Trans Africa Safaris – December Newsletter
It is hard to believe we’re midway through December and the end of 2015 is nearly upon us!
Our year, in the aftermath of the horrendous Ebola crisis, got off to a poor start, but we are pleased with the way the business rebounded after the first quarter and are looking at a strong finish to the year.
The South African Rand has run into some serious headwinds this year and as such South Africa is offering some very compelling travel propositions with the weak Rand.
We hope that your 2015 has been a good one and that 2016 is shaping up to be even better.
On behalf of all or us at Trans Africa Safaris, we would like to wish you a wonderful festive season full of magical moments with family and friends and much happiness.
A toast to happy holidays and great New Year!
Tintswalo Atlantic Re-opens
The lodge destroyed in devastating fires in March this year, re-opened at the end of October to great acclaim from the media, trade and first guests.One journalist commented ”I love the new look and feel of the lodge – it remains true to the original spirit, but feels like it has had an injection of vibrancy and energy, on all levels.
Owner, Gaye Corbett gave an account of the challenges and triumphs of the past several months, saying, “The greatest challenge initially was just getting over the shock of losing the lodge. We had to get to grips with the fact that it was all gone and to somehow see the rebuild as an exciting challenge and not a complete loss, which is what it felt like after the fire. We realised that the only time you can truly and totally lose something is if you feel you can never recreate it again. When we had decided to go ahead, we put a deadline in place: and knew we’d stick to it. Once we had our building team in place, it was easy. Before we knew it, the job was done and the lodge was back in all its glory!
We were given a unique opportunity to correct the small little mistakes that we made the first time around and in addition to this, all our staff were given a chance to take part in various local projects and give back to the local community for all the support and kindness we had been shown after the fire.”
Leeu House opens in Franschhoek
Leeu House, an exclusive and private five-star 12-room boutique hotel in the heart of exquisite Franschhoek winelands, opened its doors on December 1.
At Leeu House, part of Analjit Singh and his team’s Leeu Collection portfolio, key pillars will define the guest experience.These include an impressive art collection of works by some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists; a South African and international style of architecture and design; manicured and detailed landscaping which reflects respect for the environment; superlative service with attention to the smallest detail; spectacular views of the region’s mountains and vineyards; and a world class wine portfolio.With a mantra of attention to detail, Leeu House applies this to every aspect, from cuisine and décor to service. An attitude that nothing is too much trouble is deeply ingrained in every staff member and service is intuitive, attentive, discreet and efficient in an elegantly refined yet relaxed environment. The Leeu Collection also include Leeu Estates, Le Quartier Francais, Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines and a selection of restaurants.
Airlink – new direct Cape Town / Maun service
As of 11 March 2016, Airlink will provide direct flights between Cape Town / Maun (Botswana). The combination of Airlink’s new direct Cape Town / Maun service with Airlink’s other services Johannesburg / Maun, Johannesburg / Kasane, Livingstone / Nelspruit/Kruger, Nelspruit/Kruger / Cape Town and Skukuza / Cape Town, provides the leisure traveller with a complete and flexible travel circuit from which to design their itineraries.
The direct Cape Town / Maun flights will depart Cape Town 10h35 arrive in Maun 13h05 and return from Maun 13h35 arriving Cape Town 16h10. Flights will initially operate Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Airlink will initially operate the Cape Town Maun service using one of its 18 Embraer ERJ 135, 37 seat regional jets, with the option of increasing capacity to one of their 12 Avro RJ185 83 seat regional quad jets should demand dictate.Airlink’s direct flights will afford travellers the opportunity to minimise time spent in transit and maximise their time spent at the various world renowned tourism destinations. Additionally the inclusion of short Airlink ‘lodge link’ flights will allow travellers the opportunity to connect directly to the well-known bush lodges of the Sabi Sands thanks to connections which operate between Airlink’s iconic Skukuza airport and the Nelspruit/Kruger gateway to the lodges. Travellers are also able to include a Mozambican beach holiday in their itinerary at either Bazaruto or Benguerra Island with Airlink’s Nelspruit / Kruger / Vilanculos.
Singita Ebony Refurbishment
A few months back, Singita unveiled a complete re-design of its original lodge, Singita Ebony. Singita Ebony is where the story began twenty-two years ago on land owned by Singita founder, Luke Bailes. The re-launch completes Singita’s reinvention of its private 45,000 acre game reserve that is set within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Situated over the Sand River, Singita Ebony Lodge is already considered one of Africa’s most iconic lodges and was revolutionary in its pioneering approach to the modern luxury safari experience. The new Ebony, transformed by Sally Tsiliyiannis of GAPP Architects and design team Cecile & Boyd, takes safari design and style to a new level altogether. Their unique vision has created a fresh and contemporary interpretation of the classic safari lodge, combining tented camp and bush lodge style. Guests will be immersed in nature with huge open spaces and interiors inspired by a combination of local tribal culture and the animal kingdom.
