Luxury Travel Review

Luxury Travel Review

Update: NZ lodge near Fiordland National Park

*The two story property had four guestrooms, including a two-bedroom suite.

Under normal circumstances our articles are based exclusively on the experiences and photography of our contributors at a destination and voyage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have halted travel. For those ready to travel now we are offering limited updates about destinations, properties and services featured in our pages in the past and whose representatives have responded to our questions and requests for updates. This series of updates began in 2021. We paused during the omicron surge and published our first 2022 update in May.

As New Zealand recently reopened its international borders for vaccinated travelers (see covid19.govt.nz/) we thought the following update of Cabot Lodge, a South Island family owned property we profiled in 2019 (prior to the pandemic) would interest some of our readers. The family owned lodge near the Fiordland National Park (see Fiordland, New Zealand by helicopter) was one of our contributor’s favorite properties on that trip thanks to the owners’ warm welcome and professional attitude, comfortable room, local sourcing and earth friendly policies, and many amenities, including an ample supply of delicious homemade toffee. Below are updates recently provided by Breidi Alexander, owner operator, Cabot Lodge, who responded to our questions via email.

Breidi Breidi and Brad Alexander, owners, Cabot Lodge

LTR: Are you are welcoming international guests?

BA: Yes – with New Zealand’s borders now open, we are thrilled to be welcoming back our wonderful guests from around the world.

LTR: Have you adopted policies and safeguards in response to Covid-19?

BA: Yes, we are Covid-Clean Certified by Qualmark NZ, implementing extensive cleaning and health and safety procedures for Covid-19.

LTR: Do you clean common areas, guestrooms daily?

BA: All common areas are cleaned three times daily. All guest rooms are serviced once daily, with an additional evening turndown service if requested.

Pomona Deluxe Suite, a 41 square meter room

LTR: Is there a water shortage ordrought or other conditions affecting facilities, guests amenities, etc?

BA: No – thankfully water shortage is not an issue for us, with two rivers crossing through our property, and the Lodge sitting on the boundary of Lake Manapouri and the stunning Waiau River. We are operating business as usual.

LTR: Are there updates to the property you care to share such as redecoration, refurbishment?

BA: We are delighted with the addition of our outdoor spa pool nestled among our Beech Trees above the Lodge, with stunning views over the mountains and Lake Manapouri. We now also provide fishing rods for guest use at our private fishing jetty on the Waiau River, which boundaries the Fiordland National Park. We have increased our staff to a team of five, with a new chef preparing our farm to plate cuisine. With the extension of our glass houses, even more of our ingredients are sourced directly from the farm. Our locally sourced ingredients don’t stop with our meals however – we are also providing homemade soaps and bath salts in each of our guest suites. With Fiordland’s move to become a Dark Sky Sanctuary, we have also overhauled our exterior lighting and undertaken an astronomy course, to ensure we are a Dark Sky Friendly Lodge, perfect for star-gazing enthusiasts. We received a number of accolades for the property recently, including two Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Awards, a Qualmark 5 Star Gold Certification for Boutique Luxury Accommodation, we were named as the top luxury escape by Stuff.co.nz, and we appeared on national television in season two of ‘Lap of Luxury’, a show celebrating the top Lodges across New Zealand and Australia.

There were two patios facing Lake Manapouri and a central courtyard.

LTR: Do you offer private accommodations for those guest that want a private or isolated stay?

BA: The Lodge can be booked exclusively, with rates for 1 – 4 guests, or 5 – 10 guests, perfect for couples who want to travel with the safety of complete seclusion. We are more thankful than ever to be operating a remote and small boutique lodge post-pandemic. Surrounded by a working sheep, deer and cattle station on the boundary of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Cabot Lodge is a private and luxury escape.

LTR: If you offer extended stay packages such as weekly or monthly rates provide details.

BA: We provide discounted rates for stays four nights or over, please get in touch with our team for rates and further information.

