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Exclusive Tents: working with nature to create one-off luxury experiences

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Exclusive Tents: working with nature to create one-off luxury experiences

To conclude a three-part editorial series, Hotel Designs understands Exclusive Tents’ unique relationship with nature when its comes to designing luxury tented accomodation …

Exclusive Tents International could easily be considered the perfect evolution for Paul Zway’s philosophy, following his long experience as a Kruger Park ranger.

Indeed, the African heritage of these luxury products is reflected in their names with most of the tents named after the legendary elephants of Africa, mainly past and some still present. Zway’s vision is to apply Exclusive Tents’ experience, skills and enthusiasm to the accomplishment of his clients’ dreams.

Landscape showing tents and mountains

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

The appeal of a stronger, more fundamental link with nature is often a factor shared with their clients. It is a joy for Zway and his team when clients invest wholeheartedly in the adventure and go the extra mile to work with all that nature can offer. The most rewarding projects seek to integrate their natural assets as much as possible with their living spaces, even going so far as to reintroduce indigenous wildlife and replant species that have been driven out or endangered by human activity.

Alternative forms of accommodation are gaining popularity around the World, and Glamping is foremost amongst them. For those not familiar with African luxury safaris, the versatility and potential of these large, beautiful, ruggedly elegant, traditional real canvas tents requires reevaluating most, if not all, of the core elements of a project that might otherwise be taken for granted. It is a refreshing and eye-opening process that can and should encompass all aspects of a project.

Deciding to use tents rather than main-stream construction solutions can prove to be beneficial and advantageous for a number of key reasons – both aesthetic and financial. If you are reading this article there is a good chance that you are already intrigued by the possibilities that luxury tents might offer. Of course, the romance of a closer link with nature, the exhilaration of creating something exotic, seductive and sexy is foremost in the mind. Yet other key factors are equally important.

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

Development time and costs can both be significantly reduced. The tents can be in production whilst the project site is being prepared, with tent installation time being very quick – normally a few days for accommodation lodges, and a couple of weeks for the largest of the main tents. All Exclusive Tents’ products are made to client’s order such that each tent is configured with the desired materials, colours, door and window placements, etc., that best serve the project. Whilst this means that they are bespoke products, all fabrication is exclusively in-house with typical dispatch for delivery in only eight-10 weeks.

On-site preparation can also become most efficient. Exclusive Tents recommend installing the tents on raised decks – most often timber, but sometimes masonry depending upon the environment. The advantage of raised timber decks is that they can be quickly installed with little or no ground works, gliding above the natural topography, providing raised views, an elegant presence, and minimal impact upon the site.

“Exclusive Tents will never be the cheapest source of tents, but their mission is to offer the best “value-for-money”.” – Paul Zway, Founder, Exclusive Tents.

Price is important, and good quality genuine luxury tents are not cheap per se, but remain significantly less expensive than hard-construction of a comparable quality. It should go without saying that the sourcing of the tents is fundamental to success: they should be of the highest quality, providing not only beauty but also technical performance, longevity and practicality. Exclusive Tents will never be the cheapest source of tents, but their mission is to offer the best “value-for-money”: High quality, robust, durable, beautiful traditional real canvas luxury tents at a fair price. It is often worth remembering the saying: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” or, as once reminded, “The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot, it cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that, you will then have enough to pay for something better”.

For any commercial venture the cornerstone is ROI (Return on Investment): Successful resorts offer a quality experience & service at an attractive ROI. Luxury tent resorts embody this principal with the advantage of a quicker and potentially better ROI. Of course, any resort project depends on much more than just choosing what type of guest accommodation to offer or how to embody the resort facilities. However, reduced development costs, reduced construction time, low maintenance costs, and (almost always) higher room rates than for their main stream or hard-construction equivalent are strong arguments in favour of opting for a luxury tent resort.

Tent on terrace in rural area

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

…And, that’s before remembering the exquisite charm of creating a project where magnificent vistas and a unique experience are enjoyed from the nature-infused deck of a beautifully made and furnished luxury tent! Even in trickier climates, the whole experience of staying in a luxury tent, relaxing on a beautiful terrace and enjoying the surroundings is invigorating.

Glamping has evolved a lot in the short time since the name was coined. Exclusive Tents are at the forefront of this wave, constantly innovating, improving, and showing the way forward in all variety of environments, climates, and conditions.

For example, all the tent designs are now available with a new frame wall system for harsh climates or where increased thermal and/or acoustic insulation are desired. The system gives a new clean aesthetic to the tents and incorporates a minimum of 50mm thermal / acoustic insulation without external or internal wood poles, steel legs, or outriggers, although these can be integrated into the design if desired. Furthermore, the tents can be enhanced with increased insulation and fully integral (hidden) hard-walls.

