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An Enchanting Tea Forest, La Reunion

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En Champ Thé (Play on words: Enchante) 

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{Translated: In the Fields of Tea. And, enchanted.}

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Because, a wonderful play on words is always my cup of tea (*badooom chhhhh) And because finding ourselves in a tea plantation is certainly not an opportuni-TEA to pass up!

We visited France’s sole tea plantation, which is only 4 hours away from South Africa. Possibly 5 if you take into account the drive up Reunion Island’s Grand-Coude (which means big bend, or elbow.) Perched on a mountain 1,200m above sea level, framed on either side by deep gorges, this narrow mountain top is literally like a giant’s bent arm resting on a sofa. (A really tall sofa.)

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VISIT THE HIGHLANDS OF SAINT JOSEPH~ LA GRAND-COUDE

Besides discovering the landscape’s scenic views, here you will find the only tea plantation in the whole of France. Sunlight, moisture, cool nights and the volcanic soil are ideal conditions to harvest a quality tea.

How do you know when a tree does not know the answer to something?

It Shrubs.

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So does tea come from a tree or a bush? Strangely, it’s a tree. I know, I was also a-mazed.

The history of the village begins in the 1920s when the cultivation of geranium was launched. It was replaced from the late 1960s by the culture of tea which had a great success until pricing became too high. And then, so did its trees.

Impressive 12 meter tall teas remain of a tea plantation abandoned roughly 40 years ago. Johnny and his wife Emmanuelle have revived this forest  and a newly cultivated tea plantation. Where we spent our morning.

Lost in the labyrinth of tea trees.

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In En Champ Thé, planted trees reach maturity after four or five years. Unlike the maze, the farmer, Johnny, masters the size by keeping the trees breast height, in order to facilitate harvest. Harvest is carried out about 9 times a year. ” The task is tedious because we collect only the bud and two leaves. It is so-called fine picking,” explains Johnny.  In 2016, five tons of tea were picked.  After drying, a little more than 500 kg of tea is produced.

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From the tree to the pot, we discovered and tasted the differences between black, green, white and imperial tea. A feast of the senses is experienced in the scented garden where we get to feel and smell the famous Geranium.

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What is so great about the Geranium? Only the greatest perfumers travelled to Reunion Island to hunt down the best geranium essential oil in the world: Bourbon geranium. The perfumeries swore by geraniums grown on Reunion Island, which were known to be of exceptional quality. Back then Bourbon geranium, originally from South Africa, was one of the great treasures of the island.

We got to experience the various perfumes of rose, citronella, and pepper. Which is distilled to produce a valuable essential oil

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It can be used to perfume your food. In the kitchen geranium adds its extraordinary fragrance to an array of beverages and food such as rhum arrangé (rum of Reunion), syrup, salad, jelly, ice cream, pastry and stuffings and sauces too.

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During a detour on our drive to drink tea, a tree branch (not a tea one) shattered our windscreen. Charlotte, our tea tour guide and translator spent most of her morning before our guided tour on the phone with our car rental service.

Little is known of the village of Grand Bend (Grand-Coude) by the inhabitants of the island of Réunion. Never having  travelled to Grand-Coude, the car rental representatives were in awe. (Aha, so it wasn’t just us!) Ready to transfer all our belongings from the cracked-windscreen-car to a car with a windscreen we could actually see out of. “Why rush, the windscreen is still broken AND there is always time for tea.” Johnny said, as he poured each of the car rental representatives a hot cup of tea.

And so we realized, a cup of tea makes everything better.

A country of hospitality, genorisity and friendliness. Why wouldn’t you want to visit Reunion Island, drink tea and get lost in a maze?

Simplici-TEA made A-MAZE-ing.

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To Visit :
Guided tours for 2 or more people on weekdays and weekends at:

10am and 2pm by reservation only 24 hours in advance.
Self-guided tours from Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm.

18 Rue Emile Mussard | Grand Coude, Saint-Joseph 97480, Reunion Island

EMAIL: info@enchampthe.com

En Champ The Website

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Reviews

Workationing In Style At The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town

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Desperate to travel? Need a break from the same four walls of your home office? Why not have yourselves a workcation right here in South Africa…

In current times, working remotely has fast become the norm. But this has brought with it a new approach to utilising time more wisely. Enter the concept of “workation” – with great prices on weekday accommodation, and little to no tourists competing for your planned activities, there really is no better time to travel while you work.

