When large groups of people stood in awe as fireworks were lighting up skies across the globe to announce 2020, nobody thought we would be doing business behind masks later that year. Everything has changed, but the innate desire to return to nature. And for this part, “social” distance made the heart grow fonder.
It is impossible to keep the South African tourism product squeezed into a three to six-month suitcase and hide it in a corner until further travel notice. The South Africa market might be small but significant in quality and diversity. That should be the calling card for the new age, tech-savvy tourists looking for an authentic experience to add to their travel bucket list.
Space and nature have become the new luxury, and as lockdown levels relax, that suitcase is starting to bulge with big, innovative ideas. There is no doubt that South Africa will come back stronger than ever before. People will come to South Africa to depressurize and to experience a place of quiet and beauty that offers a world-class product. And this is when a small area like the Elgin Grabouw Valley will have a massive impact.
BUT LET US UNMASK OUR FIRST ELGIN GRABOUW PERSONALITY.
The objective with the stories to follow over the next couple of months is to share the offering in the Elgin Grabouw valley and introduce you to the driving forces behind it. These are the people who persevered, continued to pay salaries, and kept their eyes on the horizon while waiting for lockdown levels to relax.
Wesgro studies have shown that adventure (especially cycling), culture, and food and wine are the most excellent drivers of our tourism economy, and the valley offers this in abundance. And, behind every successful project (or mask for that matter) is a great personality.
“I cannot start to describe how we love being here and how privileged we feel to have all this nature around us. It has truly been a rewarding project. Our greatest value proposition is that we are in the middle of this incredible Kogelberg Biosphere. It is nature at its best.”
What started as a workshop facility to build timber houses nearly three decades ago, has now been turned into a cyclist and adventurist’s haven. “It was time for a change. It did not happen overnight, and there were many options with the shed, but the idea for a ski-lodge for bikes stuck.”
Pieter explains this is what they do with ski lodges in Europe during summer. “Halfway through the revamp, I thought this was a crazy idea, but then suddenly everything just fell into place.”
Today they have constructed several MTB and hiking trails to attract both novices and professional cyclists. The hotel is a friendly, warm, and comfortable home away from home for family and friends wanting to explore the valley for a couple of days. Although the restaurant is not in full operation yet, they do provide coffee and breakfast hampers with procedures to accommodate business travel.
At sunrise, you will often find Pieter up in the mountains, sharing the beauty of the surroundings with visitors. With a family of mountain bike enthusiasts and heaps of potential and enthusiasm, Trail’s End took on a life of its own. It quickly became an outdoors and fitness haven for people wanting to explore the Overberg.
“You don’t need to be involved in cycling to love it here,” explains Pieter. “City-slickers love the fact that they can start the morning with yoga, go for walks, rides, or just push the reset button and enjoy a glass of wine by the fire.”
His goal for Trail’s End is to become a leading destination for adventure enthusiasts, a place where locals will always feel welcome, and a centre (Cycling Academy) focused on giving back and building skills in the local Grabouw communities. Their continuous effort to uplift their communities have involved the donations of bicycles in partnerships with local NGO’s like The Bike Empowerment Network (BEN), Pedal Power Association (PPA) and Qhubeka. Many of these youngsters are now taking part in the regular cycling events hosted in the Elgin Grabouw Valley and becoming part of the local cycling community.
Pencil this special place into your diary. Contact them on 021 859 5193 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words: Samarie Smith