The Vineyard Hotel & Spa, set on the shady eastern slopes of Table Mountain, extends from an original Georgian homestead across eight lush hectares of indigenous riverside parkland. This is an oasis of luxury and tranquility, but behind the scenes there is a flurry of activity aimed at ensuring that this 207-roomed hotel and busy conference centre treads as lightly as possible on the Earth. The Vineyard is totally committed to operating in an environmentally friendly fashion, and has implemented an impressive range of measures to ensure this. This ranges from changing to LED lights in the conference centre (leading to a 75% energy saving) to installation of a state-of-the-art energy efficient laundry (another 34% energy saving) and the upcoming installation of solar panels for generation of green energy. Chris van Zyl, the Sustainability Manager at the Vineyard explained so many initiatives to me that this would become more of a novel than a blog if a wrote them all down. But if you are interested, there is a dedicated section on the Vineyard’s website where you can read all about it.
Chris is not the only person passionate about sustainability at the Vineyard. In fact, everyone I spoke to seemed to have the same attitude, and there was no mistaking that the staff are proud of where they work. The enthusiasm of sous chef Shane Louw particularly captured my attention. He took me of a whirlwind tour of all his favourite initiatives to produce vegetables, herbs and fruit on the hotel property. There was sharp rocket, colourful spinach, sweet basil, majestic artichokes, juicy blueberries and tangy Cape gooseberries in his gardens, and on the rooftop were lemon trees that provided the main ingredients for the delicious lemonade that guests are offered upon check-in. Often, Shane will take a little walk to the veggie gardens in the morning (not a bad way to start your day I might add; they are set on the slopes of the Liesbeek River in the midst of perfectly manicured indigenous gardens) to find inspiration for the day’s specials in the Square Restaurant.
I asked Shane whether it actually makes a difference to use local, organic produce and his response was “I would not feel comfortable serving my guests food that I don’t know where it came from. We grow our own organic herbs and vegetables, but I also personally know the farmers and fishermen that provide what we cannot produce. That way, I know that the ingredients are the best and freshest, and we also contribute to the local economy.” There is no mistaking that Shane only serves the best in the Square restaurant. My chicken salad was superb, and the cheesecake with strawberry jelly and lavender icecream was to die for!
Whether you are an overnight guest, or just visit for lunch or dinner at the Square, the Vineyard is an indulgence in luxury that leaves a sweet aftertaste and does not cost the Earth!