The eccentric Turbine Hotel and Spa in Knysna, South Africa

The Turbine Hotel and Spa is a boutique 5 star Hotel in Knysna which offers guests an extra special experience. This exceptional boutique hotel in Knysna is situated on Thesen Island which is considered one of the most prestigious locations on the Garden Route. The Turbine Hotel and Spa  transformed the old power station at Thesen Island into a unique 5 star boutique hotel huge wow factor. All the old machinery which was used in this power station has been carefully restored and integrated with the hotel’s aesthetics.

Francois visited the Turbine Hotel with his family recently and his experience.

KC: How far is THE TURBINE HOTEL from Cape Town?

Francois: The Turbine Hotel is located on the exclusive Thesen Island in Knysna about 5 hours drive along the Garden Route from Cape Town.

KC: What made you decide to stay at THE TURBINE HOTEL?

Francois: I have seen a few very good reviews of The Turbine Hotel and wanted to experience it for myself – ensuring that our clients’ expectations are met and or exceeded.

KC: What was your first impression of THE TURBINE HOTEL on arrival?

Francois: Artistic luxury with quirky sense of humor coming through as a theme throughout the hotel.

KC: What was the service like?

Francois: Very good service and attention to detail. The management is also very involved and visible.

KC: Is it child friendly?

Francois: Yes, The Turbine Hotel accommodates families with children. We stayed in one of the suites and they converted a sleeper couch into a second double bed for the kids in our bedroom.

KC: What activities are offered at THE TURBINE HOTEL?

Francois: The Turbine has great conference facilities, a private beauty spa, a restaurant, an oyster bar and also offers boat trips, paragliding and other experiences to their guests via their concierge service desk.

KC: What was the food like?

Francois: We had breakfast at The Turbine and we really enjoyed the salmon eggs benedict while the kids loved their cinnamon pancakes, fresh berries and syrup.

KC: What was the highlight of your stay at THE TURBINE HOTEL?

Francois: Historic building converted into a 5 star destination – where one discovers interesting features, facts and art pieces as you move throughout this special place.

KC: What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois: You will want to stay here for at least 2 nights – especially if you start participating in the activities on offer (fishing, sun set cruises, etc)

KC: Who is THE TURBINE HOTEL ideal for (i.e. the type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: To travellers for whom quality and services coupled with value for money are key elements. Perfect for company director breakaways as the hotel offers 24 separate rooms.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  5
Bedroom  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should THE TURBINE HOTEL sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay or complete the form below.

The Lofts Boutique Hotel in Knysna, South Africa

Hidden away in the Boatshed, on Thesen Islands, right on the water’s edge, you will discover The Lofts Boutique Hotel.  The accommodation at The Lofts offers the discerning guest a combination of luxurious living and breathtaking views over the scenic Knysna Lagoon in beautiful en-suite rooms or in spacious self-catering suites. 

Francois talks about his family’s recent trip to THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Klein Collection: How far is THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL from Cape Town?

Francois: The Lofts Hotel is located on the exclusive Thesen Island in Knysna about 5 hours drive along the garden route from Cape Town.

Klein Collection: What made you decide to stay at THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL?

Francois: I am a big fan of the Thesen Island development from a conceptual point of view and wanted to experience The Lofts myself since we (Klein Collection) have sent a few clients there already.

Klein Collection: What was your first impression of THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL on arrival?

Francois: Well positioned with beautiful views of the ocean from the reception area’s lounge. I also thought the complimentary delicacy cakes at reception was a special touch – my two sons (6 and 3 years old) also thought so…

Klein Collection:What was the service like?

Francois: Staff were very friendly and hands-on service. They were also flexible around our late check out.

Klein Collection: Is it child friendly?

Francois: Yes, The Lofts Hotel caters for families and we stayed in a self-catering two-bedroom apartment which worked perfectly for our small family. The hotel’s location (being on Thesen Island) makes the environment very child friendly. We could relax while our kids were exploring the immediate surrounds.

Klein Collection: What activities are offered at THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL?

