There are few pleasures in life as a restorative escape. In this case, it was to a place where efforts are made to lower impact on the planet and increase positive social impact.
Visiting Stellenbosch earlier this year I stumbled across Wonderland Escapes who represent several remarkable private properties, one of them in Devon Valley, in the Stellenbosch wine lands. The aptly named Le Jardin Villa is a private, art-filled hotel owned by a couple who live in Oxford (why on earth would one do that when you could be here? asked the Belgium publisher I was with). The owners support local art, design and handmade craft and have a significant collection they generously share with guests. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to curl up on a locally-made designer couch without your phone.
Le Jardin has an Alice’s adventures in Wonderland theme – visiting it one could easily have fallen down the rabbit hole. From jumping into the solar heated pool, to walking the gardens, discovering whimsical follies and water features: a wigwam tent, a water fountain in a water-lily dam and zip line.
The outside garden creeps inside and serves as the inspiration for the home interior: Amazonia wallpaper in the entrance hall, garden squirrels in the study and the main en suite bedroom walls run wild with Henri Rousseau jungle scenes, crafted by African Sketchbook, a collective that works with artists from the surrounding townships.
The nature theme continues throughout the artefacts in the home: families of wooden meerkats made by local artisans and oversized vintage teddy bears to name a few. The bottles of local and international designer gin lead you into temptation, and drinks are spruced up with freshly grown herbs grown in the garden maze. Sustainable practices extend to the herb garden walls – to give a more aged look by applying a moss paint over the surrounding bricks (the moss paint contains a yoghurt mix which encourages moss to grow over them).
Guests and chefs are able to help themselves to whatever they like in the herb garden, which includes rosemary, mint, a range of thyme, oregano as well as basil, fennel, dill, celery, wild garlic (which also acts as a natural pesticide), coriander and spring onion, as well as spinach, tomatoes and a lemon tree. The outdoor pizza oven only uses alien black wattle wood. Ingredients sourced for breakfast are organic, ethically-and locally sourced wherever possible.
The guest bathrooms product range is Healing Earth, products that are pure, containing no artificial colours, chemicals, parabens, petrochemicals, synthetics or other harmful ingredients. Only pure organic botanicals and indigenous plant extracts are used. They support local organic farming and use only pure, organic essential and indigenous oils and natural active ingredients.
As for cleaning products used in the villa, a range of green cleaning products is used throughout (a brand called Innu-Science – used for kitchen and hand hygiene, plumbing and septic tank maintenance, to housekeeping and industrial degreasers and is totally EU-Ecolabel approved – sourced through Blue Mountain locally.
Even the pets are up-cycled: all three resident dogs are rescue dogs. There are two boreholes on the property (for the gardens in particular) and kitchen waste is composted where possible. Le Jardin Villa may be like stepping into wonderland but its sustainability practices are firmly grounded in reality.
- Images: Supplied
- Mason was a guest of Le Jardin Villa
- To book or to enquire about prices visit the website