Luxury Travel Lounge by Elite

Interview with the Owner: John Gardiner – Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

As we continue our “Interview with the Owner” series, we travel today to the one-and-only Matetsi Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, as Elite’s Executive Director-Hotel Relations & Social Media Manager, Laura Watt, interviews the luxury lodge’s owner, John Gardiner.

We hope you enjoy seeing Matetsi Victoria Falls through the lens of John’s personal perspective (and the obvious deep connection he feels to the land) and that it helps to bring a bit of that “Matetsi Magic” into your life today.

916

WHAT SETS MATETSI VICTORIA FALLS APART?

Matetsi Victoria Falls is a destination within a destination. Our luxury lodge, located on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, is the realization of our family’s dream to showcase everything exceptional about our home country, Zimbabwe.

The property offers exclusive safari and tranquil river experiences, as well as access to the best activities in and around Victoria Falls, all wrapped up in incredible Zimbabwean hospitality. The property also affords guests privacy and the freedom of time and space, allowing them to explore the 136,000-acre Matetsi Private Game Reserve and a 9 mile stretch of the Zambezi River with game drives, walking safaris, boat cruises and canoeing.

WHAT FEELING OR EXPERIENCE DO YOU MOST DESIRE GUESTS OF MATETSI WALK AWAY WITH AFTER A STAY?

A feeling that can only be described as “Matetsi Magic”, and a genuine connection with our beautiful part of the world. Our guests are looked after with such authentic hospitality that they leave feeling like part of the extended Matetsi family.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLACE AT WHICH TO SPEND TIME ON-SITE?

Any spot that overlooks the spectacular Zambezi River – the terrace of any one of our suites, the outdoor area of our private villa or our outstanding wine cellar.

916

FAVORITE PLACE OR SPOT TO VISIT OFF-SITE(S)?

There are many very special locations across Matetsi Private Game Reserve; I’ll just share two of my favorites. There are some cliffs that look west over the Zambezi River – a beautiful spot for drinks at sunset. A full-day game drive down to the south of the property will take you to Zanangubo pan – it’s a stunning location for a bush lunch, with remarkable birdlife and wildlife sightings, including the opportunity to see the world-famous Matetsi Sable antelope.

veronablogicon-cropfinal bolognablogicon-cropfinal

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD/DISH TO EAT ON SITE(S)?

Very hard to pick! Our kitchen team is led by two of the finest chefs on the continent, Chef Shane and Chef Artwell, who have taken our cuisine to new heights that guests have likened to Michelin-star level. Fortunately, our guests stay for a few days, so they can experience the variety of dining experiences that we have created.

I should make a special mention of our homemade chocolate éclair though, it is exceptional.

veronablogicon-cropfinal bolognablogicon-cropfinal florenceblogicon-cropfinal
WHAT WAS THE MOST UNIQUE EXPERIENCE YOU EVER ARRANGED FOR A GUEST?

Matetsi Victoria Falls combines safari with excellent dining experiences. We have brought these elements together to create a variety of guest delights. My personal favorite is our unique bush dinner experience. Set under the vast canopy of a Winterthorn tree, we have hung giant chandeliers of lanterns which subtly illuminate the scene below: silver service and an à la carte menu served to our guests out in the wilderness, accompanied by fabulous wines, of course.

916

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT YOU HAVE PERSONALLY EVER EXPERIENCED AT MATETSI VICTORIA FALLS?

Driving through the wildlife concession with my daughter, Sara, and coming across a pride of 9 lion relaxing around our most recently commissioned waterhole. This moment reminded me of how far we have come on our conservation journey. Matetsi Private Game Reserve, an area that was decimated by poaching and illegal hunting just six years ago (before we secured the concession), is now abundant with wildlife. Our conservation efforts, including the sixteen solar-powered boreholes that we have installed across the property that provide life-giving water for wildlife, have had such an incredibly positive effect.

veronablogicon-cropfinal bolognablogicon-cropfinal

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT CONSERVATION EFFORTS AT MATETSI VICTORIA FALLS?

