About Klein Collection Luxury Accommodation & Travel Experiences

Klein Collection provides local and international clients with personalised accommodation, events and travel experiences that are truly beyond the ordinary. Besides our VIP concierge services, we also offer complimentary travel advice and independent reviews. For more details,visit www.kleincollection.com and blog.kleincollection.com

Francois talks about their trip to CLOUDS ESTATE

Clouds Estate is a small boutique hotel on top of Helshoogte pass. This private estate is a working farm that produces its own wines. It also offers premium accommodation that blends designer luxury with all the mod-cons. A stylish destination surrounded by incredible views, a stay at Clouds Hotel & Villas is difficult to forget.

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Klein Collection (KC): How far is CLOUDS ESTATE from Cape Town?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE is about 50 km from Cape Town and located in the scenic Helshoogte pass just outside of Stellenbosch on your way to Franschhoek.

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KC: What made you decide to stay at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE has just been one of those places that I had on my personal bucket list of 5 star hotels in the Cape Winelands that we wanted to experience.

KC: What was your first impression of CLOUDS ESTATE on arrival?

Francois: Location, Location, Location! CLOUDS ESTATE is located on the top of the mountain, with an impressive entrance and beautiful surroundings with clean line architecture.

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KC: What was the service like?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE staff focused on making us feel at home from the first second we arrived with a welcome drink/ coffee at the patio area overlooking the valley, serving us popcorn when we ordered a DVD in our room the evening and also placing a warm water bottle in our bed as part of the turndown. Small things do make a difference!

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KC: Is it child friendly?

Francois: I think that CLOUDS ESTATE is more appropriate for adults or families with children older than 12 years old. 11698502_876465392439551_3551474548900847632_n

KC: What activities are offered at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: Enjoy a glass of CLOUDS ESTATE’s own wine selection, relax at the pool with one of the best views in South Africa or go for a lunch, dinner or a wine excursion to one of the many renowned neighbours next to COULDS ESTATE (Tokara or Delaire Graff as examples).

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KC: What was the food like?

Francois:  The breakfast at CLOUDS ESTATE was brilliant. We went for a 8 km run before breakfast and did not feel guilty to try everything on offer on the buffet J. The salmon eggs benedict is the one to have.

KC: What was the highlight of your stay at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: Feeling that you are on top of the world at CLOUDS ESTATE – high up the mountains. The private Jacuzzi outside with warm bubbly water and cold morning mist outside.

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KC: What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois: Bring your running/ walking shoes or mountain bike along if you like exercise.

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KC: Who is CLOUDS ESTATE ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Romantic breakaways, exclusive corporate meetings (CLOUDS ESTATE accommodates 12 single rooms and up to 50 conference delegates)

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  4
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

 

Should CLOUDS ESTATE sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

 

Francois talks about their trip to SPIER

Spier is one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms dating back to 1692, this farm is rich in history and remains a special place to anyone who visits. Located about 40km from Cape Town, you’ll find this historic farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What made you decide to stay at SPIER?

Francois: SPIER is ideal for us as we have kids (two boys aged 6 and 8). The large natural open spaces, great facilities and scenic surroundings.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was your first impression of SPIER on arrival?

Francois: It’s actually very close to Cape Town! SPIER is located in the wine capital of South Africa and has a farm feel to it. On arrival we were greeted with warm friendly smiles from the staff which is always the best way to start a stay.

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the service like?

Francois: The staff at SPIER were very friendly and attentive to all our needs. They are particularly good with children (e.g. entertaining the kids while the parents take a deserving break).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Is it child friendly?

Francois: Yes, SPIER accommodates families with children of all ages, with a variety of activities and facilities to keep kids occupied. The food for the children was also good and I loved the fact that there was a grape juice tasting on offer when we as adults did the wine tasting. On the morning of our check out from the SPIER hotel, our youngest son immediately asked: “When can be come here again?”2015-06-20 15.01.49 2015-06-20 11.58.15-1
Klein Collection (‘K.C’): 
What activities are offered at SPIER?

Francois: Activities offered onsite at Spier are as follows:

  • Segway tours: Take a tour of the vineyard on your very own Segway PT – a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle.
  • Wine tasting and chocolate pairing (highly recommended)
  • Eagle encounter (very educational and was great for our kids)
  • Local art being on display throughout SPIER (insprirational)
  • A spa (beauty treatments and massages)
  • Food (wonderful selection of restaurants, deli and picnic baskets)

 

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the food like?

