Mbulelo Suite - One you simply have to try on your next visit to Hartford House.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Ezulweni Suites
Hartford House Nhlanhla Suite 16
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Nhlanhla Suite 16
Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language's most wonderful words. It really means "good luck", but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.
This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni ("in the heavens") eco extension to Hartford House's colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region's colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what's possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.
In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820's and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban's "grand old dame", the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl's introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal.
The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another "tough" day in Africa!
Nhlanhla has become the suite of choice of His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, ruling monarch of the Mountain Kingdom, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he keeps several horses which feed his and his nation's passion for the equine species.
Hartford House Siyabonga Suite 15
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Siyabonga Suite 15
In Zulu the word Siyabonga means "we are grateful" or "give thanks to", and this suite is part of the Ezulweni (meaning "in the heavens") eco extension to Hartford's own colonial styled origins. The suite was named that way by our Zulu building team once complete, as much echoing their own relief at having accomplished what was for them in the nature of something unique in architectural style, as it was for the natural beauty and ambience which the suite exudes.
Built with materials harvested largely off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or otherwise acquired in the near vicinity, Siyabonga is characterized by its collection of African artifacts and its stunning sleeping quarters, clad in local Drakensberg sandstone. The bathroom features romantically aligned twin tubs, and the suite is rendered with a combination of mud and locally harvested river pebbles, all of which has withstood the ravages of our summer thunderstorms and occasional winter snowfalls with surprising resilience. The Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss while she was overseeing the renovation of Lynton Hall, which she decorated in Colonial antiques, recalling the arrival of Indian indentured labour for the colony's fledging sugar industry.
In recent times, Siyabonga has become the suite of choice of His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed of the Ruling Family of Dubai, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he stands several stallions and mares of world renown. Another visitor of fame whose name has become embedded in the lore of Siyabonga, is Angus Gold, a celebrated reveller, who is also associated with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.
The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region's colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what's possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Siyabonga.
In contrast to the natural materials with which the suite was erected, the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another "tough" day in Africa!
Hartford House Inkanyezi Suite 14
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Inkanyezi (Morning Star) Suite 14
The word Inkanyezi means the first or the evening star in Zulu, and this suite was christened in that calling by the Zulus who built it. Most of our Zulu staff come from rural environs, and almost all of them have grown up in rondavels built of mud. Yet those that were engaged in building Inkanyezi marvelled that people of European descent should be building with materials of mud, timber and thatch, while most of our African brethren these days have embraced the materials used by Europeans.
To them, this example of a rondavel resembled a shining star, hence their selection of the most prominent star to portray their emotions. Most of the materials used in the suite were sourced either off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or from the immediate vicinity, with raw mud bricks forming the basis of the walls and a mud and straw rendering applied instead of plasterwork.
The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Inkanyezi
There are two especially interesting pieces in the suite, namely the 1820 convent linen press acquired from the old Orange Free State (as we used to know it), while the painting on the wall, depicting a North African market scene, is by an unknown but obviously talented African artist.
The main entrance door is from India, and was chosen by Cheryl Goss while she was busy remodelling what is now Lynton Hall, where the antique furnishings echoed that property’s colonial past and its association with indentured Indian labour. The verandah columns are of Rhajastani origin.
Hartford House Mbulelo Suite 13
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Mbulelo (Thanksgiving) Suite 13
One of the "eco" suites making up Hartford's Ezulweni ("in the heavens") collection, Mbulelo was fashioned almost entirely from locally sourced materials. The mud bricks were harvested from the clay foundations on the site on which the suite stands today, mixed with horse dung and shredded horse bedding, and then sun-baked (as opposed to "kiln" baked) for the purpose. Almost all the timber, as well as the stone and slate, has come from the estate itself or its immediate environs, while the doors and shutters were imported by Cheryl Goss from India while she was busy remodelling what is now Lynton Hall, where the furnishings echo that property's colonial past, and its association with indentured Indian labour.
These pieces were "leftovers" from that project, and there are other recollections of them to be seen in the columns around the neighbouring rondavel suite, Inkanyezi and the other with the "garden" roof, Siyabonga. Mbulelo means "thank you" in Xhosa, the language Mick Goss grew up with. It's as much a gesture of thanks for the fact that this building, with its local materials, built by our Zulu staff and possessed of a flat roof with all the potential for "leakage", hasn’t disintegrated after several years in existence, as it is for the gratitude we owe for the environment in which we live, and the remarkable people among whom we live.
