on October 29, 2006
Surrounded by virgin forests and an unadulterated African landscape of mountains, river and ocean views, this well-maintained property consists of three adjoining houses and functions both as a guest house and self-catering establishment. Set in immense, natural gardens with awe inspiring views of the Umzimvubu River, ocean, mountains and nearby golf course, the Umzimvubu Retreat Guest House, is a family-run establishment and the owners/hosts, who reside on the property, are therefore always available to assist with any enquiries. They are renowned for their hospitality and willingness to accommodate whichever requests guests may make, whether it be special guided outings, dietary requirements or whatever. This attitude has also been instilled in the staff, who are exceptionally friendly and willing to assist.The guestrooms are not particularly large, but are spotlessly clean and comfortably equipped. The honeymoon suite, however, is enormous and offers all required amenities with awe inspiring views (even from the modern bathroom) and a fireplace in the well-appointed lounge.The majority of the rooms have excellent views (you can actually watch whales from your room!) and have private entrances and patios where one can relax and enjoy the scenery and abundant birdlife, lulled by the sounds of the ocean. There are numerous hiking trails to secluded waterfalls and spectacular stretches of beach in close proximity to the guest house make for an idyllic vacation. Although shopping options are very limited, there are minibus taxis for those who want to undertake a scenic trip to Umtata. Nightlife is limited to quaint diners and backpacking bars, but then again you would be ill-advised to forfeit the friendly atmosphere and fine dining at what is arguably the best restaurant in town right at the guesthouse. Set-menu options are traditional SA cooking and gigantic breakfasts are served daily, the selections regularly being varied & as a rule including fresh fruit salad, home baked delicacies and more. A nice touch is that coffee and biscuits are on hand at all times for guests who become peckish.The a la carte menu is a fusion of French and Asian cuisine, prepared according to high standards and nicely presented. Overall the restaurant has an aura of understated elegance and sophistication without being overly formal. The prompt, friendly service provided by the hosts adds to the cosy atmosphere, making dinner a relaxed, memorable experience. This is really a little gem in Port St Johns, which is aptly known as the Jewel of the Wildcoast, one of the most unpretentious, unspoilt and "special" destinations in the Eastern Cape.
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