Meet the team behind the Soekershof, the most delightful garden with a stunning boutique hotel in South Africa situated along the longest wine route in the world.
Q: Where do you come from and where did you grow up
Axel: I come from Cologne, Germany, where I grew up and went to school.
Monika: I come from Ortisei, Italy, where I grew up and went to school. I grew up trilingual. German, Italian and Ladino (an old language spoken only by about 30.000 people in the Dolomites and in a Switzerland)
Q: Where did life take you?
Axel: Life took Axel from Cologne to Paarl, South Africa, where he worked at the Grand Roche Relais and Chateau as Head Waiter. Then he went back to Germany to study Hotel Management. As he felt, the studies were too theoretical, he quit and left for South Africa again. He built up, from scratch, his own little guest house in Stellenbosch, the Stables Lodge and prepared for an exciting African adventure. On his motorbike, he drove from Cape Town all way up to Khartoum in Sudan.
Monika: Life took me from St. Ulrich to Innsbruck (Austria) and Maastricht (The Netherlands) for my Studies of International Economics and Business. After that to Shanghai, China to write my thesis about Foreign Direct Investments in China, then back to Munich, where I worked in Marketing for different companies. After that, I returned to Italy and opened my own Advertising (or Marketing and Communication Design) agency called In. Quadro. After seven years of creating advertising campaigns and corporate design concepts, I finally took a three week holiday in Namibia.
Q: Where did you meet?
Monika: We met at the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It was on the day of Axel’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. They celebrated their anniversary at the Fish River Canyon, and I was travelling with a group of people. We met at the Bar of the Lodge.
Q: When were you bitten with the Africa bug?
Axel decided to move to Italy, and together we enjoyed the opera in the Arena di Verona, threw a coin into the Fontana di Trevi in Rome and had an excellent pizza in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. But in the end, the seductive siren song of Africa beckoned, and a new quest, a new chapter in our lives was unfolding in the Western Cape.. .a dream transformed and Mo & Rose was born!
Q: Why did you decide for Robertson rather than the Cape Winelands?
We didn’t want to live in a city or in the suburbs. We were looking for a smallholding, some land, enough space, not to close to the next neighbour. And we needed the right spot and the right environment to get our business idea grounded. We love the arid and lovely landscape of the Robertson Wine Valley, the contradiction – beautiful vineyards and dry Karoo influence. We believe in the potential of the Robertson Wine Valley – it’s an exciting wine region with many passionate winemakers and still quite an undiscovered area.
The perfect spot for our business!
Q: You can wake me up for
Axel: rib-eye steak with homemade sauce Bearnaise and crispy french fries
Monika: sushi & sashimi from Japan
Q: What type of food do you serve at the Soekershof?
Monika: South African Country Cuisine with a European Twist. For example, you’ll find Sardines West Coast Style on Cucumber Salad on our menu, and we will always have some Italian or German-inspired dishes, such as Mushroom Stuffed Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter and Goat Cheese Crumbles or Potato Sauerkraut Soup with Smoked Pork Sausage. Our menu changes regularly, every 3 -4 weeks, according to what’s in season and freshly available from our local producers.
Q: What is your role at the Soekershof?
Axel: I am the head chef and restaurant manager
Monika: I am responsible for the marketing, the guest house, the gardens and the administrative work.
Q: Life seems to have jazzed up at the Soekershof. Apart from funky music evenings, do you have anything else in stock?
We have lots of ideas for the summer season – from art exhibitions to picnics. As it is our first summer season with MO & ROSE, we will see where it takes us.
Q: Many tourists just rush down the R62 to Oudtshoorn or Knysna. What would a week look like at the Soekershof?
Monika: A week at MO & ROSE would start with relaxation in our gardens. Taking time to relax at the pool area and being serenaded by a chorus of colourful birds as they dart along the babbling brook.
The second day you might feel rejuvenated and ready to explore some of our outstanding boutique wineries, like Kranskop, Esona, Kleinhoekkloef or Arendsig. I would definitely recommend a cellar tour with Lorens Van der Westhuizen at Arendsig.
After that, you should take the scenic Bonnievale Road, stop at Weltevrede for a glass of Cap Classic (bubbly wine) and head back home to MO & ROSE.
The third day you might want to a bit more active, so why not go for a hike? There are beautiful hiking trails at Dassies Hoek or in Montagu.
The fourth day we recommend a picnic at Viljoensdrift and a cruise on the Breede River. After all that ‘exhaustion’ you might want to dip into another wine tasting. The Springfield Estate or De Wetshof is perfect for that. They are beautiful Wine Estates with outstanding wines.
Day five: The quaint little village of Mc Gregor shouldn’t be missed. On your way to McGregor don’t forget to pop in at Tanagra and taste their fantastic Lemon Eau de Vie, next to the Donkey Sanctuary and finally you’ll be in Mc Gregor.
Already day six: you might either rent a mountain bike or visit Graham Beck for a Cap Classic Tasting, then take the back road to the Nuy Valley, stop for lunch at Saggy Stone (a local beer brewery), drive on to Willow Creek Olive Estate and then come back. After such an exhausting day of ‘tasting’ the valley, you are probably in desperate need of chilling around the pool.
The last day of the week. You might want to just chill out around the pool and wander through the gardens, but there are still more excuses to hit the road or water! If you like an adrenaline-pumping activity, it should be river rafting today, or if you like cheese, you should head off to Montagne Deli for a Cheese Tasting.
Q: The best thing about the Soekershof?
The best thing about MO & ROSE is the feeling of entering a little oasis – a unique and magical place so different from any other boutique hotel. It’s all about the unique succulent gardens with its sculptural trees, the extraordinary scenery of the Klaasvoogds Langeberg while dining on the patio of the restaurant and the carefully renovated old buildings combined with a clean, linear, contemporary decoration style.