The world’s best. On our doorstep.

There’s one very significant contradictory and confusing element of being South African. Amidst the terrible disappointment and uncertainty of #grants #housing #jobs #junk #nuclear #water #eskom, our country and its citizens refuse to just trudge on, they stand resilient, and our cities defy the African odds. Joburg’s Sandton is the continent’s richest square mile, Durban was acknowledged by Mercer as best SA city for quality of life, and Cape Town awarded best food city in the world by Conde Nast Traveller 2016 as well as coming second in the top 10 cities globally by Lonely Planet last year. This is acclaim indeed. The city branches outwards with tentacles as far-reaching as Woodstock with hipsters, coffee shops and eateries widening the net of city culture-cool that Capetonians smugly enjoy.

It’s a fact. Cape Town is easily the finest holiday destination in Africa, offering access to an unparalleled diversity of world class entertainment, scenery, shopping, wineries and restaurants.

At its centre lies the development of the V&A Waterfront which has seemingly exploded in that last few years, even though it seemed bulging at the seams. More shopping and global brands, more entertainment and world-class events, new hotels, a new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, the new Silo precinct, and attracting a whopping 24.6 million visitors in 2016. I admittedly fail to fully grasp what’s at our fingertips in the city. As a local destination this winter, the V&A offers 450 retail stores, 80 eateries, 40 vendors in the historical pumphouse food market, a world-class aquarium, the giant ferris “Cape Wheel”, or any one of 12 premium hotels.

The most well-known, One&Only Cape Town, has held the doorway to the V&A Waterfront for over eight years as of this month, and as a family man with three daughters there are only a handful of hotels that get city breaks right for parents and children combined. It was an easy choice. Voted No. 1 Family Resort in Africa and The Middle East by ‘Travel + Leisure’, One&Only has built its name on being a luxury family resort worldwide, with their cornerstone KidsOnly Clubs offering an amazing experience for younger guests, and a welcome (much-needed) breather for busy parents.

The indoor-outdoor space of KidsOnly is very clever – refreshing in that it has been re-designed and updated – with a newly landscaped outdoor area including a race track for kids to ride their trikes, to a grassed area for mini soccer games, a jungle gym with swings, a tree house for imaginary outdoor play and even a mini-golf course.
Superb staff offer daily, age specific, facilitated programmes of baking, games and activities – for 4-5-year-olds, 6-8-year-olds and 9-11-year-olds. Ours had an amazing cupcake icing session on a Sunday morning while my wife lay by the pool catching a rare moment of peace.
They have a signature milk and cookies turndown – complete with junior gowns (providing much excitement) – and the rooms are well-thought out with inter-leading rooms or family suite options. We actually chose something a little different on the Island in a Superior Double Queen, all sharing the same space. Noisy but real fun. Well, for a few nights at least…
One&Only_Cape_Town_Island Superior Room - Bathroom (2)
For older kids wanting some space, there is a kids ‘business centre’ for computer games and email or web browsing, or kids and parents can share an activity by learning how to Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) with an instructor. And for teens and tweens the spa offers a ‘Cleanse & Refresh Facial’ (from the age of 16) or the ‘Jet Setters Mini Manicure and Pedicure’ (from the age of 12.) Personally, I also seized the day with a massage and dip in the Spa’s Thermal Suite, a moody, modern, jacuzzi plunge pool.


In the afternoon there’s afternoon tea at the Vista Bar & Lounge, which is quite spectacular. A magnificent light installation hangs over the bar, with a floor to ceiling glass panoramic of Table Mountain, while the girls and I selected a number of rare rooibos teas, and sampled gold leaf eclairs, scones, vanilla cheesecakes, macaroons, nougat, and cupcakes to name a few.

This led us to push ourselves poolside on The Island, a secret hideaway nestled in the Marina’s canals, and feeling like a Balinese retreat, with The Isola Restaurant offering classic pool food which resonated with all of us.
Perhaps the best part of One&Only with kids is the expanse. This isn’t a boutique hotel, and so everywhere there’s that valuable and rare commodity in a city – space. The double volume dining, a long meandering walk to the Island, different levels around the pool, meant that we never felt like our kids were a noisy distraction to keep in line. That’s relaxing.
One&Only Cape Town Activity_SUP_Stand_up_paddle

Close by, The One&Only’s neighbour is The Two Oceans Aquarium, or nearby there’s Art Jamming at Breakwater Point, or The Scratch Patch on Dock Road, The Cape Town Diamond Museum, or The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum – an exhibition that celebrates the rich and complex history of South African rugby and the Springboks. Or failing all of the above, a trip to Hamley’s might seal the deal for the younger members of the family.The most important thing that struck me in our experience at The One&Only was their people. It felt so carefully organised, and the transition from area to area, and the security, was seamless. When I remember names – Robin, Thabani and Alissa at the pool, Mmamytshou and Mangaliso at reception, and Michelle and Lynsey at KidsOnly – then it’s a sure sign the team has made a memorable connection. That’s not a guarantee at luxury resorts.

If the turbulent chaos of the last few months has shown me one thing, it’s that you have to make the most of it, because, frankly, you don’t know what’s coming next. I, for one, avert myself in travel and family, and when those two combine, I can find myself a million miles away from the worries of the world. On this occasion I found a place that brings those two realms together, right on my doorstep.

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