Girls Weekend Away In Paradise: La Bella Vita Studios.

I think it is safe to say that all girls need a weekend away here and there. A few nights away from the kids and hubby makes a good opportunity to unwind and to go back home with a clear mind and ready to take on a new week.

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Lauren and myself were invited to visit the beautiful La Bella Vita Studios out in Paarl. Now let me just begin by saying that the Winelands have never really pulled me in – I am not a huge wine drinker, and we normally head out to the seaside for family holidays.

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But, this time around the Winelands caught me off guard. I think because we were staying at such a beautiful place – it set the scene and the mood. Also, being newly engaged, it was an opportunity to dream a little.

We drove up on the Friday afternoon, just a short drive from home – and checked in at the Studios. We were really lucky to be given a little tour of the 8 studios (as well as the two new studios that will launch THIS month), because it really showed us the full vision of the owners, as well as the talent of the interior designer, Elsje Schonken. So much love has been poured into each studio – but I am going to leave the interior talk to Lauren from Lauren McCreath Interiors who will cover it from every angle. What I would like to mention though, is that each suite has a huge bathroom with a shower and bath, a small kitchen which is well equipped with beautiful crockery and cutlery, as well as a fridge and microwave AND Nespresso machine – so you can bring your own food (there is no oven or stove though, so as long as it is food that can be heated/cooked in the microwave), as well as a fire place, TV, lounge area and balcony. So it is fully equipped, and we didn’t once feel that it was lacking anything.

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You never tire of looking around the studio – each corner of the room is filled with high end finishes. The coffee table is neatly stacked with interesting books which are all relevant to the room. Nothing has been spared in terms of style. There is more than enough WiFi, and everything has been so thoughtfully done and considered which all adds to the overall experience.

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I always get excited for a girls weekend – I know I can just let my hair down and relax. La Bella Vita Studios allows you to do EXACTLY that. It was quiet, and we were surrounded by beautiful mountains and nature. We’d wake up each morning and go out to our private balcony, and just sit and drink coffee while watching the ducks and birds on the pond in front of us. We honestly could have spent all three days just sitting in our studio or outside on the deck.

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On arrival, we were gifted with a basket of delicious bread from Babylonstoren (literally a 5 minute drive away), some butter, jam, honey, cheeses, strawberries and wine. All fresh and divine. This allowed us to just totally chill on the first night with soup and bread, and we didn’t have to go anywhere.

 

I truly believe that hospitality is shown in the little details – in this case, the basket of treats, as well as the beautiful tray of bath salts, bath bombs and scents that they use in the studio (each studio gets a different scent).

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We had a divine bath that night (they have their own water supply), and each climbed into our own bed, which was literally MAGICAL. I haven’t experienced such comfort in a bed! There’s nothing like bundling up between beautiful linen sheets and sinking into plush feather pillows after a long day of adventuring. We watched some TV, laughed and chatted and fell asleep quite contently.

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The next morning we woke up, and had a slow start to the morning before heading out into the Winelands. Breakfast and some exploring at Babylonstoren, then off to a few other beautiful spots before heading to Blaauwklippen for a glass of wine, and then to Boschendal to finish off our day of adventures with a late lunch.

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We headed back to the Studios, and it honestly felt like getting home after a long and busy day. That says a lot about a place. We finished off the day with a glass of wine and a bike ride around the estate. This was the most fun we had had in awhile!!! So much laughter.

 

On the Sunday, we decided that we would spend our last day just relaxing and hanging out at ‘home’, because we just wanted to absorb what was around us. It was also incredibly hot, and neither of us had thought to bring our costumes, not realizing that there is a gorgeous pool. We then booked a spa treatment at Sante Wellness Retreat and Spa which is right next door to the Studios, within walking distance, and in the same Estate. I found that this was perfect for a girls weekend, and was also a highlight of where La Bella Vita Studios is located. Note that there is also a restaurant based inside of the Spa, so you don’t even need to leave the Estate when staying at the Studios. My facial was amazing, and Lauren had a full body massage which she also raved about. There are also uncountable amazing places just a stone throw away which are begging to be explored. Mark my words, you won’t ever feel bored!

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My mind keeps switching over to the beautiful interior and décor of each studio, but I know that Lauren will be covering all of that in the next article. But, I do need to say that it is refreshing to stay at a place that has put so much thought into creating each studio unique and totally different to the next. One studio may not be your ‘vibe’, however, one of them will be. I have about three others on my list for when I return, one of them being their brand new studio, which is breathtaking, and may even be my new favourite.

