The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Pre­mium sa­fari out­fit andBeyond has opened a smart lodge on a 50,000ha river­front con­ces­sion near Vic­to­ria Falls in Zim­babwe, East Africa.

Two camps of nine suites (in­clud­ing two fam­ily op­tions), set above the broad Zam­bezi River, are the re­sult of a multi-mil­lion dol­lar re­build; the fa­mous con­ces­sion, once a hunt­ing re­serve, has also been up­graded with the ad­di­tion of nu­mer­ous wa­ter­holes, so­lar pumps and ac­cess tracks while anti-poach­ing pa­trols have been stepped up.

Guests can ex­pect to see large herds of ele­phant and buf­falo as well as hippo, lion, leop­ard, African wild dog and chee­tah, plus an­te­lope species such as sable and roan, along a 15km pri­vate stretch of river­front.

The large, su­per-smart suites are daubed with nat­u­ral thatched fin­ishes and dec­o­rated with art­works by Zim­bab­wean-born artist He­len Teede; in­te­rior con­crete floors are com­ple­mented by com­pressed earth out­doors.

Each suite opens on to a pri­vate plunge pool and ter­race with sweep­ing river views; even the king bed is set at the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dow to take ad­van­tage of the stun­ning out­look. There’s con­tem­po­rary out­door fur­ni­ture and day beds on the ter­race; the bath­room fea­tures a deep tub and in­door and out­door show­ers.

The main lodge build­ing is set among ma­ture trees above the river with a 23m-long rim-flow swim­ming pool stretch­ing along the bank, set about with funky daybeds be­neath a thatched per­gola. Lodge fa­cil­i­ties in­clude a sa­fari shop, gym and mas­sage pav­il­ion and, if you’re after to­tal pri­vacy, a stand-alone four-bed­room villa comes with sa­fari guide, chef and but­ler. DON’T MISS: An in­ter­pre­tive tour of Vic­to­ria Falls (just 40km away), free for guests stay­ing two nights or longer.

DIN­ING IN & OUT: Head chef Nico Meyer is in charge of the in­ter­ac­tive kitchen of­fer­ing homestyle meals in the lodge or al fresco be­neath shel­ter­ing man­gos­teen trees. The menu draws heav­ily on veg­eta­bles and herbs grown in the lodge gar­den. Pop­u­lar dishes in­clude the gen­er­ous lun­cheon burger and de­li­cious but­ter­milk rusks, based on Nico’s mother’s recipe. And look out for the wel­come mac­arons in the trade­mark shade of Matetsi blue as well as a se­lec­tion of Christ­mas truf­fles planned for the fes­tive sea­son.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: A sun­downer boat cruise on this pri­vate stretch of the mighty Zam­bezi is not to be missed.

CHECK­ING IN: Spe­cial open­ing rates from $US495 ($652) a per­son a night ap­ply for book­ings made by Jan­uary 31 for travel un­til the end of next year. Sa­faris by pri­vate tour­ing ve­hi­cles are avail­able at ex­tra cost. More:

ALSO TRY: Sanc­tu­ary Chief’s Camp, Oka­vango Delta, Botswana; Ban­jaar Tola Tented Camp, Kanha Na­tional Park, In­dia.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE A re­mark­able In­dian hill­top fort lo­cated in the Aravalli Range, an hour’s drive from Jaipur in Ra­jasthan, will be home to a lux­ury Alilabranded 59-suite ho­tel from Fe­bru­ary after a seven-year restora­tion; Alila Fort Bis­hangarh sits high on a gran­ite mount with 360-de­gree views; ac­com­mo­da­tion has been de­signed to wrap around the orig­i­nal fort com­ple­mented by a grand ban­quet hall, lawns and pool • Lovers of colo­nial style should note The Strand Yan­gon re­opens this month fol­low­ing a metic­u­lous six­month restora­tion and tech­nol­ogy up­date; lead­ing Burmese ar­ti­sans have re­vived the 31 over­sized gue­strooms where her­itage fea­tures in­clude mar­ble floors and teak pan­elling • Hote­lier ex­traor­di­naire Ian Schrager’s new­est prop­erty, Sanya Edi­tion, opens on Hainan Is­land off the coast of south­ern China next month; the re­sort fea­tures 512 gue­strooms, 17 vil­las and ac­cess to a “pri­vate ocean” • To cel­e­brate its newly ren­o­vated gue­strooms, The Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Wash­ing­ton DC has put to­gether a spe­cial pack­age, priced from $US375 ($492) a night in­clud­ing wa­ter-view digs, $US100 spa credit and free Wi-Fi ac­cess • Al Baleed Re­sort Salalah by Anan­tara, the first lux­ury pool villa re­sort in south­ern Oman, has opened in the prov­ince of Dho­far on the Ara­bian Sea with 136 gue­strooms and vil­las.

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