A forest stream a few minutes walk from Forest Edge, photo by Dominique de la Croix

Forest Edge Newsletters & Articles with Travel Tips

The Forest Edge Giftclub members receive updates, prize winner announcements, nature news and tips for savvy travellers. Below find some of our recent Travel articles on:

How to still sharpen your axe amidst (or even because of?) an ever-tightening economy:

  1. Consider scaling down – hotel can become self-catering, 5-star can become 4-star, etc. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the excellent standards available at affordable rates, and the authentic and refreshingly new experiences you may find.
  2. Sniff out last minute deals – an unsold night is lost to us all forever, which is why clever establishments offer last-minute discounted nights. Don’t bank on this for peak periods or an important break such as a honeymoon, though. Try Googling, e.g. “last-minute accommodation knysna”.
  3. Off-peak and Winter deals – clever travelers use Winter breaks where mild weather and cosy fireplaces warm the spirit. Winter Warmers are ideal for walking, mountain biking and connecting with loved ones over a board game or hot meal. Try Googling, e.g. “winter warmers knysna”.
  4. Packages and extras – either skip these all together and stick to the bare basics; or if you plan a tailored break like a honeymoon or mountain biking weekend with friends, look for packages that offer relevant value adds and discount vouchers.
  5. Go country – nature-lovers have the edge as they are willing to venture off the beaten track to find accommodation gems – this extends to large, affordable (shareable) meals on country restaurant menus. Opt for healthier, cheaper attractions like walking trails or cycling on a farm road or bird-watching.
  6. Make your own bookings – as in all industries, middle-men do make your life easier – at a price. Consider doing some research yourself and concluding your own bookings directly to save on commisions and fees. The internet and instant booking facilities truly level the playing field.
  7. Suggest a reduced rate – many establishments will be open to a reasonable offer a little below their listed rates, mostly on last-minute availability. Negotiate rather than prescribe, as there are certain basic costs that need to be covered.

You and your loved ones deserve the gift of regular breaks.
Instantly check our availability or book now.

I write to you from my sunny stoep. Bees hum in the budding Oak tree nearby; Yellow-billed ducks quack on the pond and Vervet Monkeys are chattering a tea-time in the forest line. I am pondering the role of Forest Edge…

Our passion is to give our guests a rejuvenating breathing space in a superbly equipped, comfortable, tranquil setting. Everyone HAS to take a break, e.g.: Men who don’t go on annual holiday have a 20% higher risk of death & 30% greater risk of serious heart disease! When choosing where to go, though, consider the difference between plush and pleasant.

On my own recent (rare) 3-day break, I was willing to pay R1600+ pps pn for the twin luxuries of Comfort & Rest. I wanted my space, privacy, a well-deserved rest in my own lovely room. A posh lodge room with high pelmets, thick curtaining, statue-like bedside lamps, expensive tiles, fancy wardrobe handles, granite tops… it looked fantastic.

But! I had to constantly walk through rain to a communal lounge to watch The One TV, get Wi-Fi or a clothes iron/globe/insect repellant. My nap was interrupted by various offers of turn-downs/amenity top-ups/upgrade offers etc. The intended sense of attentive pampering just annoyed me. And it was noisier than stand-alone chalets. Lavishness does not necessarily mean a great time. Gorgeous curtains do not equate to a pleasant Experience.

It depends on what makes YOU happy. If you seek a pleasant, beautiful experience, Forest Edge’s very stylish and elegant new Luxury cottages may appeal to you.

Forest edge will certainly revolutionize your image of self-catering cottages! Far from the municipal chalets of old, or an impersonal cookie-cutter resort; Forest Edge is in a niche all its own: combining the splendor of an exclusive lodge with the joy of your own space, peace and privacy.

Gorgeous cast-iron fireplace, Full DSTV, Flat screen TV, Wi-Fi, kettle braai in addition to open braai, great privacy, heaters/fans/hairdryer/iron/spare globes/mozzie machines, soft throws on the couch for you to cuddle under, a library of movies and books, hammock, romantic slipper bath, hot water bottles, an umbrella and torch, a peaceful forest view, everything you need right there in your cottage – at less than a third of the price of the lodge I visited!

