|Bilila Lodge Kempinski’s ARK Terrace Suite has a plunge pool overlooking the plains.|
If your client’s idea of luxury is wide open spaces with few people around and endless sky above, Tanzania is an ideal destination for them. Luxury Travel Advisor visited the country recently courtesy of the Africa Adventure Company, and found a wide variety of hotels and lodges with over-the-top accommodations and amenities.
The newest luxe Tanzania product is the Singita Explore, which was launched June 1 in the Grumeti Reserve, just off the Serengeti in the north of the country. A completely mobile camping experience, tents can be set up just about anywhere in the reserve, meaning your clients can have an up-close-and-personal and completely unobstructed view of the annual wildebeest and zebra migration. If they’d rather not be near the animals, they can go to any other location within the reserve’s nearly 160 square miles.
|Singita Faru Faru looks out over a very active watering hole.|
Singita Explore has six tents, which can accommodate 12 guests in all, and two mess areas. Perfect for honeymooners: As few as two guests can book the camp, in which case a second camp can be set up elsewhere for any other guests looking to book. This means that each family or group that you book will get a completely exclusive, private experience, and will not have to share the camp with strangers. (A maximum of two camps can run at any one time and a maximum of six guests per camp can be accommodated.) Each itinerary can be individually tailored in line with guests’ personal interests—if they don’t want to go on early game drives, for example, they can sleep in and set off whenever they want.
All six tents at Explore are styled in the same manner, with canvas walls and plenty of classic safari-esque furnishings (think trunks converted into tables, and battery-operated “lamps”.) Speaking of which, the camp’s electricity is managed by car batteries and solar panels, so there is plenty of light in the evenings, and guests can even recharge camera and computer batteries in the main lounge tent. Cool Touch: Guests are given battery-operated headbands with LED lights for hands-free illumination.
Perhaps the coolest touch, especially for those accustomed to less luxurious camping, is that each tent has running water and real flush toilets. Sinks get their water from a small tank in the tent, and a larger tank is attached to the shower system. When guests want a hot shower, they can simply request hot water be brought over and poured into the tank. They’ll have to wait a minute for the cold water to clear the pipes, but then they can enjoy a perfectly comfortable hot shower.
|Bilila Lodge Kempinski has a wide range of rooms, suites and villas.|
Note: Explore is brand-new, so the managers are still finding the best places to pitch the camp and guarantee a top-notch experience. As the product develops, set-up and take-down time will decrease, and certain spots will become established as the best campgrounds for views or access to animals.
Rates are quoted per person per night, fully inclusive, based on a minimum of two people and maximum of 12 people.
Luxury travel advisors looking to book Singita Explore should use the reservation department at Singita ([email protected]; 011-27-21-683-6424), but if they need to speak to someone at the camp itself, they can contact Singita Explore Camp Manager Retief Jordaan ([email protected]; 011-255-28-262-2074).
|Singita Sabora is a permanent tented camp where animals walk right up to the guests.|
Camping, of course, isn’t to everyone’s taste, so there are three other permanent Singita lodges throughout the Grumeti Reserve.
The Sasakwa Lodge is built in the style of a turn-of-the-century East African ranch house, with nine ultra-luxe cottages and a private retreat offering between one and four bedrooms. Sasakwa can accommodate 34 guests at any one time. Best of all: Each cottage has a private infinity-edge pool overlooking the plains. The four-bedroom private retreat is ideal for families or groups traveling together (each room has an en suite bathroom). This retreat also has a two-bedroom nanny flat for extra convenience.
Sabora Tented Camp is a permanent campground, with full electricity and running water (no asking in advance for hot water). Animals walk right up to the tents, and daybeds are set up outside so that guests can relax as they watch the wildlife wander by. The camp has nine air-conditioned luxury tents, all with bedroom and reading area, a bathroom with bath and outdoor shower, and viewing deck with a Swarovski spotting scope. The Camp can accommodate 18 guests, and children over the age of 10 are welcome. The main area of the camp has a dining room, bar lounge with satellite TV, DVD player and library, elevated viewing deck and a swimming pool.
Faru Faru has eight air-conditioned suites as well as the Villa Suite; all have a picture-window and deck, and each suite has an open-plan bath and shower. Each Faru Faru Suite also comes with a reading area, Swarovski spotting scope on the deck, and personal bar and fridge. Faru Faru Lodge can accommodate 22 guests. (Note: The two-bedroom Villa has a private pool.) Faru Faru has a dedicated family suite for up to four people, which includes two en suite bedrooms with twin beds. The suite has a private viewing deck with a heated plunge pool, a lounge area and a stone fireplace.
