Babylonstoren Soul and Superlatives

Babylonstoren is not your typical high-end, ‘luxury’ destination. It’s more than that, a couple’s dream – an opus, in one sense.

Babylonstoren On the slopes of the Simonsberg

The irony though, is that the creators behind this masterpiece happen to be Karen Roos, previous editor of ELLE Decoration Magazine and partner to the country’s wealthiest businessmen, Koos Bekker. But wait, hear me out, before you leap to any judgement – because Babylonstoren swims upstream against being overtly ostentatious and pretentious. Magnificent, yes, but a rarity in striking the balance between soul and superlatives.

 The investment of time and the maturity of the gardens and buildings is a consequence of patience and investment beyond expecting any financial returns. At least it appears that way.

I like being somewhere that feels as though the owners are more interested in creating something unique, authentic and beautiful than selling an ideal to me. Even if they are, they concealed it beautifully, an art in itself.

I have followed the maturity of this budding flower over the years and stayed in their first phase of accommodation – the 13 Garden Cottages connected to the garden and werf surrounds. A second phase followed several years later offering a further nine rooms.
Babylonstoren things to do Franschhoek things to doWith their new Fynbos Cottages, Babylonstoren is stretching it’s legs, figuratively speaking. Positioned away from the main hub of the farm’s activity, they cater to those who prefer a little more solitude and space. Or perhaps, you want the privacy with your kids away from the madding crowd.
The perk is that each cottage is supplied with a golf cart to cruise from one end of the farm to the other, especially beautiful as the sun goes down, or after supper in a cool evening breeze.
Babylonstoren things to doCharacterised by thick whitewashed walls, elegant gables and hearty fireplaces that emulate an authentic farm-stay experience, each of the two open-plan one-bedroom cottages has a luxurious en-suite bathroom, kitchen area and lounge. The pristine Cape Dutch style of the four two-bedroom cottages includes a contemporary glass cube seamlessly added to the 18th-century structure to house a dining and kitchen area additional to the comfortable lounge. The Fynbos Cottages also have access to their own private oasis with pool, vitality pool and bar, and the nearby dam and boat house opens the opportunity to kayak, picnic and swim.
For me, though, my highlight was the mountain drive, a 40-minute meander in a long-wheel-base Land Rover with my guide, Kobus. As we snake slowly to the highest point on the farm, 920m of elevation, we summit to a 270-degree panorama, from Table Mountain (60km away) on the one side, and the Du Toitskloof mountains opening up on the other. We spoke for nearly an hour discussing honest topics – family, work, life’s path and a little gratitude – before descending into the farm and joining my wife at a busy Babel restaurant – an ode to superb freshly picked organic greens from the garden and the finest meats. A glass (maybe two) of the Nebukadnesar, is a must.
Babylonstoren wineAnd while I cannot fault the incredible facilities, world-class wine and cuisine, pristine accommodation, or spa, there was something else on this trip that stole my heart: With more than 300 staff, Kobus explained that there’s a genuine sense of community within the team and that the owners see their employees as family. Their commitment to the local area, transport and education illustrates that. But it’s a passion and joy that my favourite people – real gems like Kobus and Jerome and Constance – displayed without prompting. You get the sense that they believe they got lucky.
Like Babylonstoren, it’s a rarity to find such an organic and earthy authenticity.

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