Francois: Food quality at SPIER is top class and they make a conscious effort to cater for the children’s tastes as well. EIGHT Restaurant prides itself in the fact that most of the ingredients in the meals served, are locally produced on the SPIER farm.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the highlight of your stay at SPIER?

Francois: The overall openness and spaces to walk and cycle, value for money and how our children enjoyed every bit of our stay.2015-06-19 16.42.37

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What should potential visitors take note of

Francois: Be ready to want to make SPIER a regular place to visit (at least once a year for 2 nights).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Who is SPIER ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Anyone really – but SPIER is great for small or large groups and people with kids.

 

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

 

Should SPIER sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Severin Safari Camp, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya

Set in the heart of the Tsavo wilderness, Severin came with high expectations for us. We weren’t disappointed…

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Park together form one of the biggest, and wildest protected areas in Africa and should be very high on the list for any serious safari-goer. Tsavo is one of our favourite African Parks, and Severin Safari Camp one of our all-time favourite lodges so the two together make a pretty good combination.

Severin manages to combine two normally-contradictory attributes – the advantages that size brings, yet a family-like intimate atmosphere. There are more than twenty suites, yet they are spread over such a large area that privacy is never a problem. Our fantastic German host, Manja, is as gifted in hospitality as anyone you’ll ever meet and straightaway, guests are made to feel part of the Severin family. The waiters greet you by name, and the Masai tribesman who accompany you on the (often long) walk to and from your tent at night are engaging and delightful. Severin look after their staff well, and it shows.

Main Lodge, Severin

Main Lodge, Severin

On our day of arrival, lunch is served by the pool (the best place to be in the heat of the Tsavo day) and we watch lazily as a gemsbok trots past to a waterhole. There are no less than six waterholes within the grounds of the lodge itself; this in what is an arid region, so the wildlife tends to come to you. At sunset we withdraw to the elevated deck of our Kibo suite, less than 100m from what feels like our own private waterhole. Soon the ground below is teeming with game – several giraffe come to drink, together with zebra, gemsbok and impala. Sundowner in hand, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Many guests come to Severin with their own vehicle and driver as part of a longer safari, but it’s also possible to use the lodges’ vehicle and guides. We take a Masai guide out on a game drive early next morning and we’re entranced by the magical light and wildness of the park. The landscape is dotted with volcanic hills and lava flows and on a clear day, the vast hulk of Kilimanjaro is visible far away. Game in Tsavo can be harder to find than in some other parks, but you come here to get away from the crowds…and of course to relax.

Our own private watering hole!

Our own private watering hole!

And trust us, there is no better place to relax than Severin. Dinners are a four-course affair and superbly done, the chef making a personal appearance at each table to soak up well-earned praise. That night we listen to the sounds of the bush from our superb Kibo Suite – the lapping of water, zebras munching, the distinctive click-click of eland walking and occasional thunder of hooves as a herd of ungulates is spooked by some hidden menace.

We decide that at Severin, it’s best to let the wildlife come to you rather than the other way round and settle in to a day of relaxation. Game is numerous around the main lodge and we watch gemsbok and zebra from the comfort of the pool. The main lodge itself is not elevated and this is unusual. You are at the same level as the animals – it’s subtle, but it adds to the feeling that you’re really in amongst them, an equal.

Swimming Pool Severin

At sunset, Manja has a treat awaiting us – sundowners at Poacher’s Lookout, atop a nearby, rugged hill. When we arrive, a chair, table, bottle of sparkling and snacks are set up with a view far out across the plains to distant mountains. As the hazy sky lights up orange, our waiter Sammy turns on music from the soundtrack to Out of Africa – cheesy or romantic, depending on you, but the setting is unbeatable!

Severin is a place where you can relax without feeling guilty about missing a game drive. It also boasts good eco-credentials for its recycling and other use of resources, and is a winner of eco-tourism awards. We like it a lot.

Our Verdict: A little oasis in a vast wilderness, Severin is a gem of a lodge with dedicated, passionate staff that will make a safari here unforgettable.

Good for: Everything from large groups, families and honeymooners have their place here

Not so good for: If you like small size and communal dining, this is not Severin’s scene, though it can still feel intimate

Satao Elerai Camp, Amboselli, Kenya

With fantastic views of Kilimanjaro, Satao Elerai is a comfortable camp a stone’s throw away from world-famous Amboseli National Park

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

We didn’t see it at first – Africa’s highest peak is usually tantalizingly shrouded in cloud – but our tent faced due south and as the sun set, casting its amber rays over the bush, its snow-capped peak peeped over the clouds, impossibly high. From the comfort of the deck of our luxury tent, we watched it until the light died completely. There can be fewer more moving sights in the African landscape than this.

