A creative and lively space
by Marita van Rooyen
When lounging in the courtyard of the Secret Garden Guesthouse in Swakopmund, it’s difficult to believe that the building, dating back to 1904, was once in ruins. But, of course, that was before Peter and Adelheid Odendaal came along and transformed it into the creative and lively space it is today.
The Secret Garden with its imaginative decorations and artworks, and the bonus of a lush garden court, has been luring visitors since December 1999. With a selection of six standard rooms, three comfortable double rooms, and two suites, all overlooking some part of the imaginative grounds, the place remains intimate, while still allowing guests personal breathing space.
The suites are ideal for families, having a kitchenette, lounge with two retractable beds—which also double as couches—and a 360-degree rotating television. Apart from being a friendly and safe space for children, The Secret Garden is the only guesthouse in Swakopmund where pets are welcome. Pumba, the eldest (98 dog years) of the three guesthouse canines, is so loved that he even receives Christmas cards from guests.
A bumper breakfast buffet
Breakfast, included in the board, is another topic of discussion. Says Adelheid, “Guests jubilate over our breakfast buffet. The five different kinds of bread are just the beginning…” The braai area, complete with pillowed benches, is ideal for rounding off a lazy Saturday afternoon, or getting to know your hosts and co-guests. Of course, there’s also the lounge—a large room with historical wooden floors, including TV and fireplace, and stacked with books and games for the whole family to enjoy. For techno-junkies, wireless Internet is available throughout the property. Guests, furthermore, can rest assured that their cars are safe in the alarm-equipped back yard.
The Secret Garden’s familiar logo—a flower-like shape that could be interpreted as a raising or setting sun, a mussel shell, or a stylish fan—dates from pilgrim times and literally means new hope and a good beginning. And for the Odendaals, for more than a decade now, The Secret Garden has been this and much more.
The Secret Garden Guest-house celebrated ten years of excellence in December 2009, with an orchestra from Germany providing music and a garden packed to the brim with people and good food.
The Secret Garden Bistro – Never boring
As an extension to The Secret Garden, the Bistro was opened on the same day the Guesthouse celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
What was once a carport (the Odendaals obviously have a knack for reinventing the old and transforming it into something creatively new) is now a homey place to eat and relax. Even though situated just one block away from the actual ocean, a mural depicts a beach through a whitewashed window that could just as well have been the real thing.
The Bistro caters for vegetarians, meat lovers, families, and even loners—judging by the single guitar-hugger in the corner. With the secret being simplicity, the quote by Julia Child describes the menu perfectly, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.”
And this is exactly what the menu is based on. Says Inga Potgieter, daughter of the Odendaals, who runs the Bistro with husband Innes, “Our dishes are created in line with the freshest ingredients we can find in town.” As a result, the menu changes regularly.
Innes is no stranger to pizza lovers in the area. As the renowned man who worked behind the oven of Western Saloon Pizzeria for ten years, he has his own following. With word of a lip-smacking crayfish pizza—available only in the rock-lobster season, needless to say—it is easy to believe. Otherwise, the Four Seasons and Mince Deluxe pizzas are all-time favourites. For a change in taste, try the Potato and Rosemary variety. Beer, wine and soft drinks round off a perfect meal.
Inga, on the other hand, is known for her snack baskets and quiches, so with a combination of creations by these two food boffins, you just can’t go wrong. Adds Inga, “It never gets boring in our kitchen.” Apart from the above, the Potgieters also do dishes such as green asparagus with a lemon and butter sauce, and smoked butterfish and veggie pasta. And don’t forget the desserts!
The Bistro is open Mondays to Saturdays from 17:00 until 21:00, and during December also for breakfast and lunch. It is also available for private functions and other events, such as beer tasting.
The Secret Garden Guesthouse and its Bistro are located in 36 Bismarck Street, within walking distance of all the important landmarks, the beach and the shopping area.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘10/ Jan ‘11 edition of Travel News Namibia.