The wisest travelers choose pleasant over posh  : – )

A recent guest was impressed by all our Green Eco-friendly Initiatives here at Forest Edge and questioned why we don’t market this aspect of our unique, romantic, private and tranquil cottages more aggressively…

I guess we worry that guests will equate being “green” to less luxury, fewer facilities or lower standards. Yet, trends show that some of the best 5-star hotels worldwide now focus on ecotourism, attracting discerning travelers who want a smaller carbon footprint.

The imperfect efforts of the many are more important than the perfect efforts of the few, and it all starts with a small step. Since we receive no municipal services at Forest Edge, we needed alternatives. Then we fell in love with the process. We are delighted when a guest takes a small step towards self-sustainability after visiting us. And, it’s a joy to share some badger-friendly honey, fresh garlic straight from the Food Forest or some rich golden free-range eggs with our guests whenever we can!

Our cottages offer every comfort you’d expect from award-winning accommodation anywhere; and more. The water for that romantic victorian bath or refreshing outdoor shower comes from heavenly clean rain. We recycle/treat our waste.

Water is our biggest concern. It is hard for some guests to understand that we rely on only rain water. Rainfall is usually enough, yet due to careless water use, our water-related costs often exceed our bond payment! And our guests have always had water, no matter the cost or effort it took for us to provide, even in severe drought.

So how does this affect our business? Ecotourism costs us MORE than it does our urban counterparts who enjoy municipal services at the flick of a button or turn of a tap, yet we can’t charge more; we absorb these costs. The upside? We are rewarded by attracting the right kind of guests and we have a truly sustainable model in the long run.

How ready is our market (honeymooners / romantic getaways, nature-loving families, thrill-seeking mountain bikers, peace-seeking pensioners and active birders) to base travel decisions on eco-sustainability? Do people care enough, or not yet? Do you imagine some cold, dingy, rustic cabin when you see “eco-friendly”, or are we moving to a reality where Green has become the most Graceful of options? Let me know what you think…

When you travel this year – may you tread lightly : – )

The recession is slowly filtering through to us all and some still predict a sharp whiplash. I, for one, have more grey hairs and a slightly less friendly bank manager than before…

A sad spiral ensues: we over-react with panic or withdrawal resulting in stress, which makes for an unbalanced and emotional view of a problem. Wrong decisions then further throttle any abundance leading to even more stress!

But what to do? It’s a real chicken and egg situation, right?

The truth is that there is little we can do about the recession, or our finances, right NOW. What IS under our control NOW, is our stress about the problem. And if we take ownership of that, we create the best possible climate for a solution to arise.

  1. Stop and Breathe. Everything is actually fine in the present moment. Feels untrue? Why not really try it?
    B-r-e-a-t-h-e slowly, deeply 3 times… feel your life force and your power.
  2. The Opposite of Everything is True! When you are in the clutches of stress, your mind will be playing tricks on you. Don’t trust what you think you know. First find balance within and then re-assess.
  3. A Dose of Nature. You know the list of stress-busters; exercise, diet, avoiding addictions, sleep, boundaries, time management etc. Uuurrggghhh! Just more stress on one’s to-do list! I rather focus on just one goal: getting out in nature. A walk in a park (or Forest!), a picnic under a tree, an hour in a hammock in your garden, even lazing in an outdoor tea garden. Do this until you feel a sense of calm, hopeful balance returning. Nature is the ultimate healer, balancer and stress-buster.
  4. Move forward from your Heart. Practical action undoubtedly hails from the mind. Only take this action once you feel it as your heart’s desire though. Make decisions in the highest interest of your sense of ethics, family and environment. A good decision creates a calm confidence in your heart once you do act.

My grey hairs? Forest Edge’s costs have gone up by 14% and I want to limit our annual rate increase to 4%. This past week my monkey-mind has created countless spreadsheets and scenarios, each more complex and confusing.

I stopped. I started working outside under a tree. I went for walks, even under a full midnight forest moon. Now my heart urges me to ask what you want from Forest Edge? How can we reduce our costs? Can we shelf anything (like daily servicing) to avoid rate increases? Or do you prefer paying for the peace of mind our unbeatable value brings? What would you do?

Please engage with me; I want to serve our guests, with passion, in whatever way our guests WANT to be served.

I used to believe that a Credit Card and Toothbrush are the only true essentials when travelling. Ha!

