John C. Barry

My reminiscences, thoughts, and travel experiences

Tag: Western Cape

Montagu Country Hotel, Western Cape

Montagu Country Hotel the only Art Deco hotel in South Africa

The Montagu Country Hotel, situated in South Africa’s dried fruit capital and center of the famous Route 62, recently underwent more than just a few nips and tucks! Located in the heart of the quaint village of Montagu, it is the only original Art Deco hotel in the country that has been welcoming visitors through her iconic stained-glass doors since 1875. The now privately owned hotel burnt down in the early 1920s but was rebuilt in the current style during the 1930s.

The hotel has 29 individually furnished en-suite bedrooms, 13 luxury rooms, and 14 classic rooms. Two new self-catering units (one unit of which is wheelchair-accessible) are ideal for families or business travelers who would like to make Montagu their home away from home for a couple of days. Further upgrades include wheelchair-friendly public restrooms and the addition of a baby changing area.

The new south-facing deck area of Feathers & Flatcaps welcomes the morning sun. It provides guests with magnificent views over the Langeberg Mountains while watching the Klein-Karoo sunset after a day of exploring the area. Regional cuisine can be enjoyed on the deck whilst sipping some of the regions’ finest wines, cocktails, or specialty Bootlegger coffees.

Why not settle in for an evening of reading, or catch up with friends before or after dinner in the Lubbe lounge. The lounge is dedicated to the memory of the late Gert Lubbe who played an integral part in the establishment of Route 62 and is well known in the South African tourism industry. Gert was also the owner of the Hotel and mentor to current hosts P-J and Colene Basson.

Lush gardens surround the hotel and provide a tranquil getaway from the everyday hustle and bustle, whilst two swimming pools bring much relief on hot summer days. The on-site Wellness Spa with its unique mineral-rich jacuzzi will soothe all aches and pains.

A welcome new addition to the property is the activity hub, which is now home to three of Montagu’s most popular activity operators – Cape Dry, Flying Feet, and Protea Farm Tractor Trips. Guests are now able to book their daily excursions and activities or gather further information about the area from the recently re-located Montagu-Ashton Tourism Office without having to leave the hotel.

The rustic countryside has much to offer for adventure-seeking tourists such as the ever-popular hiking trails, mountain biking, and even rock climbing in the surrounding mountains. For the classic car lover, why not go for a dashing ride in a Cadillac with American Dream Cars and explore the surrounding areas, and/or wine farms in style!

A new dedicated conference, banqueting, and team building venue have also been established. These new facilities, together with the region’s exciting outdoor activities, its proximity to Cape Town, and our Klein-Karoo hospitality, makes it the perfect location for your next function/event or special celebration.

I started my consulting business in 1982.  My travels took me to countries in Southern Africa, North America, Western Europe, and India.  Besides, I have traveled with my family to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and many places throughout the United States, Canada, and South Africa.  I stayed in hundreds of hotels during that time.

Montagu Country Hotel is situated in the Western Cape, South Africa, about a 3-hour drive from Cape Town through some of the most scenic drives that can be found anywhere in the world.  Having an opportunity to stay in the only Art Deco hotel in South Africa and furnished with original period pieces, was an exceptionally special treat.  As was an outstanding level of service provided.  To learn more about the town of Montagu click here.

When it comes to boutique hotels, a few come to mind.  I stayed at specialty privately owned hotels in Clinton, Missouri, USA, and Montreal, Canada.  We stayed at a boutique hotel in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower.  It was an ancient building retrofitted with an elevator/lift so small it could only accommodate one person and a small amount of luggage.  These lodgings offer something exceptional compared to the cookie-cutter major hotel group offerings all built to a set standard of design, accommodation, and price.  One-off boutique hotels offer bedrooms and bathrooms that are quaint with meals served to delight the most fastidious palate.  Montagu Country Hotel is an example of an exceptional boutique hotel.

The original hotel was erected in 1875 by Christiaan Schlacht, of German descent, built with Victorian accents of the period.  Mr. Goldberg bought the establishment from Schlacht, a popular landlord, and generous to the community.  Ms. Fernandes managed the hotel while married to the former owner of the Springs Hotel.  After divorcing her husband, she bought the Montagu Hotel.  Mr. A. Idelsdon purchased the hotel from her.  The Art Deco Hotel with 31 bedrooms got erected behind the original hotel around 1922.  On completion, the first structure got demolished.  Mr. Russel owned the hotel from July 1941.  Ownership changed hands to the Conradie family, then to Mr. Piet Nel.  Carol Gunter took ownership and invested heavily in the premises.  On October 1, 1966, the late Mr. Gert Lubbe took over the property from a liquidation sale.  Gert Lubbe, who passed away in November 2019, discovered that concrete pavements illegally covered parts of the premises; he had them removed and replaced them with lush vegetation and trees to enhance the street scene.

P-J Basson, General Manager of the hotel for the last 20 years, and his wife Colene took the bold step at the end of June 2020 to buy out the majority shareholder of the Montagu Country Hotel.

How do you market a hotel situated in the most beautiful part of the Western Cape?  Gert Lubbe and Jeanetta Marais created the “Route 62” brand—following the USA’s Route 66 concept.  Both routes built in the 1920s linking farming communities with harbor towns.  Both roads got replaced with highways in the 1950s.  Route 62 is the longest wine route in the world.

Gert Lubbe and P-J Basson began the time-consuming labor of love to replace the furniture with Art Deco-style pieces of beauty.  All dressing tables in the main building are of Art-Deco style.  Lounge suites were re-upholstered to the original specification.  The outer gables are Cape Dutch architecture and repeated in the top-most panels of the glazed doors.

My wife and I were privileged to enjoy most of what this establishment has to offer.  After checking in to our spacious room, we found it comprised a bedroom cum sitting room, bathroom with bathtub, shower, and toilet.  Personable valuables are held in the room’s electronic safe.  Dinner is served in the elegant dining room, with attentive waitstaff discriminatingly obliging with tasty à la carte meals.  To make the ambiance even more appealing, we were entertained by pianist William who played a grand piano with a wide range of music including songs from West Side Story, Les Misérables, to name but a few classics. 

In the mornings we were treated to a hearty country breakfast, selecting from a wide range of buffet-style eats.  I had the good fortune to join several local dignitaries one morning to a tea served with scones and crème.  A Cape Buffet lunch is available. 

We loved the artwork on display in the hotel and appreciated the secured parking provided behind the hotel with a gated entry and exit.

The hotel has many amenities in which we did not partake.  A selection offered includes massages, facials, mineral baths, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and tinting.  Hourly tours can be arranged in classic American vehicles, with a choice of a 1956 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, 1964 Cadillac Sedan Deville, or a 1956 De Soto Fireflight Sportsman.

Obviously I highly recommend the Montagu Country Hotel as a fun place to stay and spend time in a great tourist destination.

To learn more and make your reservations, click here.

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