Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie at… Delaire Graff Estate Spa

‘African daylight reveals what the darker skies of home have hidden’

Spa Junkie at… Delaire Graff Estate Spa

Image: Jay Yeo

February 18 2012
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2

Spa Junkie has just completed her first day of detoxing and massage at Delaire Graff Estate spa.

I wake up feeling revived, without even the need for the second, optional massage. I take a gentle run around the impressive hotel grounds – which have been landscaped by South Africa’s celebrity horticulturist Keith Kristen – followed by some weight training and a stretch in the gym. Then a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit (sourced locally from organic farms) and more rooibos tea, to which I think I’m developing a mild addiction.

I head back to the spa, this time to opt for a facial, as the harsh African daylight has revealed what the darker skies of home have handily hidden – one too many open pores and a sluggish, almost grey undertone.

For face treatments, the spa primarily uses Aromatherapy Associates and Swiss Perfection products. Again, I feel a little local authenticity lacking here. “I recommend the Cellular Rejuvenation Secret Mask from Clinque La Prairie’s Swiss Perfection range,” says my therapist as she starts cleaning my skin. “It’s high in proteins and enzymes, and helps to regenerate the skin. It also contains Iceland moss, which is very good for cooling and calming – it’s been known to regenerate slow-healing wounds. And the vitamins B3 and B5 help to restore the superficial layers of the epidermis.”

There is nothing particularly unique about the facial: cleanse, exfoliate, massage, with the key part of the facial being the mask. The science is more in the product; the active ingredient comes from micronised root of Iris germanica, whose aforementioned enzymes and proteins accelerate the regeneration of skin cells.

It takes about two hours and she uses the full range of products, including a gorgeous vitamin eye-cream. I do like this brand, and admire the dedication to cellular research the founders, Armin Mattli and his son Gregor, have demonstrated. However, it feels a little too rich for my skin in this warm climate – perhaps I’m not so middle-aged after all. While the hydrating mask helps with the long-haul-flight recovery, the therapist also smothers moisturiser on to my neglected hands and gives my feet a rub. When she’s all finished, I’m looking decidedly more radiant than I did 48 hours ago.

With body, back, face, paws and claws renewed and revived, I meet up again with guide Tessa Easingwood for the last bit of touring on this trip. She has an expert knowledge of wine and we venture out of Graff’s complex to lunch at the famous La Petite Ferme in Franschhoek – before bundling me back up into a ball for the Premium Economy journey home.


For me, this wine region is the most beautiful in the world, and the Delaire Graff Estate is an absolutely calming and peaceful setting – I felt a million miles away from the stresses of my daily grind. Delaire is a perfectly fine day spa that serves the affluent local residents (aka winemakers’ wives) and weary tourists in need of some red-wine respite. The decision to stock only European brands is a bit of a turn-off for me; I would have loved to discover a new beauty brand featuring a unique, locally sourced active ingredient. The treatments are good, though nothing is particularly advanced; it is much more focused on pampering massages and facials than intensive treatments. If you were looking for something more hardcore in the region, then The Hydro at Stellenbosch offers more along the lines of diet, yoga, lectures on nutrition and hydrotherapy – and decidedly less of the “vino therapy”.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.