A month ago I enjoyed a rare short break to a remote Karoo farm… and forgot to pack firelighters. Despite good wood and kindling, I could not get the fire going. Eventually I added a candle and I still marvel to this day: how on earth do shack fires start so easily??

Only after another 2 hours of hard-headed patience, a few choice words, having hot wax drip on my bare feet and a stiff G&T (for me), the fire got going and we did eventually enjoy a lovely barbeque braai. I could have done without the frustration and hungry moans from my daughter, though…

Have you ever forgotten a key item that busted your holiday bliss? Perhaps an umbrella while having to unpack in a rain storm; pain-killer when your head finally explodes from pent-up work stress; a child carping about the boogie board lying in the garage at home, forgotten flight tickets…?

A focused packing plan can make for a less stressed (and cheaper) holiday.
So here is my gift to you, born from my, uhmm, adventure:

Please e-mail me any story you may have about something forgotten on a trip – I really value your input and experiences!

If you are anything like me, a holiday away from work is my ultimate indulgence. It has to be great, as I only get a few uninterrupted days a year when we close Forest Edge for maintenance. You’d think being in the holiday industry I’d know exactly how to create the perfect break-away. So did I, until I recently ended up in a stunning cottage… with NO cellphone reception.

A disaster as I need to take bookings, especially as Getaway Magazine just wrote a lovely write-up about Forest Edge leading to loads of enquiries. How did this happen? I booked via their neighbour on his cellphone, so I assumed…. This experience led to some deep introspection, and a new tool (see below) intended to assist our guests to only book at establishments that are right for them.

  1. Know what you want. Not so easy or obvious as we all want everything, but in reality everything is a trade-off. You cannot expect a budget honeymoon and insist on jacuzzi, aircon, fully catered. You cannot have privacy but want to pay backpacker fees. In hindsight, my own non-negotiable MUST-HAVE’s were connectivity, cleanliness, a warm bed and tranquil nature setting. My LIKE-TO-HAVE’s were value for money and great walking trails.
  2. Find options matching your MUST-HAVE’s. Use the internet and consider referrals from friends & family. Research, ask, assume nothing. If only I realised up front that my requirement for cellphone coverage was important enough to ask an ‘obvious’ question!
  3. Of these, create a short-list meeting most of your LIKE-TO-HAVES. Look at reviews and probe; good establishments will answer all of your honest questions.
  4. Follow your gut. This comes back to dealing with people you trust and would like to support. Remember the power that lies in your purse…
  5. Book! This may seem obvious and yet, we often have guests who left it too late and then are disappointed when we become booked up for their dates. Even in a recession, the supply of good establishments with availability meeting your requirements, is limited. We have only 5 cottages…

And the tool that was borne out of my experience? See this short, fun, anonymous travel quiz. Pay attention to your answers to help you establish your own absolute MUST-HAVES, regardless of where you want to book. The quiz score determines whether there is a good match between you and Forest Edge. And yes, there are categories where we dissuade you from visiting us based on certain answers!

And if you will enjoy your stay here, we tell you so too as you deserve your perfect break and we would love to welcome you…

If you know what you really want and research until you are sure you have found it, you are on the right track!

Much research and sales training go into the famous ‘call for action’ deadline to help people commit to a purchase. I’ve been amused by ‘closing’ techniques used by our competitors and cottages where I’ve booked my own getaways.  Some are brash enough to irritate, but they still prompt action and I, for the most part, enjoyed my stays.

How do you use deadlines or time-incentives in YOUR business??
How do you respond to them being presented to you in turn?

At Forest Edge we have always taken a low-key relaxed approach – if someone wants to book a quality luxury stay, at some point they’ll book – no point in hard-selling a stay that will not be appreciated.  We’d rather thrill you when you really do desire that special Knysna Forest break…

Hard sell is also more likely to lead to complaints or buyer’s remorse, which makes it even more critical for the T&Cs of an establishment to be prominent. Since our guests are encouraged in every interaction to research us and review their options, they are generally very satisfied with their stay.

Deadlines in themselves are not bad. It is the intention behind it that can make one feel tricked, or in the case of a good experience with a benefit, positively TREATED!

