Londolozi and Relais & Chateaux have enjoyed a long and wonderful history to date. Many of our guests travel exclusively to Relais & Chateaux properties around the world which makes us proud to be a part of the Relais & Chateaux Africa family.
In the early 1990s South Africa was in the process of becoming a democracy. As a result, it was a challenging time for the country. But, a beautiful rainbow nation was emerging. Londolozi had – for a very long time – been a part of that change. And it was Nelson Mandela himself, after his visits to Londolozi, that asked us to begin to share our blueprint of conservation. He wanted us to show a completely South African option of how to showcase our country in a very unique way. Mandela believed that safari was unique and should be shared with the rest of the world, and that the diverse people of our country should be celebrated and shared. This led to the Londolozi Conservation Development Model Blueprint to be shared throughout the continent.
Londolozi, at that time (and to this day), was a small stand-alone, family-run business that had begun to go global. This meant that we wanted to understand other small family businesses around the world… how they were run, what made people loyal to them, and how they kept people coming back. Shan Varty began to search for a like-minded group of generational hotels who were connected to the land, who were connected to the heritage of the place, who were looking to use local ingredients and local foods, and who were seeking the slower movement of hospitality. Remember that in the 1990s, everything was about the big chains. It was about being fast and furious.
Now, as we reflect on 2021 looking towards 2022, the trend is certainly shifting back. Relais & Chateaux has always been at the forefront of that thinking, and so, in 1993 Londolozi applied to become part of the Relais & Chateaux family as one of the first Relais & Chateaux safari lodges in Africa.
The first Relais & Chateaux Safari Lodge in Africa
And so Londolozi was proudly accepted into the Relais & Chateaux Africa family in 1993 with Londolozi’s Tree Camp being the first safari camp in Africa to be awarded the prestige. Londolozi’s Pioneer Camp and The Private Granite Suites followed suit and we have held that status, and grown in fellowship with Relais & Chateaux, ever since.
For guests and for members, the essential experience linked to this fellowship is that of belonging. It is this fellowship that shows us that we are part of something greater than ourselves. For guests, it is a feeling of being welcomed into a home, of being accepted as family, of truly settling in. For members, it is very similar. Belonging speaks to the deeply personal relationship that members have with Relais & Chateaux and with each other.
“For 60 years, Relais & Châteaux has elevated art de vivre to a 10th art! Our Chefs and Maîtres de Maison are delighted to welcome you to a world shaped by their personalities and passion. We are committed to offering hospitality in unique places. We aim, along with the men and women skilled in the subtle art of refined hospitality, to place you, our guests, centre stage.” Philippe Gombert – President of Relais & Châteaux
Belonging to the Relais & Châteaux association means being part of a global family of hoteliers whose standalone properties are united by what makes each one of them so unique. It’s the spirit of excellence and a common vision of looking after guests. It’s sharing with them the true flavour, culture and experience of the region. I believe this is something that can only be shared when staying in a stand-alone family-run destination.
A short history of Relais & Châteaux
In 1954, two former music hall entertainers ushered in a new era of hospitality and a new experience of travel. At the time, all “luxury hotels’ ‘ were palaces located in major cities. They delivered luxury as defined solely in terms of appointments and service. How one experienced one’s stay was another matter. And the country in between those big cities represented, to most luxury guests, wilderness. But in fact Marcel and Nelly Tilloy had a charming seignorial estate in the Rhone Valley, and were struggling to fill its seven rooms often enough to afford to keep the property. They hit on a plan to band together with seven other similarly-minded small, attentive hoteliers on the main routes between Paris and Nice. Together, they would advertise the prestigious (and expensive) “Plaisir de France ”. They called their association “Les Relais de Campagne” and the route “La Route du Bonheur ” (the Road to Happiness). The idea was to provide eight stepping stones of superb accommodation, happiness and fine dining on the way between the two big destinations. Each offered serenity, beautifully appointed rooms, well maintained gardens, welcoming appearance, excellent cuisine and the unflagging passion of their individualistic hosts. Together they offered a ‘gastronomic passport’ that encouraged travellers to collect all eight experiences
Why Londolozi and Relais & Chateaux Africa?
Relais & Chateaux’s greatest appeal to us was that it was an organization of small, family-run businesses all around the world, that were unique in the world. It was this collective movement of being able to come together towards change in support of a new way of luxury and hospitality that became the catalyst, leading to Londolozi becoming the first Relais & Chateaux affiliated property in Africa.
To be a member of Relais & Chateaux, one must have a certain character and spirit that stands behind and enlivens the quality of the hotel or restaurant. And one must be among others who share these passions. This is the ideal of Fellowship. As different as we may be from one another, we recognise in each of us the true spirit of hospitality, the spirit of Relais & Chateaux: this is what convinced us to join the fellowship and to represent Relais & Chateaux in Africa. We have since been proud to have been joined by a host of incredibly unique properties to make up arguably one of the most interesting Relais & Chateaux delegations.
The Relais & Chateaux gold standard of luxury
There is no doubt that Relais & Chateaux is the gold standard of luxury travel around the world. They look after their travellers by ensuring a very rigorous selection process and holding each property to continuously high standards. But, more importantly than that, Relais & Chateaux seeks family businesses that have been in place for generations and who have a sense of history. Therefore, Relais & Chateaux’s experiences and properties cannot be replicated. And it is their diversity of experience but commonality of standard that means wherever you go, whenever you visit a Relais & Chateaux property, you are getting the very best of the best that the region has to offer… and yet something completely different to anything else. This is the reason that we are such proud members of the Relais & Chateaux Africa family
If you’re curious about how we became the first lodge in Africa to join the Relais & Chateaux Family…