The sculpture outside the main door of Franschhoek’s luxury La Residence is a photographer’s challenge. How, wonders the gal, do you get a photo without being in dark shadow? But this is a significant sculpture, indicating the freedom that Liz Biden and her family and her team have put into this 21-room hotel. You feel as if you can do anything, whether taking all the five two-room villas for a wedding, or taking the whole caboosh, or, as some long to do, merely staying in your art-filled room and staying put. No-one minds. This is do as you want-ville.
Take the springbok who supposedly live in a pen on the five-minute approach from outer gate to main door. They should be in the pen, which is wired. But daddy springbok has combative sons who want to challenge him and invariably one, at least, of the offspring manages to get out of the pen, on to the road (this is a misnomer as there is little traffic and anyway it only goes from main gate to front door). I head down to see the springbok, and look around at the 360-degree sunshine and feel as if I could stay here forever. No wonder some, like Elton John, return again and again, although this is more difficult now that he has two sons (kids under 12 are only allowed in the two-room villas).
I wander past the springbok, and past the villas and up into the vineyards, past the vines that produced the welcome rosé, and back up to my private lawn, sheltered by tall hedges. Funny, in room three I feel as if I am alone in the entire building but, from outside, I see I have someone above me. The hotel is full but there is no noise. This is one of the marvels of the Biden family, who with their Royal Portfolio have produced, so far, three properties that make every customer, guest, feel they are centre of attention. I now look forward to seeing their Birkenhead House, on a private beach in Hermanus, and the Royal Malewane, in the Kruger Park (and is it true they are doing something in Cape Town?).
The Royal Portfolio already markets and manages One Above, the privately-owned biggest suite atop One&Only Cape Town. The views from that suite, with its two swimming and several decorative pools, are unparalleled. But I would say that it’s hard to beat my views, from room three in this luxury winelands hotel in Franschhoek.