A Dazzling Decade at La Residence | The Royal Portfolio

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6 August2018

by Greg Cooke

We look back at some of the most magical moments and fond memories from the past 10 years

“It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since we opened La Residence’s doors to the public. It’s funny how time flies when you’re having fun with a really special group of people.Liz Biden, Founder and Owner of The Royal Portfolio.

Since the Biden family opened La Residence as The Royal Portfolio’s wine country experience, the property has gone from strength to strength, reaping the rewards of hard work to the point of remarkable acclaim. Many fond memories have been made along the way.

Fond Memories

"The culinary scene in Franschhoek is quite something." - Liz Biden

Franschhoek (‘French Corner’ in Dutch) is a picturesque village where the laid back café culture has a distinctly French charm. Full of quaint character, Franschhoek is distinguished by its fine colonial architecture, numerous gourmet restaurants, art galleries and curio shops. The magic of Franschhoek is in its diversity of experiences, each rich and ready to offer an unforgettable experience.

“La Residence will always hold a special place in my heart. The culinary scene in Franschhoek is quite something. Our chefs focus on fresh, local ingredients, fine wine and delicious cuisine. After enjoying some of my favorite meals, I love to take a stroll through the blooming gardens and through the vineyards, and marvel at the surrounding mountains. It’s no wonder that all three of my children chose to celebrate their wedding at La Residence, it is a truly beautiful place” – Liz Biden

"Elton John was such fun and so kind. He even gave us the beautiful Jacaranda trees that surround the dam.” – Liz Biden

The guest feedback we receive from first time and revisiting travellers is what really motivates the team at La Residence. While giving guests a complete experience and a perfect stay is our mantra, we often find that it is our guests that have so much to give in return.

“We’ve been privileged to entertain some incredible guests over the years, including Lionel Ritchie and Richard Gere. Elton John was such fun and so kind. He even gave us the beautiful Jacaranda trees that surround the dam.” – Liz Biden

Events always seem to bring people together, and La Residence has certainly had its fair share of festivities. Chantell Viljoen, The Royal Portfolio Group Events Manager, has been the driving force behind the many weddings at La Residence, extravagant New Year’s Eve parties, as well as the annual Diners Club Awards dinner.

The addition of The Vineyard Suites in 2010 added a new dimension to the experience at La Residence ideal for families and groups of friends travelling together. Each Vineyard Suite is like a self-contained cottage and there are various layouts to suit just about every sized family. The Terrace Room provided another fantastic space for intimate events.

Amazing Accolades

“La Residence really does embody luxury in all its forms. Flanked by vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes, olive groves and plum orchards and nestled in the heart of South Africa’s culinary capital, its location takes your breath away. The personalised service, smiling staff and magical interiors that address even the finest of details, make this remarkable space unique in all regards. Being awarded the Readers’ Choice No 1 Hotel in the World by Condé Nast Traveler in 2013 was a fantastic accolade, and the recognition keeps coming, both locally and internationally.” – Edward Morton, General Manager of La Residence

  • Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Top 100 Hotels in the World 2018
  • Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Award: Best Resort Hotel in Africa & The Middle East 2018
  • Condé Nast Traveler: Gold List 2018
  • Andrew Harper’s Top 100 Hideaways in the World 2017
  • Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards: #7 in the 50 Best Hotels in the World 2017
  • Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Award: Best Resort Hotel in Africa 2017
  • Top Hotels in Africa and The Middle East: Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2016
  • Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Award: Best Resort Hotel in Africa & The Middle
    East 2017
  • Condé Nast Traveller Top 25 Hotels in Africa: Readers’ Choice Awards 2015
  • No 1 Hotel in the World – Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards (US) 2013
  • South Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel – World Travel Awards (SA) 2010
  • 101 Best Hotels in the World – Tatler Travel Guide (UK) 2010
  • “Hideaway of the Year 2009” Grand Award Winner – Andrew Harpers Hideaway Report
  • Best new sensation in the world – Tatler (UK) 2009
best-hotel-franschhoek

Community & Conservation

It’s incredible to see the team go from strength to strength, overcoming challenges and continuously improving the guest experience at La Residence. Despite testing times, such as the recent drought in Cape Town, the team pulled together to create innovative solutions to promote conservation and protect the environment.

