What a night! So wish that all of my readers could have enjoyed the experience with me. The best i can do is share photos of our tour which included the Private Castle and the Barnyard. My photos don’t do the Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa justice, especially since a mate’s dog decided that my camera was a chew toy i.e. half of the screen is now black so i can’t see my settings! Nevertheless, boosted by free booze and good company, i took many.
We were provided passports wherein destinations beckoned, awaiting stamps on completion of each journey and a subsequent lucky draw. After a variety of delicious cocktails and snacks at Noah’s Champagne & Cocktail Bar, we were colour coded into tour groups so that our destinations never became over crowded. I was on red team, accompanied by journalists and friend Yogesh Pama who has visited Pezula many times over the years but later said that he’d never imagined how big the scope of it all was.
We trundled into a mini-van wherein i was fortunate to have Jenitha and Davina seated beside me. They’re ladies from Fleishman-Hillard which is responsible for the PR for Hilton Hotels in South Africa. They’d flown in the same day for this fun and prestigious day as well as my constant ribbing:)
We toured past the very green Field of Dreams, the sporting complex, and stopped at The Barnyard a.k.a. The Boma for a beautiful view of horses and rabbits. We breathed in fresh air, enjoyed conversation, drank good wine and ate an organic baby carrot and cream cheese snack that was served in a mini pot plant - i kid you not (remember that this is the same Food & Beverage team, headed by Geoffrey Murray, that won this year’s Hilton Worldwide Middle East & Africa (MEA) F&B Masters competition).
Next stop was the Private Castle at Noetzie Beach. I’ve admired it often enough from a view with sand and sea between my toes but standing on the opposite side offered an incredible perspective. Before heading into the well-furnished and fire-warmed rooms, as if i wasn’t malleable enough already, i ‘persuaded’ myself to try two of the three liquor concoctions on offer. I’m not a brandy drinker but now have to reconsider that fact after enjoying one of the best mixes i’ve ever had. A mixture of Gifford’s elderflower syrup, Graham Beck Brut champagne and Nederburg’s Solera Potstilled brandy was incredible. Add Appletiser and a brown sugar cube and it’s an entirely different, thrilling experience. And let me not forget to mention that one of these, i forget which (because both deserved it) won a mixology award. I ‘forced’ myself to have another on my way out.
At the Clubhouse, my non-golfer status was ignored in lieu of putt-putt! Yes, you heard me correctly. Conrad Pezula had set up 4 holes for our fun. We puttered and racked up enough strokes to laugh. Somehow, i won golf balls so the ‘competition’ was certainly rigged:) One of the highlights of the day was drinking Mitchell’s Beer, my favourite beer, from a bottle – yes, Knysna’s famous beer has graduated from plastic to glass!
If i’m correct, which i only thought of now, we were suppose to check out the spa but never got there. Our concierge had given us enough rope to have fun so no regrets. So, for the final destination, we headed to the Zachary restaurant level of the resort where we tried the next batch of drinks and snacks. The chocolate table turned me into a girl. Entertainment was provided by the Knysna Children’s Choir (Knysna Primary School) who sang and played their way into our hearts. I’ll have to find out whose behind their musical talent because i had had no idea how great they were until now.
Speeches by Hilton executives, Jan van der Putten (Vice President Operations for Africa and Indian Ocean) and Heather Shaw (Hilton Worldwide Senior Director – Corporate Communications Middle and Africa), expressed admiration for Knysna and a willingness to work with the town. Keith Stewart, Pezula’s visionary, was a remarkably comfortable narrator who had us laughing when he related Pezula’s opening 8 years ago which coincided with 430mm of rain, many buckets and mops, and a full house that stayed for free.
Many prizes followed. They included gym membership, 100 000 points for the HHilton loyalty program and a stay in the Honeymoon Suite. The winning of the latter by DA councillor, Richard Dawson, prompted Mayor Georlene Wolmarans and ex-mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies, at the table beside me, to cheer loudly.
Special shout-out to the staff. I met so many and all were very friendly, informative and eager to go out of their way – terrific service.
A gift bag of beauty products, Titleist golf balls and a Conrad Hilton USB stick bade us farewell.
It was a fab way to spend 4 hours whose result was me wanting more. See, you again, Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa. Welcome to Knysna!