As the glamping movement evolves, Exclusive Tents are also providing an ever-larger range of delightful tent designs, with the Mabarule and Dida tents having recently been unveiled. The Mabarule is a subtle blend between the traditional safari tent with the more modern designs. At its heart is an opening in the roof, a pivotal focal point between the internal volumes and the spacious covered veranda. Light cascades through the opening in the roof, reinforcing the connection with the outside, and lends itself to creating a water or plant ‘art-scape’ coming up through the deck.

Exclusive tents is as much an adventure as a business, being pursued passionately by Zway, his wife and business partner Angelika, and Johan Maree. Their tight knit team includes their children and colleagues spread across the globe. For the team, the biggest reward to emerge from the adventure is the bonds they have forged with amazing clients and talented professionals who have become close friends.

Every project, no matter how big or small, is driven by the passion and desire of its owner. Luxury tents and glamping appeal to those of us willing to look beyond the established order of things and welcome a challenge. Some of the most exciting projects come to Exclusive Tents as an essentially blank canvas (pun intended!) where the painting of the dream and vision commence.

Many new clients will, quite logically, start with little knowledge about tents (especially large, genuine canvas tents – as opposed to stretch fabric tents and canopies), and may be unaware of the versatility that they embody. For example, some of the key considerations for a luxury tent project:

  • The guiding vision for the project.
  • Location: Desert, tropical, savanna, forest, open countryside, hilly, mountainous, coastline, semi-urban or even urban, and so on.
  • Topography and geology.
  • Climatic conditions, proximity to the ocean, and how to best harness the local meteorology.
  • What are the requirements for the project accommodation and facilities, and how can tents satisfy them?
  • Design features, desired internal and external spaces.
  • Materials, finishes, performance.
  • What is possible? What isn’t?
  • What is recommended, and what should best be avoided?
  • Tent model selection, configuration, or bespoke custom design.
  • How to integrate resort design and tent design?
  • Adapting interior design to suit luxury tents.
  • Common area tents and staff accommodations – pros and cons.
  • Density of development.
  • Soft or hard openings
  • Off-grid solutions, rain water collection, etc.

Exclusive Tents is a close knit two-family run business that believes passionately in what they do: They will enthusiastically inform and guide clients and their consultants. Importantly, they also offer expertise and alternative solutions working hand-in-hand with equally passionate and diligent partners: The clients and friends mentioned earlier, such as Valentin of four Rivers Floating Lodge and Emanuela of Sandat and Canonici di San Marco, and consummate professionals including the uniquely talented architect Patrice Belle who creates wonderful designs and succinct solutions, for example Telal Resort in the UAE, and has a complete understanding of luxury tents within the wider context of project design.

As a team, they will not systematically propose tents for all and every situation. Instead, their philosophy is to advise their client and provide to the project exciting, beautiful solutions in the context of short, medium and long-term project objectives.

While we are all looking forward to a bright, natural and healthy future, Zway welcomes you to share Exclusive Tents’ vision, mission and passion!

Exclusive Tents International is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here

Main image credit: Exclusive Tents

FEATURE: What roles do outdoor pools and spas play in tented camps?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
FEATURE: What roles do outdoor pools and spas play in tented camps?

As Hotel Designs continues to metaphorically bathe in the topic of Pools and Spas during May, it asks the experts at Bushtec Creations how to sensitively add a new layer of luxury to tented accommodation…

Thinking about going on a Safari to the heart of the African bush or glamping during the hot summer months of Europe? Well there is nothing more refreshing and relaxing than washing off the adrenalin of adventure in a sparkling, clear pool.

Adding a swimming pool to your hotel or tented lodge in cities of towns doesn’t seem too big of a problem, but adding swimming pools in rural, remote locations can pose some difficulties. Yes, one can build a pool on site, with local labour and sufficient time, everything is possible.

At Bushtec Creations, we have different options available when it comes to swimming pools. Our DIY ready-to-assemble pools are hands down a winner for sure when it comes to remote areas. It is innovative, stylish, and elegantly designed with natural beautiful wood, which is the perfect complement to your tented camp/resort. The outer wooden structure of the pool is manufactured to exacting standards from high quality, pressure impregnated, dried and oiled, dense Scandinavian timber, fitting perfectly into any garden or location, in total harmony with its surroundings.

Image credit: Bushtec Creations

With Bushtec Creations, there are quite a few different ways to incorporate swimming pools in your tented camp/lodge/resort. Depending on each client’s requirements and the site layout, you may only want to have one communal pool forming as part of your main area or you might also want to add smaller private plunge pools or Jacuzzis at each tented guest unit which is what happens in most cases. Some cultures prefer private pool at each tent in terms of their customs. It is a good alternative then to add a reflecting pool to your reception tent which can set the tone of a peaceful and harmonic sanctuary where one can sit and reflect.

We have also found that guests at tented lodges prefer private pools, guests visiting these lodges are there to relax, go on game drives and capture the wildness of the African bush, whereas guests at glamping sites in Europe come back from an adventure with the family and don’t mind take a refreshing swim in communal pools. This also helps to reduce the noise levels at the guest units if families are at the communal pools.

