Fair Trade Tourism. – I don’t pretend to have sea legs. You can get me on a boat any given day, whatever the mission, be it whales, sharks or sundowners, but to be honest, it always takes me a couple of days to recover from that rocking movement.
It was no different after my bountiful whale watching trip with Southern Right Charters and as I headed into the city for a night at Antrim Villa, I was feeling the need for solid ground, care and a whole lot of goodness.
What I got was much more than even that, it was a sense of home.
Walking through the doors of Antrim Villa, Funeka greeted me with her natural warmth and charm. I wanted to hug her. The hugs were to come, and they were of the highest order, but before that a cold refreshing hand towel and welcome drink were offered to me. As was a comfortable seat in the dappled afternoon light where newly appointed Operations Manager Silivani Habiyaremye, introduced me to the guest house, facilities, best stocked honesty bar ever and the welcoming ways of the Villa.
Instantly the green tinge had lifted. Here I was grounded.
Antrim Villa has two rooms types, standard and luxury. Each with all modern amenities, heater and fan, gowns, flatscreen TVs, iPod docking stations and mini fridges. They are tastefully decorated with Scandinavian simplicity and added African touches. I slept very well in mine, which overlooked the pool area. An excellent bed and 100% cotton sheets, high ceilings and relaxed atmosphere.
There is good and free internet access throughout and an in-house computer desk should you wish. The reception areas offer a place to relax, as does the outside pool and garden. There’s even a banana tree bearing fruit. Antrim also has two self-catering apartments nearby. Lovely for the more independent traveller.
Breakfast is a triumph of freshly baked bread, cheeses, charcuterie, yogurts, cereals and excellent coffee. Its self-service with generous amounts of everything to be enjoyed at the communal table. I chatted with guests from Germany, learning about the itinerary that they were on and how Antrim had come so highly recommended. I can see why.
Chatting to Manager Joy Daniel, who has worked in tourism for 14 years and is a qualified tour guide, as well as to the Swedish owner Jonas Sandstrom, I learnt from them the importance they place on ensuring guests leave happy and possibly just a little more environmentally conscious.
Jonas explains how he’s always considered the environment, that joining Fair Trade and implementing systems was a natural decision to him. It’s not always the easy way, but it’s the right way.
Besides the signs that offer gentle reminders to use water modestly, switch off the lights when you go out, recycle and reuse your towel, its more a sense of goodness that prevails.
Antrim do work with numerous projects, including direct assistance to a family in Darling. Buying bags from a street children project. Supporting a woman’s group that makes the beaded ‘A’ key rings that all guests get as a gift when checking out. Working with Helping Hand, learning and teaching how to make good bread. Actually as we spoke the smell of freshly baked bread was reaching out from the oven.
The team go for First Aid Training, have fair salaries and pension plans, are kept trained and motivated to improve, guided on the issue of healthy eating and well taken care of staff. You can feel it in the lightness and confidence with which everybody interact with you.
The place has a calming effect, one that is needed in our busy world. Its perfectly located in Green Point for extended stays, offers off road parking. Is chic, modern, comfortable and very welcoming.
In summary, Antrim Villa has soul.
The loveliness that is the reception area.
When guests reluctantly leave, love letters are written in the visitors book.
Her name is actually Honey Funeka, but Honey was given to her and she doesn’t want to use it. Then again, Funeka is the kind of lady who doesn’t need two names. She’s all sorts of glorious with just the one. Up until recently she was working at a takeaway franchise, now she’s richly enhancing the stay of all the Villa’s guests.
Antrim Villa were the first property to sign up in Cape Town, their certificate is proudly displayed.
How do you know that you’re staying in a Fair Trade establishment? Things like this, reminders of common sense.
Read about my other Fair Trade experiences here: #FTT10YearBirthdayCampaign.
Appropriately, these stones stood on one of the windowsills. A perfect reminder of the balance that Antrim Villa and Fair Trade Tourism work towards. The balance between the environment, staff and guest. I can give you my word, they are getting it exactly right.
Thank you very much for hosting me friends of Antrim, for the chats and kind care. I know I will be back, and until then I’ll be warmly recommending you to all that I can.
As I left to a warm hug from Funeka and a charming ‘thanks for staying with us’ from Silivani, I realised how lucky I am, that such places, such people, exist and that I get to experience them.