APRIL 2013 – Nestled among milkwood trees and perched on stilts above a rocky beach at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, Tintswalo Atlantic blends in so seamlessly with the shoreline that it remains one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets.
Ancient milkwood trees curl upwards through the balau decks that float above the bare rocks below. The profile of the Sentinel, the distinctive mountain peak across Hout Bay, is etched in front of the setting sun and the water ripples with soft swells. Between the yachts floating like butterflies near the quiet harbour, a whale is rolling about and flapping a fin, then lifting its tail. Mesmerised guests are sipping bubbly and sitting quietly. Just sitting. Perhaps it’s the white noise of waves moving through the kelp, but one thing’s for sure: once you reach the base of the steep winding track down to the lodge, you feel separated from the rest of the world – yet remain intimately connected by the luxury first-world comforts. Somehow, senses are reawakened and all signs of tension magically dissipate.
Tintswalo Atlantic is a boutique hotel just a few metres above the high-water mark on the Atlantic shoreline. The fourth property in the Tintswalo stable, it’s hard to see even as you drive along the world-famous Chapman’s Peak scenic drive. What makes it so private is the fact that it’s the only lodge found within the Table Mountain National Park, bordering on the well-protected Cape Mountain Fynbos Reserve and far away from any other development. The coastline is one of the most ecologically diverse regions in Africa, yet Tintswalo Atlantic is only 20 minutes’ drive from cosmopolitan Cape Town, and five minutes by car from the picturesque town of Hout Bay, with its bustling fishing harbour.
The pristine white-sand beaches of Llandudno and Clifton are also just a short hop away, as is the historic wine route of Constantia, where guests can sample wines from seven different wine estates. Of course, Tintswalo’s extensive wine list means that you don’t have to leave the lodge to enjoy some of South Africa’s best wines – you can enjoy them while indulging in the gourmet cuisine on offer. Watch the chef at work in the relaxed open-plan kitchen – or join in and try your hand at a cooking course. Crystal Dinner food-and-wine pairing evenings are a highlight. Open to guests and up to eight day visitors, these sophisticated and festive dinners are held in the main dining area, with its views of the sea and Sentinel beyond. Dinner guests are greeted by the executive chef and are served with exotic pre-dinner cocktails and snacks on the deck before heading inside. Tables are set in white linen and silver, with a simple protea lending a uniquely South African style. Candles enhance the ambience while the sun sets and delicious aromas drift in from the kitchen.
Each one of the 10 suites is furnished in a unique style. Named after islands around the world, the interior of each room befits the colour and character of the island. The Greek Ithica Island suite is painted a deep indigo blue, and the suite named after the Turkish island of Princes is finished with deep terracotta and burnt orange touches. Freestanding, raku-fired, wood burning stoves add character and warmth in the evenings. Madagascar’s Saint Marie is a deep dusty pink and a feminine delight, with pretty touches such as the crystal chandelier with porcelain roses and bath treats in pink crystal bottles. Bathing under a glass roof set almost inside a milkwood tree adds romance.
A private, exclusive-use presidential villa set into the trees up on the hillside above the main lodge has two spacious air-conditioned suites. Corsica and Elba have magnificent 180˚ views from the expansive deck, and both suites look over the sea to Hout Bay and are interlinked by a luxurious lounge area decorated in chic French country style with a cosy fireplace, day bed and deep, comfortable sofas. The draped four-poster beds are king-sized islands of white, splashed in colour with salmon and silver-blue scatter cushions and throws. The luxurious ensuite bathrooms are glass-lined, taking in the best of the views and mountainous surrounds while creating seamless indoor-outdoor flow.
The interiors are luxurious with crisp white towels, silky-smooth cotton linen, candles, mohair blankets and oriental carpets adding sensual touches. In fact, the romance of and atmosphere created by candlelight accounts for the lodge’s single biggest monthly expense! Local art is used throughout the lodge – a miniature beaded gecko sits cheekily on a bedroom wall, a wire basket catches the afternoon sun and shell mosaics adorn each individually decorated bathroom. All the rooms are connected via a wooden walkway and are lit at night with strings of concealed LED lights. Complete privacy is assured and guests can relax on private balconies overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Each one of the suites has full sea views, perfect for soaking up the afternoon sun sundowner in hand. Built with the utmost care around the branches and into the canopies of the ancient milkwood trees (a protected species), the suites are designed for all weathers. They’re idyllic on a hot summer’s day but equally romantic in the rain when the heat from the wood-fired stove and underfloor heating throughout warms the room. Cocooning is easy here: sink into the deep sofas wrapped in a soft blanket to read a good novel or wrap yourself in a sarong, slip into the plunge pool or relax on the secluded pebble beach.
At Tintswalo Atlantic time tends to stand still, with the only reminder being the turn of the tides – and meal times, all of which are a treat. Afternoon tea is a lavish affair that includes smoothies as well as a range of teas, infusions, coffees and a scrumptious selection of freshly made pastries and tempting cakes. As well as enjoying the chef’s gourmet pleasures, guests can choose to experience a variety of walks in the surrounding area – or simply indulge in a picnic at the top of a 100m cliff face with spectacular sea views! Knowledgeable in-house guides explain that the three-hour Bokkemans walk affords guests breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding mountains, and that the trail runs through a forest area that is home to many species of fynbos, including over 1 000 protea bushes.
The world-famous V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Robben Island and Cape Point are less than half an hour away, making Tintswalo Atlantic one of South Africa’s premier luxury travel destinations, an accolade endorsed by US Conde Nast Traveler when it included it in its ‘Hot List’. As testament to the chefs’ food flair, Tintswalo Atlantic also landed the silver award in the ‘Ultimate African Cuisine’ category at the local Amarula Best Retreats Awards in 2008.
For a secret getaway where privacy, sensuality and luxury fuse with nature, Tintswalo Atlantic is the closest to paradise you will ever get.