First impressions from Fancourt


(Posted 22nd April 2017)

First impressions, when good, are bound to stick while first impressions, when not so good, continue to linger and likely cast a permanent cloud over the entire experience when visiting a hotel, resort or as in this case, a 600 plus hectares large golf estate.
My first impression, right from after landing at the airport in George, proved to be a cloud nine experience and it only got better as the day went on.

I had arrived, ahead of schedule, from Cape Town on Airlink, a South African Airways affiliate, which used an Embraer 145 jet on the route. While busy was the flight not completely full which led to swift disembarking and prompt delivery of the baggage.

No sooner had I left the baggage claim area did a Fancourt driver by the name of Alex appear with my name sign held up and with the car, a 7 series Beamer parked right outside, were the bags loaded in a flash and we were on the road.
Surprisingly, the transfer only took about 15 minutes, a rarity when comparing the transit time from airports elsewhere to major golf estates as Fancourt is, home to not one, not two but three course and among those ‘The Link‘, South Africa’s and in fact Africa’s number one course.

Before reaching the main Fancourt Hotel area – of course set up as a gated estate, did my driver do a sharp turn to the right and through a tree lined road drove up to the front porch of the Manor House, a listed building – listed as in the national monument kind – where the staff already stood in readiness to welcome me.

As a frequent traveling writer or writing traveler it does take something to impress me and impress they did. Formal at first did my hosts promptly – on my request – did away with titles and the ice broken began – as my check in was completed – to fill me in with lessons of history, the do’s and dont’s, the here and there’s before leading me to my room.

My curiosity was at its peak, given the mention of a library, a bar, a lounge and an outdoor garden, so making my way to what turned out to be a very comfortable suite took some time.

I first lingered in the library, its walls decorated with antique clocks of all descriptions including an alarm clock on the mantelpiece over the fire place, and when I momentarily closed my eyes, time indeed stood still, an experience which will no doubt continue until the whistle blows sharply in my ear when the hour of departure will see me transcend back into reality and struggling to answer the resulting question why good things must come to an end.

My stay proper kicked off with lunch at the clubhouse, overlooking one of the golf courses, where dozens of addicts to the game of golf pursued their dream of a perfect round while I indulged in the presence of Ms. Michelle from the marketing department of Fancourt in culinary delights. Time did fly, as it always does when good company is on the dining table and all too soon was I told that my golf buggy awaited me for a tour of the courses and the Golf Academy attached to the estate.
Mr. Leroy did me the honour to act as my chauffeur and minder, giving me a broad overview of the lay of the land of the 600 plus hectares before returning me to the Manor House for an afternoon tea, sandwiches and sweet confectionaries waiting in my suite.

My need for more tea eventually stilled – exquisite tea varieties from Ronnefeldt are on offer as are fine coffee brands – I had some more time to walk around the building before dusk rapidly made way to dark as the sun settled behind the mountains.

Upon my return to the suite I found a weather update for the next day, promising as I will be taking a drive to the ocean in the morning – visiting the towns of Mussel Bay and Knysna, before sampling some more of the offerings not just of the Manor House but also the main Fancourt Hotel and club houses across the estate.

I pay much attention to the bathrooms in hotels and resorts, often a weak point but certainly not at the Manor House.
The amenities on offer can only be described as lavish and both the freestanding tub and the shower had their own selection at hand, not as often seen everything piled up next to the basin and then sorely missed when standing wet under the shower, reaching for shampoo and shower gel before realising it is steps away due to a housekeeping policy aimed at saving instead of aimed at pleasing their guests.

Before heading for dinner at the Henry White’s a la carte restaurant of the Manor House – don’t start looking for buffets here as all meals are strictly served by order – I stood in front of the drinks cabinet, which was rather a drinks tray. Whiskey, Brandy, Sherry, Gin and Vodka, all on the house and all with the respective glasses, the little ice bucket filled, waited for takers but in my usual style I just enjoyed the sight, opened each bottle to capture the aroma, set the bottles back and then moved on to meet Mr. Leroy again as my dinner companion.

We left the choices for the three course meal to the chef and he surprised us with a seafood risotto as a starter, followed by a strawberry sorbet before the main course, medallions of beef, was served by a very attentive dining room staff. Chocolate mouse, my post dinner poison of choice, concluded the meal with an offer of coffee, tea or digestives, if I even had a square inch of space left in my stomach.

My first day at Fancourt started off perfectly and ended perfectly too and the only sound I heard at night, apart from the soft music I played, were calls of Ibis’ disturbed in their sleep before at the crack of dawn they become vocal again.
Fancourt is the stuff golf dreams are made of but for someone like me, who professes to all and sundry that I am simply not a guy who chases after balls, Fancourt showed itself from a side which offers so much more than just golf, albeit golf at the very highest level.
More about those other activities, both inside and outside the resort complex, more food and location insights and how day two unfolds, you will either read tonight or, should I be seduced by the generous offerings of wine, bubbly and potent spirits, maybe tomorrow.

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