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I love that each studio has a ‘theme’, the one we stayed in being the Mare Studio. Each theme represents a charity or cause that they support – so when you stay, 3.5% of their annual profit from each studio goes to that specific cause. This is really something amazing, and you don’t get many places that do something as selfless as that.

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La Bella Vita Studios isn’t just a weekend away. It is staying in luxury, rebooting, and an experience. A perfect spot for a girls weekend, your honeymoon, or even the spot to stay the night before your wedding with your girls, as it makes for beautiful photos for getting ready. But mostly, it was the ideal place to escape to for me to chatter away to one of my best friends as a newly engaged woman about all of my dreams and visions for planning my wedding day.

 

I hope to be back soon with my maid of honour too for even more fun. This is one of those places that will never be forgotten. And I am excited to return to stay in one of the other Studios for a different experience! A few key words to describe La Bella Vita Studios in closing would be: Upmarket, contemporary, comfortable, and luxurious. It was such a treat being surrounded by the simple beauty that nature offers, and we were so sad to leave that we even stayed one extra night.

Thank you for having us! Your hospitality was refreshing and your Studios magical! Keep an eye out for the interior review by Lauren McCreath next week.

Do yourself a favour and head over to their beautiful social media accounts that are bursting with gorgeous photographs of their studios and also have loads more information on each Studio:

Instagram | Website | Facebook


*Please note that the majority of these images were used from the La Bella Vita Studios website shot by Sheldon Moultrie Photography.

I decided to use their images because mine just didn’t do the beauty of La Bella Vita Studios justice!

 

 

 

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The Misunderstood Life Of A Blogger/Influencer.

So you want to be a blogger???

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I often have people asking me about how they can start their own successful blog. My first response will always be to ask them why they want to start one in the first place?

8/10 they will say because it looks like such a great lifestyle, and it is an easy way to get freebies and earn money. They want to quit their 9-5 and work from a coffee shop or the comfort of their own home.

If they were standing in front of me, instead of being behind a screen, I’d most likely give them a little mid forehead tap. This is almost never the case. So, let’s put the assumptions aside.

Want to start a blog?

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Firstly, prepare to work hard. Understand that for the first while you won’t be getting paid to do a thing. If writing and blogging isn’t a natural passion of yours, you aren’t going to be inspired or driven. I am often switching on my laptop at 10pm to work on reviews and articles. There is no off button.

If the desire is purely stirred by what you see plastered all over social media by the influencers that you follow who are jetsetting around the world, being sent designer clothing and shooting massive campaigns, know that they had to get there.

Do you feel that you are incredibly passionate about something in particular that you wish to share with the world? Be it a life event that has changed your life – for me, being adopted and becoming a mom. For you it could be something else. Do you have a love for fashion? What makes you different to the next? What will make you stand out? There’s no point in just copying another influencer’s style or trends just because he/she gets thousands of likes on their images. Because, once again – they built their empire, and worked towards getting that response. Do you love to travel? Are you willing to cover your own travel expense to share your favourite places with your readers? Because in order to be invited to review beautiful places around the world, you need to have a portfolio before anybody is going to be inviting you to stay free of cost. And even then, for a long period of time, you’ll be covering little bits of your trip.

I’m sure by now you’re catching my drift. What is the point of starting a blog full time when you are just trying to become someone that you may idolize? Social media is a world that more often than not, shows you the wonderful things of life and forgets to mention all of the in betweens.

To the younger girls that are reading this, HALF OF IT IS FAKE. There is an entire world that isn’t being shown. These days, someone could share an image of the Eiffel Tower, but in reality, they could be sitting on their couch at home reminiscing of their trip 10 years ago.

I’ve had readers messaging me saying that they so wish they could also have beautiful clothes given to them – but, in reality, some of the wardrobe I shoot in is just borrowed for photoshoots.

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Back to the point…

You want to start a blog? You want your blog to be a success. Before you quit your job, and jump into this industry, consider the following.

– Do I have the passion?
– Do I LOVE to write?
– What would my niche be?
– Do I have something to share with my readers that will impact them in a positive way?
– Can I accept being turned down by companies?
– Can I earn money from this?
– Who would I be targeting?
– Am I wanting to blog just to replicate the influencers I follow with over 50k followers?
– Is this a hobbie, or could I actually turn this into a full time job?

Now, if you’ve answered those questions, and are still wanting to go ahead with it, let me share a few tips with you.

1. Don’t quit your 9-5… yet!
Don’t quit your job that you are earning a salary from until you start earning money from your blog. First get your blog established and make sure that you  are earning enough over the period of a few consecutive  months.

2. Just start.
Start by reviewing things that you already own. Maybe it’s a perfume that you love. Perhaps you just bought that new product from Lush that you are obsessed with. Perhaps you travelled somewhere recently and you feel it was amazing. This helps you build up a blog with decent, quality content. Tag those brands in your posts as this also helps you get recognized.