Cabot Lodge borders the Fiordland National Park

*Photos were taken during pre-pandemic trip, except for the photo of Breidi and Brad Alexander provided by Cabot Lodge in 2022

Botswana safari lodge, camps update

Photos* taken during pre-pandemic trip

Under normal circumstances our articles are based exclusively on the experiences and photography of our contributors at a destination and voyage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have halted all travel. For those ready to travel now we are offering limited updates about destinations, properties and services featured in our pages in the past and whose representatives have responded to our questions and requests for updates. This series of updates began in 2021. We paused during the omicron surge and recently published our first 2022 update (see South Africa luxury safari property update).

Photos* taken during pre-pandemic trip

In November 2015 our contributors stayed at several Desert & Delta-Safaris properties, five in Botswana and one in Namibia. On their return home we published their impressions and photos. Follow the links to read their overall trip impressions in Why we liked Botswana, Namibia safari circuit as well as their thoughts about Camp Moremi in Luxury Travel Review. Find detailed profiles in Simon and Baker Travel Review of Savute Safari Lodge, Xugana Island Lodge, Leroo La Tau, Chobe Savanna Lodge and Chobe Game Lodge. Below are updates provided by James Wilson, marketing director of the property last month.

Photos* taken during pre-pandemic trip

James Wilson, marketing director, Desert and Delta

James Wilson, marketing director, Desert & Delta-Safaris

LTR: Are you are welcoming international guests?

JW: Yes – most certainly

LTR: What policies and safeguards have you adopted in response to Covid-19?

JW: Please see attached documents for information and the following link: Desert & Delta-Safaris COVID-19 Health & Safety Info (readers can find contact information for Desert & Delta-Safaris in the property profiles to request the document)

LTR: Maximum number of guests per game viewing vehicle

JW: 6 per vehicle unless a family group who wish to be together.

LTR: Do you clean common areas, guestrooms daily?

JW: yes. We have strict sanitation and cleaning schedules in place.

LTR: Is there a water shortage/drought or other conditions with the high probability to affect facilities, guests amenities, guest stay, etc?

JW: No.

LTR: Any updates to the property you care to share such as redecoration, refurbishment

JW:

LTR: Do you offer private accommodations for those guest that want a private or isolated stay?

JW: Depending on the guests needs we can offer private dining and private activities during their stay. Private activities are at an additional charge. Enquiries can be made into Xugana Island Lodge and Chobe Savannah Lodge for an exclusive island stay.

LTR: If you offer extended stay packages such as weekly or monthly rates provide details.

JW:

*Except for the photo of James Wilson provided by Desert & Delta-Safaris in 2022

South Africa luxury safari property update

By Elena del Valle

Under normal circumstances our articles are based exclusively on the experiences and photography of our contributors at a destination and voyage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have halted all travel. For those ready to travel now we are offering limited updates about destinations, properties and services featured in our pages in the past and whose representatives have responded to our questions and requests for updates. This series of updates began in 2021. We paused during the omicron surge. This is the first update in 2022.

Photos taken during pre-pandemic stay at Chitwa Chitwa

“Chitwa Chitwa’s outstanding combination of a stunning waterside location, beautiful room, Big Five game viewing and luxury features made it a Sabi Sand favorite,” summarizes our team’s impression of Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge in 2011 in South Africa’s famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve near Kruger National Park when we first profiled the property that year. Several years later our team was also pleased with the property. “We would recommend the lodge to friends and acquaintances who are fans of boutique safari properties, fine meals with a liberal dose of hot spices, and Big Five game viewing,” they said in our most recent profile of Chitwa Private Game Lodge 2015 published in 2016 following a three night stay late the previous year.


Photos taken during pre-pandemic stay at Chitwa Chitwa

Matthew Brink, marketing director, Chitwa Chitwa

Matthew Brink, marketing director, Chitwa Chitwa

In October 2021 Matthew Brink, marketing director at Chitwa Chitwa, replied to our questions about the property via email. Earlier this month he confirmed the information is still current.

LTR: Are you are welcoming international guests?

