Like most tour operators, Haas-Winkleman says, “Singita, Royal Malewane—they’re the most asked for luxury properties in Kruger. But he also suggests, “I would put Londolozi on that list because ever since the Darty family took over the handling of the property from AndBeyond about five years ago, they’ve upped the game. They’ve done some major enhancements and they have some units there that are really stunning. I like Lion Sands, the Ivory Lodge—the great thing about that is it’s another family-owned operation so you really have that attention to detail. Then the other big player on that list would have to be Rattray’s Camp at MalaMala. That is really beautiful.”
goway travel Goway Travel’s Moira Smith, general manager, Africa and Middle East, says that, “I really think that the beauty about Goway is that we really do offer everything from the high-end property to more moderate accommodations. We are finding more and more that travelers really are more discerning, they know what they’re looking for.”
As a result, she adds, “You’ll notice in our latest brochure where we actually have some VIP sections where we include our rail journeys like the Rovos Rail. We also, as Goway, have a brand called Stays of Distinctions and what makes these properties special—certainly they’d be five-star deluxe properties, but it’s more than that—is that maybe it’s a really great location or maybe very special service or something of historical significance. And in each of the areas that we sell, we have these Stays of Distinction. For example, in Cape Town we would have the Cape Grace or the 15 On Orange—both completely different styles of properties, but really luxurious. Cape Grace being more Old World elegance, whereas 15 On Oranges is really much more appealing to perhaps the more hip clientele, for want of a better word. So we really do have a wonderful range of properties, including some very high-end luxury game lodges that are incredibly popular.”
Smith says the company’s basic sell for the escorted tour from North America is what they call Magic of Africa, with about nine departures in a year and which takes in some of the base properties in the company’s portfolio, including Lion Sands, Victoria Falls Hotel and Chobe Game Lodge. “For the client who really wants their hands held,” she says, “we include really unique features and special meals and really specific things. For a fully escorted experience, the Magic of Africa would be a wonderful option.” The 21-day tour for North Americans includes South Africa with an add-on to Victoria Falls and to Chobe in Botswana.
The most popular luxury itineraries, she says, would be four nights in Cape Town with three nights in a luxury game lodge. “We find that out of North America, often they only have 10 days to play with, then you’ll have the older clientele that will probably stay longer and then they’ll probably add on two or three nights at Victoria Falls or three or four and go into Chobe. The other really popular option is to do a Garden Route extension and instead of doing the game park option in Kruger, the traditional thing, they’ll now look at doing the game lodge experience in the Eastern Cape, which is a natural extension to the Garden Route.”
Chobe in Botswana is a very popular add-on because, she says, it works perfectly with Victoria Falls because it’s less than two hours away. “You’ll find that Victoria Falls would be the first and people extend farther into the region so maybe two nights at Victoria Falls, two nights at Chobe and then maybe even extending it to places like Kariba or Wange, which are in Zimbabwe, as well.”
Still, she adds, people really are looking for value and what’s happening in Cape Town at the moment is that there’s quite an oversupply of hotel rooms that are creating great value there because the properties are looking at how they can enhance the experience by throwing in things like added value.
“One of the things we’re about to launch, there’s this wonderful property called Grootbos, in the western Cape and it’s the perfect place if you want to go and see the whales or even the great white sharks. You can combine it with a wine tasting experience,” she adds enthusiastically. “We’re about to launch this most wonderful thing. If you stay for a minimum of three nights, you get two free marine experiences so you can either choose to do the whale watching or you can do two shark dives; we also give you the option of either horseback riding on the beach or a wine tour. So there’s a lot of added value that the suppliers are prepared to offer at the moment.” About $600 worth, in fact.