Crush Visits The Marine Hotel Hermanus
The seaside town of Hermanus is gearing up for a busy whale season come September, as the waters of Walker Bay are filled with Southern Right whale mammas who come to birth their calves on its shallow, sandy sea bed. The Marine Hotel could not be better placed to host guests who come to watch this natural phenomenon. Not only is its location absolutely unrivalled, sitting atop the rock face with an uninterrupted view of the bay, but it also offers its guests sophisticated comfort that comes from years of hospitality experience.
The hotel is 113 years old and has been an iconic part of the coastal landscape all these years. Having been family owned and operated for many years, it has enjoyed much success and hosted famous guests throughout its history. From the days of hosting dances in its grand ballroom, to now offering a sophisticated stay for travellers from around the globe. In the nineties, it was bought by the Liz McGrath group and is now part of the portfolio that also includes Cellars Hohenort and The Plettenberg. The group is underpinned by a philosophy of main ideals, namely, Class, Comfort, Cuisine and Calm and our stay at The Marine was all these things and more.
The hotel itself is brilliant white and quite minimalist and contemporary looking from the outside; the interior style blends the old world charm of the hotel’s historic past with modern touches. The Sun Lounge, at the hotel’s entrance, is a luxurious bar and lounge area with comfortable seating, the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a cocktail or a whiskey on the rocks. The rooms are comfortable with luxurious percale linens, rich textured fabrics and in our case, a stunning sea view. The weather was a bit grey when we visited which kept the whales in the bay below the surface – if they had been visible, we would have been able to watch them from the comfort of our bed.
Executive Chef Peter Templehoff oversees the restaurants at all three portfolio properties and his elegant style is evident in the menus. There are two restaurants at The Marine – SeaFood, which as its name suggests is predominantly fresh local seafood with dishes such as Marine Gnocchi or Local Gansbaai Crayfish, if available and The Pavilion, which is the hotel’s fine-dining offering. It is named after the original bathing pavilion in Muizenberg and it boasts original art-deco light fittings from the old Pavilion.
On offer was a 6-course winter degustation menu paired with local wines and we opted to try this. The service in the restaurant was superb, as was the food. The beauty with this style of eating is a chance to sample a number of different dishes without having to make the selection. For an indecisive Libra like myself, this takes the stress out of choosing and removes any chance of dish envy. Watching the courses arrive at our table would have definitely made us the envy of anyone who had not chosen the tasting menu that evening. Each dish was exquisitely crafted; from the finest salmon trout crumb that accompanied the salmon crème brûlée to the velvety chai velouté that dressed the char-grilled springbok loin. The food and plating were both faultless. The sommelier paired each course with local wines and the standout wine Marvellous Blue, paired with the Springbok course, we discovered is the label of Chef Peter Templehoff.
We returned to our room to find our beds turned down and hot water bottles warming the bottom of the bed – a thoughtful touch in the chilly weather.
Breakfast is served in The Pavilion restaurant and the views over the bay by day are spectacular. We enjoyed yogurts; fruit and pastries from the continental buffet and then ordered from the hot menu – the French toast with a hint of cinnamon is a delicious way to start the day!
Our stay at The Marine was utterly relaxing and if we had had more time, or if the weather had permitted, we would have tried out a treatment at the Spa onsite or taken a dip in the pool. That being said, we enjoyed a wonderful stay and were impressed with the impeccable service and friendliness of the staff we encountered.
As whale season approaches, the town looks set to be sieged by tourists from all over the world. Many of those will be lucky enough to have booked into The Marine and will be enjoying the finest land-based whale watching by day, and relaxing in the comfort of their rooms at The Marine by night.