A tranquil, majestic paradise
There must be many people out there who agree with me that the Friday to Sunday weekend period we allocate ourselves for travel is no travel at all - particularly if it is mountainous Mpumalanga you are visiting.
In Friday afternoon, out Sunday morning - and that is just when your mind and soul begin to relax and take in the beauty of the province.
A friend and I visited Casa do Sol Hotel in Hazyview and I could not help but feel cheated when the dreaded check-out time came on Sunday morning.
The luxury estate hotel is situated in the tranquil Sabie River Valley on the road to Sabie, where it is surrounded by Mpumalanga's majestic gardens formed by evergreen forests, rivers and inviting mountain peaks.
It takes four hours from Johannesburg to reach this little paradise.
The hotel, it seems, was built to offer the best, whether it be trees, birds, outdoor fun or maximum relaxation.
"We did not invite you to our hotel so you can praise us. Please feel free to criticise. It can only help us improve."
Although it was a free trip, and everyone of the staff members wanted to treat me like a king, I was assured that the pampering was treatment reserved for each and every customer.
The only problem is that we were left only with Saturday to enjoy the hospitality and properly check out and try out other attractions in and around Casa do Sol.
Apart from its own attractions that include a tennis court and volleyball court, the hotel is nestled among the province's renowned attractions such as the Kruger National Park, Lone Creek Falls, Rain Forest, Sabie Forest Museum, Sudwala Caves and Dinosaur Park.
Because we arrived on Friday afternoon, we had to use the remaining few hours of the day taking in the beauty of the hotel's interior, whose vibrant colours effectively enhance its Mediterranean feel.
Brochures at the reception say the hotel was established in 1968 but is now managed by Relais Hotels, and has recently undergone a R10 million deve- lopment and refurbishment to make it one of the finest in the area.
I had the luxury of sleeping in one of the rooms with fresh-smelling linen and newly tiled floors.
Management says the baths and showers in the bathroom were recently remodelled and separated.
I had a glimpse of the hotel's health and beauty treatment spa, but I just had no time to use it. My friend Busi Flammand used it and said it gave her a complete relaxation of body and mind. "The therapists were highly professional, they almost put me to bed with their massage techniques," she said.
I woke up early on Saturday for breakfast before setting out for the activities of the day. It turned out to be a memorable morning and afternoon. I went quad biking and it left a mark on my experience because I fell from the bike. Then I went Ziplining before rounding it up with visiting Elephant Sanctuary.