. Also, why not give your geyser a break, saving you electricity in the process! Plus, if there are plumbing problems in your area while you’re away (like a major leak), an off geyser is less likely to get damaged than one that is running.
  • Unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on – Like your TV, decoder, oven, hairdryer/straightener, washing machine, lamps and anything else you can think of. Some appliances use up to 30% of their full consumption when left on standby! You can save loads of power by unplugging them.

Pick the right holiday destination
Many of our properties have initiatives to create a better environment for everyone – whether it’s through recycling, using boreholes to save water or even donating to local charities like children’s homes. Before you book your stay, find out what the resort does to be socially responsible. If every traveller did this, holiday destinations would be forced to do more good 😊

Support local
Support Local
Yes, we said it! You may be in the habit of buying products from brands you trust but going on holiday is all about experiencing everything that’s local or different – isn’t it? Supporting the local community has such a positive impact on the area you’re in, such as community well-being, creating jobs and increasing wages, entrepreneurship, and even environmental sustainability. So next time, think before you buy that Big Mac – and try something local! 😉

Educate yourself
Being a responsible traveller isn’t only about saving water and electricity! By learning about the cultures you will be coming across, you can be respectful of the locals to have a better social impact. Before you leave for your holiday, learn about any other culture you might be coming across, the food, acceptable clothing and the rules and values of the people you are visiting. Obviously, you can’t learn everything but knowing a little will help when choosing where to eat, shop, how to greet the locals, and even what to wear. You’ll also find out some great tips during your research on what’s worth doing which will make your trip even better 😊

Another thing – when taking photos of the locals, ask permission first. It’s the right thing to do and they might even pose for you. This will also help start conversations, giving you even more great memories to take home!

Keep it up at home
Recycle home 2After your holiday, you can even find out more about what you can do to protect the environment and people of the area you’ve just visited. Even if you can’t afford to donate money, make a difference by spreading the word about the initiatives you’ve learnt about. Spreading the word is half of the work!

Leave only footprints
When you travel, look after the environment like you’re at home – after all, this world is our home! Don’t litter, say no to plastic, recycle everything you can, and keep your waste to a minimum. Also, use a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. Plastic is killing our oceans and causing cancer.

Another way you can avoid leaving a carbon footprint is by using public transport or walking to areas that are close by. Use an electric car if you’re going to be driving around, they’re getting better and better.

We hope this blog helps you to make a difference when travelling. If you have any ideas that we’ve left out, please share them in the comments!

Travel safely and we look forward to planning many memorable holidays with you.

Eat like the locals

Travelling’s all about treating your senses! Seeing amazing things that you don’t get at home, smelling the sea or mountain air or maybe a forest you’re busy exploring, and feeling the warm sun on your skin.

Well, a trip around South Africa’s most unique destinations isn’t complete without “eating local.” This lets you eat fresh, seasonal produce that the region specialises in! You can also try out recipes which the area is famous for (that just aren’t as good at home – just saying 😉). It would be a huge shame not to experience the “taste of a place” by eating what you normally have at home, don’t you think? A change really is as good as a holiday – so we’ve done a little research of our own on some fab holiday eating for you – let us know what you think…

Western Cape

Undeniably South Africa’s food capital (normally boasting 8 or 9 of the country’s top 10 restaurants!!!) there’s too much to choose between when it comes to dining in the Western Cape. Whether you’re going to Cape Town, somewhere along the West or South Coast or you’re travelling to the Winelands – great food awaits!

  • Fresh Seafood – Don’t miss the fresh snoek, hake, tuna and even swordfish that are brought into places like Hout Bay on a daily basis. Buy straight from the fishermen or try out Fish on the Rocks.
  • Karoo Lamb – One of the world’s greatest lamb producing areas, the Karoo, lies only a couple hour’s drive from the Mother City. Why not braai some ultra-tender loin chops at one of our properties? We can recommend Son of a Butcher for fresh lamb – look them up!
  • Delicious Fruit – A foodie’s favourite in the Western Cape is strawberry picking. Choose just the biggest and best strawberries to eat fresh, put in drinks or make amazing desserts and sauces with, while you walk around the amazing scenery! The best time to go is between September and January and you can always have a glass of chilled white wine to cool down afterwards 😊. Other great local fruits to enjoy are the Western Cape’s apples, guavas and of course grapes. Sound tasty?!

