News for the Hospitality Executive
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South
Africa (04/2011) - A
collaboration between internationally-renowned South African interior
Stephen Rich and the talented owner of Sabi Sabi, Jacqui Loon, has
a transformation of Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge so masterful, a whole new
has been seamlessly layered on to the original.
Earth Lodge opened 10 years ago to both local and world-wide acclaim. It was considered a ground-breaking architectural masterpiece, its sweeping, organic lines and dramatic minimalism ushering in a new era of game lodge design. Year after year, Earth Lodge garnered awards for its originality as well as for its unmatched quality of service, its innovative safaris and its rewarding guest experience.
To attempt to change such an iconic structure was risky, but rather than diminish it in any way, the new Earth Lodge has a deeper dimension, one that ensures guests an original African Experience. Rich’s mandate was to build with minimal environmental impact and to “invite” the bush inside. Roof levels match those of the surrounding hills. Walls are opened up to allow as much natural light as possible. Natural fibers like sisal and natural colors like raw ivory are used to excellent effect.
For interiors, Rich chose as his theme a celebration of the richness of Africa’s mineral wealth hidden deep beneath the earth – gold, copper, silver, platinum and bronze. The sophisticated furnishings and objets d’art are subtly shot through with these precious elements and serve as a foil to the rough, natural, textured walls.
Rich created each item of décor as an original work of art with the lines and shapes of furniture taking their cue from nature. Quirky tables are made form a mass of painted branches; lamp-stands are affixed with little birds indigenous to the area; ottomans resemble an assortment of pebbles in a pond. Natural, earthy sisal rugs with metallic edgings of silver or matte gold soften ivory-colored floors. Celebrated artist Geoffrey Armstrong has sculpted wooden art pieces – tables, benches and fountains wrought from salvaged trees torn out of the bush by elephants and floods – that are placed throughout the lodge. Massive chandeliers are works of art themselves: twigs from the bush were replicated in gold, bronze and silver, with each branch painstakingly assembled on site. On a starry night, these spectacular interpretations of trees illuminate the beautiful, muted fabric palette of taupe, beige, gray and cream which sparkles with metallic thread.
Floors are adorned with Nguni hides and shimmer with touches of gold, copper and silver. Twinkling lights from handmade twig chandeliers with gilded metal branches mirror the stars.
Of particular note is the Amber Presidential Suite often described as the most beautiful suite in the world. It comprises a lounge, study, steam room and kitchenette. This sybaritic accommodation has been decorated in the luminous color of its name, and a grand chandelier composed of hand-blown amber glass beads complements the “Burning Bush” headboard sculpted by Armstrong.
A day bar, an extension of a new comfortable lounge where high tea is taken, serves as an excellent venue to view the parade of animals drinking at the waterhole beyond. Guests can doze on white muslin-enclosed salas or relax at stone-topped tables inside the pool, cooling their feet in ankle-deep water, while enjoying refreshing cocktails and fine cuisine prepared by gourmet chefs.
The evening bar has been expanded to include a cozy lounge and library for guests who prefer quiet and solitude and a good book in front of a roaring fire.
Rich has brilliantly realized Jacqui Loon’s vision to make the new Earth Lodge at one with nature.
For more information: call (800) 524-7979 or visit www.sabisabi.com
Peggy Healy/Virginia Haynes