We’ve just taken an epic road trip from Cape Town, up the Garden Route and over to Durban (where we’re based for two weeks). Then we’ll be driving back down again, which allows us to spend some time with the special people who make the magic happen on our site.
Our first stop was in Swellendam, about 3 hours from Cape Town. It was late at night when we arrived and we did so in rather an unprepared state. I used the Kayak app on my phone and booked the place that had the best reviews - a small hotel called Arumvale. The decor was gorgeous and tasteful, and the hospitality shown to us by the owners was honestly some of the best we’ve experienced anywhere we’ve been, in spite of our last-minute booking.
The following morning, the owner was seeing us off and asked what we had planned for the day. I mentioned that on our drive in I’d seen that Rain was in town, and that I planned to go see if I could meet the owner because they were going to be selling on Hello Pretty. Bizarrely and coincidentally it turned out that our host at Arumvale was in fact married to the owner of Rain.
We took a short drive over to the shop, and I will be telling every person I know that they have to visit Swellendam and go to this shop and spa. I had expected the shop to be cool, based on their branch in the V&A Waterfront, but I had had no idea of what a gorgeous space we were about to walk into.
The shop is bright and airy. And, of course, it smells a treat. I’d planned to buy a little soap or two, but we walked out of there a few hours later (sorry Scott!) feeling blissed out and with three bags of beautiful things and many photographs.
Besides all their own products, the shop also carries ranges by other local design talent (one of my favourites being Mud Studio’s ceramics).
Something you should know about Rain Africa is their kindness. All ingredients are natural, animal-and-earth-friendly and hand-harvested (as opposed to being farmed), and the company seeks to provide a living to the small communities around where they’re produced.
In both the shop and the spa, all of the staff had no shortage of smiles for us and were passionate about the business and what it stood for.
The Rain Forest Spa
I’d already planned to visit a spa before we even got into Swellendam and discovered Rain Forest, so it was a very lucky find (thank you to my awesome in-laws for giving me this as a birthday present!). I had a 1-hour foot massage and left feeling like a new person.
To get to the spa, enter the Rain shop and the assistant will show you to a small passage way.
It has dim mood lighting (where the mood is relaxed!) and a foresty decor vibe, with lots of running water. The treatment rooms follow the same theme, with soft lighting, wood, and forest features.
The recurrent decor element is a succulent plant, and they have done such a tasteful job to create this unique and serene space. Trust me when I say that you want to visit this place.
Every one of the staff in Rain Forest were friendly and warm, and gave the impression that they were there by choice and not only because they had to be. After my treatment, the lady manning the front desk gave me a solid run down of how Rain creates it products, and about the communities it supports and ways that the company is innovating, as well as a few samples to try. They’re still in my bag as I’d like to share them with Adeline when she gets to Durban later this week but I have some high hopes based on my in-store tests.
I’m sure it sounds like I’m being paid to say all these things but I promise I’m not. This turned out to be a real highlight on our trip and I suggest that those who are considering a refreshing weekend away consider Swellendam as an option. We will most definitely be stopping back in here on our way back to Cape Town.
Of the wealth of talented people selling their creations on Hello Pretty, we’ve only had the privilege of meeting a drop in the bucket in person. Being an online business, there isn’t an urgent need for this but we really enjoy getting to hang out with our designers and make an effort to whenever we’re able.
You don’t have to look far to appreciate the quality of South Africa’s design talent, and we’re working with the cream of the crop. We’ve met some wonderful people so far, and we’re looking forward to meeting more of you.
August 2017 update: we've just learned of a really fantastic site with lots of good things to know about Swellendam. You should go have a look for sure :) https://xplorio.com/swellendam/