One & Only, Cape Town

What is it? Not the one and only One&Only, funnily enough, although it is the original, from which a chain of luxury resorts has been built that stretches from North America to Australia (Sanya will soon see China’s first). It’s not often that a mountain view beats a sea view, but Cape Town, in South Africa, provides an exceptional exception. Table Mountain – on a clear day or with a tablecloth of mist – is drop dead gorgeous and the best part of the One&Only is that every room has a postcard view of it.

What’s the resort like? It’s huge. So big in fact that there’s an island in the middle and a full range of accommodation, near the buzz of the restaurants and hotel lobby (above) or out by the pool (right). The vibe is friendly but not so laid-back that it’s all hanging out. This is celebrity-spotting territory and casual means cool.

What’s on the island? The spa, which is all palm trees and pools on the outside and oversized dressing gowns and hushed whispers on the inside. The vitality pool, steam, sauna and ice fountain could keep you amused for an hour – and that’s just what’s on offer in the changing room. Pedicurist to the stars Bastien Gonzalez has a team based here and guests can paddle board around the island; conditions – dead calm – are perfect for the novice.

Tell us about the swimming pool. It is 350 square metres in size, is heated in winter and is in the middle of the island. It’s got an infinity edge and, if you swim at just the right angle, it appears as though there is nothing between that edge and Table Mountain.

And when you’ve worked up an appetite? It’s a tough choice between a big-draw international chef at Nobu (top) and the local favourite, Reuben’s (below right). Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s only restaurant in Africa serves traditional Japanese cuisine using local produce, such as Karoo lamb and kingklip fish. And South African celebrity chef Reuben Riffel gives a local twist to bistro favourites. It’s worth flying to Cape Town just for his chilli salt squid. And for a casual bite there’s Isola next to the pool, which is great for braais (a type of barbecue).

One and Only 1What about the vino? South Africa knows how to do wine and not only is Cape Town surrounded by some of the best of the nation’s wine-growing regions – Stellenbosch is a 40-minute drive away – but the resort has, it claims, the most extensive cellar in Africa. One of two sommeliers on hand is Luvo Ntezo, who has worked his way up from pool boy at a winemaker-run hotel to winning South Africa’s best young sommelier competition. He’ll show you there’s a lot more to South African wine than pinotage.

What else is there to do? The buzzing Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is packed with restaurants and shops and is just a few minutes’ walk away. A 15-minute cab ride will take you to the Table Mountain cable car or Camps Bay, which, with a long strip of bars and restaurants set just back from the beach, is where Cape Town goes to chill out on a Sunday. The resort can arrange for you to take a dip with great white sharks (you’ll be in a cage) and day trips to the markets, the townships and Robben Island, where late president Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years.

What’s the bottom line? Rooms start from US$550 a night. For more information, visit

Original Link: SCMP


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Kate Whitehead

Kate Whitehead is a Hongkonger and has made the city her home since she was eight. She got her first degree (BA English Lit) from Warwick University and her postgrad (MA English Lit) from Sussex University. She was on staff at the Hong Kong Standard and South China Morning Post and was the editor of Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine, Discovery.

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