Reflections on 'owning the hotel'. Jacques and Tara show the way re the Art of a Barrydale wedding

Posted on Sat March 23, 2024.

It was our first proper wedding since taking over this fine establishment, but the wait was definitely worthwhile. Jacques Du Plessis from Mr Cat & the Jackal and Tara Bakkes, creative at Jumpin' the Gun, hosted the most incredible wedding with the liveliest crowd ever. They definitely owned the space.

Happy Wife Happy Life? Tara reflects on their special day

"We had the pleasure of hosting our wedding at the Karoo Art Hotel, and it was an absolutely exceptional experience. From the moment we began planning, Jacques and I sought to craft a wedding that was unique and deeply personal, and the hotel's team went above and beyond to bring our vision to life.

"One of the standout features of our celebration was the option to reserve the hotel bar for a private event on Friday night, along with booking all the rooms for our family and friends. This decision truly elevated the atmosphere of intimacy and joy surrounding our wedding festivities. Rick, Sue, and the entire staff were not only professional but also incredibly warm and accommodating. Their attention to detail ensured that every aspect of our celebration felt tailored to our desires."

"The culinary experience provided by Derek was simply exquisite, with particular praise reserved for the delectable lamb dish. Our guests raved about the quality of the food, echoing our own sentiments of delight. Jacques and I were both overwhelmed by the positive feedback and unanimously agree that the entire weekend surpassed our expectations."

"Our time at the Karoo Art Hotel will forever hold a special place in our hearts. It has become more than just a venue; it is now a cherished second home where memories of our wedding day will live on for years to come. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the entire team for their dedication and expertise in ensuring that our wedding was nothing short of magical."

Thank you for these kind words Tara, as you'll read below, it was an absolute treat for everyone at the hotel.


In the buildup to Tara & Jacques wedding and I commented to Sue what a shed load of work it all was, she said something really lovely; "It's so easy, they are just the most stunning and chilled couple". And that they certainly were.


This is the key offer / proposition of the hotel all rolled into one;  The art of  wedding in our book; to achieve a feeling of an absence of rules; for the bridal couple to really know that  you've handed them the  keys. Imagine an 18 room family home that was once a hotel. But when you bought it you just kept it on like when it was when it was open to the public. The bar, the dining room, the beautiful public rooms, the ball room. You kept it all exactly as was  right down to the staff; brilliant retainers all dedicated to this grand house and your family for life. So that's the Karoo Art Hotel when you own it for your wedding. 

Tara's brother in law Pierre Du Plessis is one of those  magnetic people in a bar who knows how to ignite a party. In all the very best sense of the word there are absolutely no breaks there. For a day job he heads up the family business - one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in SA (it must be a fun place to work). Chatting to him in the bar about this idea of 'you now own the house' , and looking for an example, I randomly said  something like "if you're at home and you've just rolled in from a party really late, like 3am, and you've got this massive craving for fried eggs and bacon, what do you do? You go to the kitchen obviously and get a pan out. You don't need to ask anyone -  you own the house!". I remember Pierre's eyes light up at this thought. (Full disclosure, i've done this more than a few times myself at home). It was a hellova party in the bar that night (but the bill afterwards was a thing of beauty). And for once there was no hand break attached to the Barrydale room right above the bar because the occupant was head of noise downstairs anyway. Pierre ducked the early morning swim club outing to the pass at  7am  the next morning - most of them did - but lying in his bed in the first rays of the dawn of Tara's wedding he turned to his wife, Tara's sleeping sister, and mused "how come my mouth tastes of lamb?".


Derek was the first to come into the kitchen that morning and was surprised to see what looked like the remains of  the set up for a one man banquite. No plate had been employed just a carving board and carving knife and fork along with a linen napkin from the dining room still in its silver serviette ring  and a half completed glass of red wine standing by. It must be a higher calling for a leg of lamb to make it to a wedding.  Many of them  had been prepped for the buffet later that day, one never made it 🙃.


Come the moment the bride and her dad opened the proceedings with a reflective drive around the shady lanes of Barrydale in Fox Trot Oscar the hotel's Royal Enfield side car. Sputnik the Hotel's Silver Wraith was unfortunately out of the picture having gone to JHB for a refurb, But personally I'd swap Fox Trot Oscar for Sputnik anyday - you don't get the wind in your hair in Sputnik.

A lovely feature of the service itself was the use of Villa Limonicella exquisite garden right behind the hotel. 



Instead of wedding speeches there songs ! Specially composed songs by their friends and Mr. Cat & the Jackal and Julia Robert band mates. 

Lunch/dinner was in the hotel back garden and then everyone was into the Bialanti ballroom that had been transformed into a Bohemian lounge. As far as we know Pierre Du Plessis never got into the kitchen that night because presumably when he was ready for bed the day shift had already arrived and were prepping for breakfast.

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