An exclusive hillside retreat: Four Seasons The Westcliff
The Canadian Four Seasons group is considered one of the finest luxury hospitality companies in the world. Synonymous with exquisite locations, superior design and a personal touch, this brand is a steadfast industry giant with nearly 100 lavish properties across the globe. I recently investigated their latest African addition in Johannesburg, South Africa, to see if this new hotel lives up to the prestigious Four Seasons trademark...
The hotel is perched against 8 acres of steep hillside terrain within the affluent northern suburb of Westcliff. Thanks to the topography of the property, there are some spectacular panoramic views over the surrounding residential areas and beyond, towards the business hub of Sandton. It showcases a grand vista of green and blue, attributed to a virescent urban forest and the clear African sky. At the foot of the hill lies the popular Johannesburg Zoo, and from amongst the foliage you can spot the larger African mammals in their enclosures. Even the occasional nighttime roar of a lion can be heard from the hotel.
The Westcliff is around 30 min by car from OR Tambo International airport, and it's situated close to the upmarket shopping and business area of Rosebank.
There are 117 rooms and suites at The Westcliff, spread out in several wings and set in a village-like format along a winding sloped cobblestone road, surrounded by terraced gardens. I stayed in a beautiful Garden View Premier room, which was located on the 1st floor of the wing nearest to the reception.
The room's classic decorative style gave an acknowledging nod to its African location with a bold yet calming colour scheme, patterned wallpaper and plush finishes. Double glazed French doors opened onto my large balcony, overlooking the main pool and landscaped garden. The luxurious marble bathroom (stocked with L'Occitane en Provence amenities) offered two separate vanities, both complete with their own luggage wardrobe; a rain shower, bathtub and separate toilet cubicle.
Apart from alcohol- and soft drinks, my wet bar contained a huge range of local sweets and snacks. I also loved the selection of complimentary TWG teas as well as the convenient Nespresso machine. A welcome finishing touch was the seasonal fruit platter and bottled sparkling/ still water.
With two sparkling blue swimming pools, a modern sophisticated spa and a well equipped fitness centre, guests are adequately provided for in terms of leisure and wellness activities. There is also a jogging trail that runs through the property.
On my second day at the hotel I had a muscle-relaxing Terres d'Afrique spa treatment, and the therapeutic deep tissue massage melted away my aches and left me surprisingly revitalized. Afterwards I relaxed by the health club's tranquil lap pool and occasionally dozed off on my sun lounger, before heading to the larger main pool for a quick invigorating dip. I managed to squeeze in a swift cardio workout, on the latest TechnoGym treadmill, before it was time for dinner.
The Westcliff has several eateries located within its borders, accommodating different tastes and culinary occasions ranging from an informal snack at the street side deli, or a gourmet feast at the stylish View restaurant.
The main restaurant, Flames, is set on an expansive elevated terrace offering incredible views, and it also has a classy indoor section. The food is mostly inspired by the grill, or open-flame style cooking, resulting in classic, informal and unpretentious fare paired with a good selection of local and international wines. Flames serves, lunch and dinner as well as a huge brunch buffet over weekends. Needless to say, its position is the perfect location for sundowners.
See the gallery below for some of the food I had at Flames during my weekend stay. © Traverate 2016
All photos © Traverate 2016
View is situated just above Flames and features equally stunning vistas over the urban landscape The sophisticated interior design and modern theme creates an elegant space for contemporary fine dining. Breakfast, high tea and dinner is served in this tasteful restaurant.
For me, the most important part of any hotel stay is always the service I receive. From the doorman to the maître'd'hôtel - every single member of staff is significantly important, especially when it comes to upholding a precious global reputation like that of the Four Seasons brand. Having stayed at other properties under the same name, I must confess that I felt rather underwhelmed by the level of service expertise from certain divisions at The Westcliff.
I am not going to lament on about my specific complaints/ observations, but I can honestly say that the waitressing skills at both restaurants could drastically improve in terms of conformity to the brand image. I found the check-in procedure rather informal, and interestingly my identity was not verified.
This magnificent property has undergone a recent and very extensive overhaul - it is certainly one of the most beautiful and well appointed leisure hotels in Johannesburg. Having been under Four Seasons management for well over a year and a half, one would expect the initial teething problems to have dissipated by now. That said, the hotel offers very good value for money.
All photos and opinions are mine. © Traverate