Pezula Private Castle proves fit for a royal
Top-notch service, accommodation, breathtaking beauty, uber posh establishment has it all
The last thing I imagined myself doing on a luxurious adults’ only weekend away at one of the most exclusive properties in the world was burpees on the beach at sun rise.
When we checked into our private castle and saw our giant, puffy white bed, nestled in the lap of interior designed luxury and looking out onto one of SA’s most spectacular beaches, I rather imagined a long and lazy lie-in watching dolphins playing in the surf.
But this was not that type of weekend – we travelled with Sharon Jessop from Go Well with Sharon and her signature move is a burpee. (If you’re like me and not too sure what a burpee actually is, it’s nothing to do with eating – it entails putting your hands on the floor and plunging your body behind you into a plank, then popping your feet back under your torso and leaping up with your hands up and jumping in the air, and then repeating – again and again.
And why would you do this, you might ask. The answer is to do with wellness – feeling good from the inside out, being fit as a fiddle and happy as Larry, balancing luxury, peace and health. That’s what Go Well with Sharon’s DStv programme is all about.
Our destination for this refreshingly healthy weekend getaway was the ultra-exclusive Pezula Private Castle on Noetzie Beach in Knysna. The castle is owned by Buccara – known for its uber posh international properties – and caters for royalty (literally), the rich, the famous and also ordinary people like us who are in dire need of some quality rest and recuperation.
If you try to imagine the best of the best –- the most breathtaking environment, the ultimate in comfort, tastefully plush decor, the friendliest attentive service and divine food – you probably won’t even come close to the way that Pezula Castle delights all of your senses.
Our host, Jeanne Stander, made it his mission to make sure we all felt right at home in this fancy palace. We were welcomed with pink gin cocktails in huge glasses and taken on a tour of the castle, starting with Nelson Mandela’s chair and suite, and making our way through the master bedroom, the plush lounges and dining room, the humongous patios overlooking the infinity pool and beach with dolphins surfing in the waves, and through honeymoon castle, a cute little freestanding double-storey castle perfect for newlyweds.
During the entire tour, light jazz music piped tastefully through hidden speakers throughout the property and air cleansers swished their fresh scent into our noses.
We strolled down to Noetzie beach and admired the mirror-still lagoon and the sunset over the Indian Ocean, hand in hand and with happiness in our hearts.
After sleeping in our cloud of Egyptian cotton, we were woken in the dark to gear ourselves up for our first beach boot camp with Sharon.
We planked, froggy-jumped, did push-ups with shallow waves breaking over us, bear-walked and burpeed while the sky turned a thousand shades of pink and orange, and the world started waking up around us.
Once the sun had taken up its daytime sentry in the sky, casting long early morning shadows across the beach, we swam in the warm waves and headed back to our castle to freshen up after our fitness assault and tackle Jeanne’s sublime freshly-baked croissants and steaming cappuccinos.
Our goal for the day was to experience the best that Knysna has to offer and we headed to Thesen Island to meet up with Schalk Hildebrand from the Turbine Water Club, who had organised a day full of activities and adventure.
When I think of Knysna, the first thing that pops into my head is the towering verdant forest and elusive Knysna elephants made famous by Dalene Matthee in her brilliant book Kringe in ‘n Bos.
So we were absolutely delighted to be heading deep into the Goldfield State Forest in Rheenendal to see the Dalene Matthee memorial and hike the 9km Circles in a Forest trail.
Hiking through the Knysna forest is hard to describe. The magic in the air fills your heart with wonder and frees your mind from its every day worries, making space for peace, inner stillness and self- contemplation.
The forest was still damp from a recent rain and we admired hundreds of colourful and weird fungi along the way.
The trail led downhill for the first 4km, bringing us to a picturesque river and shallow waterfall. The way back uphill wound through towering giants and ancient tree ferns and having a guide meant that we were able to learn more about the flora and fauna along the way.
Next up Schalk’s sleeve was the charming Totties Farm Kitchen for lunch. This quirky country restaurant is absolutely delightful and was the perfect spot to rest and re-energise after our hike.
We were served the most delicious and generous meals – I enjoyed a spinach quiche and my husband, Ralph, loved his chicken wrap, both served with a mix of savoury and fruit salads.
We have vowed to return to eat our way through the entire menu as each dish is beautiful to behold and delicious as well as affordable.
With our tummies full, we drove towards Brenton-on-Sea, taking in some incredible panoramic viewpoints over the Knysna lagoon along the way.Last stop, Thesen Island – in time for a sunset cruise through the Thesen channels and to the Knysna Heads.We learnt about the feministic Knysna seahorses that keep their men pregnant at home, looking after the kids, and laughed about how the name of Knysna came to pass. (“Nice, né?”). What a fitting way to end our full day of adventure.Our second morning at Pezula Private Castle was very different to our first. We opened our thick curtains and let the morning light rise in the sky with the sea breeze in our faces as we dozed in our giant bed. As classy jazz started gently piping through our resplendent room, we knew it was approaching time to leave.In such a short space, we had fallen in love with our castle and all its royal treats and luxuries. I felt quite sad to be dethroned and removed from power in this magnificent abode.With our spirits lighter, our bodies fitter and our noses tilted ever so slightly higher, we returned home feeling royally refreshed and regally rejuvenated.Sarah Dirsuwei is the Port Elizabeth-based blogger behind the Chasing the Rainbow family travel blog.For more of her and the family’s adventures visit www.chasingtherainbow.net..