One of South Africa’s Historic Presidential Retreats Has Become a Luxury Resort
The Afrikaans word bosberaad translates to “meeting in the bush,” a summit held in a secluded location to discuss critical matters. It’s easy to see why former South African president F.W. de Klerk might have selected Lekkerwater, in South Africa’s remote De Hoop Nature Reserve, as the setting for his own bosberaads in the 1990s to plan out the delicate details of the nation’s transition from apartheid to democracy.
A four-hour drive from Cape Town deposits you at this cliffside retreat clinging to the edge of the world, where wide beaches are unmarred by footprints, hills are overgrown with fragrant fynbos plants, and shimmering rock pools are teeming with octopus, abalone and whelks. It doesn’t get more isolated than this—even if your own preoccupations are decidedly less zeitgeist-altering than de Klerk’s.
The original Lekkerwater burned down in 2015, but as of April, it has been reborn as a chic new beach lodge from Natural Selection (a relative newcomer to the safari-outfitter circuit). The seven rooms are simple but comfortable, and expansive windows are the focal point—anyway, with ocean views like this, who needs art? (Though there is art, too—colourful paintings of proteas and whales by Cape Town–based Jemima Sargent.)
Lekkerwater Beach Lodge Photo: Courtesy of Natural Selection
The simplicity continues in the main lodge, from the natural materials (woven bamboo chandeliers; a massive dining table hewn from a slab of oak) to the home-style meals shared around the communal table with fellow guests—braaied lamb chops and boerewors sausages one night, perhaps, or a harvest table of salads, steaks and cheeses for lunch.
De Hoop’s designation as a Marine Protected Area, with almost 70 kilometres of pristine coastline, means there’s an abundance of marine life—and an absence of human life. You’re far more likely to see dolphins splashing around close to the beach than people plodding along its sandy shores. And from June through November, you’ll want to keep your curtains flung wide open at all times: De Hoop is the best perch from which to see whales in Africa, and in season, massive groups of southern right whales converge by the lodge for your own private bosberaad.
Lekkerwater Photo: Courtesy of Natural Selection