During the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, long before the official on-field battles for the Cup began, two prominent teams were engaged in another sort of battle. Mexico and Portugal were both fighting for the privilege of staying at Thaba Ya Batswana Eco Hotel and Spa. And they were only two of the teams that were keen on staying there. This, I guess, is a testament to the hotels appeal. Mexico won. Now I got the opportunity to see what the fuss was about.
Thaba Ya Batswana was recently awarded the accolade of Best 4- Star Hotel in Gauteng at the Lilizela Tourism Awards for 2013. A hidden treasure and a quick escape from the chaos that is Johannesburg, the hotel is situated in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve. Its name, which means “Mountain of the Tswana people” as well as its design, has been influenced by the Tswana settlement ruins dating back 300 to 600 years, which are scattered throughout the property.
There are two types of rooms: the Kraal Kamers and the Bushveld Suites. The Kraal Kamers are uniquely designed units with their own patios. Internally they are spacious open-plan bedrooms with a lounge area. The rooms are decorated in elegant dark wood and dark leather. I loved the size of the bathroom. It was bigger than my bedroom at home and had heated towel rails and a jet bath. A skylight in the dome of the rondawel illuminated the bathroom during the day. The Bushveld suites are luxurious rooms with floor to ceiling windows boasting spectacular views of the nature reserve. A complimentary mini-bar, generous complimentary snacks and free wi-fi access give added value to the units.
Thaba Ya Batswana is an eco-friendly venue. According to Malcolm, the environmental manager, hotel rooms have been designed to minimise environmental impact and everything that can be recycled is recycled, including left-over food. The hotel also has an organic vegetable garden that supplies its restaurant. There are hiking trails and mountain biking trails available. Guided nature walks can be booked to introduce one to the fauna, flora, archaeology, and history of the area. Malcolm took us on an eco-walk while explaining the hotel’s green policy to us. The hotel was also awarded the status of being a Fair Trade Tourism Business at the Lilizela Tourism Awards.
The Kraal Kombuis restaurant packed us a lovely gourmet picnic basket, tailored to our dietary requirements. My kids were happy to get their own basket. One of the golf carts on call took us to a beautiful picnic spot, high up on a hill, where we feasted on crayfish, mussel and oyster pies, vegetarian wraps and Ferrero Rochers, as the sun was going down. Sunday morning breakfast at the restaurant was a lively affair with many visitors coming to the hotel just for breakfast, a veritable feast. The Olive Tree Coffee shop adjoins the restaurant and the garden play area, with the rabbit hutch kept the kids entertained.
Thaba Ya Batswana is a popular venue for conferences, wedding, team-building events. The team from the popular Afrikaans soapie, 7de Laan had a function there and the pictures are displayed on the restaurant walls alongside those of Mexico’s World Cup team. So, if you’re looking for something to do over a weekend, or need a quick escape from Jo’burg without actually leaving Jo’burg, go to Thaba Ya Batswana. Have breakfast there, visit the lions, go for a nature walk then wind down at the spa. And if you can spend the night, then all the better. I can safely say that my expectations were exceeded.
Disclosure level: 7