Image credit: Bushtec Creative

Spas can also play a big role in your tented camp and can be immensely beneficial. When tourists look for tented camps as part of their vacation destinations, a spa would encourage them to add this to their itinerary.

Image credit: Bushtec Creations

Let’s be honest, how many people can say that they have had spa treatments in a luxury tent before? Not as many right? Tented camps/resorts are trending significantly on a global scale and you definitely want all the “most wanted” added benefits as part of your investment. Your spa’s can also be designed, like your entire camp, just the way you want it.

Image credit: Bushtec Creations

You can have a specific section of your tented camp/resort dedicated to an entire communal spa area which could include multiple spa tents for couples, each with their own inside Jacuzzi, or you can have a few private spa units separated by quite a distance, each with their own plunge pool and firepit to add to the ambience. Then again you can keep it simple with just one spa unit within your tented camp/resort which mainly caters for treatments. Your spa units would in most cases have the same designed “look and feel” as the rest of the tents so that your camp has a unified design throughout.

Image credit: Bushtec Creative

Bushtec Creations has the added benefit of having a dedicated in-house design team who takes all natural surroundings and outdoor elements into consideration when designing your tented camp/resort, aiming for your investment to be in harmony with the outdoors surrounding it. We are also very focused on making sure we create an environmentally friendly tented camp/resort so as to ensure that your natural habitat is looked after. Being aware of the minimal impact wanted on natural environments, we can create tented camps/resorts with the lightest footprint possible specifically to preserve the natural habitat and we have all relevant materials and technology to comply with this requirement.

We can create your tented camp/resort suited to your desired requirements ensuring a great return on investment!

Bushtec Creations is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Bushtec Creations

INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The role main areas play in tented lodges & camps

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The role main areas play in tented lodges & camps

As the modern luxury traveller demands more one-off experiences, there has been rise in demand for lodges and camps. Hotel Designs asks the experts at Bushtec Creations to explain how designers can utilise a hotel’s main areas in these accommodation styles…

In short, your main area can be whatever you want it to be. Having a successful main are however, now that is where the secret lies.

First impressions are the ones that last. The moment a guest steps into the main area, a tone or impression will be set that they will expect from their stay, and it helps to dare to push the boundaries and be different. When it comes to luxury tented main areas, Bushtec Safari and Bushtec Creations has many years’ experience and products well suited to be used whereby the guests’ first impression will surely be one of amazement with the type of luxury, comfort and beauty these classic tents hold.

When it comes to tented resorts or tented hotels, first you need to determine how many guests your tented lodge/camp will be accommodating so that you can make sure you have a spacious enough main area. Then, you need to consider the design you are trying to create, specially for the roof, and aim to keep the same design flowing straight throughout your camp.

You also need to consider your location and space you have available for the development of your camp, so as to determine whether you will have one large main unit, or rather a main area made up of several smaller tents.

Image credit: Bushtec Creations

Think about what you want included in your main area. We have done several camps with main areas and not 1 camp is the same. You can have a main area that only includes a dining facility, you can have a main area that consists of multiple functional areas including a reception area, a lounge where your guests can relax, socialise, read books, access the restrooms, be near a bar area where your guests can sit and enjoy refreshments. Apart from this, you can even decide to include a sushi bar, which will take your main area to the next level.

Now let’s speak ambience. Want to add a fireplace but not sure if it can be one in a tent? Of course you can! With Bushtec Creations anything is possible. Adding a fireplace is also dependant on your location, you won’t necessarily want to add a fireplace if you are located in the desert at 40 degrees for most of the year, however with that being said, most locations can do with a fireplace and you can’t go wrong with adding one.

Now that we have covered the inside characteristics of your main area, let’s have a look at what you can do outside. That’s right, there is more! Most main areas will include a swimming pool on the front deck with some sort of remarkable view, cocktail table spread across the deck with umbrellas and even a fire pit to have memorable nights covered by a billion stars.

Your kitchen can also form as part of your main area and be enclosed for aesthetic purposes, however this also varies from one lodge owner to another. Alternatively you can have your kitchen apart from your main area connecting it with a walkway to create easy access for your personnel.

The options of connecting your main area with your accommodation units also plays a part in the entirety of your lodge/camp. You may want to connect the units with walkways throughout your entire camp, or you can leave your units separated should you wish to not stop wildlife from moving throughout the camp.

With all of the various considerations involved in creating your perfect tented lodge/camp, you still don’t have to feel overwhelmed as our Bushtec Creations team has years of experience to guide you through the process from start to finish. We have our own passionate in-house design team who does regular site visits across the globe. Several discussions will be held to determine your exact requirements and the latest technology is used to create a virtual render of your entire camp to showcase your project so that you will know what to expect.

In closing, your main area plays a substantial role in your tented camp/lodge and is ultimately where your guests will get together to relax, eat and socialise. This is where you want them to feel at home and keep them coming back for more. A tented lodge main area is the biggest asset not only for you as the lodge owner, but also for your guests.

