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First Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub in Africa

Mantis CEO Paul Gardiner reveals future plans at AHIF 2019

Adrian Gardiner’s pioneering spirit as a serial entrepreneur and his love for the African bush led him to a passionate pursuit of degraded farmland in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This was back in the late 1980s when conservation in the Eastern Cape was very much a government-orientated task. Having acquired the land; Adrian studiously planned the rewilding of the area, and set it into motion with the guidance of renowned conservationist Dr I an Player who became his close friend and mentor.

The private conservation success story Adrian created is known as Shamwari Private Game Reserve. On seeing the success of Shamwari, Adrian was able to replicate the model with several other reserves and then founded the parent company, Mantis, in 2000.

In 2016, Mantis returned to the original 400-hectare reserve adjacent to Shamwari Game Reserve where Adrian began his conservation journey to bring ecotourism to the forefront in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. In 2020, Mantis Founder’s Lodge will become an Eco-Innovation Hub, arguably the first-ever in the world, where suppliers can test and develop off-the-grid, low impact accommodation as well as green energy innovations.

The Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub is the combined brainchild of digital strategist and product innovator, Craig Llewellyn-Williams and Paul Gardiner, CEO of Mantis.  When asked about their vision for the project, Craig and Paul said that the Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub is not about creating a catalogue of options, but an evolving innovation ecosystem that allows collaboration with many partners who are innovating in their own space. The Hub will draw them to Founders Lodge, to test and develop innovations in collaboration.”

Tented camp model to be erected at Mantis Founder’s Lodge
Tented camp model to be erected at Mantis Founder’s Lodge – Renber by Tenthouse Structures

Mantis Founder’s Lodge has been a transformative travel experience since 2016 and offers guests intimate access to the African bushveld. Founders Lodge is set to become home to the new The Hub and offer investors a real showcase of the various possibilities for their own properties. Business associates and guests alike will be exposed to the future of eco-travel and the trajectory of the eco-escape experience.

With over 20 years of experience in hospitality; specialising in the development, conservation, marketing, education and management; Mantis is world-renowned for luxurious boutique hotels and eco-escapes and holds a stellar service reputation. Having amassed decades of intellectual property in the eco-tourism space, Mantis is the ideal partner with whom to introduce your product to potential investors and clients.

Mantis will build five new room concepts at Founder’s Lodge: 2 tents, a pod, a log cabin, and a treehouse in various locations in close proximity of the existing 5-star lodge. The Hub offers a site where low-impact accommodation types and activities will be showcased as a real-time travel experience. The rooms will vary in design, look and feel, décor and will house the latest green technology.

The Innovate Hospitality units are set to push the boundary and redefine some of the most popular travel trends that have emerged in this decade. Namely, Wellness Travel, Family & multi-generational holidays, and eco-education.

The Hub is likely to also showcase the new boma designs, futuristic game viewing hides, open-air cinema concepts and electric game viewing vehicles.

Watch the video below for more information on The Hub:

Mantis is currently undergoing a careful selection process to appoint best-in-class suppliers who will be founding partners of The Hub. The fresh new design will be coupled with world-class Big Five safaris, transformative wellness experiences, and immersive family offerings.

This arrangement offers ongoing market research and a measurement of the product’s durability. Mantis development will use these products as a living showcase for potential eco-lodge investors, and the suppliers will benefit from the exposure to these potential investors.

Each brand’s association with Mantis is an organic placement at the top of the luxury adventure travel space. Our partnership with Accor, the second largest hotel group in the world, means that Mantis has access to the highest calibre of development, innovation and travel clients.

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