Mpumalanga

Whether you’re staying at Gethlane Game Lodge or Waterberry Hill, there’s so much to look forward to around the Lowveld when it comes to tasty food!

  • World’s Best Clementines – Drive around farming areas in Mpumalanga, like Hazyview, and you’ll be wowed by sprawling banana, orange and nut plantations… but the fruit that takes the cake – their clementines. As big as a large grapefruit, sweet and juicy, you just can’t eat enough of these when you’re in the Lowveld!
  • Pancakes – Places like Harrie’s Pancakes in Graskop serve THE perfect pancake. You can choose between tasty and creative fillings like “cinnamon sugar and apple raisin pie,” “cinnamon sugar and milk tart custard” or even “tomato lamb bredie with basil pesto.” Yum!
  • Biltong – All corners of South Africa will claim to make the best biltong and we have to agree that you can get great biltong everywhere! If you stay at Qwantani or Midlands Saddle & Trout, however, or you’re driving through Volksrust for any reason, make a trip to the Snowy Biltong Shop to try incredible smoked droëwors, thin and crunchy chilli-bites and skinless droëwors. They also have some of the best homemade rusks, koeksisters and melktart in the country!

KwaZulu-Natal

With so many cultures in KZN, there’s definitely something for everyone when it comes to cuisine. Have a look at these dishes worth trying from the berg to the beach…

  • Fresh Drakensberg Trout – Healthy and delicious, nothing beats a trout freshly caught from a clear mountain stream! This dish has been popular in England for centuries and the British settlers who introduced trout into KZN’s rivers definitely were onto something great!
  • Dombolo – In the Zulu culture these delicious dumplings are eaten often, and if you haven’t had them before, now’s the time. They go perfectly with hearty stews, ideal for this time of year!
  • Bunny Chow – Also sure to keep you warm is the famous (and infamous) bunny chow which can be found on most streets in Durban! There’s a wide range of fillings to choose between and you can go from mild, like a butter chicken curry, to extra hot, depending on how much spice you can handle.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this culinary trip around some of South Africa. Please tag us on photos of you trying new foods on your next holiday!

Also, look out for our next food blog (bonus edition) later this year – it’ll include recipes from our Group’s head chef 😊.

Until next time, always eat as the locals do!!!

FUN FIT FAB

Who doesn’t like to go on a holiday? The chance to have an enjoyable break from your usual routine by getting away somewhere special is something that we all love to do.

On trips like these sightseeing or relaxing are often top-of-mind but for most of us staying fit definitely isn’t important. Here are some ideas about getting fit on holiday (enjoyably), while having enough time to do everything else that you were looking forward to doing.

Attack the day

WAIT! Before you shut down your computer or turn off your phone please hear us out. Yes… we are suggesting waking up early on holiday but we are not asking you to do this every day of your trip.

Once you’ve arrived and settled down in your accommodation, have a look at a weather report and pick the best mornings of your trip to wake up early. Then see how each evening pans out and only get up early the next day if you haven’t had a really late night (see, we aren’t being drill sergeants here). So, on those one or two mornings you do wake up early, why not take in the perfect weather and peaceful early morning surroundings with a bit of healthy exercise? Exploring on long walks or cycling are great ways to do this. You can either explore starting from your accommodation or you might want to travel to a place of interest and then walk or cycle around there.

