Ultra-luxury lodge to open in Sabi Sands

Ultra-luxury lodge to open in Sabi Sands

Launch of Cheetah Plains, an exclusive lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park, on Thursday (July 19). The launch event took place at the Circa Gallery in Johannesburg.

Cheetah Plains will officially open its doors on December 1, with the first guests booked for December 15.

Designed by ARRCC with renowned architect and ARRCC Director, Stefan Antoni, Cheetah Plains features three exclusive-use, contemporary, designer bush villas – Mvula, Karula and Mapogo. Each comprises four bedrooms, and can accommodate a maximum of eight guests. The villas were named after two of the Sabi Sands legendary leopards, and a dominant lion coalition, respectively.

Each villa comes with two lounges, a dining area, kitchen, outdoor boma, a temperature-controlled wine cellar, heated swimming pool, day-beds, and a private deck area, as well as a private game-viewing vehicle custom fitted with heated seats. Each vehicle comes with a designated field guide for the entire duration of guests’ stay.

One of the bomas at Cheetah Plains.

The king-bed suites have a private deck, dressing room, lounge, double rain showers and baths that overlook the bushveld. For families with young children, two of the suites interlink so that parents are close by. The interlinking suite at Karula is also disabled-friendly.

Artists impression of the king -bedded suites.

As a fully inclusive safari experience, each villa comes with a private chef who prepares all guest meals, selectively chosen wines from the cellar, twice-daily game drives, a private spa therapist, as well as a central gym facility, all included in Cheetah Plains rates. Transfers between Arathusa Airstrip and Cheetah Plains are also included in the rates, if flying with Federal Airlines (Fedair), Airlink or private charters.

ARRCC collaborated with South Africa’s leading and up-and-coming artists, with each villa showcasing a number of bold artworks, as well as masterpieces from the likes of William Kentridge and Hendrik Pierneef.

Japie van Niekerk, CEO of New Africa Developments and Owner of Cheetah Plains, said: “We wanted to give these artists an opportunity to be exposed to the international market.”

He said if a guest wanted to purchase one of the artworks, Cheetah Plains would sell the piece, and then replace it.

Van Niekerk explained that he wanted to create something new and bespoke, differentiating it from the typical lodge market, and expand into unique bush villas, appealing to high-end travellers looking for a combination of luxury and privacy.

Cheetah Plains’ architecture, with its large windows and cement slabs, does not look to compete with its surroundings, but rather embraces it, bringing nature into the living areas.

According to Van Niekerk, all three villas were decorated with bespoke pieces, with hand-blown glass lights, and tables and chairs that were personally designed and handmade.

He explained the reasons behind each villa’s name. Mvula was named to commemorate the legacy of a Sabi Sands leopard, which he described as a “massive male”. Karula was named after a legendary female leopard that died last year. Van Niekerk said she had raised a significant number of cubs, keeping each for an unusually extended period before venturing off, and Mapogo was named after a pack of five lions that ran the Sabi Sands for many years. “They were legends,” and said their (Mvula, Karula, Mapogo) stories were told in every villa.

Van Niekerk bought Cheetah Plains ten years ago, without even having seen the property prior to purchase. He said the location was unbeatable, with the neighbouring reserves being KNP, the Timbavati, and on the other side MalaMala. In addition, he said lodges rarely came up for sale in the Sabi Sands, hence his quick purchase.


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