Slow Down at The Lakeside Lodge & Spa
When planning a trip to the Garden Route, the go-to places are usually one of the ‘big four’ – George, Wilderness, Knysna, Plett, but what may just be one of the best-kept secrets of the area, is the town of Sedgefield. Sedgefield is a registered ‘CittaSlow Town’, a movement that started in Italy a number of years ago. The criteria to qualify as a Slow Town is varied but follows a similar thread – a commitment to living kinder, valuing local traditions, taking time for contemplation, environmental preservation and more. The town itself has its own pledge within this framework which promotes time for leisure and pleasure, creating a friendly environment, and promoting quality of life – these values are not only evident in the area, but also in the manner of the people we encountered. I’ve always considered Sedgefield an ‘on-route town’, a drive-through to get to the next place, but my view on this was changed by a recent stay at the Lakeside Lodge & Spa, where slowing down and taking time to relax is a way of life.
Lakeside Lodge & Spa is tucked away at the end of a long pan-handle that follows the curves of the vast Swartvlei lagoon. The luxury 9-roomed lodge is perched at the base of the lagoon; it overlooks a grassed embankment and out over the lake, which is surrounded by dense forest that gives the Garden Route its magical feel. A jetty pokes through the reed-lined shore of the lake and the water laps gently at the base of the pontoon tethered there. It’s the kind of place that I imagine could have inspired Mark Twain, and I almost expect to see Huck Finn napping on the jetty, hands behind his head, hat pushed down over his eyes.
All rooms at the lodge face the lagoon and the sliding door frontage gives each an uninterrupted view. The grassed area and patio directly outside each room give a sense of endless space. The grass is dotted with pretty wrought iron tables and loungers and is dominated by a huge, long-established tree that shades the area. Rooms are elegantly appointed with beautiful finishings. Ours in silver and white, with plush textiles, crystal chandeliers and an enviable silver gilt mirrored vanity. The bathroom, also exquisite, boasted a deep bath, walk in shower and dual basin area. Each element has been hand picked and exudes clean lines, sophistication and luxury at every turn. The rooms have all the amenities one would expect from a 5-star establishment, along with extra touches such as a capsule coffee/tea machine, numerous thoughtfully placed plug points (so no need for adapters of any kind), and a contemporary docking station for Apple iPhones/iPods.
The lodge is home to Benguela Brasserie & Restaurant, which is part of the dining group of the same name, with Benguela on Main in Somerset West, and a pop-up eatery at the flagship site, Benguela Cove, near Hermanus. The restaurant offers an à la carte menu, which can be paired with suggested wines from the Benguela Cove Wine Estate. Executive Chef Kelly-Anne Pietersen changes the menu according to seasonality, and is inspired by the amazing produce from the surrounding area. We enjoyed a stunning five-course meal, of which the standout for us was the Mushroom Tortellini served with mushroom purée and Parmesan spoom, and paired with a glass of Benguela Cove 2014 Chardonnay.
After a few glasses of wine with dinner, we managed to commit ourselves to an early morning cycle with resident fitness guru and Assistant GM Karl. Saturday morning broke in the most beautiful way possible, with the lake as still as glass and the promise of a midday high of 30 degrees. After our cycle we opted to test out the water sports on offer, of which there are many, and if you’ve considered trying something new but haven’t had the guts to, this is the place to do it. The equipment is all laid out and ready to use and the team are on hand to assist. The lake has plenty of shallow spots, so there is no need to fear the murky depths. The only ‘kayaking’ I have done in the last 15 years has been on stationary rowing machine inside a gym, so to experience it out on this magnificent lake was truly special. We highly recommend following up an early morning kayak with a well-earned fry up and cappuccino at the brasserie. The menu also includes a banting option of a berry and coconut smoothie (for those wanting to keep off those burned calories), as well as options such as eggs Benedict and omelettes.
For the more adventurous sports person, try Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP), skiing or wake boarding. If you do try your hand at one of these, take my advice and book a massage at the spa onsite. They offer a variety of treatments and a massage to ease your aching muscles is so worth it! I feared not being able to lift a coffee cup the day after our kayaking, but the back neck and shoulder massage I had was a lifesaver. There is plenty on offer to keep you entertained no matter what your desired level of exertion; and if not exerting yourself at all is what you’re after, you can enjoy a sunset ride on the Lady Giselle pontoon boat with a chilled bottle of Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc – bliss!
There are few better ways I can think of to relax than with my feet up and my nose in a good book, and at Lakeside you can do this with ease. The loungers on the front lawn offer the ideal spot to kick back and relax. Lunch can be served at your lounger or at a table under the shade of the trees, and a handy silent buzzer will alert a staff members to your every need.
The grass embankment cleverly disguises a large amphitheatre, which plays host to regular concerts and events so if you’re in the area, look out for what’s on the go. Just adjacent to the amphitheatre is a fire pit where a raging bonfire and cosy cushioned seating provides the perfect place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun sets.
The Garden Route is jammed full of places to choose to stay but few have the spectrum of offerings that Lakeside Lodge & Spa does. Here you are able to enjoy peaceful surroundings just a stone’s throw from the busier tourist spots. This is complemented by excellent food and wine (without having to leave) and a team of staff that genuinely want to ensure that you have a pleasant stay. The Slow Town pledge of the area extends its embrace to all and you will no doubt feel yourself slowing down to its pace during your stay.
Need to know…
- Indulge in a decadent chocolate & wine pairing or a cheese & wine pairing.
- Complimentary mountain bikes, kayaks and SUP boards are provided.
- Take a dip in the swimming pool onsite.
- Complimentary Wi-Fi is offered.
- The lodge is just a few minutes drive in either direction from the Garden Route’s beaches.
3 Lakeside Drive, Swartvlei, Sedgefield | 044 343 1844