  • It is harmless if guests wanted a getaway, have reviewed the terms, and can afford it, and an incentive helped reach a healthy decision.
  • A line in the sand can be operationally necessary, e.g. your honeymoon should link to your wedding date; an alarm must arm within seconds to be valuable; theatres and airlines can’t keep your seat indefinitely, hence the short payment window.
  • Deadlines can be divinely ordered, e.g. there’s nothing like a health scare to bring about lifestyle changes you’ve long known you needed. Or exams – to finally hit the books. Or burnout – leading to that overdue (now forced) long holiday.
  • A deadline becomes a POSITIVE incentive when there is something to be gained from acting by a certain time, while still providing all the necessary information to allow good decisions.

So…  we decided to put this to a little fun test while at the same time offering YOU an unbeatable treat… See more in your Giftclub Member Award section, which you qualify for if you have received this.

Though the savviest travelers will always recognise a good thing, regardless of any incentive…

February is Valentine month!  We have honeymoon packages and romantic getaway options for couples, though partnerships extend to any relationship between business and client.

This got me thinking about the flirtation between guests and holiday resorts: the thrill of looking for your next holiday place, window shopping on the Internet, getting quotes, reading reviews, discussing options with your loved ones; the excitement when you’ve decided and the thrill of poring over photos, facilities and activities while imagining yourself there already…

This process is really a delicious love story!

Like any courtship, stay sharp and remember your own part in it:

  • Guests must know their own desires and needs well, and must do good research to ensure needs will be met.
  • An establishment must provide ample info and be clear on its ideal market, its terms and what it can and cannot offer. It should listen to needs, try to assist and advise suitable options, even if elsewhere.
  • A match? Sometimes it is, and sometimes not. An establishment cannot force a booking where there isn’t interest. A guest cannot bully an establishment into providing something it cannot, but the guest can choose to go elsewhere.

So, from my heart, I want to thank you for flirting with us… : – )     If you received this you’ve booked with us, enquired, complimented or complained to us – you most certainly did not ignore us. This means the world to a small, personally run spot like us.

After another jam-packed season, I can only say thanks:

  • Dating: we are delighted by the interesting and pleasant new guests we got to welcome. Hope to see you again soon.
  • Improving: we received welcome feedback to help us improve on the 99.9% satisfaction index we’ve maintained for 7 years already.
  • Commitment: Once again, more than a third of our guests were return visitors, many visited for the 4th or 5th time – what a blessing to do business with guests who have since become friends.

Thank you for continuing to travel and explore the world, and for including the Garden Route and Knysna on your itinerary.

We wish you fun flirtation this February. With the low-low petrol price, why not just break away?

My office looks out over a field, presently filled with some spur winged geese, yellow-billed ducks and spoonbills, all feeding in shallow puddles. I look out over this abundance with a smile in my heart: I am just SO grateful.

The recession is biting; many small businesses around us have closed down. Our own occupancy rate has dropped, but thankfully still nearly three times the current Knysna average. My staff and I deeply appreciate the continued support of our guests. AND I count my blessings that such wonderful people seem to be attracted to our romantic forest hide-away! Over the last 6 months almost a third of our guests have been return visitors – thank you.

This led me to thinking about how powerful our guests really are:

Guests have a “purse” of power: money to be spent how, when, where and on whom they choose. Have you ever considered that small businesses survive or fold based on your purchasing choices? They do! Whether it is your favourite holiday destination, hardware, the local coffee shop, the lady doing your spring planting, the plumber etc. Your money FEEDS (literally and figuratively) the recipient.

My pre-teen daughter stops me when I am about to spend in a store that tenders poor quality product or rude service, or act unethically – she’ll say that I am about to “feed the bad wolf” (with reference to the old Cherokee story about the fight between the good and bad wolf within each of us – and the one that wins is the one that is fed the most).

Spend with businesses you like and trust. If we all only fed the “good wolf” it would revolutionise the face of business. Use this power wisely…

Back to my office next to the forest, I ponder: we just celebrated my 7th year of owning and building up Forest Edge. In these 7 years, Forest Edge won 4 AA Travel Awards and 2 Tripadvisor Certificates of Excellence. We learnt a lot, enhanced our cottages and refined the services we offer to suit our guests within our tarriff bracket. Looking ahead, I re-commit for the long haul and will continue to open this magical forest spot to the public, and to passionately offer the most well-equipped, tended, tranquil breakaway as affordably as possible.

You deserve it!

