The main design in the urban resort that is the luxury Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is by Jacci Samios and Ockert Snyman, who work as JACKET (get it?). And the gal thinks they have done just right. The complicated corridors that connect the 118-room hotel’s blocks, sorry cottages, are palest blue-grey and white, with cream and dark chocolate striped carpeting. In the stairwell leading up 24 stairs to room 424 is a chandelier of bits of papers, with a babel of scribbles and a few photographs. 424 was once the floral Stephanie Powers Suite. Now it is 21st century chic.
Suite 424 still has its over-Zoo views from its private terrace, and a pantry behind doors in the salon. Now it has pale blue-grey walls with Champagne woodwork, and ecru carpeting with gigantic pomegranate-shaped outlines complementing ogee shapes on the Champagne curtains. In the bedroom are four woodcuts of Mandela at various stages from young adult though to legend. Other art, in the salon, includes a couple of desert paintings, perhaps of the Great Karoo. Yes, you know you are in the powerhouse of Africa, and I keep forgetting that Johannesburg is not capital of South Africa.
The restaurants, designed by Blacksheep from London, are unrecognisable. Remember the upper-level swimming pool? It is no more (there is a sensible new lap pool down the hillside). Now an all-day restaurant, Flames, with 28 vertical, three-high rows of unique plates on some walls, flows from inside, to semi-outside – pull back the roof, when the weather allows – to real terrace, with Bordeaux burners. Chef Dirk Gieselmann, who came from the Haeberlins in Illhausern, also has responsibility for a brand-new View fine-dining dinner-only restaurant, next to a Champagne and Martini bar. Sample Kudu loin in brioche with dried fruit compote and mango, beetroot and poivrade sauce in View. In Flames at dinner, I adored my springbok carpaccio with black truffle marinade and green asparagus tips, arugula with whole grain mustard dressing and grilled hazelnut followed by a 250g wagyu ribeye.
And at breakfast some of Flames’ two open kitchens’ counters become buffets, decorated with a pot of wheatgrass and, also South Africa’s national flower, protea (yes, you know where this luxury hotel is!). I sat outside, a Bordeaux burner at the ready but not needed, as I ate papaya and yoghurt, catching up on emails. Yes, apparently part of the phenomenal spend on redoing this heritage ‘village’ of a hotel includes a million dollars (US) in cables. Anywhere, anytime, has connectivity, they promise… I have to leave, but I will be back, to try View and more.