In addition to the family suite is the Villa Suite, which can accommodate four adults (great for couples traveling together). The Villa Suite is made up of two identical double bedrooms and a large shared open space lounge/dining area. The bedrooms are en suite, with a bath and outdoor shower.
Each of the Lodges has its own spa, which ranges from small to surprisingly spacious. (We hear the Swedish full-body massage is the most popular option.) At Sasakwa Lodge, the spa has a steam room, relaxation area, hydrotherapy tub, gym, and three therapy rooms for treatments (one for massages, another for facials and a third for couples). Many treatments can also be conducted in guest cottages.
|Singita Saskwa evokes classic colonial East Africa.|
At Sabora Tented Camp, the spa has two therapy rooms for treatments. Like Sasakwa, some treatments can also be conducted in guest tents. Faru Faru’s spa has two treatment rooms and is the same size as the Sabora Spa.
Luxury travel advisors can reach out to Spa Manager Tansy Glanz ([email protected]; 011-255-28-2622-074), but we recommend contacting the main reservation department ([email protected]; 011-27-21-683-6424) for booking treatments.
The lodge managers at each lodge can arrange a variety of activities for clients—think hot air balloon rides, archery lessons, horseback riding, mountain biking or private dinners. Some special experiences Singita guests have enjoyed include a Sabora Bush Picnic, a surprise champagne gourmet breakfast picnic held under one of the desert date trees found around the camp. (Kelim and Persian carpets and antique furniture helped guests feel like early continental explorers.) Couples at Faru Faru renewed their vows in African style with a local minister, and guests who want to unwind in privacy can have “sundowners” (evening cocktails and canapés) set up for them in the middle of the bush.
The manager at Sasakwa Lodge is Mandy Cloete ([email protected]); Brad Murray ([email protected]) oversees Faru Faru; and Sabora Tented Camp’s lodge manager is Bjorn Annegarn ([email protected]). Graham Ledger is the managing director of the Singita Grumeti Reserves ([email protected]; 011-255-28-262-2074), but again, agents would do best to contact the main reservation line for inquiries.
Bilila Lodge Kempinski
Another option in the Serengeti is the Bilila Lodge Kempinski. As with the Singita properties, the Bilila Lodge offers game drives and picnics in the bush (game drives can take place in the morning or evening, or go all day), and guests can also try hot air balloon safaris (no loud motors to scare shy animals away).
|Singita Sabora offers daybeds on the plains for comfortable game-viewing.|
Bilila has 60 rooms, 12 suites and five villas. The Savannah and Horizon rooms sound lovely, but we hear the two Horizon Villas are the most popular accommodations. The Savannah Villas are also a great pick, but the Presidential Villa sounds like an amazing experience, with three-bedrooms, a kitchenette, a dining room, living room, indoor and outdoor shower facilities, private gym, and an infinity pool overlooking an active waterhole. The villas all have plunge pools, kitchenettes, private rangers and butler service, and are understandably the best option for families. For something a little more intimate but no less swank, the terraces that give the Terrace Suites their name also have a private infinity plunge pool and outside shower.
The Spa at Bilila has six treatment rooms, and we hear the 90-minute Safari Adventure massage is the best pick. (The wraps and scrubs use oils from indigenous boabab, marula and argan trees.) Contact Spa Manager Parudee Pattaradirek ([email protected]; 011-255-77-888-8888, ext. 878) for reservations or questions.
Dining options at Bilila are also over-the-top, but we love the Boma, based on eating customs in traditional Masai villages. Visitors can watch their meal being prepared over an open fire and be entertained by traditional Masai dance before settling down to listen to the night sounds of the Serengeti. If something a bit more low-key is in order, opt for the exclusive wine cellar dinner, or a private meal out in the bush. (Think breakfast under an acacia tree, or dinner under the stars.)
Patrick Mwamulenga (011-255-778-888-888) runs the front office at Bilila and can arrange special experiences for your clients—we hear the hot-air balloon safaris, which have no loud engines to scare away the game, are magnificent.
Luxury travel advisors should reach out to Director of Sales Janine Juma ([email protected]; 011-255-784-886-068).
Note: From August 1, Kempinski's Tanzania properties will be operated under ASB Tanzania Limited, a partner company of Kempinski Hotels. Visit Luxury TravelAdvisor.com for more information