3. Be true to yourself.
Don’t write about anything that you do not believe in. Don’t review a product that you don’t like and say that you love it just to get brownie points by a big brand. Write about things that inspire you, help you get through a day. Being authentic is admirable and invaluable. This is what draws readers and followers. When they feel that they are connecting with another person that they can relate to. Let’s get real- you aren’t a celebrity. People don’t know you until you create a platform that allows people to get to know you. On this note, don’t be that person who buys followers and likes just to grow their following. That doesn’t work anymore. It ain’t real, so if it’s making you feel better about yourself, you have bigger issues than learning how to run a blog.

4. Share beautiful content.
It’s all about being real, and everybody loves seeing in the moment snaps. But, try to keep your feeds looking professional. Brands want to work with bloggers who have a high standard – photos, written content, etc. I’m not saying you need to go out to invest in a camera if you can’t. I’m also not saying you need to spend thousands on working with photographers. I AM however saying, that take time to consider a photo before you push the button. Have a focal point and share a little story behind it. Let the photo tell the story – especially for Instagram as many people don’t read captions unless they have a reason to.

5. Set your bar.
I feel that I have learnt so much since I first started blogging. I too started on the first step. I also misplaced my footing a couple times on my way up. And, I am far from the top of the staircase. But, I do believe that it is important to figure out what type of brands you want to work with. Write a wish list of who you’d like to work with – maybe not now, but someday. Don’t ever let your bar slip for a product you want, because someone has influenced you or for any other reason. Know what quality work you are content sharing with your readers. Give yourself a reason to have pride in it, and don’t let it slip.

6. Give yourself a time limit.
When working out a plan for your blog, write down what your dreams are for it. Give yourself a year, or a year and a half, for instance, to create a platform that will stand out to brands. Once you start getting contacted by businesses, you can pat yourself on the back because that is your time to shine. I always say that that is when you can start unpacking your rate card, and you can start charging brands for your reviews.

7. Know your worth.
When it does come to the time to start charging brands for marketing, don’t get overly ambitious. Understand that you charge dependent on what you are able to offer them. If you have 1000 followers, start small. Once you get higher and know that your blog is reaching a good amount of readers, that’s when you can start raising your prices, because the brands are getting more exposure from you. I change my rate card once a year, unless I have a huge rise in followers. Brands are normally happy to pay when they feel that you are being reasonable and not trying to rip them off. Also, understand that there are some brands out there who do take advantage of bloggers. If you firmly believe in the rates you charge for the quality of your work, don’t let them intimidate you into waiving your fee. Your time and skill is valuable. Many brands promise to work with you again and to pay you the next time, and you never hear from them again.

8.Connect with your readers.
Nobody likes to be ignored. If you want to have a successful blog where people interact with you, you need to set time aside where you prioritize thoughtful and genuine responses to your readers. If it wasn’t for your readers, you wouldn’t have a successful blog in the first place. This is also a great opportunity to inspire further. Brands also like to see correspondence between influencers and their readers. I am also so often inspired by my readers through their comments on my posts, and have found many special friends and connected with inspirational women through my accounts.

9. Go easy on yourself.
It isn’t easy being a blogger. One month, I have bookings and big campaigns streaming in. The next month I’m twiddling my thumbs. Not really. That’s when I take time writing articles for my blog and creating content. But, understand that just because you aren’t being contacted by brands, doesn’t mean that you and your blog aren’t worthy. Brands also have budgets that are allocated to marketing and working with influencers. Once that is up, it’s up. Don’t beat yourself up over the quieter times, instead, spend that time creating valuable articles and reflecting on how you can make changes. You can also take this time to do research on new brands you’d like to work with, prepare strong proposals and get in touch with them to let them know what you can offer them.

10. Last, but most certainly not least – understand your social media platforms.
Nobody wants to work with someone who doesn’t even understand what they’re doing. Do research on the platforms you will be using – for me, it’s Facebook, Instagram and WordPress. Do weekly research on how these platforms have changed. Understand SEO’s and google analytics. Know when the best time of each day is to post as well as which days get the best response. This is incredibly important for when you are being paid by brands. Keep educating yourself, and keep yourself updated. Also, understand algorithms. One day you could be reaching 1000 likes, and the next day only 500. Don’t kick yourself, just understand that Instagram and Facebook is a business too, and they have made changes so that people like you and me feel that we need to pay to sponsor posts.

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There is so much more that I could share, but time is money, and I’m applauding you for getting this far anyway without having to switch screens as your boss walked by.

