I was mortified when my wife told me she wanted to turn our home into a hotel. I'd spent my young life dreaming of living in such a place, and here we were about to sacrifice it for a converted stable at the far end of the farm. I suspect though, that inside most South Africans there resides a small farmer and a tiny hotelier. We're only the custodians of properties like Hartford for as long as we're around, and knowing the joys it's brought to our visitors, opening this heritage gem to the use of the public has been one of the epic pleasures in our lives.
In racing, it's often been said that the true mark of greatness rests in the ability to accelerate off a hot pace. That's been the trademark of so many around here. But this is Zululand, and in a world in which the pace is hectic enough, the trick in this neighbourhood is to slow it all down, take the spin off the ball and give the youngsters a chance; there'll be time enough for the roar of the crowd. It's much the same at Hartford House, which stands apart for its integrity and its authenticity. You quickly grasp that its architecture, views, dining, sounds, scents, its racehorses and its people are all exhilarating surprises, unique to this place, this culture, to Africa. Yes, you come here to be pampered, but at Hartford, luxury is the journey, not the destination.
Come for a while, and you might even discover the meaning of a much-used phrase here in Zululand: "What's the hurry?"
Hartford House / Xpressions (p)