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Review: Future Found Sanctuary

The tranquility of a private estate combined with the comforts and safety of a boutique hotel.
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Why book?
This private property—comprising Villa Verte (a four-bedroom stand-alone house for groups), Maison Noir (a five-bedroom house), and two cottages whose bedrooms can be booked individually—doesn’t feel like a hotel. Rather, it feels like the glamorous estate of a design lover to which you’ve been given the keys. Even if you’ve booked only a room, there’s enough space for everyone to do pretty much what they want. If you want to lie about by the pool all day and have a salad lunch in your swimsuit, you can. Or, because it’s situated in a centrally located valley from which the vertiginous Chapman’s Peak Drive winds, you can drive to Cape Point, taste wine in the vineyards in nearby Constantia, pack a picnic to take to the nearby boulder-lined beach of Llandudno, or drive 20 minutes into the city. Those without cars can book day excursions with a local guide.

The backstory
This isn’t a hotel; it’s a passion project. Jim Brett—who spent his career working for brands such as Anthropologie, West Elm, and latterly J.Crew—came to South Africa in 2004 and vowed one day he’d live here. In 2014, he and his partner bought an old family house on the side of Table Mountain and, having built two other houses (one for himself), opened the seven-acre Future Found Sanctuary to the public. Once he’d built the properties, he got some of the leading experts to give the finishing touches. The endemic gardens were landscaped by the master horticulturist Cherise Viljoen, who worked at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for decades, and the interiors designed by Southern Guild, who also helped Brett amass an impressive collection of African art.

The rooms
Built like a contemporary African village, Maison Noir’s five black-roofed A-frame rooms branch out from a curved central living space filled with art. Each suite has its own outside space and interiors featuring African plants, animals, and art. One, in soothing greens, has a loft; another is papered in wild black and green botanical prints; the loveliest—the master suite—features a soaring reed ceiling, polished concrete wall, and abstract tribal art. Every detail has been carefully considered, from the sheets (soft cotton) and throws (South African wool) to the amenities (fragranced with fynbos herbs), drinks (freshly squeezed), and snacks (biltong, Malay-spiced nuts, dried-Cape-fruit cookies). Recent additions include two garden suites: private stone and wood cottages set amid the fynbos gardens. 

Food and drink
Jim Brett made his home in Cape Town partly to decompress after years of corporate stress. Having made wellness a central tenet of his own life, he created a regime with the in-house nutritionist and yoga teacher Romy Paull so his guests to tap into it too. Providing fresh, delicious, nutritious meals is part of this. In the morning, an in-house chef creates fresh juices, chia pots, fruit salads, bircher muesli—and, if wanted, richer dishes such as Eggs Royale. Lunches might be a “harvest feast” of Ottolenghi-style salads, cheeses, and charcuterie. And in the evening, elegant three-course formal dinners can be arranged, with fresh fish and seafood, Karoo lamb and Cape produce, or braais (barbecues) set under the stars. The drinks cabinet features a range of international and local brands, including fynbos gin, which staff can create cocktails, and an extensive collection of fine South African wines.  

The spa
Throughout the property, spaces have been set aside for wellness activities. There’s a deck in the garden for open-air yoga classes, and a closed space for classes in inclement weather. The little spa, below the private Villa Verte, has a small hammam, two treatment rooms, a space for relaxing, and a gym with a view; and there are two pools: one heated and one filled with mountain spring water for cold-water plunges. The head of wellness, Romy Paull, who is a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness teacher, can book the Cape’s leading wellness practitioners to give classes and treatments, from sound healing and tai chi to conscious breathwork, kinesiology, and mountain hikes. She also offers bespoke retreats, based on her philosophy of the four Rs: Rise, Realign, Reflect, and Rest.

The neighborhood
Hout Bay is a mixed residential area in which rich and poor live cheek by jowl, squatters alongside wealthy villa owners, and horse breeders alongside surfers, Cape fishermen, and artists. From the green, leafy roads around the sanctuary, guests can drive into the diverse areas armed with maps and recommendations, or take a guide from the hotel. Table Mountain looms above the villas, crisscrossed with paths on which to hike, and the little harbor is lined with fish restaurants and arty shops, a weekend market, and bars. Along the coast lie beautiful beaches for walks and picnics; this part of the Cape faces the Atlantic, so the water is cool. A car is essential, unless you want to spend days out with a guide.

The service
The team is small, warm, and professional; because the property is run like a villa, rather than a hotel, the style is personal and caring, rather than slick. It’s a place to wander into the kitchen, chat with staff, and pour your own drinks. 

Who comes here?
Honeymooners wanting pampering, privacy, and a pool. Wealthy families, who take over Maison Noir or Villa Verte—or both, for big gatherings. Wellness fiends, keen to get fit, eat well, and relax in the gardens. Design and art lovers who prefer the privacy and security of a guarded, beautifully appointed home to a more impersonal hotel. 

For families 
Children over 12 are welcome if the whole villa is booked out. The garden has two swimming pools and a cold-water pond, which are not netted, so children have to be supervised. 

Eco effort
Commendable. This is a plastic-free hotel that sources its water from a borehole and used local materials for its construction. Ingredients for food are grown on-site or locally sourced—and the hotel’s bath products were produced using South African botanicals. The organic garden is particularly eco-friendly and landscaped with endemic varieties and bee- and butterfly-friendly plants.

Accessibility for those with mobility impairments
There is parking for ten cars, and some bedrooms on the same level as living spaces. But there are many steps and parts of the garden are steep. 

Is it worth it?
There is nowhere else in Cape Town like it: a secure, contemporary villa, staffed by warm locals, surrounded by a huge garden and backed by the mountain, and with a small spa overseen by a professional wellness expert. Brett has employed local experts to create the garden, design, and menus—and it shows.

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