The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region's colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Mbulelo.
Extract from About Time - 1time Airlines
by Nicky Furniss
Step aside, Franschhoek and Cape Town, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands may be on its way to becoming South Africa's next great foodie destination. This is thanks to the exceptional culinary skills of the number of world class chefs who have decided to call this part of the world home. Add to that some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and a trip to the Mi
dlands is guaranteed to be simply delicious.
There is something comforting about waking up to the sound of whinnying horses and the smell of freshly mown grass. Perhaps because it conjures up childhood memories of days spent playing outside, and the excitement of farm visits.
But Summerhill Estate is anything but a normal farm. In fact, it is one of the country's leading stud farms, and the horses here are world class thoroughbreds more accustomed to the speed of the race track than the amble of a farm road walk. So renowned is Summerhill that the ruling family of Dubai have chosen to stable their priceless race horses here.
This certainly adds an aura of mystique to a stay at Hartford House, mixed with the kind of warm, unpretentious hospitality that the Midlands has become known for. Hartford House itself has played host to friends and acquaintances since it was first built as a family home in 1875. Nowadays guests are still welcomed as part of the family, although the accommodation options have expanded somewhat over the intervening decades.
Visitors now have a choice of colonial style rooms that take their cue from the architecture of the manor house itself, or for something completely different, they can elect to stay in one of the four Ezulweni ("in the heavens") rooms. These were built by local artisans using materials harvested from the estate or acquired nearby. Each has its own distinct flavour, but what is common to all four is their superb workmanship, as well as the breathtaking view of the adjacent trout lake and the rolling paddocks beyond it.
Visitors who can bear to leave the comfort of their rooms have much to keep them busy, from history and stud farm tours to walks and wellness treatments. But without a doubt, one of the main activities at Hartford - and one which deserves a fair amount of time and attention - is simply savouring its superb culinary offerings.
Executive Chef Jackie Cameron has spent the past nine years honing her craft and Hartford's culinary reputation to such an extent that the restaurant here has gone from a virtual unknown to being listed as one of the top ten restaurants in KwaZulu-Natal, and then to being a regular finalist in national restaurant awards. Sitting down to one of Jackie's cleverly conceived and perfectly executed five course set dinners, it is not hard to see why.
During her time at Hartford, Jackie has travelled overseas no less than 16 times, mostly to experience the cooking of other world class chefs, and these international influences are evident in everything that her stellar team produce. A recent trip to Denmark influenced much of the meal we experienced and in particular, our caramelised onion soup was a complete sensory experience - particularly as we had the pleasure of pouring our own portions, so that as well as the textures and flavours of the dish, we could also fully enjoy its amazing aromas.
Breakfast is a slightly more relaxed affair, but no less tantalising, and it serves as a wonderful showcase of some of the best of what the Midlands has to offer, from delicious local cheeses to locally caught trout, and homemade jams and preserves.
Under Jackie's expert eye, Hartford House has become one of the country's top food destinations. But unlike many of its contemporaries, it comes complete with so much more - a wonderful setting, unique accommodation options, a friendly welcome and that ever present sound of the clip-clopping hooves of magnificent horses.
Hartford House, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
(Photo : Hartford House)
"...comfortable beyond dreams, yet innocent of pretence."
On a daily basis we’re receiving now, enquiries from around the world, prompted no doubt by the stream of pamphlets, brochures etc which fill your mailboxes with stallion propaganda at this time of year, as to when the Summerhill brochure will be on the street. It seems it has become coffee table material and archive stuff for many, but as always, it will be out at the beginning of August, and those attending our Stallion Day will be the first recipients.
We will be teasing you however, with the occasional inserts, the first of which is a piece on Hartford House :
"We are lucky to live where we do, in a boundless, unconquered world, where the plains roll away to the great skies beyond. There are those who will tell you there is no other place quite like it.
But we are equally fortunate in the people who came before us. Their footprints are everywhere at Hartford. The old manor house built by the family of the colony’s last Prime Minister, stands alone among the best homes of a splendid era. Built at a time when great wars were being waged by great nations for the spoils of our region, anybody who was anyone, knew the portals of this grand old dame.
Yet, long before the intrusion of these well scripted events, an ancient people lived here in quiet serenity among the plants and animals of our kingdom, and they built their abodes with the materials of the neighbourhood.
