Hi there,

Happy New Year!  
After the highs of late 2017, 2018 was an interesting and challenging year for Zimbabwe to say the least! With the chaotic economy and monetary system and more recently the fuel crisis, we are very pleased that we managed to keep our rates stable, consistent and local throughout what was a very rocky period. We are very appreciative for the incredible support we have had during this time and trust we will continue to receive your support during 2019 where we hope to continue offering all payment options from RTGS through to USD. 

In the meantime, here’s an update from us at La Rochelle Country House and Spa.
Firstly, we’d like to let you know that we have re-launched the Eastern Explorer package with Chilo Gorge. Get a real taste of Zimbabwe with this 5-night package which brings together the ‘the big five’, a top range of birding specials and some incredible Zimbabwe history, art, culture and specialized horticulture.
Experience ‘the place of elephants’ and the magical Chilojo Cliffs in GonarezhouNational Park and then move North to experience the tranquil mountains, gardens and forests of the Eastern Highlands at La Rochelle. 
The package offers incredible value at $1257 per person for 5 nights (swipe, Ecocash or bond) and that includes:
  • 3 nights Chilo (all meals and teas/coffee)
  • 2 nights La Rochelle (dinner, bed, breakfast and teas/coffee)
  • Valid until March 2019.
And here’s what happened in 2018 at La Rochelle:

The Tea House: 
The La Rochelle Tea House has officially opened. Guests can now taste a range of our organic herbal teas - fresh from our farms where we grow some 120ha of organic herbs!
The tea house also offers different packages for high-teas in the garden with a selection of sweet and savoury treats that can be enjoyed with a gin and tonic, champagne, herbal teas or leading local coffees. 

The Spa Upgrade: 
Our Spa upgrade is complete and has allowed us to now offer a wider range of products, including the Tip 2 Toe (La Rochelle Signature Treatment) which is a luxurious 90-minute treatment using pre-blended aromatherapy oils to massage the entire body. This treatment offers a mixture of Swedish Massage integrated with Hot Stone Massage, Pressure Point Massage and Indian Head Massage techniques. (just what the doctor ordered for the stressed out Zimbabwe businessman and woman today!)  
The Menu:
Over the last few months we have had two leading chefs visit La Rochelle to help with our foodie offering from better sourcing of the abundant local produce (Annabel Hughes-Aston of SavannaBel fame) both on our farms and in the surrounding areas, to better presentation and new cooking techniques (Tjaart Walraven of The Great South African Bake-Off fame!). In a recent review a guest commented that "The highlight of our stay was definitely the food. The dinners were delicious." We certainly hope you will ‘taste the difference' during your next visit!
The Virginia Cottage:
For those of you who prefer the self-catering option and generally longer stays we have upgraded the Virginia Cottage which is perfect for a family with young kids and even the odd dog!
Gift Shop:
We have been working with new partners on expanding our range of high quality local and regional arts and crafts in the La Rochelle gift shop. We are excited to be working with some of Zimbabwe’s top crafts men and women who will be transferring their skills to local women in the valley as was the tradition in the Courtauld era with Lady Virginia’s Craft Hall! We will be relaunching the shop in the first quarter of 2019.
Other News:

During the course of last year La Rochelle hosted many conferences, strategy sessions, team building events as well as a wide range of specialized workshops from Art and Craft to Meditation and Mindfulness with bestselling author David Michie.

Organic Herbs and Product Range: Our Organic herb farms are now producing a wide range of products using 30 different herbs, including petal crops such as Calendula and Safflower in the winter to the five species of mints, Melissa, Lemon Grass, Chamomile, Dandylion, Stinging Nettles, Anise, Thyme and more recently Ginger and Turmeric. Many of our guests opt to take a guided tour of our trials where they get to smell, feel and taste our organic production.

We have also begun holding workshops and training sessions on sustainable and organic farming which will be expanded in 2019. Please DO consider La Rochelle for your next training session too!
Looking Forward

During 2019 we are looking forward to the filming of ‘Stephen & Ginnie’  - a documentary on the life of the Courtaulds which is a project being taken on by The National Trust of Zimbabwe together with a Zimbabwean film studio. The film will also focus on their time at La Rochelle and the couple’s linkages with the development of arts and crafts and incredible philanthropy in Zimbabwe from the building of the National Gallery to many of the city theatres and even Speciss College.  

During April well known author Louisa Treger will be publishing her book ‘The Dragon Lady’ about the exotic/adventurous life of Lady Virgina Courtauld which will hopefully include a 1950s themed weekend at La Rochelle with a reading by the author. We hope to have some of you join us for this unusual event.

We also have plans to build more rooms and self-catering cottages in 2019. We will keep you posted on this. 
That’s all for now. Quite a busy year and some exciting things to come in 2019.
We wish you all a happy year filled with fuel, forex, peace and health!

Kind regards,
The La Rochelle Team
PS why not take advantage of our usual First Quarter mid-week retreat packages and ‘recharge your batteries’ for the year! Click here to book now - reservations@larochellecentre.com