Bushtec Creations is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Bushtec Creations

Mombo, Botswana

Introducing first look of the new Mombo, Botswana

1000 562 Daniel Fountain

The rebuild of Wilderness Safaris’ flagship camps in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Mombo and Little Mombo, continues apace, with both camps set to open for guests at the end of January 2018. Whilst comprising the most appropriate and sustainable luxury required of such a leading destination, the new camps will remain rooted in an authentic bush-camp offering to ensure that the original Mombo experience is retained.

Wilderness Safaris has been privileged to witness three generations of Mombo Camp, undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost wildlife and ecotourism destinations. The brief to the architectural and design teams, Nick Plewman Architects and Associates and Caline Williams-Wynn from Artichoke, was therefore to rebuild the camps in such a way as to maintain the Mombo traditions and history stretching back nearly 30 years, yet rebuilding to the highest and most innovative standards.

“In short, the new Mombo is a show stopper,” commented lead interior designer, Caline Williams-Wynn. “As the Rolls Royce of the Delta, we have combined traditional and vintage elements with a modern elegance that truly embraces the real essence of Mombo. We have used deconstructed furniture in classic styles, antique brass finishings, vintage leathers, copper lighting and copper-cladded fire places combined with marble and natural oak floors.”

A tonal colour palette has been used throughout to reiterate the longevity of the interior design. A mix of mismatched – yet complementary – wooden furniture all works together to feature a collection of pieces sourced over the years, resulting in a personalised feel. Other interior features include headboards and bed bases made of crackled leather with hand stitching on the seams, wooden and brass chandeliers and custom-made, hand-painted embroidered cushions.

“Space was also a key factor in creating the new design,” she added, “with each tented suite now comprising an expansive entrance, a sitting room with a bar unit, a separate bedroom and bathroom with a dressing area, indoor and outdoor showers and a bathtub that creates a sense of indulgence.” The view out in front of the floodplain is uninterrupted thanks to the use of wood sliding louvre shutters that can be open or shut completely as the guest would like and a sliding gauze second layer to allow for maximum air flow. Spacious decks are perfect for in-villa dining and private plunge pools and swing beds offer the perfect base for midday relaxation and siestas.

“Our emphasis in terms of luxury and service excellence has always been on sharing and honouring the amazing natural environment in which we operate,” said Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD, Kim Nixon. “Each tented suite has been built on exactly the same place as the previous one – with a slight increase in size out towards the floodplain to facilitate a pool deck. By remaining the same width, this has allowed all the vegetation – particularly the large trees that are in between the units – to remain, ensuring minimal impact to the environment. We even hosted a tree expert in camp to ensure that the trees were properly cared for and professionally pruned in a few areas that needed it and we did not cut a single root greater than 50 mm.”

“We have also taken the lessons we’ve learnt over the years and used innovative ideas to allow for natural temperature regulation; extended verandas are shaded with pergolas in front of the rooms, while the multi-layered, insulated roof design consists of a fabric layer that deals well with heat and UV rays and a cavity roof with insulation that allows air flow through and drops the temperature,” Nixon added. Walls and floors all have three layers each and of course, being raised off the ground aids in the flow of air, as well as allows for free animal movement beneath. There is also a good through flow from the front to the back of the suites, taking advantage of the gentle breeze off the floodplain.

World-renowned as “the Place of Plenty”, Mombo’s location on Chief’s Island within the Moremi Game Reserve attracts an enormous number and variety of animals, which makes it a hugely sought-after destination. Mombo is also deeply committed to the plight of the rhino and, since the turn of the century, has played the key primary role in rhino relocation through its Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project.

“We are proud of the progress we have made to date and look forward to sharing the magic of Mombo with our guests in 2018 – we have no doubt that Mombo will continue to exceed our guests’ expectations and remain a place of harmony: a balance between the camps, the environment and the people who stay here,” Nixon concluded.

The new Mombo and Little Mombo camps will open end January 2018. Please see additional notes below for further architectural and interior design details.

www.wilderness-safaris.com

Qorokwe Camp, Botswana

Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, Botswana

769 400 Daniel Fountain

Wilderness Safaris is delighted to announce the opening of its new Classic Camp, Qorokwe, situated in the private, wildlife-rich 26 180-hectare (64 692-acre) Qorokwe Concession, bordering Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Meaning “the place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water”, Qorokwe comprises nine elegant tented suites, one of which is a spacious family unit with its own splash pool, as well as a dining area, lounge, library, bar and infinity swimming pool, all situated along the banks of a beautiful lagoon. An example of authentic, responsible luxury, the camp was built using innovative techniques and operates on 100% solar power, thus keeping as light an eco-footprint as possible in one of the Delta’s untouched wilderness areas – one that has been unutilised for the past four years.

