Discover the newly revamped Singita Lebombo as showcased in our Africa issue on-shelf now. Situated in the harsh, untamed terrain of Singita’s privately leased, 33,000-acre concession, this contemporary Safari Lodge, originally opened in 2001. Lebombo was always ahead of its time and was ‘already at the top of it’s game so the revamp was elevating it to a new level of excellence’ says Geordi de Sousa Costa of Cécile & Boyd.
‘Lebombo’s time is now. We haven’t thrown out the old, but it has claimed its place now’ – Luke Bailes, owner and CEO
Situated on the outskirts of Kruger Park bordering Mozambique, Lebombo’s revamp was completed in an astonishing three months, overseen architecturally by Sally Tsiliyiannis of GAPP Architects & Urban Designers, with interiors and Creative Direction by Cécile & Boyd. Building on the original architecture by Andrew Makin, the concept was clear: design that continues to touch the earth lightly and allow the environment to be the hero. Makin’s original designs are striking nest-like structures suspended above the N’Wanetsi River that camouflage into the surrounds, with new buildings constructed from rammed earth, steel, glass and textured, natural timber, mimicking the Lebombo boulders that surround the lodge and newly polished, refined and pared down interiors. New additions include a new winter lounge and library, a multi-media room, wine boutique, interactive kitchen and rooftop dining area and a 25-metre lap pool. Two new family suites with private pools can be linked together to form a self-contained, four-bedroom villa.
‘This project is by far the most integrated we have completed, in terms of the symbiosis between man and nature, inside and outside. We have taken the furniture outside and brought nature indoors.’ Boyd Ferguson
The planning of the repurposed lodge was as in-depth as the revamp itself – consulting with trend and lifestyle guru, Li Edelkoort, designer Boyd Ferguson and architect Sally Tsiliyiannis about social, lifestyle and traveling trends. This level of thoroughness on the concept is followed through to all elements at Singita Lebombo – architecture, decor, food, service, safari experience – and each element receives the same level of importance. And something that particularly struck the DECO team visiting Lebombo is the authenticity and whole-heartedness of this approach as implemented by the architecture and design team, along with all the staff at the lodge – it rings true.
‘The concept and vision of Lebombo was sent to everyone, from the kitchen staff to the landscaper, to the trackers and of course, the interior designers… to ensure that everyone is singing together.’ – Boyd Ferguson
The evolution of the food experience at Lebombo is headed by Liam Tomlin of Chef’s Warehouse – with changes responding to ongoing shifts in food trends. Visitors to Lebombo now have the opportunity to see the chef’s at work in an informal, easy interactive approach. Liam Tomlin has overseen the new kitchen and menu, which now includes a relaxed tapas style menu for lunch and an all-day self-service deli counter which offers fresh juices, fruits, cheese platters and salads to the guests.
‘Guests and travellers are becoming more discerning and interested in experience, and this includes food too – where it’s sourced, its quality, how it’s prepared and presented, food that they can identify with’. – Luke Bailes, owner and CEO
And whilst the focus of the DECO feature was on the revamp, interiors and food at Singita, of course the core reason of it’s being is safari and conservation. Singita Lebombo’s location and revenue has become increasingly strategic in supporting conservation and anti-poaching resources. The newly formed Karingani Game Reserve sits adjacent to the Lebombo concession in Mozambique, which is not only beneficial to the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation area but also to anti-poaching efforts in the ongoing slaughter of rhino.
The DECO team were lucky enough to be assigned Chantelle and Given as our guide and tracker. They not only gave us the incredible opportunity of seeing young lion playing on the riverbank, and the rare sighting of baby hyena in their den, amongst other wildlife, but they also shared a wealth of knowledge between them. From animal tracking, to the trees and plants of the area, they shared insightful information with us – and the passion and purpose in their lives was special to see firsthand. All the Lebombo staff go out of their way to personalize your safari experience from arrival to final departure on the dusty Simarta airstrip. At Singita all the unique elements have equal measure – one cannot single out one or two areas without seeing the thread that ties all the components together. That’s the beauty of it.
‘Singita. It’s in your blood’. – Liam Tomlin
Images: Adel Ferreira
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The Africa Issue is a celebration of the future of design in Africa and its potential to drive change. We explore the concept of ‘Africaness’, what this means for our aesthetic. We also dream big with bedroom inspiration and take you on a tour of homes that truly embrace the spirit of the continent. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #AfricaIssue.