Escape the hustle, hassle of Joburg
When the hustle and bustle of life in Johannesburg gets too much, there is a nearby escape.
A recent trip to African Pride Irene Country Lodge in Irene, south of Pretoria, proved to be just what the doctor ordered.
A 40/40 minutes' drive from Johannesburg, and you will feel like you have left the smog behind and can take a deep breath of fresh air.
Part of the Marriott group, the lodge, which currently has 75 rooms, has a distinct nestled-in feel despite the vast surrounding meadow and lake.
More than 45 rooms are to be added to the venue that is growing in popularity.
Although the breakaway was for a luxury winter weekend, the surrounding vista was still green, luring you into that spring feeling.
The beautiful country view - complete with ducks on the lake - is accessible from almost every angle once you have arrived.
All rooms look onto this scenic stage, and you can almost feel the busyness of your working life slip away as soon as you are warmly received at reception.
The lodge boasts a gazebo and outside dining area with bar as well as the Meadow Green restaurant.
Bar staff are friendly and well-versed regarding the many drinks on offer.
Having a glass of wine or locally produced craft beer on tap as the sun sets is truly worth the pleasure and peace of mind.
The media weekend was welcomed in by general manager Luke Sacco.
The restaurant is exceptional, with executive chef Leon van Deventer introducing patrons to his Around the World in 80 Bites on Friday and Saturday Night Live.
The dining experience alone is worth the trip and all the food is served buffet-style, with a twist.
You can enjoy a little bit of everything from everywhere. The dessert is something to behold as you enjoy the pianist singing.
There is also the choice of in-room dining if you feel the need to just kick up your feet and relax for the night.
The Oak Bar is a fantastic place to get a drink and enjoy good company.
My two-night stay was in a well-equipped, high-end suite, and the highlight for me was the heated bathroom floor and well-sized bath.
The veranda doors opened onto a view of part of the meadow and lake.
Ducks happily visit as you sit outside at the table and chairs enjoying a book and the silence with a cup of coffee.
Breakfast is also buffet, but there is no way any one person can get through all that is on offer.
A slow walk around the picturesque venue is a great way to work off the extra kilos you may just have picked up.
Beds are turned down late afternoon. My only disappointment with regards to the suite was the cold shower I had on Saturday morning.
My husband had a quick shower first, and it seems the hot water does not hold out for two people in a row.
There is also the Camdeboo Day Spa with its own restaurant. Word of advice: book in advance.
The venue does lend itself to weddings, baby showers and parties of pretty much anything you can think of. We even witnessed a beautiful picnic marriage proposal.
It is a great place for a romantic weekend or date, a family getaway or just a rest.
There is a bit of hustle and bustle in the area over weekends, with the popular Irene Dairy Farm, a great place to take children, as well as the Irene Village Market that is open twice monthly.
The market is filled with stalls, food vendors, a restaurant and coffee shop.
The Big Red Barn, found at the market, boasts outdoor activities including acrobranch, biking and trails as well as a kids' play area.