“In our continuous quest for operating camps – and making a difference – in the best wildlife areas in Africa, the exclusive Qorokwe Concession has earned a well-deserved place in our ranks”, commented Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD. “We are proud to have welcomed our first guests to Qorokwe, in partnership with Cobus Calitz and Jil Gérard-Calitz, and are looking forward to revealing this contemporary, land-based camp and highly-productive wilderness concession to the world”.

Architect, Joy Brasler on Qorokwe:

  • The concept for Qorokwe grew out of a response to the landscape – the site lies next to a lagoon and the tented suites are raised off the ground to see over the vegetation growing at the lagoon’s edge, as well as providing a sense of safety in the wilderness.
  • The suites and main camp area were laid out by the team in response to the trees and views available on site. There are a number of large canopy trees which inspired the idea of a fairly cannellated ceiling to the unit which mimics the bark of the trees and canopy overhead. The rest of the unit is predominantly clad in canvas to the rear, and mosquito netting on the view side, with interior blinds/shutters that act as both curtains and environmental control.
  • In our practice, we had been pursuing the idea of a mechano m/s steel unit which would limit the construction time on site and the variations that typically arise out of building in the bush. Materials were therefore chosen for rapid construction with a steel frame with infill panels of either mesh or canvas, timber decks and the detailed timber ceilings perforated with light.Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, Botswana
  • The tented suites are spacious and include a large deck. Given that the temperatures are fairly benign and that the thrill of being out in this wild landscape is paramount, much of the main camp features are open and cascading towards the watercourse. The rear of the camp enhances the experience of traversing the various vegetation typologies as you move towards the water – open landscape, vegetated edge, and open view – the entrance sequence is treated as a series of “walls” in the landscape, ascent and view. The ceiling travels over these diverse features and is gently graduated with light.
  • Views are framed and isolated to elevate the visual experience of this photographic environment, water is used to bring the Delta into the camp, both to connect the experience of being in the landscape and to deal with the practical issues of keeping guests away from the edges.
  • References are made to the cycle of decay at the edge of the Okavango Delta through the use of “rusted” finishes in conjunction with lightweight tented construction infill methodology. Colours and imagery from both the landscape above ground and beneath the water are brought into the interiors.
  • The language of the infrastructure is seen as an elemental and contemporary response to an insertion in this landscape – the interiors are a response to the colours and activities of Africa, with the emotive use of materials, colour and form.

Owing to its location on the border of Moremi Game Reserve and its diverse habitat types – from scattered acacia and mopane woodlands, open seasonal and permanent floodplains fringed on either side by the picturesque channels and islands along the Gomoti and Santantadibe Channels – Qorokwe offers an abundance of wildlife. Game drives, walks, boating and mokoro present life-changing opportunities of viewing and photographing the variety of life here, including lion, spotted hyaena, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, elephant and buffalo, to name a few, as well as the myriad birds that are attracted to such pristine surrounds.

Interior designer, Michelle Throssell on Qorokwe:  

  • Sharing a similar design philosophy to Joy Brasler Architects, Michelle Throssell was thrilled to be introduced to the Qorokwe team by Joy Brasler in order to propose an interior design solution for the camp. According to Michelle, “Working off Joy’s canvas is always a pleasure and so our interior design concept grew very much from her inspiration. The selection of interior architecture finishes, various timbers, ceiling details, lighting, shopfitting and fixtures was a collaborative effort and we tried to involve the Qorokwe team in every decision to give them something that reflected their vision for the camp and also their passion for the bush. The palette of colours and materials was inspired by the Botswana landscape as well as by Joy’s strong architectural concept, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange. By introducing a combination of organic shapes and textural diversity from live-edged timber to steel and canvas, we have created a warm, enveloping space providing comfort and luxury in an understated way”.

According to lead architect, Joy Brasler, and interior designer, Michelle Throssell, the design inspiration for Qorokwe came from the natural setting of the Botswana landscape, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange.

Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, BotswanaThe materials chosen to build the camp include steel frames with infill panels to insulate against heat and cold, canvas and timber decks. Detailed timber ceilings are perforated with light to mimic the experience of being beneath the trees at the side of the lagoon, so that the entire camp experience blends in with its beautiful natural surroundings.

www.wilderness-safaris.com/camps/qorokwe-camp

Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp – Luxury Eco-Chic in the Heart of the Delta

Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp to open in December

595 268 Daniel Fountain

Qorokwe Camp, a new Wilderness Safaris Classic Camp due to open in the private, wildlife-rich 26,180-hectare (64,692-acre) Qorokwe Concession in Botswana in December 2017, will offer the perfect blend of luxury eco-chic within a beautiful Okavango Delta setting.

Designed by lead architect, Joy Brasler and interior designer, Michelle Throssell, Qorokwe Camp is situated along the banks of a beautiful kidney-shaped lagoon. The nine elegant tented suites, one of which is a spacious family suite with its own splash pool, and the main area, which comprises a dining area, lounge, library, bar and infinity swimming pool, are built on raised decked platforms (about two metres/six feet off the ground). This not only provides spectacular views of the lagoon and surrounding bushveld, but also enables the vegetation to thrive underneath the suites – a unique environmental advantage as most rooms create ‘dead’ space beneath.

