Bonne Esperance! (French for ‘good hope’)
It is in this spirit of good hope, that we want to celebrate Womans Day and the whole month. It is all about strong women who empower other women.
This is the story of Bonne Esperance, the people who lived there, and the story of Annemien Kotze, who invites us today inside this charming Victorian Villa.
The early days
In 1907, Jacobus Tribelhorn, self-taught architect-cum-builder from Paarl, built this Victorian Villa for the De Villiers family. During this era, your wealth was displayed by building your house on a corner stand, how elaborate your outside decorations were and how high the corner turret was (it must just not be higher than the church tower!) The family lived for 15 years in the house with its high ceilings, grand chandeliers, and sash windows, until Tribelhorn bought it back for himself!
A moment in time
In 1942, Margaret and Ian Simpson (grandchildren of Mr.Tribelhorn), stayed with their mother at Bonne Esperance while their father went off to fight in World War 2.
The owner today, Annemien Kotze, had the privilege of spending a moment with the 83 year old Margaret, a while ago, when she visited the Guesthouse. She shared stories about the vegetable garden where Fynbosvilla is today; the old water furrows and how the children played in the mud!
The year 1955 marked a time in history when the Slabbert family bought the villa and converted it into a student residence for. Mrs. Slabbert was famous for her home-cooked meals; and today Annemien carrying forward the work of the women who came before her. One can see it in the harmony between the contemporary and classical look interior; the South African food on the menu; her passion to plan the menu and yes, in the kitchen, she has a favourite knife called: Red!
Talking about colours, the Stellenbosch residents will remember the period when the house was painted blue by Mrs. Slabbert. In 1990 the new owners, Sue Coetzee and John Savage restored the house with much respect.
“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another”
When Annemien was 12 years old, her mom used to invite friends to their home. It was in these times that she loved to plan the menu, sent the invitations, and on the day prepared a three-course meal! The hospitality business was definitely in her veins!
She studied consumer science at Stellenbosch University, traveled a lot, came back and got married into her University sweetheart from Bloemfontein, where she worked as a chef at a wedding venue. During these times, she always felt a piece of her heart was left behind in Stellenbosch. But in 2007, four friends grabbed the opportunity to buy the guesthouse and they never looked back!
She sees her role as a woman here too, to mentor college students, and thus empower them to go out into the world beyond their experience they have gained. Some of them just planned to stay for a year after graduation but ended up staying for much longer!
A place of good hope!
If the walls here could talk, it will tell stories of women, enjoying high teas on the veranda, with its lace-like cast-iron trims, never losing hope that the war will end someday. Today it is the words of Nelson Mandela which inspires Annemien:” May the choices you make reflect your hopes, not your fears”. At Bonne Esperance, as in life, you must choose hope, seek a reason to get up in the morning, make a cup of tea, look at the beauty of our mountains and oak trees ……
From Wednesday, 12 August 2020, onwards @Bonne Esperance, you can come to enjoy a signature South African High Tea or coffee and cake. It will also be open for reservations for private functions. You will enjoy the warm heart of the people who work here, people who believe that the choices you make must reflect your hopes, not your fears!