For me, blogging happened by accident. It wasn’t planned. I wanted to create a platform that I could turn to to get support from other moms after my son was born. It escalated from there, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I love blogging. There are times where I have writers block. There are times when I just don’t feel inspired. But, it’s all part of this industry, and every single influencer and blogger will hit a halt at some point.

I want to take a moment to encourage you to take the next step if after this article, you feel inspired and still feel ready to take on this next chapter. If you’re wanting to take on blogging full time, don’t quit your job until you’re making enough money to support yourself. Give yourself some time, and be gentle with yourself. Putting yourself out there is brave, and sharing parts of your life with others to inspire, motivate or help them is incredibly courageous. But, also keep in mind that even if nobody comments or you only get a few likes – there is always somebody that you have inspired.

I truly hope that this post has helped guide you in one way or another.

All the best for your journey!

– L


Images: Criene Images

Our Families Dream Night At Aquila

As parents, we often find ourselves dreaming of doing special things with our kids. Things that we once did that we loved and cherished so much. In our case, it was taking our little guy to a game park. Game parks have always been a very treasured memory of David and mine. We visited one soon after we started dating, and just fell in love with being there. That slow life, and being completely surrounded by nature and rustic beauty. That smell of thatch and wood and the delicious hearty meals that we enjoy. It’s sitting around the fire having drinks and being totally absorbed in the stories the game rangers share of their experiences. It’s absolute bliss.

This dream came true when we visited Aquila Private Game Reserve this past weekend. We couldn’t wait to finally have the opportunity to share our love for this experience with our little boy. We were told by a couple of people that he would be too young and wouldn’t enjoy such a long game drive, but we in fact experienced the opposite. We arrived a bit late on the Friday, which resulted in us missing out on the longer afternoon game drive, which actually worked out for us, as it was getting cold, but it also meant that we had the afternoon to relax a bit and to enjoy watching the two elephants stroll on the mountain side in front of our room, have some coffee and then take him to swim inside the Tranquila Spa which has two heated pools.

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We then got ready for a delicious dinner.

Before dinner, we headed down to the Pub for a drink which has the most incredible kids play area as well as a kid sitting service. Olly wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t make use of the service unfortunately, but it was totally kitted out, neat and hygienic. The pub is super cosy with fire places and couches. Everyone was enjoying a drink to warm up while watching a bit of the Football World Cup.

The meals are buffet style, and NOBODY is left out. There is so much variety, and everything was delicious. Before going, we actually had people raving about the food and telling us that they were jealous because it was so delicious when they went. I couldn’t agree more. I loved that the restaurant was totally kid friendly and very casual. We didn’t have to feel that we needed to keep Olly quiet or seated the entire time. They also cater for the kids with food which is fantastic. We were enjoying this so much, I actually forgot to take any photos!

We then headed back to our Premier Suite and climbed into our warm, cosy beds. I loved that they put hot water bottles on our bed, already filled up knowing how incredibly cold it was. Our room had a main bed, a sleeper couch, a bar fridge and coffee station.

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We woke up early the next morning, it was icy cold and windier than it’s been in a LONG time. We layered up and headed down to the reception ready for our Private Game Drive. Memory was our game ranger and we just fell in love with him. He has been a ranger for over 20 years and has experienced almost everything. He is so passionate and just loves every single one of these animals so much. It was a bit of a struggle at first with the wind and cold air, but the sun soon started to shine and Memory made it so worth the while. He allowed my little boy to sit in the front with him where it was warmer and answered all of his 3 and a half year old questions.

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What makes Aquila so special is that it is home to the Big 5, yet it is just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. But it gets better – Aquila is like a rehabilitation reserve for their animals. As an example, their two male elephants were once used at another game park for Elephant Back safaris. This means that they had been ‘trained’ in an inhumane way to obey commands, etc. They were used to make money. I love that they have saved these beautiful animals from such a terrible life and have replaced that with a new home that is on their on their +/- 10000 hectare conservancy.

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If you’re holding your breath for a Kruger type experience, then Aquila isn’t for you. Aquila is about educating their guests, and installing a love for these beautiful animals in the hearts of young children. Instead of having uncountable wild animals, they instead have a smaller amount, which they know the story behind. They have studied their behavior and understand their emotions and way of doing things. Due to their space, they respect the animals and only have a certain amount so that they can live a happy life in the space that they each need.

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They also have anti-poachers who follow their Rhino to ensure that they are not harmed. This truly makes my heart happy. They are known for their responsible tourism and have a non-profit, conservation and comprehensive anti-poaching solution which offers free anti-poaching training to game rangers working on African private game reserves that are home to rhino and elephants.

