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  • Writer's pictureAnji Connell

Experience The Magic of Leeu Estates, Where Art, Food, and Wine Blend Harmoniously With Nature

Experience the magic of Leeu Estates, a Luxurious Private Hideaway where Art, Food, and Wine blend harmoniously with Nature.

Leeu Estates is a five-star luxury boutique hotel perched on the slopes of the Dassenberg Mountains in the gorgeous Franschhoek Valley, nestled within stunning vineyards and landscaped gardens just minutes away from the charming village of Franschhoek-one of South Africa's most sought after residential addresses, with some of the top restaurants in the country within its borders. The strong wine culture and pristine natural and architectural beauty have made Franschhoek the "food and wine capital" of South Africa.

The Manor House

The 19th-century Cape Dutch style Manor House sits at the centre of a working wine farm within the vines and the meticulously manicured gardens by celebrated garden designer Francesca Watson. Complete with a fabulous restaurant, Le Chene and the sleekly modern Leeu Spa by Healing Earth in an adjacent and stunning contemporary building designed by Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva. Following the Vastu shastra architectural principles, the spa is in an elevated location that faces the first rays of dawn to promote a sense of wellbeing. Luxurious treatments focus on the therapeutic benefits of South Africa's unique Pinotage grape.

The 22 room Leeu Estates is part of the Leeu Collection, founded by Mr. Analjit Singh several years ago, including Leeu House, an exclusive 12-room hotel, and Le Quartier Français, a romantic 32-room hotel with two independent villas in the heart of Franschhoek village. Mr. Singh partners with the best in wine-making, art, and fine dining to create an exceptional guest experience.

Lockdown provided the perfectionist, Mr. Singh, with an opportunity to look at his empire with a fresh eye. The resulting changes take the property to another level, amplifying an already impressive guest experience.

Daily walks around the grounds led Mr. Singh to create a peaceful river walk with secluded outdoor seating areas and picnic spots selected for their commanding valley views and magnificent mountain backdrop.

The Bokkie Garden is very close to the founder's heart. "Bokkie," meaning small buck in Afrikaans, is also a term of endearment comparable to "beloved" or "sweetheart." New seating adds to this meditative and serene space where guests can reconnect with nature and one another.

The acclaimed sculptor Angus Taylor's Reflective Resonance,' a bronze and Belfast granite sculpture, has a pivotal and powerful presence in the garden, and planted with grasses and hedges are typically those found in the animal's diet in the wild.

There are an additional six new rooms and cottages; the vineyards have been doubled in size, new olive groves, orchards, and a herb garden ensure local organic produce for the hotel's restaurants and reduce the field to fork miles.

Two helipads allow for fast, secluded transfers from Cape Town, but the icing on the cake is the new Fynbosch Quarter, a contemporary building designed by DHK architects and the new home to Everard Read Gallery and the La Petite Colombe restaurant.

La Petite Colombe

La Petite Colombe is the sibling restaurant to La Colombe in Constantia that consistently receives worldwide acclaim as one of the World's best restaurants. Award-winning John Norris-Rogers, previously with La Colombe, was appointed as Head Chef of La Petite Colombe in August 2017, has relocated from Mr. Singhs Quartier Francois property.

Norris-Roger's skills are in evidence throughout the meal. Expect inventive pairings with local produce and elements from his many travels juxtapose with his classic training. Dining here is fun. The Chefs Experience Menu is seasonally changing 'taste sensation.' The fresh fruit, herbs, and vegetables are picked daily from the vegetable garden, just a few minutes' walk from the restaurant. There is a Vegetarian Chefs Experience too that is equally inventive and refined, and delicious.

The dessert trolley or, as the Petite Colombe team refer to it, the Willy Wonka inspired petit four trolley is an absolute delight bursting with fun bite-sized treats. The interior is a perfect balance to the inventive food unique interiors crafted by the innovative MR Design Studio.

The gallery complex also includes a studio and cottage for their artist residency programme, which provides a tranquil retreat for artists to develop new ideas.

Le chene

Award-winning chef Darren Badenhorst has recently taken over the restaurant at the Manor House. He showcases a delectable French-inspired menu best enjoyed from the extended deck and the valley's verdant panoramic views. Two helipads now allow for fast, secluded transfers from Cape Town.

The Wine Studio

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wine Studio, designed by Tomne Esteva, is the place to taste Mullineux award-winning wines produced by Chris and Andrea Mullineux is one of South Africa's most celebrated wine brands, both locally and internationally.

The Gardens

Francesca Watson's beautifully crafted gardens are the perfect setting for the owner's extensive sculpture collection. Geometrically patterned hedges provide a defining garden architecture through gardens that include a mix of "groomed" and "wild" sections.

There is a superb collection of art throughout the hotel and the grounds, personally curated by Mr. Singh. New walking routes guide you through the vines, the manicured landscaped gardens, where you will find strategically placed artworks of predominantly life-sized bronze sculptures by renowned artists Angus Taylor, Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis, and Otto du Plessis.

Follow this with a relaxing afternoon tea, even better, a glass of Mullinuex MCC. It really is a magical experience created for our enjoyment—a place where art benefits from the spectacular natural and vice versa. It makes you smile and elevates your spirit. Photographs do not capture the beauty here—the majesty of the mountains and the landscaping in contrast and complete harmony.

IMAGE CREDIT: ACID+ / Leeu Collection

This article first appeared online, on Home Journal's website, on January 22, 2021.


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