Monday, December 6, 2010

Singita Boulders, Ebony and Castleton

On a busy day of site inspections in the Sabi Sand, we were lucky enough to visit Singita for a site inspections of Boulders, Ebony and Castleton Camp and lunch at Ebony. Boulders is certainly a really striking property with such unique design elements that it’s hard not to be blown away.

The rooms are ultra-modern and feature a cool color palette echoing the name of the lodge. Lots of natural stone and rustic wood beams contrasted by super-mod furnishings, rugs and decor. Amenities include luxury linens, iPod docking stations and an impressive “mini-bar.” The wine cellar is mind-boggling in size and scope. Of course there are the usual spa and pool amenities, as well as private plunge pools at each suite.

From Boulders, we visited the shop, which houses the wine shop as well as rooms of design, d├ęcor, jewelry and clothing. One could really spend hours exploring the space. Prices are high, but the products are unique and high quality.

On to Ebony Lodge. This is definitely the more classic safari lodge with rich, dark colors and family heirloom antiques. Over the next year or two Ebony will be undergoing updates to the rooms (initial in 2011 then more extensive in 2012) as well as changes to the dining room and soft refurbs in the main area. The room layout is the same as Boulders, as is the price-point, but it is just a matter of what style appeals to the traveler - contemporary or classic. Ebony also has a spa and smaller wine cellar (can offer private dinners for up to 4 pax in cellar). Both venues vary meal locations and offer in-room dining.

We ate lunch at Ebony and the food and wine was excellent, no doubt about it. It was interesting to chat with Jason, the general manager about the future of Singita and how they are really honing in on providing a highly personalized travel experience, as well as giving back to the community and conservation. In Jason’s words: a more authentic travel experience. It’s certainly the direction that things are going if not already there within the industry. During our chat, we kept returning to the top of a personalized and authentic experience and if anywhere should and can be doing this, it’s Singita.

Castleton Camp was our last stop at Singita and it was a bit surprising for the Singita brand. The private use camp is styled around a South African farm and while it would be convenient for families to take the whole property, if a traveler is expecting Singita level accommodations, they could be disappointed. This is a comfortable 4 star option with a warm family-friendly appeal, but not Singita luxury. I think the idea here is to really qualify clients correctly and see if their top priority is private/exclusive use or experiencing the luxury of Singita...

Overall, Singita is certainly a wonderful option for those travelers not only looking for top luxury in the bush, but also a highly personalized and well-informed travel experience. At Singita it isn't just about the game drives, but also the amazing wine experience (and it is an EXPERIENCE), cultural interacts at nearby villages, excellent cuisine and luxurious spa treatments. They are really providing a complete travel experience where guests come to feel at home.

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