Kurland has had many renovations and reinventions over the years, but at her heart, the beautiful estate remains a Homestead that holds a special place in many guests’ hearts, and a place for quality family time and an appreciation of country living at its finest.

Today we’re taking a trip down memory lane with Peter Behr (the grandson of Kurland’s original owner, Baron Nicolas Behr), who currently lives on the estate with his wife, Di, remembering some wonderful highlights in Kurland’s layered history.

Kurland has always been a welcome stopover and sanctuary from the city…

Peter’s grandfather, Baron Behr, was an aristocrat (and friend of the Tzar) who fled Russia during the Russian Revolution. When he moved to South Africa, he became a scribe for the well-known geologist philanthropist, Hans Merensky. Baron Behr travelled all over South Africa with Merensky, reporting what he was doing, and, importantly, gaining property from him all over the country.

“My grandfather met my grandmother in Johannesburg,” Peter recalls. “He was German-speaking at a time when WWII was ongoing, which didn’t make him very popular. Luckily, my grandmother had inherited money, so they decided to move to the then-depressed region of Plettenberg and the Crags.”

They bought up a lot of property, including Robberg, Beacon Isle, Nature’s Valley, and the 8000-hectare valley that was Kurland.

“My grandfather bought Kurland when it was just a little inn in 1941. At the time, horses and ox wagons would regularly make the 2-week journey from Cape Town to PE. The ‘highway’ ran right past the inn’s front door, securing Kurland as a convenient (and particularly picturesque) stopping point and oasis before continuing on the hair-raising trek across Nature’s Valley and Bloukrans in cumbersome ox wagons.”

“They lived a highly sophisticated life in a rural area, so it’s not surprising that the became a vibrant social centre for internationals.”

“Although he was a gentleman, my grandfather unfortunately had no idea about money,” Peter remembers. “He wrote his ideas on the back of envelopes and gave them to various staff members, many of whom didn’t carry out his instructions. In the end, him and my father, Nicolas, had to start selling off some of that property to finance their lifestyles.”

Honing in on Kurland’s heyday…

In 1998, Peter married Di, and Di’s brother-in-law, Clifford Elphick, bought Kurland. They spent six years developing the property, building the hotel and establishing the polo fields. Between 2000 and 2019, the hotel was a member of the esteemed Relais & Chateaux group and boasted 12 luxurious bedrooms. Celebrity guests that stayed at the exclusive hotel include the likes of Brad Pitt and the royal family from Lichtenstein.

“Those developments to Kurland really changed Plett forever,” Peter marvels. “The polo, specifically, brought a whole new set of people to the town, skyrocketing property prices and propelling Plett into a new space. What’s not to love about a beautiful seaside location that locals and overseas visitors alike flocked to during the summer months?”

The stuff that timeless memories are made of…

Peter’s childhood memories of playing in the Homestead and running amok on the farm with his two brothers when they came home from boarding school for holidays and long weekends are wonderful. The original sitting room is still there, as is the veranda, although it has been extended over the years to accommodate long lunch tables and lazy afternoons spent admiring the sunbirds and bumble bees busying themselves in the rose gardens.

Peter’s stories of naughty boys endlessly exploring the estate’s hills and valleys are the stuff that childhood dreams are made of, and not dissimilar from the memories that many families still experience to this day when they exclusively rent out the Homestead and Villa for country getaways and special celebrations with friends and loved ones.

Peter’s father, Nicolas (‘Nicky’), grew up with his childhood friend, Murray Crawford. Murray is a longtime Plett regular (and husband of interior designer, Serena Crawford, who has been featured here on our Kurland blog) and often reminisces about the time he spent exploring the area’s natural beauty in his youth.

“Kurland was a paradise for us kids – a golden era, if you will,” he remembers fondly. “When we were teens, the adults would drive us up the mountain in an old Land Rover and leave us there for a few days with just our backpacks for provisions. We had a blast, sleeping in caves, swimming in the rivers, and looking for baboons and snakes. Even when we’d grown up and were in our twenties, we’d always flock to Kurland for the Christmas holidays to enjoy being in the epicentre of Plett’s best parties and celebrations.”

Kurland is a space and place that effortlessly blends old-world charm and luxury country living with an appreciation for nature and all of the delicious culinary dishes that the gardens yield. Book your visit today.