Do you:
> Research endlessly or book in a quick swoop?
> Ask friends for referrals or google yourself?
> Book in advance for choice, or last minute for discounts?
> Book short break-aways, or one long rejuvenating rest?
> Use one place as your base, or move around frequently?
> Fly to save time, or drive to take in scenery?
> Switch off the phone or continue working while on leave?
> Seek new venues or frequent a few favourites?
> Prefer your privacy or connect with locals to get inside info?

I don’t know if one could devise a Cosmo-style questionnaire to peg your personality type from these things. I can say from my own observation, that the differentiating factor seems to be the attitude with which people travel. If travel is another item on a to-do list, or a race to see how quickly or how much can be crammed in, it seldom leads to the deep soul-renewing rest that a breakaway should bring. Those who slow down even a little, balance DOing with BEing, detach from troubles that cannot immediately be resolved, and take a fresh look at loved ones and the beauty all around… those are the ones for whom a light switches on again, a lilt re-enters the voice, a sparkle sneaks back in. What a joy to see this magic happen!

…You do not even have to leave home for these benefits…

But, thankfully for us, people DO still travel (even during a recession). We had a bumper season, and received guests from more than 10 countries (after receiving enquiries from over 70). We welcomed loyal local supporters and we were blessed to connect with returning friends, and to make new friends.

So, since people still travel, even more reason to make your break-away really count, if you are going to be spending money on it anyway.

And we would love to welcome you to our tranquil, eco-friendly haven of rejuvenation! Come put me to the test: if this kind of balanced slowing-down doesn’t work for you, I guarantee to give you back your car keys (only joking…)

Only 33% of Americans will take a real vacation this year (2008), with those taking 10 days+ down by 8% from 2007. South Africans are similarly neglecting this critical aspect of Work-Life Balance.

There is a general trend for breaks of a lower frequency and duration, and worse, to stay connected to the office while on leave. Research links this sad trend to a host of physical and emotional health risks including burnout, depression and even increased death rates in middle-aged men. “Poor vacation frequency or needing a vacation” ranks equally with high blood pressure as a health risk factor! Deadlines, uncertain work schedules, guilt or even the fear of losing one’s job while on leave are the very excuses that add to health-robbing stress. Many “sell” their leave with negative tax implications.

You can know that a trend is impacting productivity and the bottom line when corporates are starting to take note. Top employers now offer (and enforce) better leave benefits in order to counter the trend of plum jobs being rejected in favour of better WLB elsewhere. In a study of CEO’s it was found that most make time for regular holidays and retreats; Strategic Leaders lead by example in sharpening the proverbial axe. So do wise Leaders of families…

It is proven that a good vacation will buy you (and your loved ones) increased creativity, productivity, enthusiasm, health, better relationships and a sense of Life Mastery. The locals even have a name for the phenomenon when the deep, relaxed, joyous beauty in our guests starts re-surfacing after 4-5 days: the “Outeniqua Rust”.

So….. come unwind, refresh, laugh, love and Live with us!

Knowing about the global trend for holiday breaks of a lower frequency and duration, linked to a host of risks like burnout, depression, lowered creativity, relationship breakdown etc. one asks what to do about it? We can swop stories for hours about deadlines, uncertain work schedules and tight budgets. Yet the only answer is to plan for regular breaks.

Decide on the frequency and timing – ideally get away once a month; if not, even two short plus one long breakaway per year can help. Consult a calendar to find long weekends and school holidays – either so that you can use them, or avoid them as per your preference. Even with school-going children, check for periods that do not overlap with other systems’ or provinces’ as out-of-season and midweek breaks offer the best deals and less congestion. Also consider special events or festivals you may wish to celebrate with a break-away, e.g. a special birthday, anniversary, graduation gift, oyster festival or pink loerie etc.  If it is for a Honeymoon, plan a worthwhile break, even it means fewer other breaks in this year. Then pen in your break/s on a shared calendar to generate shared excitement.

Decide on affordability – Everyone can afford break-aways, even if it is to a campsite on some forgotten farm – what matters is that it is a break-away from the known, the troubles, the stuckness. Basking in different places, people and ways of being can change your life. Take into account preferences and the minimum facilities and activities (e.g. mountainbiking) required. Then set a budget and commit to it.

Decide on venue/s – some people never go to the same place twice whereas others enjoy the familiarity of a few favourite haunts. Either way, do your research (use the internet to find good deals & hidden jewels). A venue that is skimpy on photos, facility sheets etc may be dodgy – ask many questions, understand terms & conditions and look for accredited establishments – they exist in all price categories.

