“I’m going on an adventure”, a phrase was written, by author JRR Tolkien and quoted famously by Martin Freeman in, The Hobbit Trilogies. Which were subsequently directed by Peter Jackson. Also, it was the first thought that popped into my mind when I got confirmation for my Brahman Hills adventure.
Who doesn’t like to spend time in the beautiful Midlands Meander, in Kwa-Zulu Natal? In Summer it’s an oasis of greenery, bursts of colors from blooming flowers, little to no wind, and the forever promise of an evening storm. The famous Nottingham Road caters to every type of traveler, whether you are going it solo, with friends, family or on a business trip.
I have heard many people talk about how long it would actually take to explore the entire Midlands Meander. Some say a week, some say two and some say, the Midlands Meander will never fully be explored or completed, by even the most enthusiastic traveler. I am quite fond of the latter belief. I don’t think it’s ever in one’s interest to come to the end of a trip. We need to keep re-visiting destinations. To bring something new to the destination within ourselves and to be shown things we didn’t see the previous time.
So, to the Midlands Meander, we went.
If you happen to be scrolling through the internet (like we all do at some point or other), you may have come across the social media channels for Brahman Hills. You may also have a slight sense of déjà vu, as you view the wedding chapel.
Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy, the beautiful Brahman Hills site used to be home to the Windmills Hotel. However, Brahman Hills has undergone a stunning remodel, both in style, accommodation, staff, chefs, and direction. A positive one.
Brahman Hills is a short drive from the City of Durban, although you may not believe the difference in the environment, could be so close. From city scrapers and the busy hustle and bustle of life to the calm and tranquil peace of the countryside.
The venue itself offers, both self-catering and hotel accommodation, depending on what your preference is. I know that when I visit Brahman Hills again, I will stay in the same self-catering cottage that we did, on this visit.
The cottage had 4 Large bedrooms, 2 which inter-lead into each other, 2 with en-suite bathrooms, and 2 which shared a bathroom. Due to the current water crisis in South Africa, I refrained from having a bath during our stay at the cottage but can tell you, that the bath was LUXURIOUS in size and design.
We also had a skylight in our bathroom, which I may or may not have attempted to switch off, one dazed morning, lol.
Our kitchen came stocked with all the basic self-catering provisions, including, full-sized appliances like the double door fridge, freezer, microwave, and stove. Utensils and cutlery were also fully stocked. In other words, you need not bring the kitchen sink from home. Our cottages were also serviced daily which I thought was a lovely touch. Towels were only replaced when left on the floor or in the bath and beds were made up when needed.
Speaking of bedrooms, at least 3 of the bedrooms that I saw including my own, had doors that opened up fully and allowed the occupant to walk outside or simply have an afternoon read while listening to the birdlife and watching the zebra graze. Which we did quite often. As always, I will remind my readers, wildlife are not pets, if you are staying on a property where there are wild animals or are within a nature reserve like we were, do NOT walk up too or intimidate the animals. You WILL come off second best. There is a reason, lions avoid interactions with Zebras, they like having an intact jaw. So let’s not be silly folks.
And once you are settled in, and have checked the last of your emails on the free Wi-Fi, it’s time to find your costume and head out to the Jacuzzi. Yes, the Jacuzzi. Ours was positioned at the back of our cottage, which looked over the rolling hills of Brahman Hills. Both a great way to spend the afternoon with your girls and some champagne, like we did. Or a lovely touch of romance, to a couples getaway.
The Blue Crane Nature Reserve
The entire property is within the Blue Crane Nature Reserve, which meant, we often walked past groups of buck, the famous Brahman cows, and curious Zebra. On Sunday we had breakfast in The Agility Hub, which was a 2-minute walk from our cottage.
When we walked into the breakfast hall, I heard several soft gasps from everyone in our group, as the view came into sight. The breakfast table was highlighted in a soft sunny glow, and more rolling green hills could be seen outside of the barn style doors.
After I had eaten my fair share of cheeses, biltong, yogurts, and fresh fruit, as one does when they’re away. We readied ourselves, to go for a walk through the reserve. General Manager, Wayne Chislett was going to take our group on a 3-hour walk.
Now I am an avid walker, often doing 6-8 hour walks through nature reserves up North and having summited Sani Pass several times over, I assumed it was going to be a walk in the park. I was wrong.
While the walk is absolutely beautiful and our guide and host were fantastic on checking on us and making sure we all wanted to continue. I think I have been behind the computer screen too long and not in the pool enough. The end incline, which to be fair was climbing up the side of a hill, did not agree with me and my lack of stamina.
If you are a walker and nature lover, I suggest you do a walk while staying at Brahman Hills, ask the staff, which routes are available, what the different route lengths are, and even take part in the weekly Park Run, which is hosted every Saturday and meets at The Midlands Kitchen.
