After Durban's Indaba tourism trade show in May, Travel Agent experienced two very different, yet both very South African, properties. One, Singita, a small, high-end safari lodge in the bush; the other, The Palace of the Lost City, also a luxury property, but on a much larger scale, and part of the four-hotel casino-resort-entertainment complex, Sun City.
Singita Private Game Reserve
In South Africa's
richly wildlife-populated Sabi Sand Reserve, is the justly well-known in the U.S. safari
A member of Relais & Châteaux, Singita actually operates
two lodges, Ebony and Boulders. Only a couple of minutes' drive apart, they are
worlds apart in design. Ebony is a classic Old World
lodge with dark wood, animal prints, native textiles and cozy fireplaces while
Boulders is contemporary in design with big open spaces and light colors.
Each lodge has 12 large suites with private pool, lounge and
bathroom with soaking tub. At Ebony, rooms 1, 2 and 3 are newer and slightly
larger; 11 and 12 are adjoining and have a view of the bush while others look
onto the SandRiver, where clients might catch a
glimpse of elephants and other animals. There's a plan to merge 8 and 9.
and 10 at Boulders are adjoining and have their own kitchen
and parking lot; they are the farthest from the main lodge. Each lodge has its
own spa and service throughout is attentive: The staff-to-guest ratio is 3:1.
Special experiences agents can arrange for VIPs through Head
Concierge Vanessa Berry ([email protected];
tel.: +27 21 683 3424; fax: +27 21 671 6776) include a private dinner in any of
12 locations such as poolside and on the client's deck, an in-suite couples
massage, private game drive vehicle and private wine tasting from Singita's
Both lodges can be reserved via Berry, who oversees the reservations
department, or [email protected];
tel: +27 21 683 3424; fax: +27 21 671 6776; or www.singita.com.
The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City
When many people think of Sun City,
they envision a casino resort playground for couples and families, and they
would be right. But what many aren't aware of is this enormous, very impressive
operation has four hotels, and one of them is a member of The Leading Hotels of
The Palace of the LostCity at Sun City, or The Palace,
offers a very different experience than Sun City's
other hotels. You will want to reserve a suite for your clients: they have
noticeably more sophisticated décor as well as more space and amenities. The
four top suites are the Royal Suite, King Suite, Desert Suite and African
Suite. The latter is the only accommodation at The Palace with a terrace; this
is where Oprah Winfrey stayed when she hosted a New Year's party this past
December for 160 people, including Mariah Carey. These four suites each have a
Jacuzzi in one of the two bathrooms but the African Suite has one on the
terrace as well.
The African and King come with two bedrooms; the Desert and
Royal have an adjoining room option. A baby grand piano, lounge, dining area,
butler's pantry, desk and butler service are features in all. For those
traveling with children, The Palace has 55 Family Rooms with a king-size bed
and sleeper couch.
By the end of this year, The Palace, which has 338 rooms,
will have upgraded with flat-screen TVs, duvets instead of bedspreads,
international plugs, tea and coffee makers and Internet connectivity throughout
For VIPs, agents can arrange a private VIP game drive in
Pilanesburg National Park, which has the Big Five, through Gametrackers (+27 14 552 5020; [email protected]).
The outfit also offers hot air balloon rides, elephant-back safaris and a
variety of other activities. Sun City itself
has an enormous list of activities, from horseback riding to zip lining and
every imaginable water sport. And of course, there's the casino. The resort has
two golf courses, one a par-72 Gary Player-designed course. Special requests
The Palace has fulfilled include a dinner for two in the Superbowl, Sun City's 6,000-seat theater; and Sid the owl delivered
an engagement ring to one of Oprah's guests. VIP requests can be made through
General Manager is Ian Duncan (+27 14 557 3100; [email protected]. Bookings
should be channeled through The Leading Hotels of the World, Utel,
or Sun International Central Reservations (tel. +27 11 780 7878; fax +27 11 780
7061). Commission is 10 percent.
An online directory for all Sun International properties can
be accessed at http://gst.hautdegamme.net/sundirectory.
Airways, now a member of the Star Alliance, flies daily from JFK to JNB
with a stop in both directions in Dakar, Senegal; the daily flight from IAD to JNB is
nonstop but it does stop in Dakar
on the return flight. It's a two-cabin aircraft (Premium Business and Economy
classes); business class is very comfortable with lie-flat beds (73"
pitch), duvets and on-demand entertainment.
Most guests access Singita via regularly scheduled Federal Air flights. A plus for
clients is that the hour-and-a-half flight from Federal Air's Johannesburg
terminal, which is about a 10-minute drive from the international airport
(airline personnel will meet connecting flights, and will drive passengers to
the terminal) is nonstop; the flights go on to other lodges in the vicinity.
Federal Air flights can be booked via Singita as well.
To get to The Palace, Oprah flew into PilanesburgInternationalAirport (charters only;
+2714-552-2134), eight minutes from the resort. Alternatively, helicopter
transfers are available from JohannesburgInternationalAirport.
The hotel can also send a car; the drive is about two hours.