It all started in September, 2009, on our second visit to Vassaliki – Mark and Samantha Taylor’s lovely resort on Kefalonia, one of the beautiful Greek islands.
During our stay, a South African couple arrived and soon talked of opening a naturist resort, Vasnat, in the Cape area of South Africa. As we have visited South Africa on many occasions and love Cape Town and all the surrounding areas, we were very interested and asked to be kept right up to date with progress. Once everything was in place, we immediately made our booking. Our booking reference was 003, so someone must have beaten us to it!
Fast forward to Christmas 2011 and we boarded an evening flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg, where we were met by relatives and taken to Pretoria. After a day’s break, we were on the road again for the seven-hour trip to the Kruger Park, where we were fortunate enough to be guests at one of the few private game lodges in the Kruger.
The name of the game is to see the ‘big five’ animals – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. The difficult one is the leopard. To our amazement, as we stood on our patio after unpacking in the Honeymoon Suite, a leopard walked across a dried-up river bed right in front of us. The next four wonderful days seemed to follow the same pattern and we now have a certificate to say we sighted the ‘big five’ not once, but three times.
Unfortunately, our trip back to Pretoria was marred by an incredible electric storm and torrential rain which greatly extended the trip back. Sadly, we heard that the river bed where we saw our first leopard a few days earlier had overflowed and done a lot of damage to the property we were staying on. That’s Africa for you, though.
After two more days, we boarded a flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town and two hours later were greeted by Chris, who very quickly had us on the road to Vasnat. Chris and his wife, Julie, are two of the Vasnat team who always seem to be around and available, if required. Julie has very quickly established a fresh vegetable and herb garden which produces wonderful products for the Vasnat kitchen.
Owned by Mark and Sam, Vasnat is based on the premise that if it is warm, no clothes are necessary, no matter what time of day or night it may be. If it is chilly, clothes are perfectly acceptable, although during our 14-day stay it was never cold enough to worry the wardrobe mistress once!
Vasnat is run on very similar lines to Vassaliki – there is that luxury feeling and facilities which say ‘five-star’. The stunning grounds feature a multitude of trees, the star of the show being a wonderful oak which provides shelter from the sun all day if required.
The accommodation consists of a penthouse suite which really is something else. If you can afford it, don’t miss the opportunity of an incredible experience. There are also four cottage units which have self-catering facilities, but we stayed in one of the eight suites, as an essential part of our holiday is eating out.
Our suite was spacious and very tastefully decorated with a private patio overlooking Somerset West and the sea in the distance. It had a safe, a TV and a very quiet and efficient fan, as well as air conditioning which we hardly ever used as the room was so light and airy. The bathroom facilities were spacious and excellent, with both a bath and a very effective shower available.
Vasnat has a wonderful spa room with two hot tubs, a sauna, a steam room and an indoor power swimming-pool as well as shower facilities. There is a lovely swimming-pool and superb outdoor barbecue area on a roof and a large dining area, a breakfast area open to the elements and an excellent bar area which is partly run on an “honesty” system.
Sam and Mark lay on a varied schedule of entertainment. There is an outdoor barbecue each week and one of our two coincided with one of Mark’s birthdays ending in a zero, so we had a band with dancing and a terrific evening.
An evening is organised each week with a typical South African menu, while on another evening, we had a wine tasting and cheese party, with all the wines explained to us by a naturist South African wine distributor.
We rented a car for most of the holiday and Mark is able to hire out a satnav, which was a considerable help. Vasnat is situated in the lovely hills behind Somerset West and is pretty well equidistant from Cape Town and the Cape winelands. Most places can be reached in from 30-45 minutes. Cape Town is a wonderful city with masses to do and see, including Table Mountain.
There are too many places to visit to mention them all, but two of our favourite places are Hout Bay (Look Out Restaurant) and then a drive back on the coastal mountain route, and Franschhoek, in the winelands, which is a beautiful town with an abundance of fine restaurants.
On all of our trips out, we seemed to finish up in fantastic restaurants which, in the UK, would rate one and in some cases two Michelin stars, but with prices which were about 35 to 40% of the cost of a similar meal in England. While it is not cheap to fly to South Africa, once you are there you do save a lot of money compared to other resorts because of the cheap cost of living.
On the subject of food (again!), Vasnat caters very well for its guests. Breakfasts are excellent and varied, including a hot dish every day. There are comprehensive lunch and evening menus and on some lunchtimes and most evenings Mark performs in the kitchen: obviously a very good chef, he produces some very tasty specials. This brings us on to Waterkloof, an amazing building housing a fantastic restaurant situated in a high-grade vineyard in the hills behind Somerset West. Their tasting menu of six different dishes and wines to accompany each dish was something else.
Some friends we made while at Vasnat told us that they had been up Table Mountain that day and having wandered off from the madding crowd, found themselves all alone, so stripped off and took a naturist walk! Is this a first?
Incidentally, as always at naturist resorts, our fellow-guests were friendly. Is it only friendly people who become naturists or do people who take up naturism become friendly?
If you want to visit Cape Town and have discovered the rather obvious fact that, when it is warm, clothes are surplus to requirements, then Vasnat is for you. Add in the extra of wonderful food and wine at fairly ridiculous prices and you will have the holiday of a lifetime.