Article from The Cape Odyssey
The story of Hermanus and hotels, like love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage….and talking of carriage, or post-cart. It took four hours by post cart from Bot River to Hermanus a hundred years ago. These days it takes only fifteen minutes. Bot River is the station nearest to Hermanus on the railway line to Caledon from Cape Town, which was established in 1902. The alternative method was by motorcar, if you were fortunate enough to own one. The main obstacles were – the roads and the access to petrol outlets – few and far between.
SAR Passenger bus from Bot River to Hermanus
Eventually reaching Hermanus, the fish-seeking visitor, unlike the local farmers arrived by wagon (on or around which he and his family could sleep). Other visitors needed accommodation. Thus, a year later Valentine Beyers (of Houwhoek Inn family) and Walter McFarlane converted a house, which became the Victoria hotel (later to be renamed Astoria).
In 1896 Dr Joshua Jacobus Hoffman and Willem Hendrik Hoffman acquired a seafront plot from the lawyer William Kleyn, and built the Sanatorium. He had been led to believe that this establishment was set up as a health resort by the good doctor, but a report in the Kerkbode of 1900 reflects that the purpose of the sanatorium was “de bevordering van God’s Koninkryk” (the advancement of God’s Kingdom), that preachers and missionaries received special rates, and that a number of ministers had already visited it and enjoyed a pleasant stay there. The sanatorium, in due course, was to become the Windsor Hotel. The conditions at the hotel generally were likely to have been fairly primitive, for there was neither electricity nor running water; but no doubt folks on a fishing holiday would have been prepared to put up with a little discomfort History repeats itself: approximately a hundred years later, what happens? The two hotels from Hermanus’ hey-days still remaining are … the Windsor and, taking the place of the Astoria, the Marine, for which a site was purchased in 1902 six years after the Windsor.
As in the early days, the rates of the Windsor remain affordable, but the standards (unlike the previous hundred years) have been tremendously improved. A further star has been awarded to the present owner, Garth and Trish Clark-Brown; to a very comfortable three stars on the national rating.
The Clark-Brown’s interest in Hermanus, as their predecessors a hundred years ago started with a family holiday house in Onrust in the late 1960’s. By 1972 architect Basil and the family of seven; Garth of the Windsor being the eldest of six sons, had built Sea Village town houses and converted the historic Esplanade into self-catering holiday apartments. Following this, Basil and Eve purchased the Windsor in 1982 extending it with 54 new en-suite bedrooms in 1989. After replacing their 45 Marine Drive home (adjoining the hotel) with 19 apartments, they sold the Windsor to Garth and Trish in 1997. The eight west-end apartments of 45 Marine Drive were retained by Basil and Eve, and furnished and let as very comfortable holiday apartments. The remaining eleven apartments were sold to individual owners.
Similar to the situation a 100 years ago, the “Champagne Air Kilometre” is the more available to visitors who rediscover this paradise/haven of relaxation on a short or long term stay – see you there!
You’ll want to stay forever.