Durbanite was fortunate enough to have ourselves a little workation in Cape Town, where we stayed at The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa for one glorious night.

With an extraordinary view of the Atlantic ocean and the mountains wrapped around you, it’s difficult to find a more beautiful place to work. The experience began with a friendly greeting from the porter and doorman while they guided us to the check-in counter. After a quick and easy check-in, we followed Patience around for our tour, champagne in hand. After contemplating which view – or work facility to utilise first, we opted for within the comfort of our spectacular sea-facing suite.

The room was characterised by elegance, class, comfort like no other, and a balcony located a good stone throw away from the beach. It goes without saying, but there was free wifi and an opulent desk to work at, as well as a variety of other comfy furniture to plonk down in. I could write beautiful descriptive paragraphs on the room, the view, the service and the interior of the hotel, but I honestly fear I won’t do it justice. What I will say is, there sure is a reason why celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rihanna choose to stay here!

Other work environments on offer include the conference room, a slow lounge, the foyer, and the tables and chairs out by the pool or outside of the restaurant. All of which were quiet, accompanied by dreamy views and without a hint of discomfort.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with your partner, or your whole family,  the 12 Apostles makes sure it caters for everyone. It’s both pet- and kid-friendly, so the opportunity to bring your life with you – or escape it – is entirely up to you.

From a COVID-19 perspective, masks were worn by everyone around the hotel and in any public spaces. Their world famous breakfast buffet was adapted to be more COVID-friendly, with snacks and condiments displayed in their own packaging and glassware. And although all the wonderful hot food wasn’t showcased around the room, it was still readily available by simply ordering it through your waiter.

The hotel offers a free shuttle to Camps Bay Beach or the V&A Waterfront every hour, so you have the opportunity to venture back and forth between these bustling hubs as you wish. Making use of the shuttle allowed us to experience our beautiful mother city when we clocked off from work, until we decided we were ready to sink back into our engulfing and irresistible King-size Bed.

With no household chores or trips to the shops needed, the best part – or perhaps the toughest part of the experience was deciding which first-class services and utilities to indulge in during our breaks. Whether it be a spa treatment, effortlessly demolishing the delicious High Tea confectionaries while you stare out to sea, a quick trip to the little movie theatre down the hall, or a swim in either the rock pool or the heated pool, it certainly beat checking the fridge multiple times or twiddling your thumbs between Zoom calls.

Although there have been numerous perks to working from home and not having to go into the office, like those dreaded meetings finally being summed up in one email, or not having to wait idly in lunchtime traffic, there have definitely been some bad parts – the lack of in-person social interactions and the same scenery every day has definitely had detrimental mental effects on working people everywhere. The mental rejuvenation that we received from our workation was just what we needed to refresh our mindsets and click us back into gear. And the best part of the workation, we didn’t even have to use up a day’s leave. So if you’re thinking of trying the workation concept, all we can say is “go for it!” and if you’re gonna do it, why not do it in style?

To book your stay at the 12 Apostles, visit:
https://12apostleshotel.com

Telephone: +27 21 4379000
Email: reservations1@12apostles.co.za
Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

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Reviews

REVIEW: Town Lodge Umhlanga

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Town Lodge Umhlanga is the latest addition to this ever growing, vibrant town. Conveniently situated on the corner of Umhlanga Ridge Boulevard and Meridian Drive in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal.

Town Lodge Umhlanga has a fresh identity that is set to secure its share of future markets to this busy region. 

It’s a place where people stay, meet and relax. The hotel welcomes guests to a renewed design concept across four floors and, as with all CLHG properties, includes rooms designed to meet the special needs of the disabled.



We were recently invited to experience a stay at this wonderful lodge.

“Upon arrival, we were impressed at how easy the check in process was. From the moment we walked into the lodge, we had the most incredible hands on service.



Before checking in, we had to sanitise and fill in Covid forms which made us feel a little more at ease and looked after. We were handed our keys and immediately went up to our room to offload our luggage.