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This is one of the best ways to discover great sights which could even include beautiful streets that you normally wouldn’t have come across. In large mountain ranges like the Drakensberg, you might even find a mountain stream or river that you could have an early morning dip in. If you are at the beach, a swim in the waves is one of the best ways to freshen up and start your day well. After that, head home for a well-deserved coffee, brunch or even an early nap before enjoying the rest of the day.

Use nature as your gym

Wherever you decide to go on holiday, even if it is in the middle of a large city, there will always be loads of “natural gym equipment” for you to use. Large tree roots can be the perfect place for some push-ups, stairs are great for a leg workout and there’s always a rock lying around that can be picked up or even “bench pressed” if you are feeling up to it! Don’t forget that a simple lawn is great for doing some yoga.

If those activities sound like too much of an effort (or not enough fun), having a swim in a pool, dam or the ocean is an incredible workout. It doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t have to be for ages either but a little splash around works more muscles than any other workout! You can even float your way to better health as staying warm in water burns loads of calories. Now doesn’t that sound like a plan?!

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Go to a local gym

Ok, maybe you just rolled your eyes… especially if you’ve never been to a gym before. Respecting that we won’t go any further for those readers who are “allergic” to gyms. For the gym lovers out there, however, why not have a great workout at the nearest local gym? You should be able to pay per visit or there may even be a discounted bundle rate. After a great workout food will taste that much better, you’ll enjoy your naps even more and you’ll also sleep better at night.

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Sleep well

We just felt your relief, in fact… was that you that we just heard sighing?!

“Now this is something that I can enjoy doing” is what you are probably thinking and that’s great because sleeping well has a number of major health benefits. Only two-thirds of all adults get enough sleep and going on holiday is a perfect chance to catch up if you are behind on sleep. A great sleep allows your muscles to heal, it gives your mind a much-needed break and it helps to increase your energy levels for the following day (for more exercise)!

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We hope that these ideas help you to enjoy your holidays even more. Being fresh from a great sleep, yoga or a de-stressing workout will only help you to feel better… which will help you to enjoy the rest of your holiday even more. Why not indulge in that 3rd crumpet if you’ve earned it with an early morning stroll?

Happy travels everyone. We hope that by following these tips your holidays have an interesting new side to them and that you return home happier and healthier than ever before. Break a leg 😉

Fashionably Free Fun

Time spent with kids or grandkids is always special. Although they can demand quite a lot of energy (wanting to do every possible activity) it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to entertain them.

Here’s our guide to keeping kiddies very happy… without breaking the bank.

Fill a time capsule – Now this is fun, especially if you keep visiting the same resort of ours over and over!

Get everyone involved in creating a time capsule – which could include letters to your future self, a recent newspaper, photographs, your favourite CD (if you still use them) or maybe even a USB that is full of things you love. Kids will definitely love getting involved in this and the anticipation when they return to find the time capsule is always such fun. Just don’t forget to dig it up! Keeping this in mind, please chat with the Manager at the resort to see if he/she is happy with you burying your time capsule on the property. If not, bury it somewhere you always visit while on holiday like at a dam you often visit or along a hiking trail that you enjoy walking.

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When entertaining kids at home, do a clean-up of your neighbourhood or visit people in need – Teach your kids a bit of social responsibility while getting them to appreciate what they have. South Africa, for example, is covered in litter and it’s damaging our beautiful planet at an alarming rate. Get out with the kids and show them how to give back to the community by doing something like cleaning up – they will feel great afterwards! Another thing you can do, which may not be 100% free but can be affordable, is take them to spend some time with people or animals who might be less fortunate, such as an orphanage or an SPCA. Take something small with you to donate, maybe even some things you have lying around the house that you don’t use anymore? This will help them to appreciate what they have, they will learn something in the process and you never know – they may want to start doing things like this more often. There is no better feeling than giving to those in need!