We had the opportunity to see their Elephants up close at the water hole, these boys have become best friends since growing up together, and it is truly something special to see. We also saw a family of hippos, Zebra, a Giraffe family, a pride of lions as well as various Buck and a female ostrich doing the mating dance for her male friend. The buffalo were beautiful but seeing the Rhino up close, and having the opportunity to have my little boy see them was quite an emotional experience. I really do pray that we are able to save these spectacular animals, so that my son can show his kids them one day.

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Our two and a half game drive went by in the blink of an eye, and we were sad to end the drive, despite the icy cold wind. We then headed to the restaurant for a divine buffet breakfast. We were planning on doing the Quad Bike Safari, however it was just too cold, and Olly wasn’t well so opted out. Olly was also going to go on a very special Children’s Adventure on their own Game Drive to see the Rhino Orphans with the other kids. Here they would have had the opportunity to be educated at their level on these rhinos and do activities in the ‘wild’. This was sadly cancelled due to the weather, but we were somewhat grateful as he wasn’t well, and actually fell asleep soon after. We had booked ourselves a back, neck and head massage at the Tranquila Spa, and luckily they catered for us and put us into a couple treatment room as he slept throughout the entire thing on a chair in the corner of the room.

Now, this massage should be an entire review of its own! It was something that still feels surreal. When it was over, David still looked at me and said ‘ Now, that’s how a massage is done.’ We both had written on our form that we wanted to our aim for the massage was for muscle relief. They understand exactly what you mean when you tell them the pressure you want, and I have never had that before. It was incredibly relaxing and we did leave feeling loosened up. It was such a treat, and I can highly recommend booking yourself in for a treatment at the Spa.

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We really had such a special time at Aquila, and I do believe that my son was the perfect age for us to take him! He didn’t seem to take note of the long game drive and was very alert and excited, asking questions the entire drive. Aquila is DEFINITELY family friendly. They really cater well for children. We wished that we had braved the cold and taken our little guy down to the Star Safari down on the lawn in the evening, but we were exhausted after a long day, and were ready to just climb into our warm beds and to read Olly the incredibly special multilingual book they had left waiting for him (which is available here: https://www.florenceandwatson.co.za

Words will never fully be able to describe how much this night was at Aquila for our little family. Thank you for having us! Your beautiful place is so close to our hearts.

I want to take this moment to mention that Aquila is currently running 5 Winter  specials which you can read more about here: http://bit.ly/2HuINIS

Aquila has some beautiful social media accounts, so to keep up with all of their news and specials, you can follow them here:

Facebook
Website
Instagram

A Girls Night Off The Grid & WIN A NIGHT At Copia Eco Cabins.

Before I even begin, I’d excited to announce that we are running a very special Father’s Day Competition where you can WIN a night stay at this beautiful place!
Enter here!

My dear friend Lauren McCreath, an incredibly talented local Interior designer and myself were recently invited to visit the breathtaking Copia Eco-Cabins. For those of you who have not yet heard of it – it is located on a private farm in Bot Rivier. With it being just over an hour drive from Cape Town CBD, we jumped at the opportunity to drive up for just one night. What could be more perfect than old shipping containers that have been carefully converted into luxury self-catering accommodation up on a hill in the middle of nowhere?

We had been awaiting this moment in anticipation for months, and being busy Moms – we were so looking forward to a girls night away to kick our feet up, enjoy some wine and to soak in the Wood Fired Hot Tub. We got to ditch technology for an entire 24 hours, which gave us the opportunity to truly absorb real silence, something this generation doesn’t fully understand.

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Copia, without even trying, brings out real conversation, a connection between two people – friends or lovers. It allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of the world and leaves you in a little world that belongs to just the two of you. Being surrounded by nature and having escaped from the tech world gives you a moment to look up from your screens, and instead of wasting time watching what the rest of the world is doing, it has you absorbing and really appreciating the beauty of the basics that surround you. I left understanding, that really, all one needs for true happiness is being surrounded by the ones that you love.

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I have never, in my life laughed like the two of us did. We sat in the Wood Fired Hot Tub for hours, enjoying red wine and enjoying that blissful feel of the cool breeze brushing our shoulders.

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Time. Every second is cherished when it isn’t wasted. In a way, one day felt like two, and I can vividly remember every step we took while we were there.

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We arrived on a dirt road, with pretty much nothing surrounding us but mountains, hills and horses. We entered the farm and were greeted by beaming faces of the farm kids. ‘Shame’ was the first thought that crossed our minds – however, on departure we couldn’t believe our naivety of such an absurd thought. Shame? Far from. I’ve never seen kids laugh and play and use such imagination. Imagine living in such simple beauty every day.

