Riviera on Vaal had been on my local bucket list for a very long time. Just the name alone evoked images of beautiful waterside resorts that beckoned to me. Besides, I had always heard good things about it too. I finally got the opportunity to experience it first-hand a few days ago. Evidently it was quite a popular venue. I counted two weddings, two birthday parties and two company events while I was there!
The acclaimed golf and spa resort is just 45 minutes from Johannesburg. It has a colourful history involving Americans, floods and liquidations inter alia. When the hotel was first opened in the 1930's by a Mr Schlesinger, an American moviemaker, it featured a bathroom for every room, a luxury unheard of at the time. It was bought, sold, rebuilt and renovated several times for various interesting reasons thereafter. One can see newspaper articles covering the hotel’s history in a section of its opulent foyer. Personally, I always found that a little bit of history lends a whole lot of charm to an establishment.
Our luxury family room overlooked the swimming pool, golf course and restaurant with the meandering Vaal River coursing behind them. Speed boats and jet skis passed by every now and then and sounds of laughter from Matthew Terrace tinkled up to our room throughout the day. As evening approached, I watched transfixed as the trees shading the river changed hues until night set in. My camera didn’t stop clicking.
The kids were thrilled to have their own sleeper couch and TV in a separate lounge area. Outside, they could enjoy themselves at the pool or the well-equipped play grounds. They could also spend the day at Murphy Clubhouse, which had an organised kids entertainment programme open to hotel guests and day visitors, although this had to be paid for separately.
We had a pleasant buffet dinner at the elegant Matthews Restaurant which overlooks the river. Other meal options included the Petit Verdot floating restaurant where you can dine while you cruise and Matthews Terrace Cafe where you get a generous serving of panoramic views with your order. The floating restaurant is great for corporate functions and special occasions. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try it this time although my husband had a team-building function with his company on it some time ago.
I had a lovely massage at the indulgent and intimate Zorgvliet Spa, located on the hotel premises. It is hard to get a booking at this very popular spa so be sure to book well beforehand. The spa staff were extremely hospitable, (especially Lezanie and Zelda), and I got the impression that they went out of their way to make guests feel pampered and nurtured. I enjoyed my hot stone massage so much that I wish I had booked two hours instead of one, as I really didn’t want it to end. Zorgvliet Spa also boasts a flotation pool which allows deep rest – research shows that a single flotation pool session equals eight hours of sleep!
For the golf enthusiasts, there is an 18-hole golf course adjacent to the hotel, and lining the river. There is a flood-lit 9-hole pitch and putt course next to the 18th hole for the whole family. The golf course is also very popular and my hubby didn’t manage to get a booking there, to his disappointment. I can’t say that I was too disappointed though as it meant more time for me at the spa. Bon Hotel Riviera on Vaal is a keen promoter of ladies and kiddies golf and has golf clinics and camps from time to time.
There was so much to do and so little time to do it in. The resort often has promotions and special packages. Don’t wait as long as me to experience it. You will be glad you did.