According to Joy Brasler, materials chosen to build the camp include steel frames with infill panels to insulate against heat and cold, canvas and timber decks. Detailed timber ceilings are perforated with light to mimic the experience of being beneath the trees at the side of the lagoon so that the entire camp experience blends in with its beautiful natural surroundings. “The language of the infrastructure is seen as an elemental and contemporary response to an insertion in this landscape – the interiors are a response to the colours and activities of Africa, with the emotive use of materials, colour and form,” she said.

Michelle Throssel reiterated that their combined inspiration came from the natural setting, stating that the palette of colours and materials was motivated by the Botswana landscape, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange. “By introducing a combination of organic shapes and textural diversity from live-edged timber to steel and canvas, we have created a warm, enveloping space providing comfort and luxury in an understated way,” Michelle added.

In line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with as light an eco-footprint as possible, Qorokwe will be 100% solar-powered and all water will be heated by means of thermodynamic solar geysers, further helping to mitigate the camp’s carbon emissions. “We are also excited to have used a new building technique for the Delta, one that comprises an entirely steel sub-structure,“ said Qorokwe GM, Daniel Crous. “Although this is more expensive than building with wood, we believe that it is a more environmentally and economically sound method in the long run – requiring less ‘reconstructions’, as well as being easier to remove, thus leaving less of an environmental footprint. In addition, using steel removes the threat of termites and therefore there is no need to put chemically treated wood into the ground where it may affect the immediate environment.”

Owned by the Maun-based Calitz family, the Qorokwe (meaning “the place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water”) Concession is a spectacular and highly productive mix of fertile Okavango habitats. Qorokwe’s diverse landscape includes scattered acacia and mopane woodlands, open seasonal and permanent floodplains and is fringed on either side by the picturesque channels and islands along the Gomoti and Santantadibe Channels. Guests can explore the exclusive concession on day and night game drives and nature walks led by highly-skilled guides, as well as enjoy mokoro and boating activities, depending on the water levels.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Calitz family to reveal this exclusive new land-based camp and private concession – a highly-productive game-viewing area that has been unutilised for the past four years. The beauty of the landscape and our experiences in the Qorokwe Concession to date are such that we know our guests can look forward to exceptional wildlife experiences, in addition to a world-class and original camp offering,” said Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD.

An illustration of how the Longleat hotel resort could look hugging the contours

Wiltshire Council resolve to grant permission for new Longleat Hotel

750 456 Daniel Fountain

Longleat’s plans to build a new 240 room hotel, with water park and business conference facilities on the edge of its Estate near Warminster have been approved by Wiltshire Council, subject to views of Highways England on the impact of the proposal to the strategic road network.

The approval provides a green light for the development which, it is anticipated, will further boost the local economy and create 300 new jobs, while providing much-needed additional family orientated hotel accommodation in the area.

Bob Montgomery, the CEO of Longleat Enterprises Limited which manages the commercial development of the Estate assets, said: “The decision to approve our application is a huge boost to Longleat’s long term future, for Wiltshire and our local town and village communities.

“We’ve still a little way to go and are working to secure Highway England’s final view on the impact of our proposals to the strategic road network in the area, but are confident this will be concluded soon.

“We believe the hotel will enable Longleat to develop and grow over the coming years and will provide a new tourism hub for the area which will create many more jobs and attract new investment,” he added.

With over 40% of its one million annual visitors driving for more than two hours to see its attractions, including the world-famous Safari Park, the management at Longleat, headed by Viscount Weymouth, believe the new hotel will secure the sustainability of the Estate with its Grade 1 listed Elizabethan house, Capability Brown and Humphry Repton Heritage Parkland.

Located on a 135-acre site to the south and south east of Tascroft Court, and close to Warminster and the A36, the proposed hotel will also incorporate a unique and intimate animal experience for its guests and much needed business conference facilities for up to 200 delegates.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Wilderness Safaris opens Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

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Wilderness Safaris is proud to announce the opening of Bisate Lodge, situated next to the renowned Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Comprising just six spacious forest villas, Bisate offers a luxurious base from which to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region.

Situated within the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, the 42-hectare Bisate site is incomparable in terms of its natural splendour, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. It is close enough to Kinigi (the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters) to be convenient for guests’ morning gorilla treks, but far enough away so as to feel remote and even – as a result of the pioneering onsite indigenous reforestation project – part of the spectacular Park.

“With only six luxurious forest villas, the real generosity of Bisate in the Rwandan context is the amount of private and exclusive space that surrounds the Lodge, sheltering it in a rare natural landscape brimming with Albertine Rift biodiversity and beauty”, said Wilderness Safaris COO, Grant Woodrow. Each spacious forest villa comprises a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception area and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace and with breathtaking views out across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke.