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Copia is so well equipped, with everything you could possibly need for the duration of your stay. There were rusks and fresh eggs awaiting us in the kitchen along with tea and coffee, etc. I love that they had a little jar filled with all of the things you may need while you stay. Panado, plasters, etc. This means that there really is no need to leave for any reason while you stay.

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Night fell, and we enjoyed a dinner for two. Copia has really put in that extra special touch with providing little gas lanterns to create chemistry and beauty even when its complete darkness surrounding you.

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We climbed into what must have been the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in, and found ourselves chatting for hours. With no curtains, you find yourself staring at the stars, and the faraway farm cottage light, which really looks like nothing but a star itself.

It is truly something special being blessed with time away at such a unique place. I love that they promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. Providing people with an off the grid escape. However, they have done this in a way that is still comfortable for visitors.

I can’t wait to return, with my hubby in tow as it really is just the most perfect escape. Copia currently has two cabins – Copia Cabin, which is the one that we stayed in AND Lone Tree Cabin. They both cater for two adults.

I must say that many may be put off visiting in Winter – but it has to be the best time! We absolutely loved being there with the rain!

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Please do yourself a favour and read what inspired Lucas to create Copia Eco Cabins here: https://www.copiaecocabins.co.za/our-story

I haven’t touched on anything decor wise as Lauren has covered this section (see below), as she has a phenomenal understanding of Interiors due to her expertise.

DO follow their social media accounts as they are always sharing beautiful images shared by their visitors and that’s also where you’ll see any last minute deals!

Facebook
Website
Instagram


INTERIOR REVIEW: Lauren McCreath Interiors

When it comes to out of the box thinking, Copia Eco Cabins has taken this one step further. Who would have thought a mere shipping container could become a sophisticated and endearing little house on a hill.

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Overlooking the beautiful valleys of Bot Rivier, this ticks all the boxes. The creators have seamlessly married the metal, boxy structure of the reinvented shipping container with the landscape. Using dark charcoal and organic tones of wood, it’s symmetry is juxtaposed with the rolling hills and mountains in the distance.

Once inside, you are immediately drawn to the large glass stacking doors which allows you to be fully aware of the stellar views outside. That’s the beauty. There is little distraction of the interior to the exterior. A carefully thought out colour palette of greys and neutral tones only enhance the beauty of what’s outside-fynbos and stone, fields of the working farm below and the mountains of greenery in the distance.

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A simple yet sophisticated, minimalist approach to the choice of furnishings, allowing guests to truly relax, and focus on nature and each other. Being almost completely off the grid, there is every opportunity to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Copper tones are used throughout. From the shower fixtures, (that shower was absolute bliss) to smaller details seen in the kitchenware and cutlery. I love how this adds a warm element to the decor without making it obvious and cluttered- in keeping with the Scandinavian feel.

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Wooden elements from the outdoors have been brought into the interior, and can be seen as bedside tables, and cleverly, as a basin stand in the bathroom. This creates a perfect balance of organic and industrial.

The bed was absolute heaven. HUGE pillows and lovely, crisp white linen on the king size bed says “let’s stay in bed all day! “ Again, a less is more approach works so beautifully against the backdrop. A huge window adjacent the bed allows you to take full advantage of the scenery outside. Waking up to the soft morning light, delicious,freshly brewed coffee and quiet.

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Don’t stay for just one night- it’s so worth an extra day.


*Please note that ALL professional images have been extracted from Copia’s website.

*Lauren & myself make a great team when it comes to reviewing beautiful places. We love travel and are adamant to find some of the best places to stay that tick all of the boxes (experience, hospitality and interior) to share with our readers. If you have a place and would like for us to visit – please email me a proposal to onemodernmom@hotmail.com

A Night In Hermanus: A To The Point List Of Things To Do!

Planning a night away can be a daunting experience, especially when you’re wanting to find something special to do. If you aren’t familiar with an area, you can really end up at some interesting places, which can really either be a hit or a miss.

I took my best friend away for a night in Onrus, just a 15 minute drive from Hermanus. It was just the two of us, no kids. It was a late birthday gift, and we wanted to have two days of fun. We wanted to try some new experiences. So, I took those matters into my own hands and did some research. But, I wanted to try them out for myself. So, that we did. Continue reading if you’d like to hear about what we did, where we stayed and where we ate while we were staying in Onrus.

