Historical Grande Roche Hotel will receive an upgrade this year. Picture: TripAdvisor.

Paarl's iconic Grande Roche Hotel is back in South African hands. After three decades of offshore ownership, the historic five-star property at the foot of the landmark Paarl Mountain is scheduled for a transformation to return it as one of the Cape's premier destinations.  Its buildings in the Cape vernacular have been certified a national monument.  The 23 hectare property at the foot of the majestic Paarl Mountain retains a country village feel and comprises not only the hotel, but vineyards too. 

The hotel has been acquired by entrepreneurs Hansie and Theresa Britz. Both born and raised in Paarl, the couple shares a life-long association with the Grande Roche as all dyed-in-the-wool locals do. Famous for its sublime old-world elegance and idyllic location that overlooks the mountains and vineyards of the magnificent Paarl Valley, the Grande Roche dates back to the early 1700s. 

"The Grande Roche has always occupied a special place in our hearts," says Hansie. "It's part of the Paarl identity. When opportunity arose to buy it, we jumped without hesitation."

Long-time Director Johann Bouwer says the property is one of very few hotels situated on a farm, in a city.

"It's a place that just has to be shared. Our aim is to make it an even bigger part community life."

The first phase of rejuvenation begins this June, when the hotel closes for a month. In addition to a maintenance overhaul, work will include a revamp of several rooms and the establishment of a completely new restaurant and bar. Décor will be overseen by well-known Cape interior designer Francois du Plessis.

Renowned TV celebrity Chef Pete Goffe-Wood comes on board as chef-patron of the all-new restaurant, Viande. Viande will be country-style with a nose-to-tail menu. 

The restaurant will be enlarged to accommodate around 90 guests and occupy the entire floor of the hotel's familiar main building. 

A new cocktail bar will become the hub for the after-work slow-down, serving innovative tapas alongside an expanded range of drinks. 

And on this vinous note, the vineyard surrounding the hotel is also in for some work and will undergo replanting. Wines are made by Bertus Fourie at Under Oaks, the local estate that becomes sister property to the hotel through this transaction.

"The new facilities will open the hotel to beyond our overnight guests," says Johann Bouwer. "We look forward to welcoming our Paarl friends back to the Grande Roche when the hotel re-opens."

Several exciting additions are scheduled for later phases, including the addition of a luxury spa for which negotiations are currently underway.