Gross Barmen, Okahandja’s hidden treasure

23 March 2018 Author   Kaula Nhongo
Situated about 25km west of Okahandja and 100km from Windhoek, Gross Barmen is a hidden treasure.
Surrounded by rows of palm trees and green lawns, the former prison has the kind of beauty and uniqueness that would take anyone’s breath away.
The fresh air and peace that one feels the minute you set foot on the resort makes it easier for an individual to relax and enjoy the experience.
The resort lies uniquely next to the Swakop River which adds to the naturalness of the resort with a swimming pool overlooking the river.
The free roaming animals at the resort are a great inspiration for adventure as visitors can literally interact with them.
The design and simplicity, but yet sophisticated look of the private luxury bush chalets made me beam helplessly in awe. The chalet had two lounges, including a private one with a television set.
My jaw dropped even more when I entered the bedroom which has an ensuite bathroom. There is also an outdoor shower.
The bedroom overlooks the outside mini pool and the river which allows the visitor to enjoy watching the animals graze, especially as the sun is about to set.
Waking up to the sound of the flowing river each morning, the resort is ideal for those who want to relax and recover away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The most memorable experience for me at Gross Barmen was taking a dip in the private mini pool situated at the back of the bush chalets.
For some of us who are not comfortable flaunting our curves in front of strangers, the mini pool was the best feature of the resort.
The main attraction at Gross Barmen is the health and hydro/medical spa centre, featuring thermal springs and providing a full range of treatments, massages, and health activities for relaxation.
The resort has premium chalets; family chalets and bush chalets which offer a marvellous view of the river and can accommodate a total of 96 people.
The accommodation options at Gross Barmen include refurbished family and bush chalets and camping sites. Each and every chalet has an ensuite bathroom offering you style and comfort away from home.
Currently, the resort under the management of Francois Snyders is on the verge of going green as they have introduced solar geysers.
Snyders plans to utilise solar energy on the whole resort in order to save on electricity costs.
The resort also uses recycled sewerage water on the lawns which has helped them save on water bills.
“We want to be independent and utilise the sun we have,” Snyder said, adding that business at the resort has picked up tremendously with more and more domestic tourists making use of the facilities.
“With good management, the resort has for the first time in years started breaking even where we are making about N$200,000 a month just from day visitors,” he said.
Through his impeccable managerial skills, Snyders has trained several matriculates who receive on the job training.
“My drive is to see growth in people while providing excellent service. I do not wear rank, I am a worker just like everyone else,” he said.
One important aspect that has worked for the resort is smart staffing which means everyone has skills in each and every field at the resort.
Previously, service delivery was a challenge, but Snyders said that is a thing of the past now.
Some of the activities that visitors can look forward to include hiking, swimming and bird watching which is a favourite for visitors, including children.
The resort’s biggest season is during winter because of the hot springs while weddings and conferences are the biggest revenue earners.
The wedding venue accommodates about 150 people at a time and the resort does not charge for the venue.
To enjoy a night in the luxurious bush chalet, it will cost you about N$825 per person per night for Namibians while Namleisure clients receive 25 percent discount.
I would recommend this place to anyone and everyone who has a tickle for nature, it is worth every penny.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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