These are the people that gave birth to Ezulweni, a reversion to the methods of old, and a sensual interpretation of the way things were. The juxtaposing of Hartford House with Ezulweni provides our travelers with an insight into our colonial past, and a glimpse of the imaginations of our Zulu craftsmen, whose creative hands are embedded in the finishes.
In so many ways, Hartford stands apart for its originality. Its architecture, views, dining, sounds, scents, its racehorses and its people, are all exhilarating surprises, unique to this Zululand, to this property, and to Africa.
Hartford has gained and regained from the cultures it celebrates. It is life’s exception. A place at the same time comfortable beyond dreams, yet innocent of pretence.
- Among a select group of Gold Achiever Award winners at the Indaba International Travel Show with Singita, The Cape Grace, Mala Mala, The Mount Nelson etc.
- The only KwaZulu-Natal restaurant in the nation’s Top Ten 2007/8 and 2008/9.
- Voted among Top Billing’s Top Six Luxury Hotels in South Africa 2008/9.
- Rated by House and Leisure as South Africa’s Top Restaurant in 2009/10.
- Fedhasa East Coast award for Best Restaurant.
- Diners’ Club Platinum Winelist 2002-2009.
- Proud member of the Land of Legends with Phinda Private Game Reserve; Wilderness Safaris Rocktail Bay; Fordoun Spa, Hotel and Restaurant (www.landoflegends.co.za)
Are you on Summerhill's mailing list? If not, please send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll gladly ensure you get your personal copy.
Ezulweni Lake Suites, Hartford House
(Photo : Felicity Hayward)
EXTRACT FROM THE CAPE TIMES : TRAVEL
The Gosses, owners of Hartford House, humbly refer to themselves as "custodians of one of Africa's most treasured legacies". General Botha assumed command of the Boer forces here in 1899, and it was also home to the family of Sir Frederick Moor, the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal.
The deputy prime minister, Colonel Richards, established the world-renowned Summerhill Stud on the property, which today hosts stallions for the Rulers of Dubai. Aside from all this history, the Gosses also rightly revel in the beauty of this spectacular place... and so will you.
Spread across seemingly endless landscaped garden, the 14 rooms have been decorated with dark wood antiques from India and West Africa. Scraping my jaw off the floor, I surveyed the four lakeside suites which are nothing short of spectacular. I was especially taken with the aptly-named Siyabonga Suite ("thank you" in isiZulu) with its twin egg baths and private pool. The beaded chair, the wooden cow heads on the wall and the building materials are all locally sourced.
An emperor-sized round bed dominates the Inkanyezi Suite, while the Nhlanhla Suite ("good luck") combines Burmese antiques with bold green and rich red furnishings and a bright copper bath glints in the bathroom. Made entirely out of hay bales, this amazing example of sustainable luxury accommodation is so close to the lake it is practically floating.
Oh, and by the way, the restaurant I dined in (after my Swedish massage) was in the top 10 at the 2009 Dine Awards. Just go.
Rooms : 15 - four lakeside suites all king with bath and wet room; four garden/pool suites all with bath and shower; three standard kings with bath and shower and three twins with bath and shower.
Prices : R840 - R1555. Meals : Full three-course breakfast included. A la carte lunch and five-course set dinner.
Hartford House Restaurant
THE MEMORIES WILL LAST A LIFETIME
It’s always gratifying to receive feedback from guests who stay at Hartford House, as an enormous amount of effort goes into making every guest’s stay a memorable one. It was therefore with deep appreciation that we received these reviews via the Tripadvisor.com website.
We spent only 24 hours at Hartford House, but the memories will last a lifetime. From the moment we arrived and were offered a complimentary cocktail, we knew we had arrived somewhere special. The location was beautiful, tranquil and instantly relaxing.
We stayed in the Inkanyezi suite, which was a very impressive rondavel, built by locals, which was situated overlooking the fishing dam, with our own private plunge pool.
The accommodation was very special, from the 8 foot circular bed, to the bath for two (in which we drank champagne from the mini bar!) and the views and the sunloungers, all of which made us feel very special! We also had treatments at the wellness centre which contributed to our overall feeling of well being.
The food was out of this world, with the five course dinner a highlight. The restaurant was voted best Restaurant in South Africa in 2009 and this honour is well deserved. It was without doubt the best meal we have ever eaten. Save room for breakfast though, as this is equally impressive!
