A Stay at La Provence
Robin Forrester   
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Sculptor Charles Gotthard and wife Marguerite form the creative team behind the three stunning venues; La Provence, Out of Africa, and Goblins Cove, all situated in the Magaliesburg region. My partner and I were invited to experience the peace and tranquility on offer at the La Provence hotel and to ease away the stresses of city life.

The La Provence hotel is located just outside the town of Magaliesburg just off the R24 highway only an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. La Provence is modelled on the serene French southern region Provence and comprises of seven beautiful individually styled suites and an exquisitely modelled indoor street café.

  La Provence
  La Provence
  La Provence
  La Provence
  La Provence
  La Provence
Upon arriving, we were greeted by three very eager and friendly dogs who seemed to be almost offering to take our luggage inside themselves. Immediately we could feel the peace and tranquility La Provence had to offer, the sounds of cars and city noise were replaced by the calming tones of the slow paced Berg River situated just behind the main house.

Our friendly and very accommodating host Marguerite led us to our room through the passageway that had been modelled into a stunning French street café upon which the rooms open. The atmosphere in the street is unique, look up and you will see a high grass roofed ceiling, around you the French signs and paintings adorning the sides, and dotted around are the Provence styled cast-iron tables and chairs for dining. The detail recreated here is very fine and is seen immediately on entering with the cobbled stone street leading up to a gorgeous stone fountain.

The attention to detail is carried on into each suite with our large bed and fine French linen and fabric designs, plenty of room for petite tables and French sofas, regal large framed mirrors and floor to ceiling windows. Don’t be put off by cold weather, each room comes with its own little sherry and glasses, for an immediate warm up, and if that’s not enough, the in-room iron coal fire can be lit for you. Ours was lit and waiting for us as we returned from dinner that night which provided all the warmth you could wish for on a cold night.

Our bathroom was exquisitely styled and we took full advantage of the lovely high-ended iron antiquarian baths with never-ending hot soaks. It was clear to see the love that had gone into creating these rooms uniqueness. It was not hard to imagine this large atmospheric building initially being Charles Gotthard’s studio where some of his magnificent creations were born.

Just outside the front door sits a vintage “chef truck” in bright colours, converted into a pub, amply stocked to supply sherries, ports and even hot chocolates. We decided to walk around and immediately felt a sense of freedom as we did not feel confined in any way by fences or roads, we ventured down to the river accompanied by the dogs to sit and peacefully watch the water flowing while day dreaming.

La Provence and Out of Africa have also taken the ecologically happier and greener route of harnessing the Berg River so it provides water for the site. Hidden away near the river also lies the Forest Spa where you can indulge in a number of various massages and treatments to compliment your stay.

After our dinner at Goblins Cove (see next week’s review), we enjoyed one of the most peaceful, cozy and warm nights of sleep we’d ever had and the next morning we were treated to a breakfast picnic by the river. It’s a very simple and delightful idea taking advantage of the warm weather and idyllic river setting. After picking up our basket and finding a quiet spot on a stone table by the river we unpacked our tasty treats which included eggs, warm breads, muffins, flans and fresh juices. This was at the very least a healthy and delicious breakfast. We wished every breakfast could be this grand, the setting will certainly prove to be inspirational for those who wish to discover themselves again away from the city.

Marguerite Gotthard is one half on the extraordinary couple that built and manages the three venues. Speaking to Marguerite reveals her passion to provide a magical experience and a retreat into the imagination for visitors whilst providing a first class service. However Marguerite also revealed that work would soon start on a “Shire’s Village” near the Goblins Cove venue, which will boast of a few dwellings similar to those found in the Shires, Lord of The Rings films. The new “village” will not only harness the local river for its water but will also be a “green village” with eco-friendly technology in use.
Goblins Cove may also be coming to a town near you, the couple are on the lookout for any enthusiastic entrepreneurs who wish to explore the idea of re-creating a Goblins Cove in Cape Town and spreading the magic further.

After a beautiful weekend we came back to Johannesburg refreshed, our minds and imaginations awoken and breathing new ideas into our lives. We are very thankful to Marguerite and Charles Gotthard for allowing us a little escape from reality and giving us such a serene fantasy filled weekend. From French recreations to Goblins and Fairies, we highly recommend a stay here. You won’t be disappointed.

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