MB: Yes, our source markets are now able to travel to South Africa with better ease. This includes the likes of Europe, UK, and the US.

LTR: What policies and safeguards have you adopted in response to Covid-19?

MB: We have adopted new policies for Covid-19, I have attached our Covid protocol and policy below. (LTR readers can reach out to the property to request a copy – email information appears in the property profile on SimonAndBaker.com)

LTR: What is the maximum number of guests per game viewing vehicle?

MB: 6 guests per safari vehicle

LTR: Do you clean common areas, guestrooms daily?

MB: Yes, stringent health and hygiene protocol are followed

LTR: Is there a water shortage/drought or other conditions affecting facilities, guests amenities, etc?

MB: None

LTR: Are there any other updates to the property you care to share such as redecoration, refurbishment?

MB: We have been proactive throughout the various lockdowns and have maintained where necessary with skeleton crew at all times. All of the special Chitwa Chitwa experiences as if the environment was still normal, are offered in the safest way.

LTR: Do you offer private accommodations for those guest that want a private or isolated stay?

MB: All suites at Chitwa Chitwa are very exclusive and private, however for the very best exclusivity and privacy that money can buy, we offer the Chitwa House which is our Private Villa.

LTR: If you offer extended stay packages such as weekly or monthly rates provide details.

MB: We offer a pay 3 stay 4 special which offers free accommodation to one child under the age of 12, and it is applicable to one child per family sharing and children of all ages are welcome.

Photos taken during pre-pandemic stay at Chitwa Chitwa

Our teams stayed in rooms 1, 5 and 9. The 2016 property profile includes many photos of their rooms, common areas, meals, game vehicles, staff and some of the birds and game they sighted as well as their website address and contact information: Chitwa Private Game Lodge 2015

A holiday gifting idea with old style appeal

By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox and Elena del Valle

Close ups of the Waldmann Tango Imagination fountain pen with fine stainless steel nib

The folks at Luxury Brands of America (159 Houston Road, Troutman, North Carolina 28166, luxurybrandsusa.com, bryce@luxurybrandsusa.com, +1 980-276-0020) kindly lent us two Waldmann fountain pens for a month. The Tango Imagination and Vela Tuscany pens were made in Germany of 925 sterling silver or metal with rose gold plating and include a 10-year warranty. The Tango Imagination body and cap are made of solid 925 sterling silver. The Tuscany barrel is brass covered in a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) brown lacquer and the cap is sterling silver plated in rose gold. The nibs are stainless steel. At the time of this writing retail prices started at $400.

The Waldmann Vela Tuscany barrel is brass covered. The top photo is enlarged to show design detail.

When asked about the pens Bryce Gillett, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Luxury Brands of America said by email: “Tango Imagination: New technique engraving the barrel and cap, then applying colored lacquer over the top of the engraving. Then they shave it down to show both the silver and lacquered parts of the pen then clear lacquer the entire pen for protection. This finish offers a visual effect that the finish is dancing on the pen when the light hits it in different ways. Vela Tuscany: Chocolate Physical Vapor Deposition Lacquered brass barrel with a sterling silver cap plated in rose gold. Vela is a constellation in the southern sky, which Waldmann has incorporated the essence of this into the design of the cap!” He also explained that Physical Vapor Deposition “…Coating refers to a variety of thin film deposition techniques where a solid material is vaporized in a vacuum environment and deposited on substrates as a pure material or alloy composition coating.”

The Vela Tuscany stainless steel medium nib

Like the fountain pen concept, a throwback that predates our current era of digital communications. There is something luxurious about handwriting a note. It implies caring enough to make the time to find pen and paper to write a message. Writing with a fountain pen is often a pleasure. It was with these pens. Since the ink can be recharged the fountain pens seem more eco-friendly than common pens, especially disposable pens, which nine times out of ten don’t work when I reach for one.

