A night at the Light House Boutique Suites

My sister works in luxury travel. Shame.

She also has impeccable taste. So when she decided on a beautiful boutique hotel over my house for her 40th birthday party – it wasn’t so much of a surprise. I mean, I aim to make my house nice and all – but a guesthouse will always win. In December last year, we celebrated her big birthday and spent the night in one of the most beautiful boutique hotels I’ve ever been in.

The Light House Boutique Suites, contrary to its name, is in Paarl and nowhere near a lighthouse. It’s a beautiful guesthouse that reminds me of the Hamptons – had I ever visited the Hamptons. The house was renovated and tastefully decorated with special attention given to absolutely every last detail. It rivals the pages of a decor magazine and has the warmth of a loving home thanks to its hosts. It is a peaceful, luxurious sanctuary with immaculate gardens and a beautiful pool, thoughtfully and uniquely decorated rooms (yes, I spied them all) and opulent finishes throughout the sitting, reading and lounging spots in the house.

We stayed in the Mayfair room – ornate and luxuriously decorated, it boasted a giant king size bed (or just a normal king sized bed, but its such a luxury I have to say giant), a small settee, arm chairs and beautiful views. We could’ve just hung out in our room all day. At 16 weeks pregnant, I was very tempted.

Every detail is thoughtfully chosen and paired to make the room unique and gorgeous with no costs spared on ensuring the finishes are to a high standard. 

Even the towels come wrapped like a present!

I love a turndown! In fact, I actually get excited by my turndown (and disappointed when there isn’t one. Honestly, I’ve been known to judge – silently – when there isn’t a turndown). The Light House has set the bar so high on the turndown experience for us – their turn down is hardly just a mint on the pillow and dimmed lights. Along with the standard, and the not standard turndown items –  the highlight is a whole box dedicated especially to you! Filled with special treats, and tastefully presented. The thought that goes into every part of your experience in a stay here is exceptional.

We were there for a party – and while what a party it was (sober and all) – the day after (hangover free and all) delivered one of the most delicious breakfasts a girl could ask for when she can’t ask for eggs Benedict (those damn raw eggs).

Served outdoors beneath giant umbrellas, by the warmest hosts, we drank champagne (well…. you know), had platters of fruits and then a cooked-to-perfection hot breakfast.

While I could’ve stayed all day, or all weekend really with no intention of leaving, we sadly had to bid farewell to the most gorgeous guesthouse (and hosts) in Paarl with promises to return in the future for a longer stay. While some may say that holidaying local shouldn’t require 5 star overnights in towns an hour’s drive from your own, I really beg to differ. I’d also recommend booking in to the Light House with no intention to leave all weekend. Not to wine taste. Not to eat. Just stay here in this little oasis of luxury and soak it all in. It is… that good.

Go Big or Go Home?

I’d rather go home.

Its not what you think. As much as you may think I’m about to talk about hitting the festive season hard, dancing on a table and consuming bottles of champagne – I’m not. I am talking the holidays.. just not like that.

If I could choose between this:

and this:

I’d always choose the latter. In fact, I did. We honeymooned 7 years ago at Paradise Cove (the second pic) – a 67 room Boutique Hotel in Mauritius.

Earlier this year, we had booked to stay here (Zimbali Resort)Zimbali resort

And due to a Presidential son’s wedding, and a few words with management, we landed up spending some time here (Zimbali Lodge)

zimbali lodge

which actually suited us way better. Less people, more personal service.

Boutique. Or Home in this instance.

I assumed everyone liked small and intimate, staff who recognise you, greet you by name and recall your evening tipple of choice and no schedule of daily activities like aqua yoga, or traditional dancers or tour buses of visitors arriving and departing daily.

I was apparently wrong. A good friend of mine and his wife seek out the Big. The hotel that offers yoga in the morning, evening entertainment, daily excursions, volleyball tournaments and an entertainment committee. I actually shudder at the idea. No really.

We are the complete opposite.

I am currently in the Maldives. After 7 years of wanting and dreaming of this destination – we took the plunge, said sod it to our bank balance, saved like mad, and booked it.

We’ve spent 4 nights at the 37 villa’d island of Makunudu. And currently spending 7 nights at the recently refurbished all-inclusive resort by Atmosphere – Oblu Helengeli.

Home, and Big. As I like to refer to them as.

I can’t be certain how we landed up with the large all inclusive resort, it seems really un-us… but, of course I actually do know. There was a really good deal on that put us in an over water bungalow during peak season at probably the same cost (no, at the same cost) as the beach bungalow. And actually, it’s only classed as a medium-sized  resort with 116 villas, but still has the yoga and water aerobics schedule!

So big, or home? I think I still prefer the intimacy of a boutique resort, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work the system at the large resort to get the same sort of service. Mark has made friends with the barman, after lending him his iPhone for the day (which largely improved the music in the bar, so we actually won in this) and the result is great. Being served quickly plus drinks brought out to the beach for us etc. Our first lunch we were lucky enough to meet and chat to the chef, who now greets us personally every time he sees us. So too after making conversation with a couple of the ‘live action station’ chefs, means I also get to make up my own dishes (mostly without the chilli and cooked to well done – the joys of the impending motherhood).

While I think I’ll always choose the smaller guesthouse or hotel over the larger ones, I think it doesn’t only boil down to the size of the resort, but instead what the resort believes in that results in the experience you have. Oblu is brand new and while providing an ‘intro offer’ to get people to the island, they’re doing their very best to ensure their service makes it a memorable experience. The same can’t be said for every large hotel with an entertainment schedule, but its nice to know (and I’ll admit) that the larger ones aren’t as crappy as I originally thought they would be.

Exceptional experiences come from the people working at the resort or hotel and the service they offer you.

Plus the bathroom amenities. Cotton wool. Just give me some damn cotton wool.