You may think that a safari lodge decorated in no other colours than black and white (and variations from rich creams to deep brown), could be monotone. But it’s not. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge in the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park, uses shades and textures to create a truly unique look. The contrasts of ebony and ivory combine creatively to create a strong Afro-European statement.
Ivory Lodge suites are huge – 165 square metres – which is bigger then my little cottage by the sea in Cape Town. And talk about ‘wow’ factor. Walking through the huge wooden doors to the suite was one of those few moments that rendered me almost speechless. It’s amazing how design and décor based on the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – can be so profound.
The dual mansion doors open to a cool living space, where two buildings extended like arms on either side of an open space (one being the bedroom & bathroom, the other is the lounge). In the centre is the private sundeck and infinity pool facing the river.
Vervet monkeys scattered across the roof as my sister and I entered our private space. Then they halted in the branches of a mahogany tree and turn around and stared indignantly. The monkeys returned again as soon as we went inside, and carried on lounging on our outdoor furniture and drinking from the pool, as if they were the ones on holiday.
Privacy for the rich and famous
Such is the level of privacy at Ivory Lodge, that the rich and famous, or intensely private people who don’t want to mingle with other guests, can have meals delivered through a little cubby-hole in the wall. The fully stocked bar takes care of booze and soft drinks needs, and the cravings for chocolate and nuts that go with an afternoon tipple.
To the rear of the giant bed and up a few steps is the gleaming bathroom, with a large bath in the centre. Beyond that, in a pebbled zen garden, is the outdoor shower. I didn’t need both a bath and shower, but who can resist getting wet unnecessarily in such tempting bathrooms?
The glass frontage to the suite looks towards the Sabi River, and beyond its reed beds is Kruger National Park. We watched elephant eating and drinking as they walked along the bank and crossed from Kruger into Lion Sands and back again. I was tempted to forget the game drive and just stay put, but when that happens, sis comes back with outrageous stories of a leopard chasing an impala in broad daylight, or a rhino paddling in the river, and then shows me the pictures to prove it.
It’s infuriating, so I got my binoculars, camera, jacket for later and hat (of course) and trundled off for a game drive into Big Five country for encounters with lion, leopard, elephant and antelopes.
The chef gets one over on me…
The attention to detail in the suites, gives a good indication of what to expect at Lion Sands. Creativity comes in many forms, from the specialist spa treatments, to food that resembles artworks. I was so tempted by all the dishes that were being delivered to the tables that I suggested that the chef might give us a morsel of each dish as a taster menu. I think that made him mad, because that is a lot of work, and who was I to make such a request. He proceeded to give us a full portion of each dish. Not wanting to upset him we tried to eat as much as possible. After plate number 5, we had not yet progressed to the meat course, and we both started to feel slightly ill. By dish number 7, we felt sick. By course number 8 we were stuffing the food into napkins to throw into the bushes later. When finally the desert was announced, we admitted defeat and gave up. I humbly beg forgiveness to the chef for making such a request, and won’t ever do it again.
Honeymoon up a tree
Sleeping on the ground in big-five country is not advisable, which is why Lion Sands has built two romantic tree houses. This is the place for a one-nighter under the stars, on a bed swathed in mosquito netting that sways gently in the breeze – get the idea? It’s not really a tree-house, more like a free-standing platform, but comes equipped with a picnic basket full of champagne and snacks and whatever else you ask for. I didn’t get the chance to try it out, and it’s not really a place to sleep anyway, you’ll be far to busy pretending not to be worried by the lions roaring and hyenas laughing, to get any sleep. Or there may be other things on your mind.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge was awarded third best hotel in the world by Tatler Magazine in 2006 and has been included in their “101 Best Hotels in the World” 2006 & 2007 listings.