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Tiffany Markman latest feb 13. jpgA review by Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-three-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.

Holidays change when you’re a mom. No surprise, right? It’s the usual stuff. Suitcases filled not with ‘night-time’ shoes, but with bath toys. Packets of biltong and dried fruit in your handbag, where the pilfered dinky bottles of plonk used to be. Leaving your room with pineapple hair and a lappie dress, but justifying your schlumfiness because ‘at least my face is clean’.

That sort of thing. You know.

But sometimes you go to a place – nearby-ish, not expensive – that’s so geared for kids you can have a little bit of holiday between 6.55 am breakfasts, pool-side nappy changes, plates of hot chips and sunblock applications.

Photo: © 2013 Tiffany Markman

Photo: © 2013 Tiffany Markman

Riviera on Vaal Hotel & Spa. Yup, on the Vaal. I’d been before, three years ago, but this time I liked the sound of Murphy’s Clubhouse, the choice of jungle gyms and trampolines, the bike path, the kiddie waffle buffet (complete with plastic plates) and the baby pool. Things I’d never seen on previous visits.

So off we went. My mom, my toddler and I. For a gals’ weekend. And we had a blast. To illustrate, here’s the list of things that occupied my little one:

  • Ignoring the waffles at the buffet and eating the hundreds ‘n thousands
  • Swimming, getting dressed, getting undressed, swimming, and so on
  • The doggie on her bed, made of towels, and her Disney Princesses pillow
  • The nightly room service delivery of cookies and milk, with a straw
  • ‘Cleaning’ our bathroom’s shower door – for an hour, with a facecloth
  • Meeting the horses who pulled the wedding carriage for a bridal couple

That wedding procession was both a cultural highlight and a sartorial experience. We spent several hours on Saturday morning gobsmacked by the glittering suits, shiny shoes and velvet elbow patches (the men) and the sequinned micro-minis, peplum tops and towering heels (the women).

My mom and I managed to squeeze in a massage each, and there was a bit of wine consumed, but on the whole it was early nights and early mornings. (The Zorgvliet Spa is absolutely awesome, by the way. Superb therapists, great treatments, professional management and lovely spaces to chill.)

And Riviera staff are, without exception, wonderful. Friendly, warm, sincere and kind. Lovely to kids. Even when my Joburg mini-madam confidently requested a ‘babychino’ from an elderly waitress who’d never heard of one…

The food was very nice. The service friendly, if occasionally slow. And the hotel herself is an ageing beauty with considerable charm and a magnificent view. She needs a paint and an update, but she’s comfy and welcoming.

Note: If you think you and your kids might want to enjoy a braai lunch on the Petit Verdot Floating Restaurant, which I’d have loved to do, book well in advance. If you leave it til you get there, there’ll be no hope of securing a seat.

Riviera on Vaal is not larney. It’s fun, kid-friendly and affordable. Go.

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