Business & Finance

Exclusive Use Safari Lodges on the Rise

With global demand for exclusive use vacation rentals on the rise, Lalibela Game Reserve is seizing the opportunity by providing a solution for large family and corporate sole-use enquiries who want a Big-5 safari experience with exclusivity and privacy. By Des Langkilde.

“There’s no better way to experience a safari when travelling as a group of friends, family or corporate team of colleagues than having your own private villa  – your own dedicated chef and personal butler, your own safari vehicle with your own dedicated ranger: this is the ultimate safari experience tailor-made to the specific wishes of the vacation rentals market,” says Vernon Wait, Marketing Director at Lalibela Private Game Reserve in the malaria-free province of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

And it seems that Wait is onto something big here. According to LeisureLink, the $100 billion vacation rental sector could be going into overdrive as it attracts growing interest from investors, major hospitality brands, and travelers seeking alternate accommodation.

Since the sale of Lalibela to new owners in July 2016, the roll-out of numerous projects that include game repopulation, environment rehabilitation, and WiFi service upgrades, has seen occupancy at the game reserve’s three lodges increase significantly.

“Thanks to strong relationships with tour operators and travel agents in the distribution chain, we have enjoyed an absolutely bumper 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We’ve received numerous enquiries to cater for large families, and while we have been able to accommodate them at our child-friendly Mark’s Camp lodge, we feel that the time is right to offer an exclusive use villa-style option in our portfolio,” says Wait.

With this in mind, the historic 100-year old farmhouse, ideally positioned on an elevated site with sweeping views of game browsing on grasslands over the expansive valley below and its own water hole, is in the process of being renovated.

Aptly named Hillside Private Villa, this exclusive use home-style villa offering is due to launch in September 2017. Reminiscent of South Africa’s bygone colonial era, a time when high wool prices and the ostrich feather boom allowed farmers to build stately family homes, the Edwardian period architectural features are a delight to behold; stately gables, large rooms with high ceilings and wide wrap-around verandas reflect the Eastern Cape’s proud heritage.

Facilities inside the Hillside Private Villa include a welcoming bar, spacious lounge and gracious dining room. Outside there is a swimming pool and sun deck, and a large fire pit and braai  (barbeque) area where al fresco dinners can be served under the African sky. The wide, shady veranda offers a cool respite from the sun and a place to relax between game drives.

With 5 double or twin bedrooms, the villa can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. Three of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms with bath, shower and his and her basins. These rooms have wide stack doors opening out onto the veranda and the indigenous gardens and valley view beyond.  The other two bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms with shower and his & her basins. All bedrooms are air-conditioned.

As Lalibela is a Big-5 game reserve, where all game species roam freely, Hillside Private Villa will be discreetly fenced to ensure the safety of guests with small children. Experienced childminders and nannies are available to take care of children while the adults enjoy each other’s company in the peace and serenity of Africa’s veld interspersed with the occasional plaintive cry of a majestic fish eagle or the rasping call of a Knysna Turaco.

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