Conservation is key to preserving the 136,000-acre pristine wilderness of which we are custodians. As mentioned, there has been an incredible return of wildlife to this vast land. This is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our conservation team, who, together with our guides and trackers, are true wildlife guardians. To bolster this positive human presence, we support the anti-poaching units in the area and have also installed the solar-powered boreholes, re-established an extensive road network and installed a state-of-the-art radio communications network. Protecting and preserving our planet’s wild spaces is essential to ensuring our wildlife and wilderness areas can be experienced for generations to come.

veronablogicon-cropfinal bolognablogicon-cropfinal

FAVORITE PART OF OVERSEEING MATETSI VICTORIA FALLS?

Creating a new standard in eco-tourism in Africa, which has involved seeing the development of our incredible team and the rewilding of Matetsi Private Game Reserve. It is a great pleasure to be able to share the best of Zimbabwe with our guests from around the world.

veronablogicon-cropfinal bolognablogicon-cropfinal florenceblogicon-cropfinal

MANY THANKS TO YOU, JOHN, FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SHARE JUST SOME OF THE REASONS THAT MATETSI VICTORIA FALLS HOLDS SUCH A SPECIAL PLACE IN YOUR HEART!

AND FOR ANYONE LONGING FOR A BIT MORE OF THAT “MATETSI MAGIC”, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THEIR “SIGHTINGS” PAGE, WHICH DOES AN INCREDIBLE JOB OF BRINGING US INTO LIFE AT MATETSI THROUGH CAPTIVATING IMAGERY AND STORYTELLING.

 

Interview with the Owner: Premo Brar – Nimali Africa

Elite’s Executive Director-Hotel Relations & Social Media Manager, Laura Watt, recently had the opportunity to interview Premo Brar, Owner of Nimali Africa luxury tented camps in Tanzania (including Nimali Tarangire, Nimali Central Serengeti and Nimali Mara), to gain a bit of Premo’s insight with regard to his personal experiences at the properties.

We hope you enjoy this intimate glimpse into Premo’s unique perspective and that it draws you into a deeper personal understanding of what makes these Camps so special (including the place Premo’s family calls the “Sofa Safari”, and what makes him go “Yum!”)😊

916

WHAT SETS NIMALI AFRICA PROPERTIES APART?

As a family run company with roots in East Africa since the late 1890’s, we want to share our knowledge and experience of our magical country with our guests. We have so much affection for Tanzania, a very generous land that gave us the opportunity to see and experience magnificent things. We grew up loving this land in our hearts, and that shines through when we welcome our guests.

Our camps and lodges are located in handpicked locations in key National Parks that offer exclusivity and seclusion to guests that are looking to disconnect from the everyday. Without compromising on quality and luxury amenities, guests experience unprecedented access to all the incredible wildlife experiences Tanzania has to offer. We share our passion for African wildlife and its conservation for future generations to come.

With a private conservancy as part of our portfolio, there is nothing more exclusive than thousands of acres full of beautiful animals and wonderful flora all just for our guests to enjoy. Our guests can have a picnic wherever they want or have dinner watching the sunset from underneath a vast acacia tree. We think that’s the true luxury today. Of course we must never lose sight of our enormous commitment to the conservation of wildlife, because that is precisely our greatest resource.

WHAT FEELING OR EXPERIENCE DO YOU MOST DESIRE GUESTS OF THE CAMPS WALK AWAY WITH AFTER A STAY?

We want our guests to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience and know Africa as we know it: a home away from home. We hope our guests use this time on safari to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with nature.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLACE AT WHICH TO SPEND TIME ON-SITE AT THE CAMPS?

Nimali Tarangire – Lounging by the pool overlooking the waterhole and watching the wildlife activity throughout the day. We call it the “Sofa Safari”.

916

Nimali Central – By the campfire, under the broad canopy of a large acacia tree with lanterns hanging from every branch and chairs surrounding an open fire where flames dance to the stories of the night.

916

Nimali Mara – Soaking in the huge copper bath tubs, with windows that overlook and open up to endless plains of the Great Serengeti.

916

FAVORITE PLACE OR SPOT TO VISIT OFF-SITE(S)?

Nimali Tarangire – We have two riverbeds in our private concession and our favorite spot has to be where they both meet. It’s always busy with elephants digging up for water and has a huge stunning baobab perfect for a picnic lunch.