When I read the words, tranquility lounge & champagne, coffee, and chocolate bar, I knew my spa experience was going to be anything but mediocre. That and the fact that the building itself, is styled and designed in a country-nautical fashion. Big round windows, make one feel as though they are on board a ship heading to a new adventure, and it’s not far off the truth.
We had light lunch snacks in the bridal suite when we arrived for our group booking. The spa has 6 dedicated therapists which meant that we could all have our treatments at the same time. We did break them up slightly so we got to be in different areas of the spa at one time, as not to overcrowd any areas.
I chose to have a pedicure, because quite frankly those of us who work in online marketing, who work as writers, who work in social media, and who work as freelancers, are horrible at keeping up with all our appearances.
Well, at least I am. So, a pedicure was the perfect treat and choice for me. I chose one of the new colors from the Gelish range, a turquoise green. Which ending up suiting my skin tone perfectly. Unfortunately, I am one of those individuals that don’t like people looking directly at my feet for long instances, so you’re not getting a close-up image of them.
The pedicure included a good foot massage and hot foot soak. I was on cloud 9. After my toes had set, I was taken downstairs to the massage rooms. My therapist who was so friendly and calming explained everything to me, giving me all the information I needed and letting me know when she was leaving the room and when she would be returning, allowing me my privacy to change.
Once I was changed, she came back into the room, made sure I was positioned correctly and then asked me what oils I wanted in my exfoliation scrub. I chose one that aided with tension, stress headaches, and cramps. Within moments, I was being lathered up in a scrub. It felt so ggggooooodddd!
After she was done scrubbing me up, I was sent off to a hot bath, filled with my chosen crystals. The bathing room itself is stunning. The glass sliding doors open up to an enclosed square area, which is outdoors but private enough for each pod. In the center of the wooden wall, is another nautical circle, with a flowing water feature inside of it. It was the definition of tranquil, as I lay there in a hot soak, as my skin opened up and the smells of the oils filled the room.
After I had relaxed for a while, listening to the birds and sounds of nature, I changed into my robe and headed back into the massage room. Where I was then given a full body 90-minute massage. It was heaven. I had so many knots in my neck and shoulders, the warm oils did wonders. I didn’t think I was the kind to fall asleep but nearing the end when my therapist was working on my calves I felt myself almost slipping off to la la land.
In the end, I walked out of the spa as though I had pillows under my feet. Totally and completely relaxed in, mind, body, and spirit. To be honest, I walked straight into our cottage, changed into my pajamas, grabbed my favorite blanket off my bed, and lay in the lounge on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. The cottage was silent as everyone took an afternoon siesta. I listened to the rain, caught up on a few e-books and sipped on a G&T. It was all sorts of relaxation.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a destination to stay at, and to spend your hard-earned money in, is the food. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I am going to go away, I want to do as minimal cooking as possible. I also want the option to dress up or down for meals or evenings out.
Luckily for me, Brahman Hills caters to all those aspects. On our first evening, we ate in the casual Brahman Hills Cafe, on the second evening, we had what I will say was 5* culinary meals in the famous 89 on Copper wine cellar, and on the last evening, we had a braai prepared and served to us at our cottage by the chef.
That is what I call attention to detail when it comes to catering. We had the most amazing service from all of the staff we interacted with, especially during our evening at 89 on Copper, our meals and wine pairings were explained to us in detail. The staff catered to all our dietary requirements, which we had let them know beforehand and there was never a dirty or empty dish left on the table. Drinks were topped up appropriately and for some in our group even exchanged.
And if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat between meal times, the Midlands Kitchen is a short walk from the conference room on site. Seriously. It is amazing how the two are linked, and yet you wouldn’t even know it, due to the silent atmosphere. I will be writing all about my Midlands Kitchen thoughts soon, click the follow button, so you don’t miss that post.
When can I go back? In all seriousness, I have a friend who loves road trips and I think we should do what we can to head back to Brahman Hills as soon as possible. It will be interesting to experience the single cottage, or a hotel room, as just 2 people for a weekend. Exploring more of the meandering midlands, and taking time out, in the peaceful environment that is naturally provided by Brahman Hills.
I always like to be honest in my reviews and I really have tried to think of anything that I could mention, needs attending to, or wasn’t so great about our visit, but I come up blank. My experience was true, a very good one. And if there was anything to be concerned about, I am sure the team at Brahman Hills would have done their best to attend to it, immediately. That is the kind of confidence that I picked up on and from the staff on site, during my stay.
Aaah….now to daydream about going back…. It is my Birthday in March you know……
Thank you to the team at Brahman Hills, to Theresa Gibbon Travel PR and to my amazing weekend housemates who traveled with me. The laughs, the heart to hearts and the downtime were absolutely amazing.
I also want to say, thank you for my beautiful luggage tag, who doesn’t like a personalized luggage tag? A stunning and practical gift, from my adventure in the hills. Perfectly fitting in with my American Tourister Luggage.
And As Always