The Vela Tuscany in its case

What makes these two pens special? Several characteristics appeal to me. I liked their distinctive pretty designs and solid feel. Some of my older fountain pen models, decades old, haven’t aged well. Invariably it’s the resin pens. One is so frail a repair shop declined to attempt to extend its life. I like that the two loaner pens are made of metal, I suspect metal will age better than resin. That they were crafted by skilled artisans seems promising. In that regard the 10 year Waldman warranty is reassuring. I also like that they’re available through United States retailers.

The Tango Imagination body and cap were made of solid 925 sterling silver.

When asked about the pen cases Gillett said they “are leatherette and feature a false bottom which will hide the Waldmann warranty card, sterling silver cap tag, and cartridges as well as any other information cards that that specific to that pen may specifically have. The box also features a metal opening tab of jewelry quality for an elegant look and feel when opening the box.”

Close ups of the Vela Tuscany

Both wrote well on a variety of paper. The silver and green model (Tango Imagination) was my favorite of the two, eye catching yet elegant.

According to Gillett Waldmann pens are 100 percent made in Pforzheim, Germany by skilled craftsmen. Luxury Brands, founded in 2014, is a family owned and operated distributor of fine writing instruments, fountain pen inks, leather and accessories.

 

South Africa elephant, safari property update

 


During our stay there were opportunities for close encounters with the resident herd, photo from 2017.

Under normal circumstances our articles are based exclusively on the experiences and photography of our contributors at a destination and voyage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have halted all travel. For those ready to travel now we are offering limited updates about destinations, properties and services featured in our pages in the past and whose representatives have responded to our questions and requests for updates.

In a 2017 safari trip to South Africa we liked Zindoga Villa at Jabulani Safari (previously Camp Jabulani). The 424 square meter three bedroom, three bathroom exclusive use house within a five-star lodge in a private reserve in South Africa offered us comfortable and spacious accommodations as well as outstanding game viewing and gourmet meals. Zindoga Villa had well appointed living room, dining room, covered terrace, three fireplaces, kitchenette, and two plunge pools, plenty of space for a private safari getaway. It was conveniently located within a short drive to a domestic airport.

Camp Jabulani

The elephant, game and bird viewing were outstanding, photo from 2017

For this update Mari Theunissen, Sales & Revenue Manager, Jabulani Safari, responded to questions through the property’s media manager via email. When asked what policies and safeguards Jabulani Safari has adopted in response to Covid-19 she said,”Jabulani’s unique design provides a well-spaced and private lodge that is easily adaptable to implementing Covid-19 preventative measures. Our caring and passionate team are fully trained in COVID-19 protocols and will ensure each guest’s health and safety is paramount throughout their stay. With the guidance of leading local and international health authorities, our procedures and protocols will be of the highest standard and continually updated to ensure our guests and staff’s peace of mind at all times. We have created a brief visual summary of a few of the precautionary measures we have implemented to ensure each guest’s wellbeing with the least possible impact on their Safe and Soulful Safari Experience at Jabulani. Please find info here: https://jabulanisafari.com/covid-19-preventative-measure/”

Mari Theunissen, Sales & Revenue Manager, Jabulani Safari

Mari Theunissen, Sales & Revenue Manager, Jabulani Safari

“Rooms are cleaned daily according to the necessary Covid protocols,” she said when asked if the property staff cleans rooms daily. “More information is available here: https://jabulanisafari.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Jabulani-COVID-19-Precautions-February-2020.pdf”

Zindoga Villa bedroom and plunge pool, photo from 2017

“Max 6 guests per game drive vehicle,” she said regarding the maximum number of guests per game viewing vehicle. When asked for details on extended stay packages such as weekly or monthly rates she said, “Jabulani offers extended stay offers so to give back to our supporters.”

For more about our 2017 stay at the property see Camp Jabulani elephant experience.

 

Q&A with Julian Edmunds, chief commercial officer, Federal Airlines

 

Federal Airlines 2016

At the Federal Airlines terminal in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016

Under normal circumstances our articles are based exclusively on the experiences and photography of our contributors at a destination and voyage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have halted all travel. For those ready to travel now we are offering limited updates about destinations, properties and services featured in our pages in the past. To that end we are reaching out to those companies and requesting news and updates. Those who respond are featured in the series.