Francois: The Lofts partnered with activity companies and caters for all local tours and experiences accordingly. There is a conference facility as well as bespoke spa and beauty salon on the premises.

We had breakfast at Il de Pain – bread, pastry and chocolate specialists. A must when you are at Thesen Island. If you are lucky (like we were) you will even meet one of the owners (Liezie Mulder and Markus Farbinger) still being very hands-on involved in the day to day operations and quality at this very special eatery. Great service as well.

Klein Collection: What was the food like?

Francois: The Lofts hotel does not offer restaurant facilities on site and outsources their breakfasts to surrounding restaurants (such as iL de Pain, The Turbine Hotel and others).

Klein Collection: What was the highlight of your stay at THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL?

Francois: Quality accommodation, friendly service and fantastic breakfast at iL de Pain.

Klein Collection: What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois: Try to check in within normal business hours – then there will be a porter that can assist with luggage.

Unfortunately The Lofts Boutique Hotel is not suitable for physically challenged guests

Klein Collection: Who is THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL ideal for (i.e. the type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Ideal for groups traveling together – but still need privacy. Also all good value seekers.

Point out of 5
Service  4
Location  5
Food (il de Pain  5
Bedroom  4
Facilities  4
Décor  4
Attention to detail  4
Value for money  5

Should THE LOFTS BOUTIQUE HOTEL sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com.

Morukuru

African Safari Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Set on its own private concession within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, Morkuru’s three ‘mini-lodges’ promise a different formula and a different experience. We find out how it compares with other Madikwe offerings.

Sometimes we can tell straightaway when a place ‘has it’. Well, Morukuru has it. It’s a combination of a great many things all coming together, but first, a bit about how Morukuru is different.

Instead of one lodge, Morukuru consists of three ‘mini-lodges’ – the Owners House, The Lodge, and The Farmhouse, which each sleep 2-10 guests, and are booked exclusively. Each comes with its own team of dedicated staff – guide, tracker and hostess, chef, butler and back-up staff so whether you’re a honeymoon couple, a family, or group of friends, this team is at your very own disposal throughout your stay, including your own private safari vehicle.

Our whole team is waiting to meet us when we arrive, with a cold cocktail and traditional African song before our hosts, Anthony and Amy, accompany us to our villa. We’re staying at the Owners House – the house originally built by Ed and Anka Zeeman, who fell in love with Madikwe after their first visit here in 2003, and built this incredible bush house on the site of giant Tamboti tree (Morukuru means Tamboti in Tswana).

Owners House Suite

Owners House Suite

Imagine your idea of a luxury safari suite overlooking a wooded river bed (or if you can’t, read some of our other blogs). Then quadruple it in size, add several outdoor decks and wooden walkways among the trees, add a dining room as well as a lounge, kitchen, library and study, and finally a private heated rim-flow pool (larger than many a 5-star lodge’s communal pool) that appears to hover among the trees, and you have an idea of what this place is like.

There’s even an integrated sound system, where you can play different music in different parts of the house (including speakers in the outdoor shower).

And this is just for the two of us. But it gets better.

“At Morukuru, we don’t work on any schedule”, Anthony explains. “We can go for game drives whenever you like. Joyce [our chef] can cook for you whatever you like, whenever you like. We’re all at your disposal”.

Breakfast with our hosts, Morukuru

Breakfast with our hosts, Morukuru

This is not normal. Most top-end lodges have a strict schedule – from a wakeup call to meal times and game drive times, and although you can skip whatever you like, you can’t tailor every day to your personal wishes. At Morukuru, you can.

Of course having infinite choices can be stressful. Do you go to check out those lions you heard roaring earlier, or relax instead in the pool while Evanz [our butler] plies you with cocktails? Should you choose a vintage wine from the owner’s private collection instead of a house wine, and if so, what? Luckily, everyone from your chef to your guide is on hand to make recommendations and we’re happy to follow them for our stay.

