I call myself a hotel nerd, because I truly geek out when I see a beautiful property. To me the most delightful creations are properties that designers and creatives have put together to offer us travelers and the experiences that we can’t always have the luxury of living and seeing each day. So I’ve decided it’s time that I show you and inspire you, what I get excited about! I’ve selected just a handful of the African countries that I currently work with, that I am completely swooning over. Let the wanderlust run wild!
ZAMBIA - TONGABEZI LODGE
I have news. I have found the love of my life. It’s a little complicated because Tongabezi is not a person but a place, but I’m sure we can make it work. Well, Tongabezi is gorgeous. The houses are individually styled with furniture and embellishments from all over Africa, ranging from stunning claw-foot bath tubs to tumbling sea-glass chandeliers. Tongabezi also makes all guests feel special since each room comes with a private valet to see to your every need and have bubble baths and champagne waiting for you when you get back from your adventures. And as for exciting, this exclusive spot is in Zambia and only twenty minutes from Livingstone, the adventure capital of the world. It is a short drive from the Victoria Falls, which is one of the natural wonders of the world. Tongabezi also sits right on the Zambezi river amongst the crocodiles, hippos and other safari life.
Finally, Tongabezi wants to make the world a better place and actively works to make it so. The lodge is extremely eco-friendly, trains most of the staff up from the local villages, and even has its own trust school the Tongabezi Trust School, where over 250 local children get a free education. Who can blame me for losing my heart a little?
RWANDA - BISATE LODGE
These thatched forest villas are a place that I dream of one day visiting- and staying in. A beautiful mix of traditional and modern decor will surround you in these special accommodations at the Bisate Lodge. In the common areas your gaze will be locked on the magnificent views of the nearby peaks, which you can see clearly from the floor to ceiling windows. Aside from falling in love with the property, the destination and the wildlife from this region, you will be committing to giving back while you’re there as well.
Bisate’s vision of reforestation and rehabilitation means that each guest contributes to biodiversity conservation and local community upliftment – making a far-reaching positive impact on an iconic endangered species: the mountain gorilla.
SOUTH AFRICA - ROYAL MALEWANE
After staying at La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa, my heart aches to stay at another property that is owned and designed by Liz Biden. I assure you, she’s poured her heart and soul into each of her properties and it does not go unnoticed. How right they were, when they decided to call their collection of hotels The Royal Portfolio. I’ll even go as far to say that with Liz’s love of design, combined with her husband and families focus on elevated hospitality, these are things that make them masters in the industry. When they say they want you to have a perfect stay, they mean it. Look no further if you’re ready for a delightful, dazzling, and true 5 star stay, at The Royal Malewane. They also won me over with their 3 Crowns of Sustainability, read more about it on their website! A Virtuoso property.
NAMIBIA - SHIPWRECK LODGE
I can say this confidently- there’s no where else quite like the Shipwreck Lodge. Remote and rugged, completely unique and breathtaking! Head to this property that is backed by towering dunes, near the cold Atlantic for exploring the seal colony and surrounded by endless desert that is better known as the Skeleton Coast. The wildlife sightings are rare, but it’s a remarkable thing when you experience spotting these desert-adapted animals. You’ll have one of the 10 rooms available, but I think calling them rooms is a joke- look at these masterpieces in the photo above.
ZIMBABWE - BUMI HILLS SAFARI LODGE
Endless game viewing options here! Well placed near the edge of the Kariba Lake and the lodge’s simple proximity to the Matusadona, this is a fabulous place to unpack and unwind and to truly take in the destination you’re staying at. And! Unlike other safari experiences you may have considered in the past, here you may also enjoy a safari done by boat. Cruise down the lake with your ranger and guide, who will share stories about the area as you pass by elephants that have stepped into the water nearby. Sunset cruises are the fan favorite at the Bumi Hills Safari Lodge.
SEYCHELLES - NORTH ISLAND
Okay, game over folks. Someone has truly created the dream private island, with the dream property to go along with it. If I could thank the owner personally, for not putting as many rooms or villas around the island as possible, I would! This paradise has only eleven…yes 11, villas around the island. 10 of them are Presidential Villas and one is the Villa North Island, which covers 8,000 square feet- and this can only be booked by couples. If you’re ever one of these lucky couples, you will arrive in style, by helicopter of course. Which is only a 25 minute ride from the main island of Mahé.
It doesn’t stop there, for those more active and adventurous travelers, I’d recommend utilizing the North Island’s Dive Center. They offer full PADI tuition and certification. Sign me up! If you’re not so ready to dive into that, the snorkeling won’t disappoint. These unspoiled waters are sure to amaze you and your travel buddy. North Island - a Virtuoso property.
TANZANIA - SAYARI CAMP
As a born and raised Oregonian, when people mention camping - my mind goes to s’mores, sleeping bags, evergreen trees and sleeping on the ground. Tent camping in Africa done right, will forever ruin you and there will be no possible way to go back to the original camping that you’ve most likely been doing your whole life. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the peacefulness and glorious night skies from your prime location in the remote northern Serengeti. By day you can either enjoy the views from the camp itself, in its lovely swimming pool, hop in the jeep for a game drive or take a walk with a ranger to experience things on foot. Note: glamping also requires really fabulous food and high end service. You won’t be homesick while enjoying your stay at the Sayari Camp.