Misty Hills – A garden Labyrinth

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The meaning of Labyrinth, for those uninitiated, is that of “a complicated irregular network of passages or paths”.  The winding paths and dense brush, alludes to being on Safari in Africa.  One would expect a Lion or Witch to pop out the Wardrobe at any time! 

The bush was green and the surrounding countryside of Muldersdrift was just as lush.  Muldersdrift is close enough to Johannesburg in South Africa to be a short drive away and far enough to feel like you have left the buzz of the city behind you and heading into the countryside.  Early in April, we (the Nomad team) made our way to Misty Hills for an overnight conference.

The hotel is easily accessed from both the N14 freeway from Pretoria and Kurgersdorp as well as Beyers Naude which comes in from the South of the city. Well signposted and easy to find on the GPS and local Google Maps.

As soon as we entered, there was a security checkpoint which is critical in our society today to make sure that guests feel safe and secure. We made our way to the new and refurbished reception area.  The high ceilings and well-appointed reception desk was a welcoming sight and the gorgeous feel of being on Safari washed over us as we approached the reception area.  

We were greeted by friendly staff and were taken to the Zebra Room which was to be our conference room for the day.  We followed the winding path to the conference area and were greeted by a friendly smile, coffee and various treats.  The toilets were well placed between a number of conference rooms and the soft sound of the indoor waterfall nearby was enough to put us to sleep!

We made our way to the breakfast room where we had a long discussion with the chef about the various types of eggs used to make an omelette. With loads of breakfast choices and well laid out, we had full tummies when we arrived to start our conference. The muffins had to wait till lunchtime.  The room we had for our conference was well lit, had enough power outlets for our range of laptops and all the equipment we needed was on hand and easy to get up and running. Having a problem with the overhead was no trouble at all for the staff that arrived promptly to sort it out and found it was us that was technically challenged!

Lunch was prompt and ready on our arrival in the Atrium and surrounded by the proliferation of green runners and luscious floral arrangements made by nature itself, we enjoyed our meal. The steak was done to perfection and the fish and chips, while being on the verge of underdone, was tasty and chips were crisp.  The dessert was served on similar platters of stone and this matched the setting which was a mix of wrought iron and stone.  We meandered on after our meal to the conference venue and along the way came across a wedding party.  The green common outside of reception had been transformed into a splendid wedding venue with the Arc we had photographed earlier becoming the podium on which the wedding party were to be stationed. 

I stopped and took a photo of the happy groom and his groomsmen on our way and by the sound of the ceremony that followed; it was a happy occasion and a marvellous setting. The sun wasn’t shining but it didn’t have to as the Harry Potter setting gave it a mysterious feel. The wedding was pink and blue and besides being very young, they took the event very seriously.

With the sun disappearing over the horizon it was time to find our room and get changed for dinner. We were on the right of the driveway which had its own pools, fish ponds and maze of paths. 

After our conference was over, we decided to find the Spa and relax before the sun went down. It was fun to wind our way through the different “islands” within the hotel grounds and make discoveries we did not know where even there! Like the swimming pool. It was a gorgeous pool with a length that would encourage any practicing swimmer or just to keep fit.  The spa was closed by the time we got there and we decided to swim in the pool instead. This was not a bad choice.  The water temperature was just right and the bar service, although closed, helped us to find towels in the fully kitted gym close by.

With the sun disappearing over the horizon it was time to find our room and get changed for dinner. We were on the right of the driveway which had its own pools, fish ponds and maze of paths.  After a brisk walk we found our rooms which were all alongside each other and with a gorgeous balcony to enjoy the quiet of the fish pond, it was finished off with a thatch roof. Now if you live in Africa, thatch is a given when in a country hotel. But not all hotels think like that.  So I was more than delighted to find my entire room was under thatch.  The bed was so high I had to jump on it…and so large, my family could have slept on it. And to their credit there were no closed walls or rooms. Everything was open and the sunken bath was so inviting, I knew if I dropped into it, I would never get out!  The enclosed outside shower was a welcome delight as my husband absolutely loves outside showers and if he could build one in our complex at home, he would!

Basin in the bathroom was built for two and as usual he has more bathroom items than I do as I carry the technology and writing tools, he carries the personal kit.  Very clean and neat and well-appointed with just the right amount of ornaments and decor. 

Off to dinner and again finding the Carnivore, was in itself a treasure hunt.  One of our colleagues got so lost; we had to fetch him by car! But all in all, if you read the signs you generally will find your way.  The Carnivore is a franchise of the Carnivore in Nairobi.   It is the ultimate “Beast of a Feast”. A variety of meat including ostrich, crocodile, port and lamb, rumps of beef, sirloins, spare ribs, sausages, chicken wings and many other types of games are roasted over charcoal fires and carved off a sword at your table. Delicious side dishes and an exceptional array of sauces complement this fixed price feast that also includes soup, a selection of desserts and finished off with a delectable cup of coffee.  

Carvers wearing outfits similar to those in Sweeney Todd (I almost expect Johnny Depp to jump out from behind them with a gleam in his eye and a razor in his hand), and straw hats, they move from table to table carrying the Masai swords laden with different game and meats carving unlimited amounts on the sizzling cast iron plates in front of each guest.  This is accompanied by a selection of salads and vegetable side dishes stacked onto a double story “lazy Susan” in the middle of the table.  The carving only ceases when defeat is declared by the lowering of the flag in the middle of the table.

The service was great, which is what we began to expect from our stay at Misty Hills, and once our feast was over and the Malva pudding was cleared, it was time to hit the proverbial sack. Our stay at Misty Hills was almost over and I can honestly say we were sad it was over. When I come back next time, we have to do the Spa as it looked just like a house in one of those fantasy books we are always reading.

This article was written GENIENE PRESTON

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