It’s time for our afternoon game drive and Anthony takes us on a tour of the 1,000 hectare private concession that forms part of Madikwe Game Reserve. Madikwe has a lot of lodges and it can get quite crowded at sightings, but here you’ll only see other Morukuru vehicles, although they also have access to the rest of the reserve. So we had a beautiful lion sighting to ourselves, and stared down a rare African Wild Cat before a private dinner on one of our decks, and a moonlight swim (the pool is heated to 30C today).

Dinner with a view, Morukuru

Dinner with a view, Morukuru

Next morning we combine a game drive with a stop at the Farmhouse – a bigger mini-lodge sleeping up to ten, different, but just as luxurious. Here you virtually have your own private reserve as well as a private lodge, as the huge grounds, complete with many antelope, are fenced, so completely safe for children.

Morukuru is generally fantastic for children, who can accompany adults on game drives, or be whisked away for their own drives or other activities, such as tracking, setting up camera traps and a host of other exciting activities. And all in a malaria-free part of the country. For kids, it doesn’t get better than this.

In our experience, individually owned (as opposed to corporate) lodges are often more intimate, and Morukuru is no exception; the owners’ touches are present everywhere, right down to the specially customised safari vehicle. And the owners must be doing something right, as Anthony and Amy have been with them for two years, perfecting the art of guiding and hospitality.

Sundowners, Morukuru

Sundowners, Morukuru

With all your own dedicated staff, you might think there’d be people fussing over you the whole time. But this is not ‘yes, sir, no, sir’ service – that is not what hospitality is about. When it’s done properly, you don’t notice – everything just happens the way you want it, effortlessly. It’s easy to say, but requires great skill and experience to achieve. Morukuru manages it where many others fail.

If all this sounds a bit mediocre to you, don’t despair. There are a few things we’re not mentioning – call them Morukuru family secrets if you like – that might just blow your mind. Don’t ask because we’re not telling, but if you’re curious there’s only one way to find out…

Good for: Exclusive, tailored, Big Five game viewing and other activities, with the best hospitality around, including for children.

Not so good for: We’re struggling with this one.

Our verdict: State-of-the-art quality across the board

Tau Game Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

 African Safari Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

“It takes a pride to serve a king”. So reads Tau’s motto, and at Tau Game Lodge you are the king. The pride of Tau, from the receptionist to the waiter to the general manager never failed to impress. We joined the Tau lion-hearted spirit and found it hard to leave…

Nestled in the northeastern corner of Madikwe Game Reserve, Tau Game Lodge was one of the very first lodges in Madikwe to open its doors. And today, 17 years later, although a little dated, Tau still oozes that original charm. Still clinging to its original values, including local community development, Tau is a true gem in Madikwe – a place with a heart and soul and where the roar of the lions stays with you forever.

Tau means lion in the local Setswana language, and lions are what this lodge is all about. Ernest, our excellent guide, worked his way up from a waiter to acting head guide. “It’s a matter of pride for me to find lions on every drive”, he says. And he usually does. If it’s lions you want to see, look no further than Tau. We saw 11 on our first drive.

But game drives are so much more than the Big Five and as a top guide, Ernest understands this and reads his guests’ needs – we stopped for everything big and small and most importantly we stopped to listen. To just listen and soak up the sounds of the African bush is one of the greatest privileges to us.

On our first day at Tau, we were joined by Giles, the general manager, for lunch. A new addition to the management team, Giles has a great deal of experience in the industry and we expect Madikwe’s largest lodge to go from strength to strength.

One of Tau’s greatest assets is its location overlooking a huge waterhole. Most of the lodge, and most suites, look directly onto the water and all have views of animals coming down to drink. The place was positively teeming with game when we arrived. It’s not unusual to see lions and wild dog kill right in front of the lodge, so don’t feel guilty about skipping the odd drive. Either way, you’ll still enjoy the majestic scenery characteristic of the northern part of Madikwe, including the wild, rugged Inselberg hills, the domain of leopards that wish to gaze down on tourists, rather than the other way round.

Next morning we headed out on an early morning drive with Ernest and Moses, a new young tracking star from the lowveld, and the newest addition to Tau’s guiding team. We track some lion on foot and we’re taken with Moses’ skills and enthusiasm. He embodies the culture at Tau.