 
Where did we stay?
C’est Ca Cottage: Onrus
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21051956
Price: R1203.00 per night

Although it was a short stay, we decided that we wanted to stay somewhere that would feel homely to us. We found the gorgeous C’est Ca Cottage in Onrus which was everything we wished for and more. Our host, Stuart was friendly and helpful and really made us feel at home. The cottage is in a separate area to the main house, which means that you have your own privacy and space, but are still close by in case you need anything. The cottage is stylish and was so well equipped. Had we left absolutely anything behind, we would have been sorted. They even had a mini dishwasher in the kitchen! The beds are super comfy too! I can highly recommend checking this place out as an option if you plan on visiting the area. It is just a short drive from Cape Town, and in walking distance to Onrus beach!

 
Where did we eat?
Oskars:
Shop 7 Carriages Centre, Main Road, Hermanus
Instagram.com/oskarscafeandbakery

 


On arrival, we made our way into Hermanus to get a couple of essentials for breakfast. Having visited Hermanus at least once a year, I had enjoyed delicious breakfasts at Oskars before they moved to a new space. They have now moved to the Woolworths center close to the book shop, and seem to have changed a little bit – but in every good way possible. They are home to the best carrot cake and cheese cake I have ever tasted. We treated ourselves to a slice of cake and a Coconut Iced Latte. Their deli and bakery is so beautifully and tastefully decorated, and really leaves you feeling happy when you visit. They do also do breakfast and lunch – however, I still need to pop in for a proper meal sometime!

 
Do take note that they are closed on a Sunday, so be sure to visit weekdays, or on a Saturday in normal working hours. You don’t want to miss this.

Dinner:
Molteno’s
Molteno Street, Onrus River, Hermanus
Contact for reservations:  028 316 2658

We were quite persistent to have dinner at a different restaurant, until we arrived and realized that their online menu was completely different to what they actually had to offer, as well as totally overpriced. So, we took our Airbnb hosts recommendation, and found ourselves at what he referred to as ‘the locals go-to pizzeria’. And how glad I am that we finally listened! The restaurant was cosy, and buzzing. We had great service, phenomenal pizza and good wine! The pricing is standard and we had a lovely evening. This restaurant has been around for many, many years and when you visit, you will see why! Do make a reservation to be safe, they do get very busy, especially in the holidays and over weekends.

Lunch:
Lizette’s Kitchen
20 on 8th Street, Hermanus

Another recommendation by our host of our Airbnb, as well as by another local from the area who referred to this beautiful place as ‘the place in town that the chef’s like to go to eat’. We decided that we wanted to try something slightly different. Lizette’s Kitchen was started by Lizette herself. Her website shares this: “Lizette’s culinary history includes four years as Executive Chef in the Franschhoek Valley, followed by a similar position at the famous five star Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, home once to war correspondents from all over the World. Subsequently, Lizette joined the Sailing Club Group, where Sandals restaurant was established, later escalating to four restaurants within three provinces, featuring a fusion of Western and Asian specialties’. It is here, with the amalgamation of these experiences, that Lizette’s cooking style was born, focusing on excellent flavours and freshest produce.​​​”

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My food was delicious and a real experience! The portions are large, which means you certainly are getting value for money.

There were quite a few children there with their families, however, I couldn’t shake the thought of being happy I didn’t have my busy three and a half year old son with me due to no fencing (apart from low bushes) separating the lower area to the main road. So, do keep this in mind when deciding when to visit. Perhaps drive past and check it out for yourself before making your decision. They do have lovely kiddies options on their menu.

 
What experiences did we do?

Millionaire Tasting
Benguela Cove
Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate, R43, Hermanus, Western Cape
Price: R40pp for tasting of one wine | R55pp for tasting with two wines

 

BANNER

I am a sucker for sweet things, and especially something more decadent. When I heard about this Millionaire Tasting, I just had to try it for myself. We had a few hours to kill before we could check-in to our accommodation, so this was a perfect stop before continuing on our way.

The Millionaire Tasting is paired with two dessert wines, their very own Noble Late Harvest and Matilda’s Secret Natural Sweet. I personally found the wines very sweet, but I suppose the name is a give away. I had never had a dessert wine before, so I didn’t know what to expect; however, I could totally understand why these were paired together.

Now onto those Millionaire’s – I’ve never tasted something quite so close to perfection before. They were divine, and just the right quantity to not overpower your taste buds.

Tasting

The setting was breathtaking, and it was a perfect and relaxing start to our short getaway.

The lovely lady who was our hostess, gave us an indepth short description on each wine, and was divine. We really enjoyed having her give us the breakdown and we found her to be happy to answer any questions we may have had.

The décor of the tasting room was absolutely gorgeous. There was a fire lit, and music playing. Every corner has something unique that stood out to me. For a large place, they have really managed to make it something special.

 

 

This is a lovely place to stop by on your way into Hermanus.