This, together with various community upliftment programmes, ensures that La Residence plays an important role in giving back, an intrinsic part of doing business in Africa. The Royal Portfolio Foundation, headed up by Ali McAdam, Liz Biden’s daughter, oversees our community and conservation initiatives.

“Our guests want to be involved, and they expect that we are too” – Ali McAdam.

The recent screening of BBC’s Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby which showcased The Silo Hotel and La Residence was testament to the life changing effects La Residence has had on the surrounding communities and on many members of staff. BBC’s Amazing Hotels features some of the best and most interesting hotels in the world and will screen in South Africa on Thursday 16 August.

Culture & Cuisine

Much like the Franschhoek Valley, La Residence is a fantastic fusion of cultural heritage, art, fine wines and comfortable cuisine.

Executive Chef Lennard Marais oversees the dining experience at La Residence. His ethos is very much ‘Farm to Table’ with more and more ingredients being grown on the estate each year. Many of our guests have enjoyed a tour of the herb and vegetable garden with the chefs, sourcing and learning about the many uniquely South African ingredients incorporated into their meals. One of the dining highlights at La Residence is The Chef’s Table, an exquisite experience which focuses on fresh, seasonal dishes pairing them with wines from the Franschhoek Valley.

franschhoek-restaurant-food

Afternoon teas in the loggia are an indulgent affair. Guests may choose their china tea cups from Edward’s extensive collection that he has carefully curated over many hours spent in antique shops. After 10 years we finally convinced Chef Lennard to pass on his delicious Plum & Almond Cake recipe. You can view the recipe here.

While many of our guests like to take all their meals at La Residence, the small town of Franschhoek is home to 52 restaurants. Our teams makes a point of trying out each of these restaurants in order to make the best recommendations to our guests. Take a look at our list of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Cape Winelands.

And let’s not forget the wine. According to Werner Krause, Deputy General Manager at La Residence, “It’s been fantastic to be involved with the production of our wines at La Residence. With 11ha of vineyards yielding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes we bottle an Owner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a balanced red blend named after the two Biden daughters (Nicole Alexandra) and a delicate rosé made from the Shiraz grapes, named after Matthew’s wife Rosie (the Rosemary-Jane). We produce around 7,000 bottles per vintage and the wines are used for the enjoyment of our guests across The Royal Portfolio.” Aside from our own wines, La Residence offers 8 ways to wine taste, including our helicopter wine tours – a spectacular way to see the region and sample wines from different climates and terroirs in the same day.

Art is another integral part of The Royal Portfolio, something that is evident in each of the private rooms and public spaces of La Residence. An interesting contrast to the exclusively contemporary African art on display at The Silo Hotel. You can read more about the art and view our art catalogue here.

The 30-acre estate is the perfect place to unwind. With just 11 rooms in the main hotel and 5 Vineyard Suites, each room and opulent en-suite bathroom have been uniquely decorated by Liz Biden. With swimming pools, a spa treatment room, gym, dining room, vineyards and endless private spaces in which to curl up with a good book there really is no need to leave.

It’s certainly been an extraordinary few years, a dazzling decade of success, with memories that will last a lifetime. It has been an absolute pleasure making these memories with our wonderful guests and we look forward to many more happy years at La Residence.

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Warren Ginsberg
Guest
Warren Ginsberg

Many congratulations and both Carole and myself are very much looking forward to spending our Christmas holiday again this year with the wonderful team at La Residence …,…Warren Ginsberg (London)

Edward A Dreyfus
Guest

Barbara and I just returned home from a fabulous time at La Residence and can attest to all of the accolades you have received. Though formal in appearance, it was anything but formal in warmth, friendliness, and comfort. If we didn’t live so far away, it would surely be a regular on our vacation list. Barbara and Edward Dreyfus, Los Angeles

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