A warm welcome awaited us in the form of the sweetest hamper we’ve ever seen. Filled to the brim with sweets. chocolates and water, along with a note from the general manager herself.



After we freshened up, we made our way down to the bar to indulge in their wide selection of bar snacks and drinks. We felt as if we were right at home, seated comfortably in their dining area with a glass of wine in hand.



One thing we loved about this lodge is that we had plenty of space to move around and lounge at. It’s also a great place to work remotely from too, and there were plug points provided for this.



For dinner we opted for their pizza menu in the comfort of our own room. Within 30 minutes of ordering, our pizzas had arrived.
Talk about fast service!


Needless to say we slept well that night.

Breakfast was delicious – with an assortment to choose from. We opted for fruit & yoghurt, complete with a yummy cooked omelette.
Served with a warm cup of coffee.



Town Lodge Umhlanga is within close proximity to the beach, Gateway Theatre of Shopping and Durban, and a 15-minute drive from King Shaka International Airport.

Other notable features include two boardrooms (16 pax and 14 pax), swimming pool and parking bays for 110 cars.



To book your stay, click here:

Or contact:
Lizelle
tlumhlanga.gm@clhg.com

Hotel amenities:

  • Fast and reliable WIFI
  • Convenient location, close to major routes
  • Free, easy and secure parking
  • Complimentary shuttle to Gateway Theatre of Shopping
  • 24 hour reception and check-in
  • Full English or continental breakfast daily
  • Sundowner bar
  • Swimming pool
  • 24 hour vending machine for snacks and beverages
  • Same-day laundry and dry cleaning

Room amenities:

  • Air-conditioned room with double or twin beds
  • Interleading family rooms available
  • En-suite bathroom with shower
  • Television with selected DStv channels and radio stations
  • Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Electronic safe
  • Selected rooms designed for the physically disabled

Town Lodge Umhlanga is currently offering two specials.
A weekend stay from R799pn and half price on all drinks every Thursday.

REVIEW: Town Lodge Umhlanga
Location
10
Service
10
Food
9
Ambiance
8
Value
9
9.2
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Accomodation

REVIEW: Hilton Hotel Umhlanga Arch

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Hilton Garden Inn is the first of its kind in South Africa, situated at the new Umhlanga Arch, welcoming both local and international guests. Durbanite recently experienced first hand what they have to offer.

From the moment you walk in, you experience a relaxed environment, making you feel right at home. The Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch is a technologically advanced hotel, allowing guests to check in, select and unlock your room, as well as access the guest lift, easily from your mobile phone. The hotel boasts a fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool with a great view of the upcoming developments in the area as well as the stunning sea Durban has to offer, as well as a laundry room and currency exchange for international guests.

The staff at the Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch are friendly and extremely helpful and have adopted a “Brightheartered Hospitality” approach.

“It was amazing, the staff remember your name, they learn more about why you are visiting and really go out of their way to make your experience a memorable one.” Commented Bianca Hauser, Durbanite contributor.

There are 203 rooms kitted out with coffee and tea brewers, a flat screen HDTV, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board (perfect for out of town guests), along with a mini refrigerator. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch ensure to adhere to Covid-19 safety regulations by cleaning rooms before check in as well as after check out. They are currently participating in the Hilton CleanStay Program with Lysol Protection to deliver an even cleaner and safer experience for guests.

“I really felt comfortable during these times, as once staff clean a room, they have the Hilton CleanStay Room Seal that indicates to us that a room has not been accessed since it was cleaned and disinfected.”

The hotel ensures sufficient spacing in the dining hall and hand sanitizers can be found throughout the hotel. Guests are encouraged to use disposable gloves provided when dishing up salad for the meals and the Chefs are responsible for dishing up dinner, limiting exposure.

Together & Co aims to bring people together, “one meal, coffee and conversation at a time”. Those who are not guests at the hotel are also welcome to dine at the restaurant or have a drink at the bar. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch also boasts a 24-hour self-service retail space, “The Shop”, which offers snacks, locally sourced food and beverages as well as essential personal items, should guests need anything.

To book your stay, visit their website.

Address:
1 Ncondo Place, Umhlanga Ridge Umhlanga

Durban, 4320, South Africa

+27-031-0070775

 

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