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Play board games – What could be better than watching your children or grandchildren work out a puzzle or problem? For some of us, maybe choosing to beat them (if we are feeling slightly mean) might be better 😉  but hey, the age-old pass time of board games is definitely not enjoyed often enough! In this techno-everything world, be one of the reasons that your children appreciate interacting with each other by teaching them how fun this competitive form of entertainment can be. Games like Jenga, Monopoly and 30 Seconds can give you hours of entertainment whether you are at home or on holiday somewhere. Top tip: When you are at one of our resorts, ask Reception what board games you can borrow.

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Read your favourite children’s story – Books should be read to children on holiday – they aren’t just for school after all. For a child or grandchild, the person reading the story to them is just as important as the story itself. Give them these super happy memories by reading whatever they would be interested to hear (hopefully, a story that you are also fond of). Their reactions might just entertain you more than you expected. So don’t forget to make use of the great libraries at our properties!

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Make homemade greeting cards – This activity really is a great thing to do. By making cards with your kids or grand-kids, you’re fostering their creativity, allowing them to appreciate how sentimental cards can be and… you can use the unique cards next time you need some 😉 What’s also great about card making is that they can be kept, a wonderful way for your kiddies to hold onto the special times that they’ve enjoyed with you. Another great thing about making cards is that you can do it anywhere! So don’t forget to pack your supplies when visiting one of our properties!

Have a photo-taking competition – When you’re on holiday at one of our resorts, take your kids or grand-kids on a walk around the property to take snaps of things that you have nominated as landmarks. If they love technology, maybe bring it into the mix by using Instagram to share your photo taking competition – you never know how many people might take interest in your adventure! You can even ask the kids to walk around the garden, taking imaginative images of what they see around them, before posting the photos on Instagram to see who gets the most likes 😊 AND the winner can get a prize.

If your kids are too small to be on social media, you can still teach them how a camera works by walking around one of our resorts, taking pictures of what you come across and showing them how the photos come out. They will be absolutely enthralled! If that sounds like too much energy, download the Snapchat app and have some fun taking images of yourselves pulling funny faces with the creative filters you can find in the app. It’s sure to have tears running down your face from laughter!

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Play hopscotch & other outdoor games – Unfortunately, these days, lots of kids don’t spend enough time outside – playing in the sun. Take them back to the good old days by locking those phones/tablets/laptops away to get outside for some catch, cricket or hopscotch. They may complain for the first 10 minutes but the fresh air and family laughs will definitely put a smile on their faces, PLUS you will have some fun stories to talk about around the dinner table. “Remember that time James fell while trying to catch the ball?”… and the whole family will laugh and reminisce 😉

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We hope this helps you plan for when the little ones visit or go on holiday with you – it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and have a few activities lined up. Making things even better, these activities don’t cost much to do and they are great for getting kids to do healthy things that they might miss out on in their normal routines.

Stay Connected

For some of us, going to the farthest corner of the globe to get away from it all sounds like absolute bliss. For the more tech and social media-savvy, this could be a real nightmare as staying in touch with your besties or followers is not negotiable!

Here are some ideas on how to stay connected with the special people in your life while having a great time on holiday… After all, sharing is caring.

Check-in on social media

So, you’ve just arrived and your chalet or apartment has a magical view of the shimmering ocean. You want to capture and share how super spacious it is along with describing the feeling of liberation that you have from being away from the hustle and bustle of city life and your usual routine. Without a doubt, this is something really special to share with your friends and family online – simply inquire at Reception to get the WiFi password, switch on “location” on your smartphone, snap a selfie and do a Facebook check-in. Don’t forget to add your quirky caption and tag the resort you are at.

If you are after being even more connected than that, use Spaces to spend some time with any of your friends (wherever they are on earth) in your holiday accommodation! Spaces uses virtual reality to create live-streaming holograms (in a virtual reality space) of people you are connected with. Isn’t that cool?!