Deciding when to book can be tricky as you may not have much cash at the beginning of the year, yet you want to avoid the standard price increases each year (also see our Tips 4 savvy travellers on the right). Generally it is best to book early especially if you have your heart set on a specific venue or if it is for a special occasion like a honeymoon. Also consider that the value-for-money venues get booked up even earlier.

Finalise deposits and then schedule balance payments across the year so that you are not hit with a large balance payment in your holiday month (you’d prefer more spending cash). Most establishments will not refund deposits, especially if cancelled close to arrival.

Stay ahead of the mad curve – get the break you want and give your loved ones the gift of “letting their souls catch up with their bodies” as a recent guest put it.
Instantly check our availability or book now..

The recession has not paused your need to go on honeymoon, or to take a well-deserved pensioners’ vacation, or to escape to a mountain bikers’ forest dream, or to stay close on your family vacation. There is no pause button, only wiser ways to book what you need.

The recession is taking its toll on both the supply and demand side of tourism. You probably need a break-away more desperately than ever and theoretically at least, the cut-rate-offers available should put travel within reach for many more.

The supply side is undergoing a shake-up; all around us establishments are closing wings/floors or indeed their doors; or simply standing empty or running at unsustainably low occupancy rates. Many are offering crazy rates to try and keep cash-flow going. You may feel spoilt for choice now, but buyer beware: more than ever, it is critical that you book your breaks with reputable, accredited establishments you can trust (a hint on how to recognise them? Their occupancy ‘miraculously’ remains above 60% even now):

  • You always get what you pay for; dropped rates usually mean that you get less than expected or as presented on the internet, or service standards drop due to skeleton staff.
  • Some cut-price establishments have closed down – and their guests (imagine a young honeymoon couple !!) are left standing in the cold, without refund.
  • Good establishments use the slower cycle to maintain and upgrade and they absorb the cost of this without increasing rates now – you should be able to enjoy the benefit of this by focusing on VALUE rather than COST.
  • Be sure to deal with the establishment directly for the best deal – desperation has led to high 3rd party commission structures, often passed on to the consumer.
  • Negotiate best value by being an Early Bird booker, paying via Internet Banking, sharing a cottage with friends, booking packages and looking at options you may not have considered in the past.

On the demand side, 50% of about 18 million creditors in SA are currently unable to repay their debt. Job losses, depression and other medical problems are increasing. No wonder people are really feeling pressured by life, treading water and the waves just keep coming!

Deadlines and debit orders remain, yet consumers are short on money, on sleep, on energy and inspiration – the very stuff we all need to survive. This is when we need to go within, to our inner wisdom. There is no better way to achieve this than to seek out nature. Let nature perform its magic. Just for a few minutes, get up and walk away from it all. Go outside. Do nothing. Consciously become aware of your senses (listen, feel, smell and see what is before you, without judgement). You will leave your inner chaos behind.

This is truly a magic trick for easing stress a little, straight away.

For a more permanent boost in your survival-IQ, go paddle, walk a trail, birdwatch in a park for a day or the ultimate experience: book a proper break-away in healing, energising Nature.

Do it now, dearest traveller, and recession-proof your spirit. Come unwind, refresh, laugh, love and Live with us!

You have chosen your venue after checking with friends or organisations like the AA for trusted establishments in your target destination. Your leave was approved (and your employer knows they will have to refund your deposit if they cancel your leave!) and diaries were synchronised to avoid clashes with medical procedures, school commitments or granny’s 80th. You packed (including your camera, chargers, binocs, sunblock, cap, mosquito repellent, umbrella, walking shoes, swimming towels and that snazzy new cozzie) and you have the road map handy.

You re-confirmed flight and accommodation bookings or consulted the AA re your travel route and road conditions. You checked weather forecasts to ensure you have packed correctly. You clarified check-in times and you checked whether the GPS coordinates are reliable (esp in remote areas). Your home care arrangements will leave you free of worries about pot plants, pools, pets and alarms.

…..All aboard! Now what?
Preparation ends, Break-away begins… and it requires a mind shift…….

