he first homestead of the Dicey family was established in the Hex River Valley in 1892. The family-owned business, Rora, acquired Palmietvlei Farm near Wolseley in 2016, and today grows blueberries in pots and under nets on 30ha of the farm’s available 55ha.
While running a solid agricultural business, Palmietvlei’s owners have recently taken advantage of the increased interest in rural tourism and the eco-friendly trend of repurposing used shipping containers as accommodation.
The farm offers three accommodation units: the FamTin, in repurposed containers accommodating four guests; the Riverstone House, the original stone farmhouse with four bedrooms sleeping nine people; and the CouplesPod container accommodation for two people, built in 2020, where Farmer’s Weekly was billeted.
If ever there were an example of what great design can achieve with repurposed containers, this must be it. The structural make-up was the work of Innovative Modular Concepts of Grabouw, while the interiors were designed by owner Claire Dicey.
A vast covered veranda with a window seat, hanging-basket chair, large refectory-style timber table and a built-in braai are all perched on the edge of a lawn at one of three dams on the farm.
Guests are allowed to swim in all the farm dams, as well as catch and release fish: tilapia in the CouplesPod dam and trout in the others.
Large concertina sliding glass doors bring the view of the dam and the Mostertshoek mountains beyond right inside the CouplesPod. There is also a picture window above a long, built-in seat that tempts you into reclining with its feather-filled cushions in luxurious fabrics.
Farmer’s Weekly visited during the summer and benefitted from the ceiling fans on the patio, in the sitting area and in the bedroom. But in winter, with the wood-burning stove in the sitting area ablaze and guests curled up in thick, velvety blankets, the Danish concept of hygge (to be cosy amid the worst cold) comes to mind here.
Books, boardgames and a Bluetooth speaker are available for guest use.
Bedroom with a view
The bedroom features a four-poster bed made of oak with a blonde-wood finish, and a vast picture window positioned to frame the view from the bed or while reclining on the cushioned window seats.
Other considered design touches, such as the bedside light fittings with their retro-style bulb filaments and the stone-topped side tables, really make an impression. Another luxury, and quite an unexpected one, is the quality cabinetry and wardrobes with wooden hangers, and plenty of them too.
One drawback, but only if you plan to stay for more than four days, is that there is no washing machine; but with so much cupboard space, you can bring all your clothes along! Alternatively, a laundry service is provided upon request.
The use of copper and brass hues begins with the kitchen sink and plumbing and continues through to the double-basined vanity and – wait for it – two showers, one opposite the other.
Again, the input of an excellent design eye shows. Not only is the shower area clad in timber, like a sauna, but it curves gently upward to create the sensation of being in the tube of a wave.
And, while the use of subway tiles has become popular, here they are arranged in a herringbone pattern on either side of the copper shower fittings.
An outside two-person soaking tub is enclosed in timber fencing for privacy but open to the sky, while the toilet is private, with a hanging barn-style door. Here, too, the walls curve, adding valuable floor space.
Saponera plant-based bathroom products are provided at the basin, showers and tubs. This is worth noting, as many establishments offer only one set of products that the guest is expected to use at all the facilities. This, perhaps more than any other single feature at the CouplesPod, symbolises the extent to which the owners have done everything possible to ensure a superb guest experience.
There is even an ‘emergency guest supply’ bottle with toothbrushes, plasters, a razor and so on. While there is no TV, the Wi-Fi is reliable, albeit slower than the MTN reception that is available.
Superior kitchen fittings
In the kitchen, a gas Smeg cooking range, Smeg kettle and toaster, and Laguiole cutlery all contribute to the deluxe experience. There is also a Nespresso machine, a French press coffee plunger, filter coffee, and even a Nutribullet for smoothies. A dishwasher is fitted and there is a well-stocked jar of dishwashing tablets.
The first bag of wood and a litre of milk, along with tea, sugar and rusks, are included in the rate.
Candice Theunissen, the guest liaison officer, says the accommodation offering has recently been expanded to include a unit in Franschhoek, a lock-up-and-go apartment in Newlands and, still in development, additional accommodation on the Dicey family’s apple farm near Ceres.
Rates are R2 000pn for the CouplesPod, but the furnishing and fittings are of such a high calibre that, compared with what is offered here, some five-star hotel interiors are left wanting. In addition, there are midweek and seasonal specials.
All accommodation on Palmietvlei Farm is pet-friendly.
Visit theriverstonehouse.co.za to book a vacation.