Browsing Tag

luxury travel

Bedroom in the deluxe suite at Mhondoro Safari Lodge

Mhondoro: Ultimate Luxury in the South African Bush

I have safaried in every possible fashion during my years in Africa. I’ve done low-budget camping trips, high-end tented camps, mid-range SANPark self-drives, river safaris, and walking safaris. You name it, I’ve probably done it. But when it comes to flat-out luxury I don’t think any of these past trips compare to my recent weekend at Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa. Mhondoro is in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in central Limpopo, less than three hours from Joburg. Welgevonden is a private, Big 5 game reserve (meaning all the “Big 5” animals — lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and elephant — live there) and there is no self-driving allowed, so the only vehicles driving around are those belonging to the reserve’s small number of lodges. This sense of exclusiveness makes for excellent game-viewing as at any one time there are a very limited number of people — and a huge number of wild animals — hanging around in Welgevonden. Yes, it costs a lot. But the money helps preserve a huge, beautiful piece of wilderness and keep the animals (many of which are critically endangered) safe within it. There are 21 lodges in Welgevonden. They all look pretty nice online but I […]

Continue Reading

Rovos Rail train outside Matjiesfontein

Living It Up on the World’s Most Luxurious Train

I took a ride on the Rovos Rail. The Rovos Rail, which bills itself as the world’s most luxurious train. I don’t consider myself a “luxury travel” writer. I generally blog about everyday places and things I happen to be doing anyway, or things I could at least conceivably afford to do if I wanted to. But every once in a while I receive an invitation to do something so luxurious and fantastic and magical that I simply can’t say no, because it would mean turning down the opportunity of a lifetime. Such was the case for my trip on the Rovos Rail. The Rovos describes itself as “the most luxurious train in the world” and I have every reason to believe this. I rode the train for two days and two nights, from Pretoria to Cape Town, and I can’t imagine how the trip could have been much more luxurious than it was. The old-school Rovos Rail cars on a brief stop outside Matjiesfontein, Western Cape. The best thing about my Rovos Rail experience was I could invite a plus-one. So I invited my mom and it was an offer she couldn’t refuse. Convincing Mom to leave warm, sunny South […]

Continue Reading

Pansy shell on Bazaruto beach

Three Days in a Mozambican Paradise

Yes, I’m a travel blogger, and yes, I travel a lot for work. Yes, I often field sarcastic Facebook comments like, “Wow, what a rough life you have!” or, “I wish could quit my REAL job and become a blogger like you.” I usually resent these comments. Travel blogging is harder than it looks and most of my travel is far from glamorous. My most recent trip to Mozambican paradise, however, was an exception. This trip was every bit as glamorous as it looked and you should resent me for it. Looking down on the town of Vilanculos, Mozambique, during my helicopter ride to Benguerra Island. We flew from Johannesburg to Vilanculos with Airlink, as part of a campaign to promote Airlink’s flights around Southern Africa. (Incidentally, the flight from Joburg to Vilanculos is ridiculously short — like an hour and 15 minutes. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to fly from Joburg to Durban.) Once in Vilanculos, we took a 10-minute helicopter ride to Benguerra Island, the second-largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago. A birds-eye view of Benguerra Island at low tide. The helicopter dropped my colleague Frances and I off at Benguerra Island’s Azura Retreat. Azura is literally paradise. My villa at […]

Continue Reading

W Hotel Room in Istanbul

Listen Up, Hotels: My 5 Most Annoying Hotel Room Quirks

This post has been bouncing around in my head for a while but I’ve been hesitant to write it. I generally try to highlight positive travel experiences in my blog, and nitpicking about hotel rooms doesn’t fit that theme. Also no one likes a whiner, and whining about little issues in hotel rooms seems so #FirstWorldProblems. I’ve been fortunate to stay in many lovely hotels: Who am I to complain? However. There are a few hotel room quirks that I’ve observed over and over and some of them seem to be increasing in frequency, to my great bewilderment. I have decided it is my responsibility as a frequent traveler and blogger to point out these annoying quirks, in hopes that they might be rectified or averted in the future. If I can convince just one hotel room designer to decide against placing the toilet in full view of the bed, then writing this post will be worth it. Here are my top five most annoying hotel room quirks. Note that I don’t have photos to illustrate all of these quirks, as it doesn’t usually occur to me to take photos of things that I hate. Annoying Hotel Quirk #5: Poor lighting Low light can be […]

Continue Reading

Joburg’s Coolest Luxury Hotel (and it’s not in Sandton)

Last week, in another stroke of blogging magic, I spent a night at the Four Seasons Westcliff. (The hotel’s official name is Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff Johannesburg. That name is a bit verbose, in my opinion, so I’ll call it the Four Seasons Westcliff. No offense, Four Seasons peeps — I just like to be concise.) The Four Seasons Westcliff, formerly called the Westcliff Hotel, is less than two miles from my house in Melville. The old Westcliff Hotel was known for its afternoon tea, and I’d always meant to go but somehow never did — I was always short of cash or couldn’t get a reservation. Then the hotel was purchased by Four Seasons in 2013, and closed for a yearlong-plus revamp. I had missed my chance, or so I thought. The new Four Seasons Westcliff. You might remember that the old hotel was pink. The new hotel has been repainted a dignified beige. Two years later I got my chance after all, in the form of an invite to a blogger evening at the Four Seasons Westcliff — drinks, dinner, a spa treatment, and a night at the hotel. (In case you’re wondering: Four Seasons Westcliff has not yet resumed the tradition of afternoon tea. […]

Continue Reading

Living Like Queens on an African Beach

“Dolphins!” The boat captain pointed into the flat, clear, turquoise water. I caught a glimpse of dolphin fin a couple of hundred meters away. “Let’s swim with them,” said Theresa. She flung off her sarong and dove over the side of the boat. Pippa, Bridget, and Sandi followed in quick succession. Theresa took several strokes and then turned around. “Aren’t you coming, Heather?” I looked over at the captain. He was staring into the distance and seemed hardly to have noticed the boat’s deserters. I shrugged, pulled off my shorts and tank top, and jumped. Our gang walking out to the boat that would take us on a day trip from Bazaruto to Paradise Island, not long before the moment described above. We never caught up with the dolphins. We didn’t swim very fast and the dolphin pod was probably frightened by all the estrogen. But that didn’t matter. Over the course of three days, our group of ladies managed to: Sled down a sand dune in the midst of a sunset sandstorm; Explore the ruins of an abandoned beach hotel; Ride a pack of lazy horses up and down a pristine, white-sand beach; Spend many hours doing nothing, gazing out at the sea; Drink dozens, maybe […]

Continue Reading