The quaint Franschhoek country house Mont Rochelle gets a posh makeover.
Why Go: Richard Branson’s high-end hospitality arm Virgin Limited Edition has taken over a well-liked country-house hotel in South African wine country. Mont Rochelle already had going for it a great chef and a scenic hilltop location in Franschhoek—a haven of wine tours, fine food, and luxury resorts. But the decor was drab and a few areas needed updating. Enter Virgin, a chic hospitality collective of six resorts, one restaurant and event space, and one catamaran.
What to Expect: If you have experienced Branson’s other resorts, his airlines, his record label, his space tourism company, and so on and so on, you can expect the same vibe in South Africa: hip surroundings and relaxed but buttoned-up service. Virgin Limited Edition has invested about $3.2 million in the 100-acre property since closing it down in May. Returning guests will notice all-new furnishings, fabrics, and artworks, a better-looking pool area, and a new two-treatment-room spa with a hammam and treatments by the essential-oils experts Africology. There are still 22 rooms (from about $260, including breakfast), including six suites. The two largest have their own plunge pools and most look over the valley to the picturesque Franschhoek Mountains. Local fine-dining restaurants abound among nearby wineries and resorts (note the Tasting Room down the hill at Le Quartier Français). Mont Rochelle has two eateries of its own. Miko is the new name for the beloved gourmet restaurant that has maintained its chef but upgraded its look. A short walk or shorter drive away, to the resort’s wine-tasting room, is the adjacent Country Kitchen, which pairs meals with Mont Rochelle wines in a more casual setting than Miko’s. Most of the staff has remained, and they are reportedly newly fluent in that distinctively smart Virgin-style service.
How to Get There: From the Cape Town airport, take a scenic, hour-long drive through the Cape Winelands to Mont Rochelle. (+27.11.325.4405, virginlimitededition.com)