Slowing down, savouring the journey, flowing in the moment – undoubtedly the most critical elements of a good break-away. It is not the hammock that lets you laze aimlessly; it is not the fancy bath that infuses you with breathless romance; it is not the fireplace that mellows you to inner joy, it is not the view that restores your spirit. These things mean nothing if you keep rushing around, or endlessly checking e-mail, or neglecting your health, or fixating on petrol/eskom/rates, or expecting to control or schedule every aspect of the experience. A break-away is about YOU allowing a breathing out, a free-floating, to embrace adventure and allow a real connection to those around you.

Yes, the more stressed we are, the more we feel that controlling everything will keep us safe. But once we realise that we take our bad habits with us wherever we go, we stop expecting the venue to fix us, and we start opening up to the magic that is straining to restore us and inspire us afresh.

Good establishments thrive on giving you the gift of total relaxation and detailed preparation takes place to arrange the hammock, the bath, the fireplace and the view just so for you. These props remain their responsibility to the very best of their ability. Yet you, as the hero in your story, ultimately holds the key to giving yourself the inner let-go gift – and your best break-away ever.

Own it, you deserve it.

Let’s explore the holiday+health connection via the alchemy of romance (including self-love):

Scientific research has proven that hugs, cuddles, flowers/nature and fresh air improve your health. One of nature’s helpers is the magical hormone, oxytocin – reducing stress and blood pressure, increasing pain tolerance and even aiding wound healing. It strengthens bonds between parents and children, partners and friends. So the question is how to have more (not scheduling it in your blackberry)!

One of the easiest ways to naturally increase the feel-good elements of love and self-acceptance, is to swop the desk for some holiday romance. This is after all part of the ancient ritual of the Honeymoon – the original bonding-time-holiday. Even for singletons: did you know you are more attractive to others after a holiday? It is no accident that the common term “Holiday Romance” abounds in movie / book titles.

We all know the effects of stress and the risk of burn-out, but to counter workaholic tendencies, some countries have had to resort to programmess such as Australia’s “No Leave, No Life” programme, in the interest of the nation’s well-being.

But why do we need to be cajoled into breaking away? A few simple questions may serve as a push to act e.g.

  • Am I as close to my children as I want to be? When last did I play frisbee or boardgames with them, read with them or even just cycle down the road or walk the dog?
  • Is my relationship with my partner as rosy as it could be (or was)? When last did we lie in front of a fire sharing some fun and laugther?
  • When last did I give my own tired spirit the gift of tranquil pondering, a stroll in nature, a healing nap or a cup of tea in the morning sun?

The sad answer is that we often cannot see the wood for the trees when we are so close to thing and clarity is the healing gift of a break-away from home. The time spent travelling is often the first time in months families really talk! Exploring a new environment and getting some sun and fresh air naturally bring us more of the slow, healthy, connecting stuff.

With several school holiday weeks still left and many companies encouraging leave during the World Cup, (not to mention Investec predicting a likely rate cut in July), consider what you could gain from inviting Cupid along on a get-away (he’s just waiting for your signal)…

Love, dearest traveller, is yours in every moment.

A Nov 2010 research report shows that 1 in 5 travellers try to book at the last minute (defined as within 5 days of arrival), hoping for a better deal. Another trend is that 10-night bookings are on the increase (as opposed to the previous 7-night standard) as travellers want the best average value given the increasing cost of getting to a holiday destination. And even at Forest Edge we have seen a sharp increase in travellers booking long in advance (also about 1 in 5).

Although the benefits of waiting till the Last-minute may be obvious (establishments dropping prices to offload empty beds or try to replace a last-minute cancellation), there may be more sense in Early Bird bookings:

  • Establishments increase their rates annually, so by booking in advance, guests “lock in” at pre-increase rates (e.g. the annual Forest Edge rate increase will take effect in a couple of weeks).
  • For people with special needs like parents with young children, or a unique occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary where dates are fixed, the issue of CHOICE carries even more weight. The likelihood of getting a specific cottage in a specific establishment for specific dates, diminishes drastically over time.
  • Travellers wanting a longer stay are suited to the Early Bird strategy as busy periods often get booked up in chunks that leave only the crumbs (a few days here and there) for the Last-minute Lookers.
  • The savvy traveller will be even quicker to grab their spot at small establishments offering good value at reasonable rates – it stands to reason that they are popular yet limited by the number of cottages available.
  • The Last-minute strategy is better suited to low season and midweeks; Last-minute luck often runs out with Long Weekends and Peak holiday periods..

