Way back on the 30th of August, Angie and I anniversaried! That’s four years of married love (plus five earlier years of unmarried, sinful love of the flesh).
We went to a place called Valverde Country Hotel for one night. It’s situated in Muldersdrift, along the M5 beyond Oakfield Farm.
It being situated beyond Oakfield Farm is significant, because we were married at Oakfield Farm. Sneaky me.
I didn’t tell Angie where we were going, so as we drove past Oakfield she suddenly looked a little perplexed. Hehe. I was a sneak.
After a little while she eventually asked where we were headed, and I refused to say.
As we came into sight of the place, the first thing I noticed was the sign advertising Paintball. I was already a little nervous about the whole thing because our anniversary is special and I wanted the venue and the experience to be beautiful. I was quite worried that Angie wouldn’t like it, and since I hadn’t been there before there was no sure way of me knowing the quality of the place.
Signs advertising paintball at a supposedly romantic venue gave me cause for concern.
Fortunately, as we drove in it became apparent that the paint ball facilities were situated on one side of the property.
On checking in, the receptionist seemed to take a liking to us, and upgraded our room to the honeymoon suite (something I’d kind of asked for when booking, but hadn’t received confirmation on). Nifty!
The room was wonderful, with four-poster bed, rose petals on the sheets, and complementary champagne. Everything had dark wooden finishes, and all of the windows were fitted with blinds. When we arrived, the room was clean and tidy (it didn’t stay tidy for long, but that had nothing to do with the hotel). The only improvement I could suggest was that the on-suite bathroom be fitted with a larger bath. We could both fit in the bath that was there, but it was a little bit of a squeeze. Seriously, honeymooners want to share a bath with enough space for movement.
But even if the bath wasn’t big enough for movement, the king-size bed certainly made up for it.
The venue itself has lovely, landscaped gardens, with fountains and pillars (but no gnomes). The gardens edge towards kitsch, but stay far enough away from the full-blown cheesiness border to maintain the illusion of authenticity.
We walked in the gardens and took in the fragrances of the herbs that were planted there. It is unfortunate that the metropolis is slowly encroaching on Muldersdrift, and evidence of human activities nearby are very prevalent. Occasionally busy roads pass by the venue, and if you are looking for a complete sense of isolation, Valverde might not be your best choice of venue.
No-one was playing paintball while we were there, but I imagine that had people been playing while we were there our experience may have been a little different (although not necessary worse). Valverde is also a wedding venue, and I sincerely hope they never double-book weddings and paintball sessions. There is an open-air chapel, and the paintball area has line of sight of it. Certainly potential for a Gary Larson “trouble brewing” comic panel.
While exploring the venue we discovered two llamas in an enclosure. The discovery of the llamas played a big part in how much I enjoyed the venue, but I am a little quirky.
We went for dinner at the restaurant and, thankfully, there was no llama on the menu. I’m not sure what they keep them there for.
The restaurant had a set menu, with a number of options, which included a vegetarian selection — something which is very important to me. The food was outstanding, and I highly recommend eating there. The service was perhaps a little slow, but we weren’t in a hurry. We could excuse slightly slow service because I’d gone and been a little difficult.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we found it in a thatched roof building with fluorescent lights mounted high up. The lights cast a harsh glow on the room, and it wasn’t subdivided at all. Not exactly the most romantic setting.
I was difficult because I went up to the waiter and asked whether we could set up a table in a more pleasantly lit environment. I identified a lovely spot just outside the restaurant, where the light from inside filtered through the window providing a much more appealing, muted lighting. Out there it would be possible to hear flowing water from the fountain. The skies were clear and starlit, and the temperature that night was quite comfortable. Add some candlelight and I was certain the ambiance would be perfect.
I asked that they move a table to the desired spot, and provide me with a candle and fire with which to light the wick. The staff were completely accommodating, very helpful, and overall friendly throughout the exercise.
As I mentioned, speed of service (but certainly not quality) was slightly impacted upon, but understandably so considering how we were no longer in the restaurant.
If you are looking for a spot to get away for a night, don’t want to travel too far from Joburg, and don’t want to pay any of your limbs, give Valverde a try.