South Africa is a country
of tremendous entrepreneurial energy
and when this is combined
with the tradition of hospitality
you find wonderful places to stay.
This is Avondrood, a small Guesthouse
in Franschhoek, just outside Cape Town.
It is a beautiful Victorian house built in 1870
owned and run by Caine J. Herr and Justin Mitchell,
and to me it encapsulates the exciting potential
of development through tourism in South Africa.
The standard of accommodation is very high:
bedroom, bathroom, breakfast all difficult to fault
I think that the bed was almost as comfortable
as my own bed at home. Praise indeed.
The outstanding restaurants of Franschhoek
are within walking distance and
there are enough world class vineyards
for the most dedicated wine buff.
Some are large estates with export markets
and some are smaller boutique vineyards
where the wine is sold in the farm restaurant.
Franschhoek has worked hard to increase
the activities for tourists around the town
including the unique tram route to local vineyards.
When we discussed the investment in the area
which is apparent since we visited two years ago
it is clear that the local tourism board
is both pro-active and innovative,
working in partnership with businesses,
creating a thriving economy.
Each of the vineyards, restaurants and hotels
represent training and employment opportunities
so that young people from disadvantaged communities
are becoming chefs, sommeliers, winemakers.
Franschhoek is the potential of South Africa in microcosm
and other towns are watching and learning.
Justin and his wife offer a courteous hospitality
which creates a peaceful and relaxing house.
Guests arrive back early so that they can
spend time in the pool or just lie on the loungers,
read a book, drink a glass of chilled wine
and watch the mountain glow red at sunset.
Many thanks to Justin, his lovely family,
and the Avondrood team that work so hard
to make guests feel welcome and comfortable.
We didn't want to leave.
Another day or two relaxing in the garden
would have suited me just fine.
Or maybe three or four.
We will just have to go back.
As soon as possible.
We stayed at Avondrood as tourists,
paid for our accommodation ourselves
and did not receive any special treatment
or payment for this blog post.