Founders, funders, and free-thinkers. If one of those sounds like you, then Frontier is where you’ll want to be sipping your sauvignon this summer. If you’re a member, that is.
Members’ clubs have been slow to catch on in South Africa, but the Ideas Cartel is out to change that, with this latest outpost shaking up a cocktail of low-key networking and negronis.
Ideas Cartel first made a name for itself in the Mother City with its “Inner City” co-working spaces, adding a dash of urban glamour to the concept of shared office space. Think sleek décor, in-house baristas, and tailors who’ll measure you up at your desk. There’s even a dedicated mobile app allowing co-workers to sign up for events, book boardrooms, and order coffee without speaking to a human.
Today, its co-working spaces — from hot-desks to private micro-offices — are available in three locations across the city, but with the arrival of Andrew Copsey earlier this year from London, the brand has made a segue into the world of private members’ clubs. With his background as chef, sommelier, and bar consultant, it’s a world Copsey is well familiar with, and he’s bullish about an appetite for it in the city.
“I’ve not seen such a concentration of entrepreneurs and like-minded business people anywhere,” enthuses Copsey. “The Cartel Members Club is about building up that network of like-minded individuals. It’s adding that lifestyle element, extending the social parameters to the concept of co-working.”
While club membership provides invitations and complimentary access to regular Cartel Connect events, and entry to the Founders Lounge on Loop Street, the primary perk is access to Frontier.
It’s a gorgeous space, an aesthetic that whispers understated exclusivity. Wingback armchairs and chesterfields in deep-blue leather create cosy spaces for small groups to network and connect, while stools at the burnished copper bar welcome lone visitors.
“A lot of our founders come in early to find a quiet space to power through some work in the morning; the funders might bring in a group to entertain over lunch; and the free-thinkers are the night-time crowd,” says Copsey. “I only have one rule in here, though. When the sun goes down, so do the laptop screens.”
All eyes on the menu then, where Copsey has assembled a compact but carefully chosen wine list highlighting big-hitters and boutique cellars. Bespoke cocktails are cleverly divided into the moments of enjoyment, from anti-fogmatics (so called because they help open one’s eyes in the morning), bridging drinks (for the afternoon slump) and pre-prandials (best consumed before a meal). To eat? Inspired breakfasts, light lunches, and creative bar snacks of prawn ceviche, Cartel tacos, and montaditos.
Along with reciprocity at overseas clubs, including The Court in London and Norrsken House in Stockholm, members also receive preferential rates at the Ideas Cartel’s growing range of boutique hotels. A 24-room hotel is planned right alongside Frontier for early 2020, but for now it’s the rooms above the Loop Street space you’ll want for their stellar city views, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, and upscale hipster décor.
Marshall Bluetooth speakers and sneaker wipes come standard, there’s Smeg gear at the coffee station, and Africology products in the bathroom. Speaking of which, these are open-plan — not en-suite — to the bedroom, so don’t plan on sharing with a colleague. Unless… you know.
Views aside, booking a room is also the easiest way to sample the benefits of club membership, as guests enjoy access to co-working spaces at three locations, and all bars and restaurants in the group. Including Frontier. If you need me, I’ll be at the bar with my anti-fogmatic.
• Frontier, 1 Sand Hill Road, Cape Town; Cartel Club membership, R1,150/month.
• From the October edition of Wanted 2019.