Millions of years ago, long before Mount Everest was formed, the Magaliesberg mountains were created. Over time, as the area turned lush and green, it became home to a diverse range of fauna and flora. Elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and perhaps even dinosaurs, were just some of the creatures that roamed on the slopes of these mountains and the surrounding landscape. Today, the area is a World Heritage Site, and a Protected Natural Environment.
Nestled in the shadow of these mountains, is the Protea Hotel by Marriott Hunters Rest , a picturesque sub-tropical country resort. I spent a blissful weekend there with my family.
Just 90 minutes away from Johannesburg, the resort itself is steeped in history. The land on which it stands was bequeathed by Paul Kruger to George Wellington Rex in 1884. George was the grandson of the infamous George Rex, who was rumoured to be the illegitimate son of King George III. Being a passionate hunter, George Wellington named his property Hunter’s Rest. He practised medicine and farmed, developing a special type of grapefruit called the Rex Union, which apparently makes delicious marmalade. When the Anglo Boer war started thereafter, many battles were fought in this area and remnants of the war can still be found there. George and his wife Georgina, who had 14 children together, are both buried in a small cemetery on the premises. Later, Hunters Rest became a hotel and the rates from 1970 (R.7.50 pp) are displayed on a wall in the entrance.
The resort has 98 rooms (including 6 self-catering units) set in lush gardens spread out on the 800-hectare property. The rooms differ in size and configuration but they all reflect elegant décor and comfortable amenities. We stayed in a family unit. It consisted of a main bedroom, a cosy bedroom with bunk beds for the kids and a shared bathroom. We also had our own private patio overlooking the gardens.
The main building is a stylish public space housing the dining area and multiple seating areas.
The restaurant is named after George Wellington. Meals there consisted of generous buffets with sufficient options for vegetarians and pescatarians. Halaal and kosher meals can be organised by prior arrangement. Part of the winter offering was a delicious range of hot chocolates which we thoroughly enjoyed. An elevated sundowner deck overlooks the mountains.
There is so much to do at Hunters Rest that there is no need to venture out. Kids and adults will be kept entertained by the myriad facilities. There is a huge swimming pool, a smaller heated pool, a putt-putt course, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a fitness centre and a kid’s playground. Bicycles are available for hire. A 9-hole golf course will keep the golfers busy. If the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities, there are board games available and of course, free unlimited wi-fi.
The resort is adjacent to the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, a scenic nature reserve known for its breeding herd of sable antelope as well as its hiking trails. A gate on the hotel grounds allows hotel guests to enter the reserve directly. We had a great workout hiking up to the viewing deck. My children enjoyed it so much on the first day that they wanted to do it again on the second day.
A visit to the Hunters Rest Spa is a must. The attractive spa looks out onto the nature reserve. It is run by two vibrant women who are passionate about what they do. A variety of spa treatments and natural healing therapies are offered and the therapist will help you choose the best treatment for your needs, whether it is to calm your mind, stimulate your body or relieve tired muscles. There is a steam room and a jacuzzi as well as a special kids section for pamper parties and kids treatments. I had a wonderfully relaxing hot stone massage and my daughter was treated to a pampering facial.
A Sunday market was recently established at the hotel. It makes a pleasant outing, with activities for the kids and stalls selling edible goodies, arts and crafts and much more. Although it is still in its early stages, there are plans to grow it considerably.
Should you seek further adventures, the Magaliesberg Canopy tour, Hartebeespoort Dam, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Sun City are easily accessible.
Reconnecting with nature, and being woken up by the symphony of birds, we had an enjoyable weekend with a harmonious balance of activity and relaxation. Protea Hotel by Marriott Hunters Rest is an idyllic affordable getaway from Johannesburg, whether it is a romantic, family or friends getaway, a wedding, or a work breakaway. Take advantage of their special offers.
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