February 11th, 2011
Located on the R45, a mere 3 km outside the bustling and beautiful town of Franschhoek, Gooding's Groves B&B is easy to miss at first glance. The pleasantly modest sign post outside the gate beckoned just in time for us to either brave the loose gravel next to the road and swing in or sail on and throw a quick U-turn at the first, best opportunity. We opted for the latter and retraced our steps without much hassle.
A rough and rugged gravel road led us right to the doorstep of Gooding's Groves' breathtaking Cape Victorian farmhouse with its wide and inviting patio, well tended rose garden, lawns and of course olive trees. After an hour's sweltering, traffic-heavy drive all the way from Cape Town, the cool greenness surrounding us brought welcome relief and the rejuvenation set in.
Once inside the airy reception area with its vintage charm Mareaze Stead, Gooding's Groves' energetic manager came over to meet us with a warm hospitality that instantly brought a feeling of home-coming. After showing us to our minimalistically decorated, yet lush and comfortable room she encouraged us to fend off the last bit of afternoon heat with a dip in the paddling pool.
So, we quickly got into our cozzies, grabbed some swimming towels (they provide these especially so you don't have to use your own) and jumped right in. Though quite small length- and breadth-wise, the pool proved to be delightfully deep. Now this may sound petty, but there's nothing worse than looking forward to a good, solid swim and then having to splash around in waist deep water. Fortunately this was not the case at all, and we could immerse ourselves -from the tips of our toes to the crowns of our heads - in coolness.
Feeling revived we soon settled into the poolside deck chairs and got spoiled with massive glasses of delicious La Provence red wine and succulent olives. A good two hours of seamless chatter later later, our wine glasses were still not quite empty, our heads were starting to feel light and our hearts peacefully happy. Right at this moment of comfortable bliss, the co-owner Salome Gooding came over to the pool to say hello.
While we carried on lazing in the chairs, Salome gave us a quick run-down of how she and her husband Malcolm (Gooding), a well-known TV and radio voice artist, had built Gooding's Groves up from a plot of land with a quaint little house and a few olive trees to the gorgeous B&B it is today.
She also told us how both she and Malcolm had been married before, but that they had found each other after the passing of their partners. By this stage Malcolm had been the owner of the property for quite a few years, but it was only after he and Salome got married that they really started developing the B&B.
The conversation continued in a little more depth the next morning when we joined the Goodings at the breakfast table. Over a delicious spread of cheese, fruit, cereals, yoghurts and - to top it all off - the biggest and tastiest omelet the world has ever seen, Malcolm told us about how he had come across this little plot of land on a visit to the winelands in 1995. He was doing commentating for the Rugby World Cup and took a weekend break in Franschhoek only to fall madly in love with the fertile valley at first sight. He asked a local estate agent to show him around and they almost skipped right over the piece of ground where Gooding's Groves now stands, as a fire had destroyed everything a short while before.
Luckily he looked beyond the obvious and managed to pick the plot up for quite a bargain. It was not long after this that, with the help of Italian builder, Renato Serafin, they began building the beautiful house and planting young olive trees in the sandy soil. Today the house has more than doubled in size, and the olive grove boasts no less than 1000 trees!
As the Goodings are actually based in Johannesburg, it was a great stroke of luck to have a personal encounter with this dynamic couple and chat to them about their journey into the hospitality industry.
Although they feel like there is still quite a way to go, I beg to differ. With a backdrop of magnificent mountains, a farmyard feel created by a small dam, a few chickens and the new barn conference centre, and an ever-growing olive grove - the peace there is ultimate. The wine is divine. The breakfast delicious. The beds like fluffy clouds. And the olives tasty and succulent!
Gooding's Groves in short:
• 8 Luxury Suites: 5 with Queen-sized beds, 3 with twin beds
• Each room has DSTV, a safe and 100% cotton linen
• You get a complimentary jar of olives!!! And they are delicious!
• There is a free-standing luxury villa that sleeps four adults.
• Obviously included in the price if you stay over, but also open to the public. Indulge in either a continental or a full English Breakfast while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful view from the patio. It costs R75 per person.
• The Barn function venue and conference facility was opened officially in August 2010. They comfortable rustic barn atmosphere with mountain views and overlooking the farm dam and the olive groves.
• Gooding's Grove is a superb venue for a small, intimate wedding.
For more information visit the Gooding's Groves website
To have a good look at what you can expect go to our Gooding's Groves gallery.