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Snap, share and socialise

Now the real fun starts. You begin receiving messages which are from friends around the globe who are super happy for you after seeing your check-in online. It seems like your Facebook check-in managed to create major hype and the love from your friends just does not stop coming in. They request ongoing updates about your day ahead and they especially ask for a Facebook Live video so that they can share in all the adventures that lie ahead. With so much to see and discover here’s how you can embrace your experience whilst staying in touch:

  • Go on a fun photo-taking spree, capturing the special moments of saddling up for a horse ride, driving around the scenic surroundings, and enjoying a game drive. With augmented reality filters, you can even use a special chip on new cell phone models to project an image of a celebrity sitting or standing next to you. This cool trick will let you take photos featuring whoever you like that look real.
  • Gather the pictures from your day and if you are feeling creative, use a grid application to make a collage of your photo memories. This can be shared later from the comfort of your apartment or chalet
  • Upload these images onto Facebook and tag your travel mates
  • Caption and share each special moment.

Don’t forget, you’ve done a good deed by sharing your experience on our Facebook pages as other travellers can use this information to make the best possible decisions about their future holidays.

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Create your own hashtag

Share a glimpse of your travel destination on Instagram with other social media enthusiasts by telling a story through your pictures LIVE. You can do this while experiencing a barge cruise, admiring the breathtaking scenery or just relaxing on a lounger sipping your favourite cocktail – it’s very easy. Make whatever hashtag you like but try to make it catchy while having some fun!  You can even engage with any friends who might be online with an instastory (a slideshow of your favourite images) that captures your wonderful holiday destination and if they love your images, they can save them too. Using a hashtag will give you the chance to be featured on social media pages to be seen by all of their followers.

Video calling

Sometimes being away from loved ones can make us feel slightly gloomy. Don’t despair because a video call allows you to share your special moments LIVE, which brings you closer together!  These two-way live videos are ideal for situations such as when the kids are playing a round of adventure golf and you want loved ones who are further away to see just how much fun the kids are having. If that wasn’t enough a new social media experience, thanks to Houseparty, allows you to make conference video calls, so you can chat with loads of friends at the same time. This allows you to chat with special people who couldn’t make the trip, all at the same time!

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@HolidayRetweet

Of course, you can upload and share your pictures on Twitter but how about engaging with like-minded people who have travelled to the same holiday destination as you? Twitter loves hashtags and by searching for any of our resorts, you will find all the information you need to plan your next holiday. To make your tweets more fun, customise your own new filters (we’ve all seen the doggie ears on photos a million times now!) to give your photos a unique, interesting look.

When you’re spoilt for choice on which activities to choose between, create a “tweet poll” and allow your friends and fellow travellers to vote for what they feel is your best option.  All it will take is a few tweets and you’ll have an awesome day that includes some things which you ordinarily wouldn’t have done – variety is the spice of life!

Blog it

You must have heard of blogs or maybe you’ve even read a few. Be sure to know that it’s not over (in the social media universe) until its blogged. Why? Because sharing your experience and giving it a personal touch allows you to feel the holiday spirit while elaborating on your travel experiences for your readers. Blogging for the first time about a holiday could be the beginning of something BIG. You can even use your blog as an online journal or scrapbook, allowing you to look back and reflect on the special memories which remind you of how it all began. When planning your next trip referring back to some of this information might come in handy too.

In the online world we live in, sharing experiences while living in the moment allows you to stop, play and replay. Your breaks may even become more enjoyable and meaningful than before by sharing them with loved ones or like-minded people. See… it pays to stay connected.

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Happy travels everyone. Make sure you share them with all your favourite people including us!

Holiday Fears

Travelling is something that some people crave and some people fear. We completely understand that there are risks which come along with travelling, but which exciting part of your life doesn’t come with risks? Did you know that the fear or travelling is called ‘Hodophobia’ and it is completely personalized by the people that have it – depending on what they are afraid of?

