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Experts recommend coastal and mountain sanctuaries for health and wellbeing. This Cape Town icon offers the best of both worlds. Journalist Debbie Hathway reports on her recent stay at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa


I used to think the term “vitamin sea” was overused. Corny even. Until the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown along with the rest of the world. I would drive to the ocean closest to home almost daily just to gaze at the waves from the confines of my car. The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa is on the Atlantic Seaboard, a good distance from the False Bay beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean on my side of Cape Town. The water to the east of the Cape Peninsula is warmer and shallower compared with the western side where the 12 Apostles is. Idolised by locals and tourists alike, this landmark establishment is flanked by two more Cape Town icons – the unmistakable Twelve Apostles mountain range and Table Mountain National Park.


Natural high

I love the location for the apparent wildness of that coastline – the spectacle of huge waves crashing over massive rocks on a stormy day; the strands of seaweed floating on the sparkling surface when the sun’s out. The sights, sounds and smells evoke memories of a natural environment I knew as a child was the most important for a happy holiday – before we had highbrow surveys to tell us so.

During a recent stay at the invitation of its sister property Bouchard Finlayson, a boutique vineyard, I revelled in the service and style that have led to so many awards for this member of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and The Leading Hotels of The World. Within the limitations of the Covid-19 protocols, the staff was strict without being stifling, ensuring that we were all safe to delight in their hospitality. Executive chef Christo Pretorius prepared a feast, served individually plated and meticulously designed to suit a range of dietary requirements.

Head sommelier Gregory Mutambe oversaw the wine pairings as guests gathered in Azure Restaurant or overflowed onto the veranda to make the most of a rare, warm and windless evening. Goat’s curd empanada, confit free-range chicken terrine and seared yellow-fin tuna were served with Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique (my favourite), Kaaimansgat and Missionvale Chardonnay respectively.

Ode to the ocean

Then it was the turn of the red wines, renowned cellar master Peter Finlayson’s forté. Moroccan lamb en croute paired with Hannibal (a Sangiovese/Pinot Noir blend, another favourite), charcoal-grilled king oyster with Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, and grilled springbok loin with Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir. For the final course, we sampled vanilla bean brûlée with the first Aurum straw wine by winemaker Chris Albrecht, and citrus-cured farmed kabeljou with Sauvignon Blanc.

When Pretorius gave us a rundown of the menu at the beginning, my ears pricked up at the mention of kabeljou. It’s a link to those happy childhood memories I mentioned earlier, of family holidays along the Wild Coast, eating the catch of the day reeled in by my father, an avid rock fisherman. Pretorius can relate. His favourite way to unwind after a busy shift? “To spend as much time as I can with my wife and daughter, preferably at the ocean, with a rod in my hand.” There are countless reasons to book your stay at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa. You only need one.


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