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The Greenest Property in Hermanus

With an enviable position overlooking Schulphoek Bay, this luxury exclusive Hermanus hotel commands an exquisite sea view stretching as as far as the Danger point lighthouse, 20km away.

The property is owned by the Gutstadt family headed by father Wehrner, who designs professional kitchens for hotels and restaurants, wife Janet, who does the interior design and marketing, daughter Daniela, a French Culinary Institute-qualified chef and restauranteur, and son Stefan, who manages the Hotel and 5 other group entities.

Schulphoek was origionally designed and built in 1998 as a guesthouse. This was before load shedding and the Cape’s water crisis, but even then energy and water savings were important to the Gutstadt’s and designer Wehrner Gutstadt. Green features in the 1998 build included insulating all ceilings using cellulose fibre insulation, using solar geysers, harvesting roof rain water, and installing gas kitchen appliances where possible.

In 2016 affter operating as an exclusive guesthouse for 17 years, adjacent properties were aquired and the property was redesigned to be an exclusive small hotel. Every family member was involved in the design brief with Wehrner, tasked with doing the research and executing the design utilising the team at Culinary Consulting. The main brief was exclusive luxury without any environmental impact. In fact, the target set for greening the property was to reduce the per guest impact by 75%, without compromising the guest experience.

In 2016 affter operating as an exclusive guesthouse for 17 years, adjacent properties were aquired and the property was redesigned to be an exclusive small hotel. Every family member was involved in the design brief with Wehrner, tasked with doing the research and executing the design utilising the team at Culinary Consulting. The main brief was exclusive luxury without any environmental impact. In fact, the target set for greening the property was to reduce the per guest impact by 75%, without compromising the guest experience.

Most of the old buildings were demolished and a new sea-facing structure was designed by Culinary Consulting under the leadership of Wehrner. Schulphoek House has now set new standards in low impact green living, with the hotel’s newly-built sea-facing suites the greenest rooms in the hotel industry. The new building, which includes the suites, dining room and lounge, were constructed using the latest technology in construction material. All windows and glass doors are bespoke and were manufactured by Fenster and feature double glazing and the latest German profile and hinge technology. This technology provides an airtight seal which excludes temperature transfer and external noise. Guests who love the surrounding sounds of the sea can still enjoy this as all windows can tilt and open.

Rain water continues to be harvested from the roofs, and is piped to water tanks above and below the ground with a total storage capacity of 102 000 litres. This rain water is then filtered and fed into the reticulation system. This results into an annual saving of hundreds of thousands of litres.

Insulation has been prioritised in the building, with the roof triple insulated, the floors suspended over an air void, with a layer of insulation beneath the floor finish, and a 60mm layer of sound and temperature insulation in the walls.

With air conditioning accounting for the highest per guest electricity cost, hundreds of hours of research was done to provide the most energy effecient solution. There are thus no conventional airconditioners on the property, instead an ingenious HYDRAUNIC room cooling and heating system was installed. This system is entirely powered by solar energy that heats and cools water using an invertor. The heated or cooled water is then stored in insulated tanks that act as energy storage devices. Each room’s heating and cooling is facilitated by circulating hot and cold water through past each room via a ring main. Each room is fitted with a coil which is similar to a car’s radiator. When cooling or heating is demanded in the room, hot or cold water is diverted through the coil and a low intensity fan blows air through the grill. The air is heated or cooled during this process.

Providing a relaxing, peaceful sleep is one of the most important aspects of a relaxing stay, and in doing research the Schulphoek team found that often an excellent room and bed experience is ruined by poor ventilation. Fresh air is essential for a good night’s sleep, and through research found the latest technology from Germany. A Lunos air exchanger was fitted to each suite. Electronically controlled, it exchanges the room’s air three times per hour while simultaneously harvesting any difference in external and internal temperature. This saves heating and cooling energy requirements for the room.

Hot water is produced by 12 high capacity solar panels during the day. Water is superheated and then stored in two 1500 litre fully-insulated storage tanks that are capable of maintaining the heat water until the next day. An insulated ring main in the ceiling void continuously circulates the hot water to all points, ensuring that hot water is provided virtually immediately on demand.

Electrical power is provided by a 3-phase 10Kw, solar system which was integrated with back-up batteries for power at night. Excess power is fed back into the grid without compensation. High demand equipment such as pool pumps are only used when solar power is available.

Before the expansion, the property had two 100 Amp 3 phase municipal power connections and an 80 Amp single phase supply. The occupancy capacity was doubled by the redevelopement, yet the property has retained only one three phase connection in case of emergencies such as multiple days of inclement weather or a system failure.

As for lighting, the latest low energy LED lighting technology has been used, along with natural light. Wherever possible, motion sensor switching has been used. Bedrooms have extra-height windows which allow in as much natural light as possible.

At a time when sustainability is at the top of everyone’s agenda, it is inspiring to see the incredible effort that Schulphoek House has undertaken to ensure that the property has minimal impact on the environment.

Schulphoek House at a glance

Schulphoek House is about 5 minutes’ drive from Hermanus’ overlooking a protected reserve with seashore paths that offer guests a closer view of the marine and bird life that flourish in the natural surrounds. The cove that the hotel overlooks is often visited by whales between July and the beginning of December, and the veranda is a perfect spot to watch them while enjoying lunch and sipping a sundowner. The property has a swimming pool with chlorine-free salt water. A private massage room is used for aromatherapy, and an energy effecient jacuzzi and sauna room will be installed soon.

The property offers a total of 15 generously proportioned rooms that include nine sea-facing luxury en-suite rooms and seven garden luxury suites. One garden suite has a second bedroom for guests travelling with children, and one of the sea facing suites has an extra single bedroom with private shower and toilet. Schulphoek is known for its collection of local art and furniture which is used to ensure that every room is unique and induvidually decorated.

The dining room’s menu serves fresh fish and locally-sourced ingredients. The wine list is compiled from the owners cellar of 14000 bottles of local wines, with the emphasis on wines from the Overberg region.

Schulphoek House

181 Piet Retief Crescent, Sandbaai, Hermanus

www.schulphoek.co.za

028 316 2626

stay@schulphoek.co.za

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