If you have never been to South Africa, or Cape Town in particular, you are truly missing out.  My last and sadly only visit to Cape Town was in 2002 as one leg of a 3-week honeymoon journey.  I had no idea how spectacular this cosmopolitan city would be – the gorgeous beaches, amazing restaurants, Table Mountain,  the surrounding winelands and coast – all left me in awe as I was expecting something, I don’t know, different.
I can’t wait to go back, with or without my kids in tow (Note: The winter holidays in the states is a perfect time to travel to South Africa as their seasons are reverse from ours, and at 7.6 rand to the dollar, still a pretty good deal).

Incidentally, Cape Town is one of  THE most happening places to be as the biggest event of the summer, the World Cup (equivalent to the SuperBowl for us Americans but SOOO much bigger. Soccer is, after all, the most popular sport in the world), comes to South Africa for the very first time (Note: beware of traveling here June 11 to July 11 if you are not coming for the games). And to get ready for the influx of tourists, new restaurants and hotels are popping up around the city (such as the One & Only and Taj Hotels) while existing ones, such as the grand dames Cape Grace and Mount Nelson, are redecorating and adding new amenities.

It goes rather undisputed in travel circles that the One & Only Cape Town was one of the hottest hotel openings in 2009 (see my prior post on new hotel openings). The opening last April was hotter than the Oscars red carpet with Mariah Carey, Morgan Freeman, Sharon Stone, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon and Nelson Mandela on the celebrity-studded guest list. Branding itself an “urban chic waterfront resort” in the heart of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, this One & Only property possesses killer views of Table Mountain while resting on its own private island in the middle of the city – you don’t get better than this location, folks! Friends who recently stayed here with their family over the winter holiday called the place “beautiful” with “outstanding service” and a “perfect location/setting” (a little Zagat-flavored review!).

I was fortunate to have a recent interview with the General Manager, Tony Romer-Lee,  who shared with me some secrets and tips about this wonderful hotel…

How many rooms/suites are at the hotel?  How many of them have great views?  131 rooms and suites –

Island Suite

91 have great views! There are  40 ‘villa’ style accommodations on the island.

Where have you worked as GM before coming to O&O Cape Town?

 Singita, Cape Grace, and Hunter’s Country House

What brought you to O&O Cape Town?

A great opportunity to work with an international brand of very high caliber in the city I love…Cape Town.

What sets/will set apart O&O from the other hotels (such as Cape Grace and Mount Nelson) in Cape Town?

The fact that we are an Urban Resort – fantastic facilities such as: 2 World Class restaurant brands, Nobu and Maze by Gordon Ramsay; The KidsOnly Club; Spa on its own Island; 1250 sq.m Penthouse and many more! State of the art facilities, very spacious rooms etc.

Tell me about some of the unique features of the hotel that guests will appreciate? What will guests rave about to their friends and family upon their return?

The facilities mentioned above; the highly personalized and friendly service; the natural beauty of Cape Town… and then there is the Bastien Gonzales pedicure – which people fly down from Jo’burg for the night just to get their fix…

So far, I see only raves from recent guests posting their reviews on TripAdvisor – mostly about the service. What is it about the service of your hotel that guests don’t feel like they aren’t getting from other hotels they have stayed at?

Here it is both efficient and friendly – South Africans LOVE to welcome people and we provide them with a great platform (through our facilities, training etc.) upon which to deliver.

More and more families (particularly from the U.S.) are traveling to Cape Town – what does O&O offer to children and their parents?

The KidsOnly Club is our secret weapon! The team has a great programme which keeps the kids healthily entertained day in and day out. The balance of educational outings (like to the Cheetah Project at Spier or swimming with the Penguins at Boulders beach) along with some great fun in the club, in the kitchen or at the pool really keeps the kids happy and give parents a real opportunity either to join in or to have a good rest. Within the resort, we have many inter-leading rooms/suites  as well.

What are some of the amazing things your concierge can arrange?

  • A romantic picnic on Table Mountain
  • A private charter to Robben Island with your own guide
  • An exclusive wine tasting at the Ernie Els Estate
  • The “baboon matters” walk at Cape Point

How would you describe the atmosphere of the hotel/what kind of guests do you attract?

The atmosphere is contemporary with a good, lively vibe. It is also relaxed with a very high standard.  We attract a wide mix of guests: from families wanting a quality holiday together to parties of friends discovering the Cape for the first timeto well-seasoned business travelers who want all the facilities in the City Center.

Tell me about the restaurants in the hotel. Do you have a favorite one? A favorite dish?

maze by Gordon Ramsay is relaxed dining, showcasing some Ramsay specials to local produce: it is a combination of grill/tapas/seafood and I find it hard to choose between the Namibian rib eye and the Cape crayfish “café de Paris”!!

Nobu

Peruvian influence. Here, I never miss the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno or the rock shrimp tempura with ponzu and the eggplant nasu miso is a killer!

Isola is our daytime restaurant, serving authentic Italian cuisine along with some poolside favorites, mine being either a fresh caprese salad or our Italian burger – pecorino/salsa de roma…!

What do you suggest as best way for someone to book accommodations at your hotel and receive the best amenities?

We are members of Leading Hotels of the World, Virtuoso and the Signature Network, all of which have benefits and amenities. Otherwise, give me a call!!!

Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages?

Rooms 215 / 320 & 420, all our entry level Marina Rooms (63 square meters) are positioned on the corner of the

Marina Suite

building so have a view both of Table Mountain and the Waterfront. Also room 119 has a great terrace, which is bigger than the room itself! On the Island, we have the one-bedroom suite #711 which is right at the end of the island, very private and luxurious for that getaway from everything. Then there is the 1250 sq.m Penthouse, where you can see the whole of Table Mountain, the new stadium and Robben Island all from the heated swimming pool!

Are there any special offers coming up that you can tell us about? Are you booked for the World Cup?

We are very busy for the World Cup period with 8 games in Cape Town and us being in walking distance from the amazing new Cape Town stadium. We are currently revamping our value-add specials, which we will release soon (check the website!)

What is the best thing about the hotel’s location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

We are situated in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which is without doubt the best base in Cape Town – late night shopping, great restaurants and lots of activities for families all amongst a fully working harbor. My favorite thing to do is to run out on the breakwater (not in bad weather!) and enjoy the views back on to Cape Town.

Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

I love The Berkeley in London with their spacious rooms (a rarity!), their Blue bar and being just out of the noise but right close to Hyde Park. The Beverly Hills Hotel is to me a true example of how to

Blue Bar at The Berkeley, London

maintain a classic in today’s world of new hotels opening all the time – timeless, immaculate and full of character. Lastly is my former home in the bushveld, Singita Sabi Sand – there is just no better complete experience, with the very best safari, food, wine, suites in the most beautiful environment.

One & Only Capetown

VA Waterfront,
Cape Town, South Africa

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