Flights of Fancy with One&Only Cape Town

Thanks to a couple of well-known names in South Africa, a recent extravagant sojourn for this editor was an experience in unabashed gratification, both sky-high and at water’s edge. Up above, South African Airways appeases the grumpy traveler with a half-day of flying ahead of them. In vibrant Cape Town, it’s all about the double O.

One&Only Cape Town is the city’s darling, synonymous with top-rated luxury that is downplayed, but omnipresent. Everything is done impeccably here and service is earnest and generous—both intrinsically South African and “One&Only-an.”

The resort’s understated elegance competes for attention only with its fantastic location right on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, within walking distance of shopping venues and restaurants. A short walk leads guests to darling boutiques, live music, pubs and the Waterfront Craft Market, great for finding lots of South African mementos. The Two Oceans Aquarium is next door and from the harbor, visitors can also take a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the apartheid era.

Enjoying a glass of South African wine from the One&Only’s Vista Bar, guests are privy to an enviable view of Table Mountain, although the Cape Town landmark is visible the moment you walk into the resort thanks to colossal panoramic windows. One&Only is also home to the Wine Loft and its more than 5,000 bottles as well as several lauded eateries, but the name that stands out here is Nobu. The first African outpost of the famous New York eatery enjoys as big a following here, and if sampling its innovative menu choices is not enough for One&Only guests, they can now learn the art of sushi-making at Nobu on Saturdays.

At One&Only, clients can stay in a sumptuous room or suite in the main building of seven stories known as Marina Rise—there is no bad room here—or, if they’re really lucky, they’ll be “banished” to the island, surrounded by a waterway and accessible via a short walk or golf cart. The 2-story structures that house the rooms and suites on the island provide a different feel to the One&Only experience, less hotel-like and more residential. The suites are larger, of course (although rooms are big—large enough for an impromptu happy dance), but the decor is warm and classic throughout, with African woods and beautiful local artwork. There’s no stone left unturned here when it comes to conveniences, with a dedicated butler at the ready with a smile and infinite patience. Our recommendation: spend an hour in the huge, inviting tub with a glass of champagne after dinner and arrange for the next morning’s breakfast on your own balcony.

Another island treat is One&Only Spa, with signature journeys and treatments inspired by African culture and individually designed around three philosophies: “Unwind,” “Balance” and “Uplift.” This is where you spend at least one day, hiding away in spa gardens with sculptures and seating areas, thinking of nothing under “experience” showers with three different kinds of water settings or utterly comfy in the vitality pools’ air massage recliners. For the ultimate in indulgence, clients can book a private Spa Suite, which offers side-by-side treatments and a soaking bath for two. Another plus: a top-notch fitness center that offers personalized programs, plus kinesis, yoga, tai chi and Pilates studios.

One&Only has a KidsOnly clubhouse for kids 4 to 11 with a games and movie lounge, a computer room and its own garden, as well as cooking classes and indigenous craft sessions to keep them busy. There are also excursions and programs available for teens, including a healthy boxing program.

One&Only Cape Town has a Year-Round Special that extends a complimentary night for every three nights booked and can be applied consecutively for an 8-night stay with two nights free, for instance. The offer, valid through Dec. 24, includes daily breakfast and is available on all room categories but the Penthouse. Clients can combine this with the resort’s Early Bird Special, which offers 10 percent off on rack rates for reservations made at least 60 days prior to arrival. Rack rates start at $870 per night for a Marina Room through March 31, then $747 through the end of September.