The accommodation at Tau is in the form of standard, luxury or family suites. In each the attention to detail is exquisite – from the intricate woven bed decoration to the lion-paw shaped soap. And the food was superb – we enjoyed the best bush smoked salmon salad of all time for lunch, and the four-course dinner overlooking the waterhole was memorable. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a great spa and conference facilities, a pool and plenty to keep kids occupied in this malaria-free area.

We left Tau with the feeling that it’s run by a team working together, that they wanted to be there, and where hospitality came naturally. We got smiles everywhere we went and despite its size, we felt part of the Tau family. It works.

Great for: Corporate groups looking for conference facilities; family and friends getaways.

Not so good for: Being quite a big lodge, it is not ideal as a romantic honeymoon destination.

For enquiries, please contact us on +27 21 813 6961 or info@kleincollection.com. Alternatively, please complete the short enquiry form below.

Madikwe Safari Lodge

African Safari Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Set in a game-rich corner of the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and now under new management, we find out what Madikwe Safari Lodge has to offer.

 

First impressions count. We arrive in the burning heat of the day, our vehicle is whisked away and we’re escorted straight to the lunch table, chilled drink in hand. So far so good. A hot breeze wafts through the shaded deck; I order a gourmet burger and settle back in my chair. It’s been a long journey to get here.

WIld dog, Madikwe Safari Lodge

WIld dog, Madikwe Safari Lodge

As you’ll know by now, eating occupies a large proportion of your time on safari, so what you eat, and where you eat it, are important. Madikwe Safari Lodge is tucked away in the bushveld on the lower slopes of a rocky hill, just high enough for a wonderful view out across the veld. And the bush comes right up to where we’re sitting with my gourmet burger. I hear a rustle not far away, and three elephants are plodding towards a nearby waterhole. Is that a giraffe’s head I see peaking at me through the trees? No, it’s two…

At the same time, there’s a plethora of birds flitting from bush to bush – with binocs in hand, we tick off a good 20 species in between bites of that gourmet burger (which is delicious by the way).

Zebra, Madikwe Safari Lodge

Zebra, Madikwe Safari Lodge

We’re shown to our luxury chalet, which is very private and situated well away from other chalets. One of our pet hates is chalets situated too close together – you want to hear the sounds of the bush, not your neighbours. The room is tastefully furnished – hints of African, but not kitsch, with muted accents of colour, an outdoor shower, and huge bath.

Best of all is the private plunge pool overlooking the bush – we cool down as three curious kudu come to investigate what the splashing is all about. Private pools are not always the norm and this is a huge bonus. There’s also a bag of gym equipment so you can work out on your own private deck, if the need for exercise arises. This is a great little touch, and one we haven’t seen before.

Luxury suite, Madikwe Safari Lodge

It’s afternoon tea and time to meet our guide, Andre, for the evening game drive. Madikwe is well-known for its wild dogs and Andre obliges with a great view of one of the main packs resting in the shade. And lions. Madikwe is all about lions, and you’re virtually guaranteed a sighting. Our pride was relaxing under a bush, as usual, but with so many around, you’ve got as good a chance as any of seeing them hunt. The day’s rounded off with G&T sundowners and a boma dinner under the stars back at the lodge.

It’s an eye-rubbing 5.30am start next morning but Madikwe is hot, and the deliciously cool morning quickly morphs into a blazing hot day. We’re treated to a beautiful white rhino, right on the road in front of us, and lots of ellies.

Rhino, Madikwe Safari Lodge

Rhino, Madikwe Safari Lodge

We linger over breakfast (a delicious buffet spread, and eggs to order), disappointed to be leaving so soon. But with binocs in hand, we’re once again treated to our own breakfast safari gazing out over the bush. Are those the giraffes again? I think so….

Good for: Big Five viewing in an awesome setting. Children – good child facilities and malaria free.

Not so good for: Exclusivity at sightings (although this is true for most Madikwe lodges)

Our Verdict – Under efficient new management, with chalet upgrades under way, this sound, good-value, top-end lodge should go from strength to strength.