Nimali Central – We have a beautiful hill just behind camp with mesmerizing views of the plains, and we love having sundowners there.

Nimali Mara – It has to be spending time by the Great Mara river, especially during the renowned wildebeest migration crossings.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD/DISH TO EAT ON SITE(S)?

Nimali Tarangire – The Lamb Shanks at Tarangire are to die for, and the fresh lemongrass iced tea is so refreshing. We have lemongrass that grows naturally around the camp.

Nimali Central – The freshly made spinach and ricotta ravioli is delicious. So is the cashew nut pie for dessert :)


Nimali Mara – Mini Mandazis coated in Chocolate. (The twist to the local mandazis, which are like mini doughnuts covered with chocolate sauce and pistachios. So Yum!)

Note: The camps also do amazing bush soups and freshly baked bread that’s a classic throughout all of them.

When we are able to fly in fresh tuna, Melissa our head chef prepares sushi. Most of our guests are usually blown away by having fresh sushi in the middle of the bush.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT YOU HAVE PERSONALLY EVER EXPERIENCED AT (ANY OF) THE CAMPS?

Nimali Tarangire – Having breakfast early morning in the dining area as two huge male lions walked over to the waterhole. It was such a spectacular sight.

Nimali Central – During sundowners while my son was enjoying his hot chocolate, we spotted a herd of elephants. My son, who was then only 18 months old, knew what an elephant was. In that moment I realized how important it is for us to preserve our wildlife for the future generation, and what a lucky childhood he had with the privilege of going on safari every weekend.

Nimali Mara – The first night we spent at this camp after the opening, we could hear the migration and lions roaring all around camp. Opening up those curtains in the morning and watching the migration right outside our room was definitely one of our most memorable moments.

WHAT WAS THE MOST UNIQUE EXPERIENCE YOU EVER ARRANGED FOR A GUEST?


We surprised a couple with a beautiful and intimate wedding ceremony in the riverbed of Nimali Tarangire. They were such a cute couple, and it brought us such joy to see how happy they were with our arrangement.

 

FAVORITE PART OF MANAGING THE CAMPS?

Being able to go on safari every weekend with our family & friends, and the opportunity to meet new people and build new friendships.

bolognablogicon-cropfinal veronablogicon-cropfinal florenceblogicon-cropfinal

OUR THANKS TO YOU, PREMO, FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND WHOLE-HEARTED SHARING – IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE FOR US TO GET A GLIMPSE INTO WHAT DRIVES YOUR PASSION FOR THESE PROPERTIES AND THE PRECIOUS LAND ON WHICH THEY SIT!

THANKS ALSO FOR TREATING US TO A LITTLE “SOFA SAFARI” OF OUR OWN WITH THIS SPECIAL FOOTAGE FROM THE NIMALI NIGHT-CAM:

 

An additional note re: Nimali Africa’s dedicated commitment to Conservation and Community:

“We all have a part to play in protecting this magnificent continent and creating a legacy for the next generation.” ~ Nimali Africa

Nimali Africa’s belief that “nature is Africa’s greatest wealth” is backed up by their passion for conservation and community.  From their efforts to thwart human encroachment and poaching,  to their use of eco-friendly practices and products at the Camps, to contributions to local community development in the ways of education, employment and clean water, Nimali Africa operates with a devotion to responsible tourism and a commitment to conservation.


 

Bologna, Florence and Verona – Touring Italy with Duetorrihotels

Elite’s Executive Director, Hotel Relations & Social Media Manager, Laura Watt, shares highlights of her recent visits to Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni” in Bologna, Hotel Bernini Palace in Florence, and Due Torri Hotel in Verona:

916

“I recently had the great opportunity to embark on a two-week long European mother-daughter adventure with my 15 year-old daughter, Faith, that would find us visiting 2 countries and 5 cities and taking numerous planes, trains and automobiles along the way.

I take the opportunity now to share a few of the wonderful experiences and impressions from this most memorable trip that included three hotels of the Elite Portfolio and the prestigious Duetorrihotels Collection: Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni” in Bologna, Hotel Bernini Palace in Florence, and Due Torri Hotel in Verona”:

bolognablogicon-cropfinal florenceblogicon-cropfinal veronablogicon-cropfinal