They do various other tastings which include:

– Oyster & Wine Pairing
– Gourmet Tasting Menu Experience
– Vineyard Safari & Wine Tasting

*Please note that Benguela Cove does also have a restaurant which I have not yet been to, so cannot give my own personal review on. My review is based on the tasting room!

Pirate Golf:
Benguela Cove

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Yes, I did mention that I didn’t bring my son along, but that didn’t stop us from jumping at the opportunity to let our hair loose and have some fun playing Putt-Putt. Benguela Cove’s 18-hole adventure golf course is a new addition to the wine estate.

Don’t for a second think that you can’t join in if you don’t have kids, we had such fun, and lots of laughs playing. Neither of us being overly coordinated, I think the kids playing did better than what we did.

 

 

This course has been created with so much love. I was astounded at how much effort had been put into making it so special. Each hole has something awaiting you, and I really did appreciate every little detail. It is a perfect stop if you have kids tagging along, as they have a chance to do something fun and to stretch their legs. But, also a perfect activity to do after a tasting or lunch. They do have a little shop there which enables you to buy snacks or something to drink in case you don’t want to sit and eat something at the restaurant.

It’s always fun to do something different, and this was definitely a highlight for me.

Horseriding:
Heaven & Earth Trails
Karweyderkraal Farm Cell 1 No 7, Hemel and Aarde Valley, Hermanus, 7200
http://www.heavenandearthtrails.co.za/

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As one does, you save the best for last – and this is exactly what I’ve done. For a little background – I am (WAS) terrified of horses. I had a bad experience many years ago, which had left with a fear of even being in close proximity to a horse, not even just being on one! For anybody that knows me, they’ll be laughing right now, and they are likely to not believe what they’re about to read. Hence, so many pictures for evidence…

Now, my best friend whose birthday we went away for loves horses. If she could choose any activity, it would be to go horse riding. So, I arranged with Danie from Heaven & Earth Trails to go on a trail ride with her because I knew just how much it would mean to her. We kept this as a surprise until the night before. I’ve never experienced such excitement from another human!!!

To be totally honest, I was rather terrified the night before and leading up to it. But, this is my year of facing my fears and experiencing new things! There was no way I was backing out. With my little boy always asking to go on pony rides, I knew that it was important for me to push my fear aside so that he wouldn’t become fearful.

We took a beautiful early morning drive to the farm, and were greeted by Louzanne, the trail and field guide instructor. Within the first 10 minutes, she already had me feeling confident and more comfortable standing next to my beautiful horse. Knowing my fear, she paired me with the perfect gentle giant, Mr T. Her love for the horses is absolutely contagious and truly makes you realize just how special they are.

 

 

 

We were finally all ready to head out on our Standard Trail. This trail took us through the beautiful fynbos, wild flowers and the pristine mountain scenery. Louzanne, having many years experience working in Game Reserves and having done horse back safari’s in amongst some of the Big 5 has a vast knowledge of the environment that surrounds us, and stops along the way to explain amazing things. This isn’t just any horseback ride, but a phenomenal experience that you leave having learnt so much more.

What I really loved about our ride was what Louzanne and Danie’s objective is about the business – they just want people to understand the horses and to leave feeling a sort of connection with them. They want you to have a positive experience that makes you see the beauty in each of the horses.

The time flew by, and I was sad to leave. I couldn’t believe the connection I had with the horse I was riding after such a short time. They just want love and affection, and want to trust you as much as you put your trust in them.

The team is just wonderful, and you’ll love how well-loved the animals on the farm are.

This was an unforgettable experience, and I will definitely be back again.

 

Heaven & Earth Trails has the perfect trail and horse for everyone. Depending on your experience, they can match you to the ideal ride. Be sure to book in advance on their website to avoid any disappointment, and check out their terms and conditions regarding their weight limit, what to wear and what type of rides they don’t do.

I can’t thank Louzanne and Danie enough for changing my perspective on horses, and for helping me conquer my fear. They truly are beautiful animals, and I am so excited to have had the opportunity to experience a horse ride in a positive light.
If you were like me, and too  have a fear, this has got to be the best place for you to get your good experience that will change your perspective forever! Challenge yourself, make your booking and go! It will be life changing.
*Might I add, that although my friend is a far more experienced rider than me, she still thoroughly enjoyed going at a slower pace for me. So, she mentioned that she can still  highly recommend it for a group that is of different levels.
Please note: Kids are also welcome! They have many children who come, and Louzanne has some exciting tricks up her sleeve to keep them entertained for the full duration of the rides. Tempting? You bet!

Have you had the opportunity to explore beautiful Hermanus and surrounding areas? Be sure to share your favourite finds and things to do there!