Our most recent profile of Federal Airlines was in 2016 on a safari trip to South Africa’s well known Sabi Sand Reserve. Our two contributors especially liked the safety and convenience of flights from the city to the bush as well as the relaxed comfort of the airline’s dedicated terminal away from Johannesburg’s congested international airport. The first flight, aboard a 1900D Raytheon aircraft, was from Johannesburg to the Mala Mala Reserve (see our most recent update on MalaMala at After year of closure luxury South Africa property reopening). It was comfortable with a minimal amount of bumpiness. It stopped at Ulusaba, Londolozi and Rattray’s on Mala Mala.

The second and the only nonstop flight was from the Mala Mala Reserve to a nearby reserve, two properties located within the Sabi Sand Reserve. A road transfer between the properties would have required a multi-hour drive. The final flight was from Sabi Sand back to Johannesburg, slightly earlier than originally expected due to heavy rains the previous day. Refer to the detailed profile of Federal Airlines for details.

For this update Julian Edmunds, chief commercial officer, Federal Airlines, responded to questions from his office via email. Below are our questions and his answers.

Julian Edmunds, chief commercial officer, Federal Airlines

Julian Edmunds*, chief commercial officer, Federal Airlines

LTR: Is Federal Airlines flying scheduled and charter flights from a dedicated terminal at JNB to safari properties such as MalaMala, Singita, Sabi Sabi, etc and back?

JE: We fly a hybrid type of flight, which we call a Shuttle flight. Technically they are no scheduled flights, but they differ from Schedules in the fact that they don’t always operate to each runway (ie only on demand) and they differ from charters in the fact that you can buy seats rather than having to rent the whole aircraft.

Most of our flights operate in and out of our Private Terminal at OR Tambo, we offer an complimentary minibus shuttle service between our terminal and the main International and Domestic Terminals

LTR: What title applies for you in relation to Federal Airlines?

JE: I am the Chief Commercial Officer for Federal Airlines and also the same title for fastjet Zimbabwe. Effectively I am the group Chief Commercial Officer, but as many, such as yourself do not naturally relate Federal to fastjet it is easier to have the two separate titles. I have email addresses for both.

LTR: Can travelers book flights through your website?

JE: We place ourselves as a B2B business and thus it is best for Guests to book, either through their chosen lodge or alternatively through a Tour Operator. This allows for seamless coordination.

LTR: What, if any, Covid-19 protocols have you put in place?

 

 

Inside a Federal Airlines aircraft, photo from 2016.

JE: We strictly follow all of the state protocols as required by law. From a working basis ONLY essential staff go to the office. We have the mantra that if your job can be done from home, do it from home. I am personally based in Malta and have not bee in either a Federal or fastjet office since 28 February 2020!

From a passenger perspective, we do not require any special testing, unless the passenger is flying with us internationally, in tese [these] cases the rules relating to the country they are visiting are followed.

We practice as much social distancing within our private terminal at OR Tambo, as we can. On board the aircraft, we ensure that all passengers are wearing masks for the duration of the flight, except when drinking water. We do NOT offer any cabin service or food.

From a booking perspective all of our bookings are fully flexible. A guest can change their booking as many times as they like with no charges as long as it is done at least 72 hours before the flight. We have also softened our cancellation terms to make them more sympathetic to people’s needs and we offer free changes within the 72 hour period to any passenger, who becomes COVID Positive, prior to their departure.

LTR: What recommendations would you share with travelers to stay ahead of the uncertainties presented by travel during a worldwide pandemic?

JE: Plan ahead. Take each day as it comes look to book with service providers that offer flexibility.

*Photo courtesy of Julian Edmunds

 

"First hand information and photos of outstanding destinations, luxurious accommodations, voyages, products, restaurants, spas and attractions for the discriminating traveler. "

Subscribe to Our Newsletter