Monday, June 20, 2016

The launch of Leeu Estates, a boutique hotel, spa, gallery and winery in Franschhoek

Last week, we went to the launch of the Leeu Estates, the exclusive five-star boutique property which opened to paying guests on the 15th of June. Indian Billionaire, Mr Analjit Singh visited Franschhoek for one day during 2010 FIFA World Cup. He and his wife fell in love with the town and the countryside and decided to build a home there. This soon grew into a world-class hospitality and winemaking destination. (Singh means lion and Leeu is lion in Afrikaans)
He has since bought several properties in the area starting with Le Quartier Français hotel and restaurant and three farms, Dieu Donné, Von Ortloff and Klein Dassenberg. He is the non executive chairman of Vodafone India and the founder and chairman of the listed Max India Group, whose interests include life insurance and private health care
We were transported from town in their luxury transit vehicle
The golf carts moved everyone from their cars to the hotel
Arriving at the meticulously refurbished 19th-century Manor House. The architects involved were Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva, Graham Goosen and Johan Malherbe. Current rates are from R7300 pp in a classic room to R12000 pp for an Executive suite to R21600 per cottage. These are winter rates
We were welcomed with a glass of bubbly and could wander around looking at the decor
No, he is not crying, or taking a private phone call or peering through a hole in the wall. That is what we all concluded, but he did not move. Not at all. And then we realised: Tim is an art installation and is quite unnervingly real. He is soon to be joined by a female companion
A small lounge attached to one of the suites
There is art everywhere, excellent art, challenging art, beautiful art
The small terrace
What we were drinking, BAS MCC Brut from the Leeu Collection. BAS is Mr Singh's nickname
Canapés of smoked salmon, compressed cucumber and celery on tiny toasts
West Coast Lamb Bitterballen with a mustard dipping sauce
Joyous crisp Tempura green beans, so deliciously simple with a creamy soy dip
A superbly savoury light mushroom velouté, served warm
a curious observer
Award winning winemaker Andrea Mullineux with Dr Winnie Bowman CWM. Andrea, with her husband Chris, runs Mullineux and Leeu wines in partnership with Mr Singh at the winery on the farm and on their original property in Riebeek West
Mr Singh
Welcome speech from Hector de Galard, Managing Director of Leeu Collection
The media and guests listen
Hector introduces Area General Manager of Leeu Collection, Matthew Smith
Publicist Nicolette Waterford, Interior designer Beverley Boswell and landscape designer Franschesca Watson
Mr Singh with winemakers Andrea and Chris Mullineux
Mr Singh tells us the story of how he came to love Franschhoek and build the Leeu Estates. “I am extremely pleased to see this dream of mine turning into a reality,” says Leeu Collection’s founder, Bas. “At last guests from all over the globe can now enjoy the Leeu touch and have unforgettable experiences in a superb setting. This place is close to my heart and I am truly happy to share the beauty it offers with others.”
We then set off to see the estate gardens. First a walk past the rose garden
Landscape designer Franschesca Watson tells us about the garden and the plantings
Propitious marigolds. Franschhoek's first Indian restaurant, soon to open, will be called Marigold. It will be next to the Tuk Tuk Micro Brewery; both are part of the Leeu Collection
'Reflective Resonance’ by acclaimed sculptor Angus Taylor. It is a powerful piece in bronze and Belfast granite
No ordinary garden bench, but a work of art as well
Another view of 'Reflective Resonance’
Lynne strolls with Siegfried Schäfer, the editor of the Franschhoek Tatler 
The Bokkie Garden currently has three springbok. This one had tried to escape. Mr Singh is very fond of them and wants them to roam free in his garden. We suspect they will eat it all. An obvious challenge is the presence of leopards and rooikat in the mountains
A wintry view of the garden and the surrounding mountains
We reach the Mullineux and Leeu winery
One lion greeting another
The Mullineuxs welcome us
to the winery
Wines currently for sale and tasting in the tasting room
The tasting sheet
Some witty recycled art
Looking at the barrel cellar from the Tasting lounge
Space outside for tastings in better weather
We then went back to the Manor House and took the tour with Interior designer Beverley Boswell. She is South African, but currently works in London. She has been working on this project for three years. The decor is very understated, muted and very European in feel. All the luxury fabrics - silk, velvet, wool, flannel, and tweed come from the UK, and all the furniture was made there but upholstered here. The carpets have all been woven to order in India and do add a nice, needed, splash of colour
This is the small library
Everything in the Manor House has been specially commissioned, like this water lily lamp with echoes of Art Nouveau
The art is what strikes you first, each room is filled with masterpieces or masterpieces to be. Paintings, sculpture, pottery, and the disconcerting figure of Tim. You wander from room to room and your eye is caught by all of it, accenting each moment in the room and every wall. All are linked with the colours grey and beige.
Handmade silk lampshades and 2 humorous statues of bull terriers
A bejewelled wooden bowl. The ram's horns are chambered nautilus shells
The rooms are very large, the bathrooms enormous and the two we saw were clad in superb butterscotch marble. The dressing rooms are commodious and well planned. The decor is cool and grey. The sunshine outside should brighten it up
We strolled to the Spa next door
and were welcomed with green tea and lavender biscuits
There is a wonderful natural oil perfuming the air, a combination of ginger, fruit, herbs and spices. The staff told us about the Spa and then took us on a tour
Two pedicure seats, imported from the UK
The relaxing lounge
The room for couples having treatments together
Calming artwork and candles
A treatment room
The reception area with steps down to the swimming pool
A perfect place to relax
The Gym
Sun beds with views of the vineyards
The interior of one of the cottages; the theme continues. The Manor House has six rooms and suites. There are two rooms adjacent to The Manor House, and the remaining rooms and suites are located in spacious cottages among the gardens
A grey bedroom
The large bed with fine linen
the second bedroom
Back to the Manor House for lunch. The executive chef is Oliver Cattermole, previously at Mondiall in the Waterfront
L to R Kim Maxwell, Landscape designer Franschesca Watson, Christian Eedes, Andrea Mullineux, Angela Lloyd and Area General Manager of Leeu Collection Matthew Smith
The menu
Executive chef Oliver Cattermole comes to tell us about the food
Table decoration of roses, orchids and succulents from the garden
First course a tomato stuffed with coarse grained Tabbouleh. It was quite tart and the wine pairing was the Mullineux Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2015 which is a little oxidised, sherry style, on the nose, with a tiny bit of chenin fruit sweetness to counteract the tomato. They were a perfect match
A carrot course. Must confess, not great, a rather strange one note choice. Served with the Mullineux Old Vines White 2014. The wine was elegant and complex, showing first viognier then the crispness of the semillon and then pears, very satisfying, showing its quality
Lots of animated conversation over lunch
The main course of Spiced Kingklip with rich fried aubergine slices, and a green olive salsa. Nice crisp parsnip chips. This was served with the Mullineux 2015 Syrah, with spice, fruit and richness to counter the oily aubergine and the fish. The Old Vines White 2014 also went well with this course
And then came a poem of a dessert made by the talented pastry chef with a great future, Jac Kolver. Tender slow roasted apple confit between brittle crisp flaky pastry, the best in a long while, with a caramel and apple sauce topped with cream. A deconstructed tart tatin. He was greeted with loud applause by a usually jaded media who loved his dessert. And are still raving about it
Head Pastry chef Jac Kolver
And then he produced this wonderful array of friandise: Chocolate macarons, nut caramels and chocolate logs. Coffees and then it was time to leave
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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