Portfolio Collection founder and CEO Liz Westby-Nunn writes a tribute to one of South Africa’s hospitality industry greats – Mr David Rawdon.

David Rawdon (85) died on Friday, 13 August 2010. David was the quintessential entrepreneur whose pioneering spirit as a visionary, hotelier and talented interior decorator saw first the creation of Rawdon’s Country House in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands – the first of the Country House hotels in South Africa. David then sold Rawdon’s and acquired and developed Lanzerac near Stellenbosch in the Cape, which was the first Country House in the Cape and became the place to visit. David also purchased and redeveloped The Marine Hotel in Hermanus.


[Image of David Rawdon from Matjies Show and Tell Blog]

Many well-known personalities of the hospitality industry in South Africa have been trained by David Rawdon during their tenures at Rawdons, Lanzerac, The Marine Hotel or Matjiesfontein. David’s great understanding and love of history and interior design created exceptional places and Matjiesfontein is certainly the place where David Rawdon’s incredible creative passions found a home, and many faithful followers. David acquired the entire village of Matjiesfontein during the late 1960s and, after detailed and loving restoration work, Matjiesfontein and the Lord Milner Hotel re-opened in 1970. David then sold both Lanzerac and The Marine to focus on Matjiesfontein.


[Matjiesfontein Transport Museum – Image by Gary Bembridge. CC license]

In its heyday, Matjiesfontein offered the best in hospitality to an eclectic mix of visitors, and over the years many rich and famous folk have visited the Village. Matjiesfontein is a National Heritage Site, and is a wonderful tribute to its original founder James Logan and to David Rawdon, whose love and dedication have ensured that the spirit of Matjiesfontein lives on.

My first recollection of Matjiesfontein was in 1976, when we spent an unforgettable weekend there with the family. Matjiesfontein was established in 1884 by a young Scottish immigrant, James Logan – Matjiesfontein was a railway stop on the line to Kimberley, and seeing the benefits of the invigorating dry Karoo air for lung ailments, Logan set about establishing a ‘watering hole’ for the well-heeled and soon the likes of Olive Schreiner, Randolph Churchill and Rudyard Kipling were visitors. Olive Schreiner lived in Matjiesfontein in her own cottage for a number of years. With this cast of characters, who could resist the history of the Anglo-Boer War, walking across the vast plains in the early morning of the Karoo finding scraps of metal from the thousands of British soldiers camped there during the Anglo Boer War? But perhaps the best experience was the Village itself, where the living cast of characters, both staff and guests made for memorable days and convivial evenings in the fabulous little pub, or the unforgettable David Rawdon dessert buffets in the main Dining Room of the Lord Milner Hotel – where dressing for dinner was still de rigueur in 1976.


[Matjiesfontein Post Office – Image by Gary Bembridge. CC license]

Thank you David, for creating such an exceptional and extraordinary place, a place which has created so many happy memories for so many of us. May your final journey be a time of well earned and well deserved rest.

Liz Westby-Nunn


[The Lord Milner Hotel]

For more gems of wisdom from Liz, go to www.travelblog.portfoliocollection.com/


4 Responses to “A Tribute to David Rawdon”

  1. lost on September 3rd, 2010 6:45 am

    i just wanna thank you for sharing your this information on your blog

    Sent via Blackberry

  2. kate middleton on August 29th, 2011 1:03 pm

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  3. MCM ハンドバッグ on July 10th, 2015 7:04 am

    これらはすべてのYouTube賭博ビデオクリップ A Tribute to David Rawdon : Living Stylishly Well です内事実で気難しい品質、私の友人仲間 で私は、に沿って、これらすべてを見た。
    MCM ハンドバッグ http://www.nrcint.com/mcm.html

  4. David Williamson on January 31st, 2016 2:23 pm

    Nice article well written David is applauding in Hevan Hevan!!

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