And Satao Elerai is a great place in which to experience it. It’s twenty minutes down a bumpy road to the camp, which is unfenced and within a Conservancy adjacent to Amboseli, so you really feel you’re in the wild. The tents are well-spaced and feel private, while the main lodge area is refreshingly unpretentious, cool and shady, with views over the plains (and of course, of that little mountain).

Pool at Elerai

Pool at Elerai

A highlight for us is the rim-flow pool, deliciously cool, again with wonderful views out over the bush.

We arrive in time for lunch before enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the lodge. There’s not a huge amount of game around the lodge itself (though anything is possible, and there’s a waterhole in sight of the main deck), but over dinner (served at private tables) we were serenaded by the most vocal frogs we’ve heard yet, some just metres away. You have to hear this sound to believe it.

Next morning we’re treated to a clear view of Kili and head into Amboseli for a game drive. It’s only a few minutes before we’re surrounded by a herd of more than two hundred elephant, with iconic Kilimanjaro framed in the background. It’s the stuff of wildlife documentaries, a truly memorable sight.

Views of Kili from the lodge iteself

Amboseli is not without its problems. Frequent droughts and conflict between wildlife and the Masai have had a serious effect on the Park over the last few years. Few trees remain and in the dry season it can be unbearably dusty. All the rhino and most of the lion have now vanished, while park fees continue to increase. Yet Amboseli continues to draw the crowds, and to see the hoards of other game framed by Kilimanjaro (if it’s not in cloud)…well…it’s one of those things you have to see.

Most people come to Satao Elerai  with a car and driver from Nairobi, which is 5 or 6 hours drive away, but it’s possible to fly in and/or arrange game drives in Amboseli with guides from the lodge.

Our verdict: Solid choice with great views of Kili, close to iconic Amboselli National Park

Good for: Groups of all sizes, good value

Not so good for: Less intimate atmosphere than some smaller lodges

Wild Frontiers – Ishasha Wilderness Camp and Buhoma Lodge, Uganda

Wild Frontiers is one of the few companies to offer world-class safari accommodation in Uganda. Jonathan and Sophie visit Ishasha and Buhoma to see for themselves.

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Uganda is still an emerging safari tourist destination, but in our minds it’s currently in a sweet spot – developed enough to offer enough top class accommodation to put together a luxury safari itinerary, but without the mass market issues of Tanzania and Kenya. If you’re looking for something a bit different, Uganda is it.

A river runs past it

And Wild Frontiers makes this possible. Ishasha Wilderness Camp is the gem of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southern Ishasha sector, a remote area renowned for its tree-climbing lions.

We arrive on a hot day before the season’s rain has started, and immediately feel the cool of the shady trees along the river where the lodge is set. This river location is what sets the camp apart – it’s big enough for elephant to bathe in (we watched a big herd doing just that right across from the lodge) but not big enough to invoke that restless feeling of the sound of gushing water. It’s the sort of sound you can fall asleep to peacefully.

Main lodge, Ishasha

Main lodge, Ishasha

We’re greeted by the manager Abu and his staff and are impressed by their professionalism, which can be a rarity in Uganda. The luxury tents are spread out along the river; being mostly made of mesh, you really feel like you’re part of the bush and at night the sounds of hyena, hippos chomping just outside and (if you’re lucky), lion, feel all the closer. Ishasha feels wild, and it is.

Being a wilderness camp, there are certain compromises on luxury – no hair dryers for example, and electronics charging at a point in the main lodge only, but it’s a small price to pay. The lodge has excellent eco-credentials too; it’s run on solar, has hot bucket showers and flushing eco-toilets.

Even better is to come, with the most scrumptious 4 course dinner we’ve ever had in Uganda, served with style. If you like your food, you won’t be disappointed at Ishasha where all meals are fresh and prepared mostly with local produce.

The river at Ishasha Wilderness Camp

The river at Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Most people will head out on a game drive to spot the (sometimes elusive) tree-climbing lions but even without these, the Ishasha section of QENP is spectacular, with huge herds of elephant and buffalo, as well as antelope to admire.

Alternatively you can opt to stay where you are and soak up the extremely relaxing camp atmosphere where you’ve got a fair chance of seeing all of the above from your tent’s verandah, or the sundowner deck virtually hanging over the river.

Mountain Gorillas

From Ishasha, it’s a scenic 3 hour drive out of the plains and into the forested hills of Bwindi, to what, for many people is the highlight of their Ugandan safari – the mountain gorillas.

