Most people think of Fancourt as South Africa’s premier golf course (and they wouldn’t be wrong, The Links IS SA’s no 1 golf course), but if you think Fancourt is only for the older golfing set, you’ve got it wrong!
I was recently invited to spend 3 days discovering what makes Fancourt such a great option for a family holiday… and now that we’ve done that the bar has been set for all future family getaways.
Located just outside George at the start of the beautiful Garden Route, Fancourt is a 5 hour drive from Cape Town. We set off at around 1pm and were driving through the gates at 6pm, ready to unpack and head off to enjoy dinner…
Our first experience of Fancourt was the warm welcome we received – and this didn’t end on check-in, everywhere we went and at every interaction we had with the Fancourt staff we felt a genuine warmness and willingness to help. The attention to detail was impressive with courtesy calls, surprise gifts and being greeted by our names even when ordering a extra pillow off the pillow menu with house-keeping!
Our suite was one of comfortable luxury with a lounge area with TV, fireplace, dining area and 2 fold out beds for the kids. Our bedroom was plush with a huge en-suite bathroom that added to the opulent experience.
Having arrived in the dark, we were keen to head out straight after breakfast to explore the estate on our first morning, so headed down to the Sport & Leisure centre to hire 2 more bikes (we brought 2 of our own)
Biking around the estate is the perfect way to orientate yourself while enjoying the natural beauty, fresh air and some exercise and we chose a beautiful morning to do it on… everything was crisp with an abundance of green spaces and a brilliant blue South African sky up above us!
There are 3 routes – 2.5km, 5km and 10km – we opted to try the 10km but after 5 realised that the littlest amongst us has the littlest legs so ultimately dictates the length of the ride! I was still quite keen to explore the other half of Fancourt so this was the perfect time to try out the Kidz Club and Teen Zone facilities…
After signing your kids in and paying a daily rate, you can leave you your kids to enjoy all the amazing activities on offer while you head out to the green or the spa… or in our case, the bike track! The Kidz Club takes care of kids aged 3 – 8 and there are organised activities happening throughout the day as well as other play facilities on offer.
The Teen Zone is where my kids gravitated as my oldest is 10 and far more keen to hang out where the air hockey, fooz ball, table tennis and pool tables are! This meant his little sister wanted to be there too! There is no set supervision on this side but the facilities are super safe and there are adults overseeing them. Another firm favourite with my kids was the outside jacuzzi, there area also indoor heated pools but the novelty of jumping in the freezing cold outdoor pool and then into the hot jacuzzi was hard to beat! Plus this was where the other kids were hanging out… and they were keen to make friends!
After I managed to finish the first 10km cycle I’ve had in forever (literally, forever!) we headed off to pick up the kids and head out to explore the area around George.
The first destination on my list of “Things to do in George” was the Wonki Ware factory shop… I’d heard about this from a friend. She pops in every time she goes up and down the N2 to Plett. Located on York Street in the centre of town, this factory shop is well worth a visit if you’re inclined towards pretty ceramics to use in your home!! I didn’t have long with 3 moaning bodies in the car, but I managed to do well and scored a lovely selection of “seconds” for less than R350 (usually the price of just one Wonki Ware item in stores!)
Next on my self-made itinerary was a drive along the 7 Passes Road from George to Knysna via the forests and valleys of this scenic back route. Unfortunately we didn’t get very far when we came to a stop: Road Closed! What a pity. I was so excited to have found the road and read all about it in the Fancourt in house magazine… I suppose that just means we’ll have to plan a return trip!
To quell my disappointment we opted to head down to Wilderness Beach for a walk under the gathering storm clouds… and then back down to Victoria Bay, affectionately known as Vic Bay, for an ice-cream and some surf spotting from the pier.
On our next morning at Fancourt we headed out early to ensure we didn’t miss any fun family outings in the area (unfortunately many of the local attractions seem to be closed on Sundays)
Our first stop was the Outeniqua Transport Museum – we only had an hour to explore which meant this visit was a bit rushed but my kids LOVED this experience. My son had been learning about transport at school recently so had great fun taking lots of pictures of the steam engines and old cars. A highlight was the miniature trains that happened to be open – usually only open on Wed and Sat mornings!!
A family holiday is all about keeping the WHOLE family happy, not only the kids, which meant our next destination was one to keep the smile on my husband’s face: Herold Winery located just on the other side of the Outeniqua Pass towards Oudtshoorn. What a great find! We were a bit nervous it would all fall flat when the road on our Google Maps just seemed to go on forever but eventually we arrived, only to be welcomed by the owner/winemaker himself who set about lighting a fire, showing us his private underground storage cellar and offering us endless wines to taste. We repaid his generosity by buying a box of unique Outeniqua wine to take home as a momento.
One of the most popular family friendly outings in the George area is Red Berry Farm, a strawberry farm where you can pick your own strawberries, enjoy a mini-train ride and get lost in one of the largest mazes in the southern hemisphere! We’d enjoyed a few family outings here before but had never tackled the maze so that was first on our agenda this time around!
Whew! What a workout for brain and body. We spent a good hour going around and around trying to find the spots to stamp our card, but it was good fun, and we shared plenty of laughs as a family, which is what a family holiday is all about!!
To round off our visit our daughter was desperate to pick strawberries, she’d done it before but was too little so we relented and headed out to the strawberry fields…. another awesome memory made!
After all the gallivanting of the morning (not to mention trying to keep everyone happy), it was finally time for “Me Time”: A massage at the Fancourt Spa!
What was meant to be a 45 min treatment while the kids played in the Kidz Club turned into a 3 hour indulgence. I just couldn’t leave! (Come back soon for more about the spa in my Spa Review post!)
On our last evening at Fancourt my son and husband opted to take part in a fun evening run (complete with lumo paint), my daughter chose to join her new friend watching movies at the Teen Zone and I spent some time relaxing in our room. Bliss! The kids then chose to enjoy dinner in the Kidz Club (we ordered pizza from the La Cantina restaurant for them) and we got to enjoy an evening meal alone! La Cantina is an family-friendly restaurant on the estate serving up delicious pizza’s and pasta’s. They also serve other options including fish and steak but I’d recommend their Italian food, most especially the limoncello tart with clotted cream. YUM!
Our final day at Fancourt reflected our mood – wet and grey. We had planned to spend some time discovering the golf offerings of the estate and the freezing temperatures and snow on the mountains didn’t deter us…
We borrowed some clubs from the clubhouse and headed across to the Golfing Academy to try our hand at hitting a few balls from the driving range. There is also a practice putting green and a short 4-hold course that can be used, but unfortunately the rain and cold got the better of us here and we headed back to the warmth of our car after only a few balls…. another crazy, fun family memory in the bag!
Our 5 hour trip home meant it was time to leave around midday and with hundreds of snow reports filtering through on Facebook we opted to drive home via Route 62 to see if we could find the white stuff… and we weren’t disappointed!
Every mountain range from George to Cape Town was sparkling in the sunshine with a heavy dusting of white powder. Our kids had hoped to get to touch real snow for the very first time, unfortunately that didn’t happen this time but that only means we know where we need to head for our next family holiday… somewhere with snow!
Tel: +27 44 804 0000
Email: [email protected]
Images: Kathryn Rossiter