Since almost 40 % of travellers now use either strategy to snap up the best offers, it may be wise to consider whether it will serve you better to be an Early Birder or Last-minute Looker.

For most people the work year is in full force, back-to-school has come and gone and there is no better time than right now to plan ahead by taking a look at the Long Weekend / School Holiday calendar and make your Early Bird move. And if you have not yet had your break, have a look out our Last-minute offer now.

Knysna Self Catering Accommodation

Tips for savvy travellers

Popular, affordable venues get booked up for Peak periods/festivals around the previous Peak, e.g. Easter is full by end of Xmas holidays; Jul Oyster Festival is full by Easter; & Dec is full by end-Jul.

Buyer beware! In 2013 the industry definition of ‘Budget’ = up to R350pppn. Be careful when you pay much less than that; it may be unclean, unkept, noisy, bankcrupt, unsafe, drafty or a scam. Possible in large impersonal resorts, then kiss peace and privacy good-bye. It COSTS to provide consistent comfort, cleanliness & friendly service in a stand-alone cottage with great linen, gorgeous gardens, fireplace, eco-friendly utilities, organic surprises; perhaps even with WiFi, DSTV…?

What makes an establishment great lies in the unseen… it operates legally, eco-sustainably, ethically, treats staff fairly; will have insurance (with emergency evac included) on and for guests; will invest in some power back-up facilities, first aid kits. Look for subtle differences between two establishments that seem to offer the same thing, at different rates. The difference between good and great establishments may only become apparent when something goes wrong

Plan your long weekend and year-end breaks in advance to give you best option of choice establishments and specific units, and to avoid the annual price hikes most establishments implement in March-May. “Lock in” at old prices.

Given the higher cost of travelling, stretch the duration of your stay to result in a lower average holiday cost. Also ask about long-stay discounts or look for Weekend Extender packages

Many establishments now offer Last Minute deals. Don’t fall into the trap of hoping for such a deal during Long Weekends, School holidays or December Peaks. Savvy travellers nab busy periods in advance, especially good value at affordable rates.

Exclusive 5-star OR value-for-money OR budget options exist; but not at the same rate. Do our short, fun, anonymous travel quiz, to help you clarify what you really want to avoid bad travel experiences. Align what you want (and deserve) with what you can spend, but don’t try under-pay and compromise.

Profit margins on small establishments are notoriously thin or absent, so instead of trying to haggle over price, rather focus on meeting your needs. Forest Edge is a confirmed Value-for-Money option as formally endorsed by 99.9% of guests who visit. Compare apples with apples! Our key competitors copy our tarrifs and then undercut our rates – but neglect to state that they don’t supply towels or electric blankets, do not have back-up utilities or evac insurance on their guests, are next to a busy road or use tired linen etc. They are (good) budget options but not comparable.

If you make a reasonable booking outside of the top peak periods, you can generally negotiate a 5% discount for paying via EFT (due to the high cost of cash deposits or credit card payments).

A good establishment will be clear about their Terms and Conditions both on their website and on their booking forms. As a prospective guest, it is your responsibility to read and accept / reject such terms.

Reading additional booking information that may be provided such as directions, what to bring along, activities on offer etc. can also enhance your journey and experience considerably.

How recession cycles can benefit you:
Phase 1: As establishments first start to battle in a recession, there is opportunity for great discounts and value offers – initially it becomes a guest-driven market and bargaining becomes common-place.
Phase 2: As struggling establishments throttle down, a very tricky period starts. Some providers will settle by offering only the best rates they can for the value they provide; you want these and you may recognise them as they won’t really budge on price anymore, they will rather stress their value. Unethical providers will just milk the last bit of cash from unsuspecting guests before going under, often without returning deposits. Be extra vigilant: don’t get a ‘great deal’ only to lose your entire deposit!
Phase 3: Lastly, the final stage will be signalled by many establishments having closed down and the supply-and-demand scales will settle on a more even keel. This is good as ‘the market cleaned up’ and only the stronger and now more customer-focused establishments remain. The danger is in thinking you are in phases 1 or 2, and trying to drive a hard bargain or waiting too late… you may lose out on the holiday of your choice or get less than you deserve. When in doubt, go with established, ethical establishments with good track records.

You always get what you pay for.

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