The new Singita Ebony Lodge comprises 12 suites, each with its own private plunge pool. Dramatic changes include internal and external walls being almost completely removed from the existing lodge and replaced by canvas and glass to create new safari tent-style suites to maximize views and space. The entire front wall of each suite between the bedroom and the veranda has been removed, allowing light to flood in. Outdoor pavilion decks – ideal for dining and relaxing – are suspended off the river banks as if hanging in the trees. The interiors feature curated still-life collections of aristocratic finery in antiques and artifacts, as well as vintage campaign furniture from the Bailes family collection, oversized sepia photography, art and objects, as well as glamorous leopard and zebra animal print upholstery fabric, complementing bold graphic tribal patterned murals.
The name ‘Ebony’ refers to the beautiful, mature ebony trees that surround the site.
Singita operates two other properties in the Sabi Sand – Singita Boulders and Singita Castleton. Boulders was re-fashioned in June 2014 and Castleton, a 12-person private villa, underwent a major renovation in late 2013.
Belmond Eagle Island opens after rebuild
Okavango Delta’s water-based safari lodge, Belmond Eagle Island, reopened in November with a totally new look and feel, following a ten-month closure and almost total rebuild. Adding innovation and originality to the Okavango experience, the lodge’s fresh new tented guest accommodation, restaurants and lounges reflect the region’s natural beauty and the adventures of early explorers.
Perched on a private island encircled by some of the deepest stretches of the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland water systems and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Focusing on water-based safari experiences, activities include motorboat safaris, barge cruises, mekoro (local canoe) safaris, as well as walking, and air safaris in a private helicopter, are on offer. Each of the lodge’s 12 spacious deluxe tented rooms boasts its own plunge pool and large outdoor deck overlooking the delta. Evoking the spirit of early explorers, the new design features deep day beds, large desks with side-straps holding rolled-up maps of the lodge and a mini-bar in the style of an old fashioned toolbox. The centrepiece is an oversized bed with views onto the delta. Its uniquely designed handmade copper finish headboard references Botswana’s mining tradition. Flooded with daylight, the new luxury accommodations are elegant and light in design with warm colours. Each deluxe tented room features a walled outdoor shower with a window looking onto the delta, a large indoor bathtub and walk-in wardrobe.For an all-embracing Northern Botswana experience, Belmond Eagle Island Lodge can be coupled together with their two other luxury lodges, Belmond Khwai River Lodge in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve and Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge in Chobe National Park.
The Silo, V&A Waterfront
An iconic hotel in an iconic destination. The Silo is the latest addition to The Royal Portfolio.
The Royal Portfolio began in 2000, when Liz and Phil Biden converted their family bush lodge into what is now Royal Malewane. Since then, the Bidens have dreamed of opening a hotel in their home city of Cape Town. A hotel that would complete the portfolio of quintessentially South African experiences. The Silo is the realization of that dream.
The Silo will be a magical space towering above the V&A Waterfront surrounded by the natural wonder of the Mother City. The Silo is being built in the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex occupying 6 floors above what will become the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). Zeitz MOCAA will be a modern art museum to rival the likes of the Tate Modern in London, MoMA in New York and Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.
From the outside, the greatest visible change to the building’s original structure will be the addition of pillowed glazing panels, inserted into the geometry of the hotel floors, which will bulge outward as if gently inflated. By night, this will transform the building into a glowing lantern or beacon in the harbour.
The Silo will have 28 rooms, including a spectacular penthouse. Each room will be individually designed and decorated by the stylish wand of Liz Biden. Colourful and eclectic pieces will juxtapose the modern, industrial architecture.
The 9 room categories are based on the room size and the views. The rooms are more spacious vertically than horizontally due to the unique architecture of the hotel and in particular the ingenious design of the pillowed window bays. This design showcases the extraordinary natural beauty of Cape Town.
The Silo’s intended opening date is 15 December 2016.
Jennifer’s Tanzanian educational trip
In November, Jennifer Paterson, Trans Africa Safaris’ Managing Director, joined a 2-week Classic Retreats educational trip to Tanzania. Unfortunately she lost her phone (with all her pictures) on one of the game drives – she thinks an Hyena may have eaten it. Just like your domestic dog – they like to chew everything!!
Jennifer will be getting copies of all photos and one we have these, we’ll do a Facebook update on all the properties visited below.
Legendary Lodge / Arusha, Tanzania