Familiarity, goes the battered old bromide, breeds contempt. Perhaps. But it also breeds contentment and comfort. Ask the families who’ve been going to the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa Resort, for decades. Ask me.
Indeed, as I wended towards the Drakensberg – easily my favourite destination in this glorious country – I thought how things had changed since I first started parental visits to the resort as a pre-teen in the early 80s.
For one, my mount to the mountains was (and is) a quantum leap over the cars of yore bearing the Renault badge.
The range-topping Koleos 2.5 Dynamique AWD I was piloting on national roads and then the lovely secondary routes heading to the Southern Drakensberg is a handsome machine.
The cabin is a happy place to be, too, I muse as I turn onto the all-tar road heading to to the Drak Gardens – a road that I remember as dirt when I first visited. The hotel is rich in facilities. Think spa, 18-hole golf course, mountain bike trails, tennis, bowls,andbadminton…the list is long.
“Mountains of fun for the whole family,” as it says on the website, but the Drak Gardens’ appeal goes even deeper than just hikes, scenery, five restaurants, conference bars, and accommodation stretching from deluxe rooms to self-catering.
With the Koleos docked, I sit with Kyle Bosiger, the assistant GM, on the same elevated balcony that I remember from 1980.
Over the decades I must have sat here a dozen times with peaks including the prominent Rhino Horn rearing up as a backdrop. The winter sun is gentle. Those Berg views – so inviting of bromides ranging from “awe-inspiring” to “majestic,” largely because they are so timeless and unshakeable.
Kyle tells me of his own Drak Gardens links and lineage, with his dad having been GM back in the 90s. Many staff have been here for 20 or 30 years and Kyle says families have been coming here for generations. Today the place is more family focused than ever. “Happy kids mean happy parents,” says Kyle.
In an age of increasing uncertainty and angst, the glorious continuity provided by a place that holds inter-generational memories of sun-lit times is comforting.
While the Drak Gardens – verdant in summer, sometimes snow-covered in winter –offers “something for everyone,” its appeal transcends its encyclopedic list of features and facilities. Rather like the Koleos, which is yours for R489 900 with a five-year/150 000km warranty included.
A Drak Gardens trip will be extra. But only a bit, with a winter special at R699 per night, breakfast included. Plus that comforting sense of continuity.