After relocating from Ireland, CJ and Jean-Marie Stander bought The Belmont guesthouse in Franschhoek, giving it a new look-and-feel and extensive refurb

They renovated the guesthouse, increasing the room count from five to seven, and enlisted Tammy Holmes from Ivy Décor and Design to apply her design philosophy of bold colours, textures and accessories to the space. We chatted with Jean-Marie about the process.

You’ve only just opened your doors – how have the first months of operation been so far?

The first two months have been exciting, rewarding and nerve-racking. We’re still learning what works and what we need to improve on but we’ve found a bit of a rhythm so that’s great. Welcoming our first guests was exhilarating! Seeing their reaction to the rooms was so much fun and made all the hard work worthwhile.

How are you approaching the running of the guesthouse?

We don’t have a background in hospitality, but we are very fortunate to have an amazing team working for us at The Belmont. Florence basically runs the show when we aren’t there – she worked at the guesthouse before we purchased the property, so she is quite experienced.

What have some of the challenges been?

Loadshedding is always a challenge, but fortunately we have backup electricity via an inverter, so guests won’t be left in the dark. Keeping each guest happy has been interesting – people all have different needs and likes. For example, we’ve had guests request “less fluffy” pillows after which we had to purchase different sets of flat pillows – eventually after the third set, they were happy.

And the highlights thus far?

Seeing guests’ reactions and reviews of The Belmont. Before we had any reviews, most guests were concerned that the place was fake as they thought the photos of the rooms were photoshopped. So seeing their reaction in person when checking them in has been fun!

What makes The Belmont’s offering stand out from other accommodation in the valley?

We put in an immense amount of love and effort into renovating The Belmont. It’s not a hotel, it’s not a B&B, it’s literally a home away from home. Here, guests can enjoy a cup of coffee on the stoep in the morning or a glass of wine next to the pool in the afternoon, and the communal space and kitchen offers even more freedom to move and entertain in The Belmont. Our prices are reasonable for our offering and location, and we are also one of very few places that accommodate children and babies in our rooms.

How are you encouraging your guests to engage with Franschhoek?

We are working on a few exciting engagements like wine tasting coupons at one of the leading wine farms in Franschhoek and tours in the area.

GET THE LOOK

Tammy Holmes from Ivy Decor and Design chats about the look-and-feel of The Belmont and shares advice to those looking to do a refurb themselves.

What was the brief from the client?

To elevate the existing features of the house whilst updating the furnishings and design flow to create a warm, welcoming and chic space for local and international guests to enjoy.

Were there any factors you had to keep in mind while designing?

Absolutely! Designing a space for commercial use poses its own challenges, as each space and its elements need to be hard-wearing whilst still being soft, stylish and welcoming. Stain resistant fabrics, luxury linens, textured rugs and antique pieces all blend together beautifully to ensure that The Belmont suites can be enjoyed over and over again by guests from around the world, while still looking fresh!

Do you have a favourite space within the Belmont?

I love suite 6 – The Family Suite – the most. The colour scheme, bunk bed, adult cove and sitting area and the amazing kitchen all make it the ultimate super-comfortable, multi-purpose space for a family getaway to the beautiful Franschhoek valley.

Is there any advice from your side for guesthouse or hotel owners that are thinking of a redesign?

You can go a little bolder in the décor and design for each suite than one maybe would for a home project, as guests love a departure from ‘real life’ and a stay in a hotel or guest house should feel like a luxurious adventure.