Our original booking to stay at Mont Aux Sources Hotel in the Drakensberg had been made for the week before this visit. Unfortunately nearly half way there we were forced to turn around and return home because our house was broken into. Luckily Esme at reservations was very understanding and accommodating in postponing our booking by one week. This time the trip went without hitch or glitch and we returned home at the end of a lovely weekend break to an intact house with spirits fresh as mountain air.
The shortest route to Mont Aux Sources Hotel from Gauteng is via the R74. This is a very scenic route that passes Sterkfontein Dam and Little Switzerland, but unfortunately the road is a disgrace. Apparently the Free State provincial government did not pay the contractor who is now in liquidation, leaving an incomplete road that is in much worse condition than prior to the commencement of repairs. This road encapsulates failure and mismanagement, typical of many governmental departments, particularly in the Free State where millions can be spent on provincial websites but apparently nothing on infrastructure maintenance. If we had not been traveling in the Sportage with good ground clearance, we would have had to continue on the N3 via the Bergville turn off, a much longer route.
This was our third visit to Mont Aux Sources in six and a half years. With our home now being one of single income and the extra cost of two children, hotel stays are real treats. When the Daddy’s Deal offer came up it was the perfect opportunity to return to this destination that is rich in happy memories.
Although the hotel has always felt comfortable and welcoming, some aspects of the rooms during our previous stays felt a little tired and thus it was pleasing to discover that the hotel has embarked on a renovation programme. We stayed in a renovated deluxe room, which is very smart. The only thing we missed, however, was having a bath instead of a shower; on a cool evening after a long hike in the Berg it would have been great to have a long, warm soak.
If you drive straight to the guest parking, entering the hotel via the back entrance instead of first stopping at the front entrance to check-in, don’t be misled by first impressions. The back entrance from the parking area is somewhat scruffy and in need of a bit of TLC. The hotel lounge was never in the least tatty, but it has also been revamped and looks rather classy. During our first visit to Mont Aux Sources Hotel towards the end of 2006 we were rather blown away by the buffet dinners, and that experience has set the bar for buffet meals ever since. Fortunately the buffet meals during our current stay were excellent as we remembered them, although the extensive range offered during our first stay has never been repeated. From the receptionists to the waiters, the chef, maintenance staff and management, the hotel staff are extremely helpful and friendly, all contributing to make a trip to Mont Aux Sources Hotel a perfect break from city life.
During our stay we spent most of Saturday hiking in the magnificent Royal Natal National Park, a stunning reserve with numerous scenic walks (catering for both the very fit as well as the less fit). Alternatively a wonderful place to simply relax in fresh mountain air soaking up the scenery. On Sunday before heading home we stopped in at All Out Adventures; part of our Daddy’s Deal included 2 vouchers for All Out Adventures and this was the highlight of Fjord’s weekend.
Reading through the hotel guest book most comments were along the lines “friendly staff”, “great food”, “beautiful and relaxing”, etc. One comment, the likes of which I have never encountered in a guest book before was “Best Sex Ever” – well that couple clearly had a rollicking time. Another couple commented that they have visited the Hotel every Easter for the past 36 years. Mont Aux Sources Hotel is the sort of destination where people keep returning and have been doing so for a long time, and we are no exception.