Just an ordinary family frolicking ’round at Walkersons

Family stay at Walkersons Hotel & Spa

By Renate Engelbrecht

Wednesday, Feb 15

The subtle signs of autumn have already started to emerge in and around Dullstroom. Whilst the cool afternoon air is often a given at Walkersons Hotel & Spa and its surrounds, somehow I could feel the season’s transformation in the light breeze as twilight set in. Some of the trees have even started to show off their warmer colours, inviting both locals and visitors to move outside and enjoy the magnificence of it all.

Dullstroom has always been one of those South African towns where one wants to spend more time than the time you have. I always want to wander the streets, pop in at all the eateries, try all their specialties and listen to all the stories. It’s countryside at its best, with lovely restaurants boasting local cuisine – especially trout – and various accommodation options to choose from. Not to mention that the weather here, is my kind of weather – the kind fit for a book and a glass of red wine.

This time around was a little different, though. But in a good way. We got to spend time at Walkersons Hotel & Spa as a family of four, staying in the hotel’s Gretel Cottage amidst tall pine trees and stables. It was a busier kind of getaway, having to entertain the kids with self-guided nature walks among the fourteen trout dams and waterfalls, picnics and other toddler-related plans. Needless to say, there was not much time for delving deep into a book, or savouring that glass of Malbec.

FIND SOME GREAT WINES FOR SUMMER HERE

Riverside family walks
Riverside family walks. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

The stay at Walkersons Hotel & Spa

Built in 1993, the Walkersons Estate-based hotel and cottages boast a lovely basis for those keen on exploring the lovely Dullies. It’s a mere 10-minute drive out of town, just close enough to drive through for breakfast or brunch, and just far enough to escape the small town hustle and bustle.

Walkersons pine trees
Walkersons’ pine trees surrounding our Gretel Cottage. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

Walkersons Hotel & Spa offers 14 lakeside suites, 11 luxury lakeside suites, a Manor suite (which is suitable for families) and a honeymoon suite. A little further up, you’ll also find an additional five self-catering cottages, scattered on the estate. We stayed in a cottage called Gretel, nestled between three estate residences beyond the stables, above beautiful meadows and amidst majestic pine trees. What I loved most about the cottage, was that it came with an automatic peace of mind for parents, since there’s no major breakables to stress about throughout the stay. If you travel with kids often, you’ll know what I mean. I often want to enter first, check what I need to remove or hide from little curious hands and only then allow the kids inside. Apart from being childproof (well, almost… we did break a saucer), the cottage and its tranquil setting also offered our family a little bit of distance from the main hotel, which allowed me to relax a little when it came to shushing the kids all the time. Here, we could loosen the reigns a bit and allow them to explore without worrying too much about disturbing the romantic couples lazily lounging beside the pool or on their rustic-looking, lakeside balconies.

While the cottage’s décor might seem a little dated, it’s got what it needs for a family of four to stay comfortably, with extra blankets, all the required kitchen utensils, a gas stove and microwave and it boasts two en suite bedrooms. The bathrooms both come with a bath and a shower, and while they’re quite limited in space, it’s good to have options with toddlers around. P.S. A little birdy also mentioned that some of the cottages are currently being renovated.

Mucking about

Ultimately, travelling with toddlers, you don’t want to be inside all day, and we were therefore out to explore most of the time. The estate’s numerous fly-fishing dams and the Lunsklip River that runs through it offers the most scenic views and lots to discover for curious toddlers. We spotted lots of birds, insects, ducks and even a Duiker as we walked along the estate. The waterfalls are breathtakingly beautiful and there are ample picnic spots for some quality family time.

We also went to say hi to the horses (you can actually book a horse ride, but our kids were still too small) and we had a lovely dinner at the hotel, which prefers to seat families outside on the Terrace or in the separate family dining room called The Misty Trout. The menu includes some really delicious kids’ options – the usual kiddies’ meals, but with a bit of a twist and beautifully plated. I couldn’t resist the prawn curry, and Wikus – being loyal to the area – chose a whole cooked trout, which was divine.

The rest of the time, we were able to prepare our own meals at our cottage and we even got to braai under pine trees one evening.

Of course, a visit to Walkersons Hotel & Spa would not be a proper visit if we did not spend some time in town. Here are some ideas of what to see, taste and explore in Dullstroom, as well as what not to see, taste and explore.

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