Where ‘Bali’ can be found under our noses

Delivery from Ristorante Enricos and a towel for the beach

Singing Kettle Breakfast
Image: www.ellephoto.co.za

Living in Hong Kong for so many years, has spoilt me for life because beach holidays were spent in Southeast Asia in the most amazing places like Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Bali, all just an easy hop and skip away.

Lately I find myself drooling over adverts for the Maldives, Mauritius...but then the reality of how expensive these trips are puts paid to this kind of wanderlust.

Having said that, the Garden Route area is a most sought after holiday destination for domestic staycations — a veritable oasis for people living in Gauteng and the rest of the country, while it is a magnet for overseas visitors. We have beautiful beaches right across this area, so why one might ask, is there any need to fly away in pursuit of nirvana?

A visit to the Singing Kettle Beach Lodge in Plett, answers this question perfectly well...there is really no good reason to pay through the nose for an overseas holiday when all we have to do is open our eyes to find a beach paradise, a ‘Bali’ right on the doorstep at home.

Locals in this area and visitors to Plettenberg Bay all know about Ristorante Enricos right on Keurbooms Beach. I would say it’s almost impossible to live here and not eat at Enricos famous for Italian food, pizza and for its glorious location. Their slogan is ‘any closer and you will get wet,’ and that sums up the location of this eatery perched right on the water, with waves breaking on the rocks just a stone’s throw away from the tables. It’s so popular that they don’t take bookings and in the holiday season people don’t mind queuing for a table.

Imagine, then that I had never noticed (like the many other locals I have asked since my visit) that perched right above Enricos in the same building is the Singing Kettle Beach Lodge, an upmarket self-catering boutique establishment with six rooms and spacious decks that share the Enricos vista.

It’s a hidden gem really, while one of the best kept secrets is that when you stay at the Singing Kettle, you can order your meal from Enricos and have it delivered to your room, no waiting, no queuing and have it on your private deck.

Unless you get up and specifically look over the balcony you don’t even notice Enricos and even when the restaurant is pumping in season, you don’t hear it from the Singing Kettle because of the soothing white sound of the crashing waves.

 There are six rooms, all light and bright, all elegantly and individually dressed with a Bali-beach kind of casual-chic theme — and every room boasts a generous veranda with beach loungers as well as table and chairs. All of the rooms have a sea view, some even from the bed — just perfect for watching the dolphin parade that happens on a daily basis through these waters.

Two are family rooms, the others can accommodate children and there is a honeymoon suite that shouts pure decadence with its own lounge, a gorgeous bedroom and a big dressingroom come bathroom. From this room it’s almost possible to think you are on a boat at sea because the view is right over the ocean.

There is a communal area for guests and a terrace with a Weber should you want to socialise and braai. It goes without saying that every luxury from locally fashioned Mungo cotton towels to starchy white linen is provided as well as a cheerful self-catering kitchen with all the mod-cons you could want. Testament to this are the German and British guests who spend a couple months here every year managing perfectly well with the compact kitchen. And of course, the prerequisites like air conditioners, TV, wi-fi and of course power when there is load-shedding, are in place.

The Singing Kettle people take very seriously the special touches they provide their guests with every day like the muesli, the good coffee and the extravagant fruit bowl.

What really resonates with me here, because luxury alone can be found in many hotels and resorts in the area, is the Singing Kettle’s very special beach holiday vibe, the you-are-welcome, extra-caring ambience. There’s a feeling of peace, of holiday, of timeout here...hear the seagulls, smell the suntan lotion and surrender.

 In the lobby area there is a big chest with beach umbrellas, kids buckets and spades, balls and bats...anything you would need to play on the beach as a family.

Children are welcome here and cots are available on request.

The really spectacular white orchids in the lounges and all the rooms remind me of Singapore. There is a book case filled with reading material for your holiday...such a homely touch.

In your room you will find a bag with towels and even chairs to take with you for a day on the beach.

This place has a rich history so be sure to look at the old photos in the lobby area — of the Keurbooms River and how it looked here in the late 1800s. There is a photo of an ox wagon with women in big skirts and bonnets outspanned for a holiday I suppose, though I can’t imagine how that outfit works on a beach. Check out the photo of the one and only petrol station in Plett Main Street taken in 1929. In the 1700s there was a whaling station here.

Janine Bächle left Cape Town and bought the property in 1998. At that time the Singing Kettle was a tea-room that apparently made the best crumpets in the area. In 2006 she opened the Singing Kettle.

In the meanwhile, she headhunted a real Italian chef best known as just Enrico, who started from scratch and has over the years turned Enricos into the famous restaurant it is today. People drive from Mossel Bay for a meal here.

According to Janine, the name Singing Kettle goes way back. She was told by locals who had lived in Keurbooms for generations, that it got its name because of the water breaking and rushing through the rocks which sounded just like a whistling or kettle singing. Rock formations change over time and so it doesn’t whistle any more though, but the name remains.

Both international visitors and South Africans (half and half since locals have cottoned onto staycations) make up the guest list here with one thing in common that when they leave, they very often book their return visit. Having said that that it’s not impossible to get a booking and the rates are surprisingly fair for this location.

Should you stay awhile and fall out of beach lethargy, there are tonnes of attractions only minutes away, from Plett town, to wine farms, animal sanctuaries, swimming with seals, going out on a boat, shopping at Old Nick Village, you name it.

A walk to Arch Rock and Cathedral Rock is mandatory. And if you get struck by the must-find-a pansy shell fever that overcomes the locals, ask Janine where to hunt and at what time of the day to go. Very few places in Plett have the position this property has with sunsets and views across the bay all the way to Robberg and Beacon Isle.

All in all, this is just as heavenly as anywhere in Bali.



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