Bisate Lodge, RwandaBisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. This spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture. Various interior design elements are drawn from aspects of the Rwandan lifestyle, particularly the colourful textiles and use of texture, such as the emerald-green colour in the textiles and chandeliers that is reminiscent of the verdant greens of the rainforests, as well as the vibrant markets that dot the villages throughout the country. Many of the furnishings are decorated using “imigongo”, an art form unique to Rwanda.

As a Wilderness Safaris Premier camp, the overall design concept for Bisate is based on the principle that ‘purpose is the new luxury’, with the vision being to create a world-class venture that will make a dramatic and far-reaching positive impact on more than ‘just’ the mountain gorilla. The whole Bisate experience is based around Wilderness Safaris 4Cs sustainability ethos of Commerce, Community, Culture and Conservation. Its pioneering reforestation project, which has already seen nearly 15 000 indigenous trees planted to date, community engagement, cultural appropriateness and exposure, eco-friendly operational systems and more will take guests beyond the ‘gorilla express’ and enrich their experience in this inspiring country.

“Since 2009 we have contemplated how our ecotourism model could contribute to the conservation of the Virunga Massif ecosystem and an iconic endangered species like the mountain gorilla. When we made the decision to invest in Rwanda, the last thing we intended to do was just to build a boutique lodge and sell gorilla treks”, Woodrow added. “We wanted to ensure that our brand of responsible ecotourism made a real difference to both rural Rwandan people and biodiversity conservation. As such, we hope that Bisate will exceed our guests’ expectations, and that together we will be able to make a dramatic and far-reaching impact on not just a Critically Endangered species like the mountain gorilla, but also the entire ecosystem of the Virunga Massif and the rural people living adjacent to it”.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little Vumbura

Wilderness Safaris relaunches Little Vumbura in Botswana

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After an extensive refurbishment and partial rebuild, Little Vumbura Camp has reopened in Wilderness Safaris’ private Vumbura Concession in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. With only six intimate tented suites, the camp offers a true Delta-island experience, complete with an array of both land and water-based safari activities.

“We are thrilled about Little Vumbura’s refreshed look and feel, with the tents now boasting spacious rooms that lead onto a lounge area, having increased in size by 30%. They also feature large windows that bring the feel of the outdoors within so that guests can enjoy the beauty of the bush whilst also relaxing in their suite. The family tent has also increased by 30% and the intimate nature of the camp remains the perfect choice for exclusive family safaris”, said Vumbura Concession Manager, Nick Leuenberger.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little VumburaOther improvements to the camp include the extension of the bar area, which now includes a circular bar with a lot more space for guests to enjoy a range of cocktails or their favourite drink whilst watching the sunset. The new shaded pergola, situated between the dining and lounge area, is ideal for afternoon tea or midday relaxation and also provides another scenic venue choice for communal dining. The main dining area now features new decking and free-standing furniture. The new fire deck will be used for pre-dinner drinks, offering the most incredible 360-degree views of the concession.

“One of the things that makes Little Vumbura special is the unique arrival into camp by boat which can only be experienced in a true year-round water camp in the Okavango Delta”, added Leuenberger. “Little Vumbura really does tick all the boxes in terms of exceptional wildlife viewing in addition to tranquil water experiences. You can begin your day by floating serenely through the waterlilies on a silent mokoro and end it on an expertly-guided game drive, watching a herd of 1000 buffalo against a golden African sunset”.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little VumburaThe rebuild of Little Vumbura follows the extensive refurbishment of the main area of Vumbura South Camp in October last year. North Camp, South Camp and Little Vumbura all provide the perfect base from which to explore the diverse Vumbura Concession, renowned for its variety of activities on offer – on land, on water and by air! “It is a “hybrid” concession with the best of both worlds – permanent swamps, dry woodland and everything in between. It is the only Wilderness concession in Botswana that offers hot-air ballooning safaris – an absolute must-do bucket list experience”, Leuenberger concluded.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Bisate Lodge to open in Rwanda June 2017

820 400 Daniel Fountain

Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, situated next to Rwanda’s renowned Volcanoes National Park, is on track to open for guests in June 2017. Comprising just six forest villas, Bisate Lodge will offer a luxurious base from which to visit the nearby gorilla conservation experience.

“We are extremely proud of the progress we have made with Bisate, especially with regards to our pioneering reforestation programme which has already seen over 5 000 indigenous trees planted to date in partnership with the newly-created Tuzamurane Cooperative. This incredible opportunity to use our model of responsible ecotourism to contribute to positive conservation and community empowerment in such a unique and exciting Rwanda environment is exactly why we do what we do”, said Wilderness Safaris CEO, Keith Vincent.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Featuring six luxurious forest villas, the real generosity of Bisate in the Rwandan context will be the amount of private and exclusive space that surrounds the Lodge, cosseting it in a rare natural landscape brimming with Albertine Rift biodiversity and beauty. Each spacious forest villa will comprise a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception space and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace and with views out across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke.

Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design will be rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. This spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors will exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture.

Botswana's Chobe Water Villas to open in July

Botswana’s Chobe Water Villas to open in July

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Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas in the 150km² Namibian Kasika Conservancy. All the villas are situated directly on the edge of a lagoon, enjoying direct views of Sedudu Island, Chobe National Park and the Safari Town of Kasane in Botswana.

Chobe Water Villas will host a maximum of 32 guests in its uniquely positioned villas, lounges, bar, restaurant, infinity pool, pool desk and African “Boma”, a shielded area once used to protect both man and livestock, but now a traditional place to enjoy a “Braai” (BBQ) and camp fire while on safari.

Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas
The luxurious water villas have 85m² of living space, including lounge and bedroom areas, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors which fold back completely, opening up to the 19m² front terrace with built in day-bed and views of the Chobe River. Every villa also has a 12m² rear terrace which faces the natural bush and is the perfect spot to enjoy spectacular evening sunsets.

Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas
Under thatch and partially open to the gardens, the Main Lodge building overlooks the spectacular infinity pool and pool deck, blessed with unobstructed views of the neighbouring rivers and national parks. The Main Lodge features a 36-seat restaurant, cosy cocktail bar and library lounge with complimentary all day butler station.

www.chobewatervillas.com

Ruckomechi Camp

Wilderness Safaris opens Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe

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This month, Wilderness Safaris, the award-winning luxury safari operator, is delighted to announce the opening of the rebuilt and revamped Ruckomechi Camp, located in its private concession in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.

“We are extremely proud to welcome guests to our beautiful new camp which still retains the understated tented luxury and nostalgic safari feel that is synonymous with Ruckomechi,” says Wilderness Safaris Zambezi MD, Ron Goatley.

Ruckomechi Camp
Comprising just ten spacious tented suites (eight of which have opened, with a further two family suites opening on 1st August 2016), the camp boasts the same wide-angled views of the Zambezi River and the dramatic purple-hued escarpment of Zambia in the distance. All the tents, as well as the central dining, bar and lounge areas face this evocative scene, often with an elephant or two included in the spectacle. The pool, star-gazing deck and outdoor ‘bath with a view’ add to the incredible camp offering.

Ruckomechi Camp

Subtle interiors were chosen for the guest areas and tented suites to ensure that the main focal point remained the sweeping views of the surrounding wilderness.

“We used lots of blues in the guest tent interiors which were inspired by the beautiful deep-blue colours of the Zambezi River at sunset; these hues are picked up in the Trading Glass beads in the Lozi wooden bowls and the hand-blown glass vases on the console tables and desk, as well as the natural cotton linen denim scatter cushions,” says Interior Designer and bush enthusiast, Mandy Langebrink, who has worked with Wilderness Safaris on a number of camps for the past 20 years.

Ruckomechi Camp

“The coolness of the Zambezi River is reflected in the light elegance of the stylish interiors, with the blues offset by the light tones of the solid wooden furniture, all complementing the old African artefacts of the Turkana and Tuareg bowls and the rustic coffee table. Large leather sofas create the perfect space for relaxing in between game drives and the elegant louvre screens provide a sense of lightness and temporary style of the ‘old camping days,’ Mandy added. “The camp epitomises luxury in style; one that is totally in touch with its surroundings.”

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

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Luxury safari camp and lodge operator Elewana has opened a new luxury tented camp on the site of the former Loisaba Lodge. Located on a 600ft escarpment, every room in Loisaba Tented Camp enjoys spectacular views stretching across the Laikipia Plains to Mount Kenya.

Elewana has been chosen by Loisaba Conservancy, with support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to partner with it in the development and management of its primary tourism assets in this critically important conservation area that has been recently secured by TNC for ongoing protection for the foreseeable future. The new camp is part of the Elewana Collection – a portfolio of fifteen properties spanning the highlights of East Africa’s safari and beach offerings.

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Loisaba Tented Camp comprises six stylish and extremely spacious ensuite tents (three double/three convertible twin/double), three family combinations each consisting of two ensuite tents with adjoining walkway. The Private Residence houses three ensuite tents (one family combination and one convertible tent) complemented with a private bar, dining area and infinity pool. Not least of all, the property will reflect Elewana and TNC’s commitment to the environment by limiting its ecological footprint wherever possible.

Commenting on the partnership, Karim Wissanji, Elewana’s CEO, said, “The partnership with The Nature Conservancy highlights Elewana’s passion and commitment to conservation, one that is reflected in its support (financial and otherwise) for this exciting new project; a project that sits at the very heart of TNC’s community, wildlife and land conservation philosophies and their important collaboration with tourism.”

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Matthew Brown, Africa Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy remarks, “Tourism support helps make Loisaba a self-sustaining engine for peace, community development, and wildlife conservation. This is an innovative example of how Africa can both preserve its heritage and create economic opportunities for its people. We are excited to be working with Elewana.”