INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr PHOTOS courtesy of Southern Yurts
Last year we chatted to partner team Tobin Davenport and Kate Brink about their Yurt endeavour (that you can read, here), which turned into a creative and restful retreat. Their latest addition to their self-catering yurts in the Overberg includes two rustic riverside cabins. We catch up with them about what went behind the planning and execution of the new space.
What was the plan for the new cabins?
We deliberated for almost a year about whether it would be appropriate to add cabins to our Yurt portfolio. When we decided to add the cabins, which are reclaimed chalets that had previously had a different design, we wanted them to also offer a very similar experience to our Yurt sites – to encourage guests to be outdoors comfortably – whilst providing a bit more familiarity for those guests are not necessarily into glamping.
How old are the bones of the cabin and what were they like before?
There are two cabins in our portfolio, and both have been reshaped from what were previously more rustic chalets, built about 20 years ago. The River Cabin combines to A-frame structures to create a perfect getaway for two, with two private courtyard spaces. A small courtyard with a small rock pond and outdoor seating is the perfect space for lounging in the sun. The second space offers a braai/boma-styled area with a private wood-fired hot tub and a comfy nest for lounging, as well as outdoor seating. Botanica Cabin has been adapted from a previous cottage-styled building, that has a fully equipped kitchen, including an indoor pizza oven, a large braai area with covered outdoor seating, a private courtyard with wood-fired hot tub, another barrel braai, outdoor seating and access to a private viewpoint that looks into the conservancy.
What amenities do they offer and how does the experience differ from staying in a yurt?
Both of our Cabins are perfect for a romantic getaway for two – they are separated from each other but share access to a dip pool, which is a great addition for warm summer days. Each cabin is equipped with comfortable bedding and towels, a self-catering kitchen, a daybed, private wood-fired hot tubs, outdoor nests for lounging, outdoor seating and wonderful views. The accommodation is also located in the reserve, so it has access to all the hiking trails and a small farm dam where guests can fish (catch and release), kayak and swim. Similarly to our Yurt accommodations, we stock the cabins with firewood, firelighters, soaps and shampoo, dishwashing necessities, coffee, tea, sugar, salt and peppers, spices and home-grown olive oil to taste during your stay.
What feeling does the cabin give visitors?
We hope that the cabins give guests the feeling of comfort in nature, without losing the knowledge that they are truly out of the city and in an environment that is quite extraordinary (particularly for its location). We have designed them to be interesting and personal, but have also focussed on how we can make the outside spaces attractive for people to spend time in.
How did you decide on a decor scheme for the cabins, when the yurts are so rustic?
The decor of the cabins needed to have its own feel – because the exteriors are four walls and something that is very much a home/cabin norm, we wanted to interiors to reflect the character of the accommodation, as well as the natural surroundings. We have included the home luxuries, but we’ve also added quirks to remind you that this is definitely a personalised experience and not the more common copy-paste getaway.
Have you kept with the eco stance in the cabins?
Yes, absolutely! We use biodegradable soaps, shampoos and cleaning products, and the gardens are completely organic. Guests can enjoy the herbs and veggies available knowing they’re safe and full of all the good things!
What plans do you have for the farm going forward?
Southern Yurts and our partners Porcupine Hills have created the Diepklowe Conservation Trust, which is a non-profit fund devoted to ensuring the management and maintenance of the Diepklowe Nature Reserve – in which Southern Yurts is located. A conservation fee of R75 per person per stay is added to each booking and goes directly into the trust. We are incredibly excited about this effort as we hope it will allow for a well-cared-for reserve, with the vision that it is the guests and guest accommodation business that become the custodians, responsible for ensuring that the flora and fauna wildlife is a priority. Maintenance programs in the reserve are primarily centred around alien clearing in the riverine areas, erosion management, hiking trail access and rewilding of the unique Renosterveld Biome. Programs are generally executed in autumn and winter months when conditions are safer and more conducive to bush work.
How would you describe the overall aesthetic?
The overall aesthetic of the cabins and the Yurt accommodation is one that shows care, intention, and something a little bit different. We hope the little design details in each area add to your experience and give you something to write home about.
Anything exciting you’d like to add?
Definitely! We have a few new plans for 2023, launching towards the end of the year – without giving too much away, we think it will be an exciting new addition to the area.
For more information or to book a stay, southernyurts.co.za.