We do our best to make your visits to our hotels and resorts as safe and memorable as possible but even so, some of the bravest travellers still have holiday fears. We have done some research on the fears that people have when it comes to travelling and it was amusing to see that getting sunburned is one of the most common holiday fears! So here we go, a journey into tackling three of the biggest holiday fears that many people have:

  1. Sunburn

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We have a variety of stunning beach properties, so make use of a large hat and sunscreen (apply this as often as possible, especially if you are in and out of a pool or ocean). As South Africa has one of the most sought-after climates in the world, you may need to pack these essentials wherever you go, whether it’s at the beach, berg or bush – as you never know what adventure might pop up next, which could keep you outdoors for longer than you had initially expected.

But what if you still get sunburned? Well, the first thing to do is avoid any further exposure to the sun. After that, do your best to apply an after-sun lotion, which has soothing properties and also contains vitamins and minerals which will help your skin to cope with and recover from the sunburn. Do your best to stay hydrated too. Should you experience severe sunburn, please do take it seriously and contact a doctor via Reception, rather than making hundreds of amusing posts about your eye-watering sunburn photos on social media.

  1. Sharks

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Well…this is a fear I think we all have. Who wants to get bitten by Jaws’ fourth cousin once removed? No one!
If you’re staying at one of our berg or bush properties, this shouldn’t be a problem. As we do have a wide range of resorts and hotels on the coast, however, please take note of the following…

Sharks feed more aggressively, on larger mammals and fish, in cold water (as they have a greater need for energy); sorry Capetonians! Be aware of any flags on the beach which could indicate any recent, nearby shark sightings. Also, only swim in demarcated swimming areas, not just for safety in numbers, but also to have well-trained lifeguards on the lookout for an ominous dorsal fin! Avoid swimming in dirty water too, as a shark may confuse you with something else if the visibility is low (sharks don’t actually enjoy eating humans, despite what the often-dramatic mass media may say) and lastly, if you get a cut, please exit the water immediately. Sharks can smell blood in the water at one part in a million!

  1. Bad Weather

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If you’re planning an international holiday and are looking for a sunny location, consider visiting the eternally summery Cumbria to stay at our luxurious Brockwood Hall or go for a blissful cruise with Flexi Club on the Thames River, to cruise (come rain or shine)!

Should a beautiful and weather-friendly holiday in South Africa be what you are looking for, you will be spoilt for choice! South African was made for vacationing! The Drakensberg is ideal for escaping from the summer heat and if crisp, fresh mountain air and cosy times spent around a fireplace, sipping red wine, are your thing, then winter is also an excellent time of year to go. The same goes for the rest of our inland destinations, most of which have a river, dam or pool onsite.

We all also know that Durban doesn’t have a winter. Well, that’s what everyone, except for Durbanites (some of whom wear beanies and gloves whenever it goes below the magical 20-degree threshold), has to say. So have no fear and enjoy a beach trip at any time of year. An added bonus of going out of season is less traffic, better specials on offer at local restaurants – and your colleagues will be extra jealous of you when you return to work, with a tan!

As for the Western Cape. Well, is there any better destination in South Africa, at any time of year?! Even in bucketing winter rain (once it hopefully returns) the service and wine at the Cape’s top wine estates remains just as impressive. So too, the sushi at the V&A Waterfront or the experience of shopping at one of Cape Town’s trendy malls.

Hopefully, this blog/guide will help you if you’re feeling a bit fearful about your next holiday. Please let us know some of your travel fears in the comments below…we would love to hear them!

We wish you safe travels and our properties look forward to welcoming you…

Cooks need a break too!

Cooking can be such a hassle, especially after a long day at the office. Most of us work all day, get home and either have the husband, boyfriend, kids or maybe even the wife bugging us to start cooking already. Can we not have a minute to relax?

Yes, we may be superwomen or supermen, but we need a break too. While staying at most of our resorts, this is something that doesn’t have to cross your mind, as we have chefs that are more than happy to take the burden off your hands and prepare a delicious meal for your family.

