When you think St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape you tend to think beautiful coastline and black and white houses on the canals. If you had to spend a weekend in St Francis you would probably expect your guesthouse to have stunning sea views or be situated right on the canals. Yes, but not always. We spend a fabulous weekend at Dune Ridge Country House just outside (and with this I mean literally only a stone's throw away) St Francis Bay and found anything but.
As we arrived at Dune Ridge we knew we were in for a treat. This award winning - it was the national winner in the four star country house category at the 2013 Lilizela Awards - accommodation establishments are nestled away between thick coastal fynbos teeming with a multitude of bird species and the large dune fields to the rear of the property. You are literally removed from the rest of St Francis Bay so it gives you a great country feeling while still only 5 minutes away from the beaches and canals. We were welcomed by owner Sarah Swanepoel who showed to our rooms consisting of two of the 6 double rooms in the main house. Unfortunately the family cottage outside was booked but there was an inter leading passage joining the rooms giving us our privacy yet still being close to the KidZ.
The guesthouse is surrounded by lush gardens and once the KidZ started exploring they quickly came back to fetch us and point out the paths to the swimming pool and well hidden spa area. The pool looks like the ideal spot to sit with a book and cool down between chapters. Unfortunately for us it was a cool autumn weekend which meant that we skipped the pool and rather went for a couple of short hikes along the Cape St Francis coastline nearby. The one thing we didn't get a chance to do was Dune Ridge's Frog Safari. Not for the squeamish I presume but I'm sure the adventurous would get to see a couple of potential princes (and princesses?) hopping around in their torch lights.
Although Dune Ridge serves dinner we tried out a couple of places in the village. Breakfast was a feast though, served out on the stoep the first day and inside the dining room the second. Talk about spoiling us rotten. The KidZ especially loved the waitress who brought them hot chocolates with probably more marshmallows in it than actual hot chocolate. The same stoep was also the perfect spot for afternoon coffee and listening to the birds (when we could get to KidZ to be quite for 5 minutes) with a glass of wine around sunset. Was it sunset or wine 'o clock? I can't remember. But is there a difference?
Dune Ridge really is something a little bit different from what you expect out in that area. The guesthouse is a mixture of colonial nostalgia and modern sophistication yet it isn't stuffy and pretentious. It's family friendly, very homely, a beautiful setting, offers great service and dishes up good food. Yes I know that line sounded just a bit too cliché but believe me, you get everything but cliché. The only problem? Our stay being just too short.
Disclosure: We enjoyed the visit as guests of Dune Ridge Country House. I received no further remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.