We are all safely back home now and it is time to say thank you and congratulations!
I have grown up in a well-known hospitality family and first started working in the restaurant, resort and catering business when I was 14. The most significant business concept that I was taught and that I have tried to live by in the over 40 years since, and the 25 years at my own restaurant and catering business is to “treat my guests as I would expect to be treated”. Londolozi is the epitome of that concept. We have never experienced such genuine and professional hospitality anywhere else in the world.
My wife Terri and I have led food and wine lovers on ten special trips so far around the world over the past eight years, and we have always prided ourselves on creating only the most unique, high caliber experiences. Our multiple repeat guests know that we will only take them to the very best properties, and that they will experience things that others can only dream of. We have stayed at four other safari camps in Africa (some claiming to have been honored as “best in the world”), and nothing has come close to our experience at your “slice of heaven” which you call Londolozi. Our travel partners Ryan and Malaka Hilton know that our groups are demanding, and the expectations are extremely high. Without a doubt our guests comments about Londolozi have been as near to perfect as we have ever seen. It was a treat to see Ryan back in the wild at his former home where he was a former Londolozi ranger.
From the moment we arrived, your team greeted us so professionally at the airstrip that we knew we were in for something special. Your safari team is passionate, knowledgeable and completely at ease in the wild. They exude confidence and our personal experiences with rangers Adam Bannister, James Tyrrell, Julius Ngwenya and David Dampier were truly special. I know that the rest of our group also told us that their rangers and trackers were over-the-top. What a pleasure it was to also see the history of the trackers – the stories we heard from our tracker James Siwela about his family’s history with your family were inspiring and moving.
Food and beverage in the wild can be very challenging as you are well aware, and the Londolozi team hit “a home run”. Craig Paterson and his team never ceased to amaze us with their creativity, quality and presentation. As a caterer, I was so impressed with your food and beverage team, even when they took their show “on the road” for our bush brunch. Nobody missed a beat, even though I know the hours they all put in must be very challenging. Terri’s food allergy was handled so beautifully and at every meal, and it never went unnoticed by the staff. It is even missed on occasion at our own restaurant! In addition, we challenged your team with special South African wine requests. Not only was your team open to helping us work with wine farms that our guests could access easily in the USA, they even arranged for one of your country’s top wine farm owners – Marc Kent (Boekenhoutskloof) to bring special wines in and to join our group for game drives and two special Boma events. He will be a great emissary for you. One of the highlights for all of us was the Princess Alice dinner at the Varty Camp. The setting was really amazing, the menu inspired and the service impeccable.
Staying at the “home base” Varty Camp was really special. There is a true appreciation and celebration of your family history everywhere you turn. It is an emotional experience for sure, especially since almost all of our group was either reading or had read yours and your brother John’s books! Alex Paterson and your lodging team were amazing (we enjoyed Sean and Dani at Varty). No detail was overlooked and all of our guests’ needs and requests were handled with such ease and professionalism that it seemed like the lodge managers already knew what people would be asking for. The accommodations are beautiful and tastefully decorated – we understand that our new friend Jimmy had a lot to do with the ongoing special renovations. The room attendants handled their duties unnoticed and all of our guests enjoyed the special room amenities and your special gifts for adults and children. We were given the opportunity to tour all of the different camps and we loved the individual and unique personality you have given to each.
On behalf of our children and the others that were with us, we wanted you to also know that they totally enjoyed every minute of the Cubs program and especially the extra attention from Cinzia. They were engaged on so many levels and never had to hang out at the adult special events unless they wanted to join us. The flexibility and attention to that component of Londolozi is wonderful. The kids even had their own game drives each afternoon and of course they always found the big cats first! The family program at Londolozi Cubs is fun, educational and exciting. It was truly a once-in-a-life experience for all of them.
We also know that our guests truly enjoyed visiting your spa for massages and the special area for yoga. We are sure that BJ will share with you that our group had a feeding frenzy in your Living Shop. The selection of unique gifts, books and apparel was exceptional. We are confident that all of our group will be happily showing off their Londolozi apparel for years to come.
Our last night at Londolozi will be in our hearts forever. What a special experience it was to meet you and spend time with you. Your inspiring talk about pioneering African conservation and insights into your family history at Londolozi left a lasting impression on all of our guests and children. The experience of having our guides and the management team join us that night was the icing on the cake. There is no doubt that these passionate professionals love what they are doing and feel motivated to contribute personally to Londolozi and the guest experience. Trust us, our kids Max and Mikayla will be ready to join you someday! The music and camaraderie that we all experienced that night was magical.
We are already planning our return to Londolozi with another group in 2013. We are sharing our photos and enjoying the special ongoing connection that we have with Londolozi due to the wonderful blogs we receive from your team daily. We just have to return soon to be able to check on the special Tsalala lion cubs we met!
Please share our comments with your entire Londolozi team – we know we forgot some special people there. We think it was a brilliant idea to return Londolozi to an independent safari lodge. Londolozi is truly an original – your staff and family seem well-equipped to compete with the best hospitality families anywhere in the world.
Looking forward to seeing you again at Londolozi,