Take a look at some of our stunning resorts that feature restaurants that will tantalise your taste buds and give you a break:

The Palace – Pesto:
If you’re looking for a quick bite or a creamy cappuccino with a view, then this is the place for you. Pesto has some delicious treats with a Mediterranean feel that will satisfy you no matter the time of day. Take a look at their full menu here.

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Gethlane Lodge – Izinyoni Restaurant:
This restaurant has a social vibe that can put anyone at ease – which is perfect when on holiday. Whether you are looking for a delicious breakfast, a scrumptious tramezzini, a fresh salad or a delectable pizza – Izinyoni has it all! Find out more here.

Selborne – The Lord Selborne; The Terrace; Barkers Bar:
Selborne Golf Estate, Hotel and Spa has several different options for you to choose from. Whether you are in the mood for fine dining, a casual meal or a relaxing cocktail at the end of a fun-filled day – there is something for everyone! Take a look at your dining choices here.

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Hole in the Wall – The Bell Buoy:
If comfort and scrumptious food is what you are after, then The Bell Buoy is perfectly suited for you. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant prides itself on home-style, excellent value for money meals – offering bites to suit all tastes and all ages. View the full menu here.

Bushman’s Nek – The Bushpot:
The Bushpot has a wide variety of delectable treats on offer, so try one of their great weekly specials or the Sunday buffet, or just pop in for a quick bite. The Bushpot offers fiery curries, melt-in-your-mouth oxtail, hearty pies, filling breakfasts, tramezzinis, wraps and pizza, with a grand finale of decadent gateaux and waffles. Take a look at the full menu here.

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Qwantani – The Marshall Eagle Restaurant:
Looking for home-style cooking with a relaxed atmosphere? Look no further. At The Marshall Eagle Restaurant, you will be spoiled for choice, with a variety of culinary treats that will delight your taste buds. Find out more here.

La Montagne – Crayfish Inn and The Palm Terrace Café:
Seafood, seafood, seafood! Who doesn’t love a delicious serving of prawns? We sure do! Just like Selborne, La Montagne has restaurants to suit different needs, ages and tastes. The Crayfish Inn has a luxurious feel with delicious offerings such as Kingklip, Fillet and Prawns. If you are looking for something simpler than The Palm Terrace Café is suited to you! With a more relaxed atmosphere, this restaurant is perfect for a quick bite (and for those who are allergic to shellfish). Click here for more information.

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Midlands Saddle and Trout – 29° South:
This restaurant is fairly new to Midlands Saddle and Trout. It was built because the GM and staff felt as though the resort was missing something – and they never looked back. Everyone is raving about how delicious the food is and we completely agree. A range of tasty treats is available, their toasted sandwiches are legendary, and if you’re feeling daring, try out the Giant Burger. Find out more here.

The Oceanic – La Vita:
Not to be confused with our awesome La Vita Spa chain. This restaurant may have you leaving relaxed and happy but don’t expect to get a massage there. 😉 La Vita has a charming and informal setting with a splash of Italian flair. Best known for its pizzas, La Vita has a range of popular dishes that can be enjoyed by everyone. Take a look at the full menu here.

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La Côte d’Azur – French Vanilla Coffee Shop:
Relax and enjoy a delicious meal at French Vanilla Coffee Shop. This restaurant aims to entice your taste buds and have you leaving with a smile on your face. The food is not only delicious, but also excellent value for money. Find out more here.

Magalies Park – Pica Pau Restaurant:
Pica Pau Restaurant dishes up delicious bites with a continental touch, served either on the deck or in the relaxed interior setting. Whether it is Italian Pasta, Portuguese chicken, a quick pizza or rich lamb shank you crave, Pica Pau has something to appeal to your tastes. P.S.: Lasagne Picada is their speciality. Find out more here.

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We hope this has inspired you to get out, do something different and leave the kitchen – you deserve a break too! Treat your family to a weekend away where you won’t see a spatula or frying pan anywhere in sight. The family may think you are doing something nice for them, but it’s really for you. 😉