As you probably realise, we were impressed with this place, but quite apart from the quality of the accommodation and food, what impressed us most was the courage and determination of the owners and their Zulu staff to make a success of Hartford House and in an area of enormous unemployment and poverty, they are creating an amazing success story. Go there, support their efforts and have an experience you won't forget.
Siyabonga Suite Lounge
We spent one night at Hartford House in the Siyabonga suite for a special celebration, our stay was absolute bliss, from our drive to the hotel passing beautiful green scenery to our departure after breakfast on Sunday morning. From the minute you enter the gates absolute silence and beauty greet you, everywhere you look you see evidence to detail, the grounds are in pristine condition, the gardens a gorgeous riot of colour. The main house is well maintained and has beautiful furniture and exquisite mouldings and even stained glass on the ceilings. Check in was smooth, we were given a refreshing drink, while a few details were filled in.
The Siyabonga suite is one of the stand alone cottages at the dam edge, it has its own little splash pool with a water feature and an outdoor area, including 2 hammocks, overlooking the dam. The suite itself is big with a separate lounge area, lovely bedroom and dressing area, the bathroom has 2 stand alone baths as well as a separate wet room with a rain shower. The suite was clean and well maintained. The walks through the property were amazing, being able to get so close to the horses was very special.
Saturday dinner is an event at Hartford, with live entertainment by Zulu dancers, however unfortunately for us there was a problem and the dancers could not turn up, but Mick’s beautiful story telling made us proud to be South African and we learned more about our country’s as well as Hartford’s rich history. The food was sublime, Jackie is truly a star, she accommodated us with our dietry requirements, so we were able to enjoy a gastronomic feast. The staff were friendly and attentive.
When we got back to our room, the staff had been to turn down the bed, the chocolates were delicious and the rose petals on the bed and in the bath made us feel very special.
Sunday breakfast was not the usual buffet but another gastronomic feast.
Sadly we had to leave, but the peace and tranquillity of the place refreshed our souls.
Please click above to view Hartford's Ezulweni Lake Suites.
Once open, click the button in bottom right to toggle full-screen mode.
...IN THE WORLD
It's been a tough year, we know.
And you've earned a break, at the nation's Number One boutique hotel.
Where we've just won the House and Leisure - Visa Best Restaurant in South Africa award.
REFLECTIONS IN A SILVER SPOON
I’m sitting in what is about to become my wife’s new bedroom, in a new house. “Hers” it became when we passed the budget for the third time!
The fold-away doors, all 8 metres of them, have given way to a World Heritage site. To my left lies Ntaba Nquno, where General Botha took command of the Boer forces in November 1899. His predecessor, General Joubert, hero of the first Anglo Boer War, had been wounded the day before at the Battle of Willow Grange, hence the change in O.C.
In the foreground lies one of the planet’s most enchanting valleys, and right here beneath this great hillside, lies the nation’s Champion Racehorse stud. Now I know what the British, the Zulus and the Boers were fighting so furiously about. This is God’s own, and they fought more ferociously for this territory than they did for any other.
Think about that. The British at the time, held dominion over two thirds of the earth’s surface, yet here is where the Empire engaged itself so earnestly, for its greatest military moments, as well as its worst. Since starting this note, I’ve had to walk across the courtyard at the rear of this house, and besides realising my wife got carried away with the size (our plans are simply jotted on the back of exam pads in this part of Zululand, so it’s easy to miscalculate), I also know that, for once in my life, I got really lucky. I married a genius.
The lakeside suites at Hartford House have long borne testimony to her creative talents. The occupancies tell us that, and the admiration of both the architectural and the decorating world confirm it. But “her” house is surely her finest moment.
That said, it really is larger than it should be, and perched beautifully as it is, it’s also a bit on the conspicuous side for a Zulu farmer who still comes to work in a Corsa bakkie, clad in khakis and veldskoens. So I’ve spent the morning planting trees to “hide” it a little!. Equally, this was not the time to be building, though it’s been a 2.5 year project for all the interruptions my management have brought on my builders in the time. You never want to be “splashing out” on a personal indulgence when there are others in pain. The timing was not good, though it might’ve been, had we completed it in 2007 when we first started. My team keeps saying, “purge your conscience, you’ve slaved for it”. I’m consoled only slightly. But it’s to them that Cheryl and I turn with our thanks. In our time here, they’ve run the hard yards with us, they made the sacrifices and at last, they’ve too, reaped their rewards.