Buhoma Lodge is situated two minutes walk from the starting point of the most popular gorilla treks in East Africa. Several habituated groups are within easy striking distance and we had a spectacular encounter with the Mubare Group, including a 5 day-old baby. Be sure to have your gorilla permit organised weeks or months in advance at popular times year.

View from Buhoma Lodge

View from Buhoma Lodge

Buhoma lodge is the ideal place to relax after the physical strains of tracking these beasts through thick, steeply forested slopes. You’ll enjoy a complimentary massage, and the staff will even clean your boots!

We loved the location, each suite set on a steep slope with views out across the forest. There’s fantastic birding around the lodge itself, and even better on the track that runs through the forest right past the lodge.

Most people who stay at Ishasha and Buhoma will be with a hired vehicle and driver, as part of a larger Ugandan trip. QENP and gorilla tracking are virtually compulsory parts of any serious visit to Uganda, and Wild Frontiers’ offerings here are hard to beat.

Ndali Lodge, Uganda

Mention Ndali to anyone in the safari-know or living in Uganda, and the accolades will follow immediately. Jonathan and Sophie visit what is often described as Uganda’s top lodge to see what all the fuss is about. What did they find? A gorgeous, tranquil, home-away-from-home!

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Perched on the rim of an extinct volcano, Ndali Lodge overlooks the magnificent crater lake of Nyinambuga. With 8 luxury suites all facing west (for that killer sunset over the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains), this lodge delivers on high standards – from comfort to decor to food – to atmosphere.  Owner Aubrey, who manages the lodge with his wife Clare, is charismatic and warm and its this effusiveness that gives the lodge it’s homely feel.

Ndali Lodge

Ndali Lodge

Joining the guests for all meals (which are all communal), he does an outstanding job in making sure all guests are happy at all times. And most importantly his enthusiasm for the estate, the area and the community projects that Ndali is involved in shines through in every conversation. Communal meals are always a favorite of ours and at Ndali they highlight just how well that concept works for a small, intimate lodge – already at our first meal (a delicious lunch of quiche, salads and vanilla cake) the atmosphere is spot-on and we immediately make a few new friends from around the world, some of whom we’ll be staying in touch with. It’s not just about the beautiful surroundings, or the top-rate chimp trekking nearby – safaris are also about people.

Dining with a view, Ndali Lodge

Dining with a view, Ndali Lodge

That night we enter the lounge and dining room and find both bathed in candlelight – the perfect venue for a cosy, homely and delicious dinner prepared from locally sourced, fresh ingredients.

At Ndali you’re under no pressure to embark on activities all day long. Soak up the views, have a cocktail, go to the spa, the sauna or simply snooze. Most guests visiting the Crater Lakes will spend one day doing chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest (which, by the way, also boasts other primates such as L’Hoest’s Monkey, Black&White Colobus and Grey-cheeked Mangabey); otherwise there are endless hiking opportunities in and around the many crater lakes. Also, birding is phenomenal – on a short walk around the lodge we spotted 20 species in no time – including the stunning Green-headed Sunbird!

Relax with a view...Ndali Lodge

Relax with a view…Ndali Lodge

In the Crater Lakes / Kibale region of Western Uganda, Ndali Lodge is without a doubt our choice – and a great stopover as part of a larger Uganda tour, between Murchisson Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you arrive as strangers and leave as family. And so, let the accolades continue!

Kyambura Game Lodge, Uganda

On the border of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), Kyambura Game Lodge offers a great level of service to match its awesome location.

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

You can see Kyambura Game Lodge from afar, a row of tasteful thatched suites strung out along a rift valley ridge and once you’re up close, it’s even more impressive.

Main lodge, Kyambura

Main lodge, Kyambura

The lodge was quiet when we arrived, all the better to experience the peace and beauty that this place offers. The suites are tastefully built, all in locally sourced materials, and most of them are brand new, following a devastating fire a couple of years ago. But what stands out is the view. Whether from your suite, the sundowner deck or the spotless swimming pool, you look out across the vast plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park. An elephant ambled through the thick bush just below the lodge and the birding in the lodge grounds alone is enough to keep any keen birder happy.

Pool Kyambura Lodge

Other than the lodge itself, the main draw here is chimp trekking in Kyambura Gorge, and the proximity to QENP’s Mweya sector with its game viewing and spectacular river cruises. Both are a reasonably short drive away, making this lodge an ideal base.

The staff are friendly and attentive and we greatly enjoyed our stay.

Most visitors arrive with a car and driver from Kampala, as part of a larger organised tour although the lodge also welcomes independent travellers.