Articles

First Look: The Farmstead at Royal Malewane

At a Glance

The latest twist on luxury in the bush from South Africa’s doyenne of design Liz Biden, The Farmstead at Royal Malewane is a ground-breaking public/private partnership in the Greater Kruger area.

Indagare Loves

  • The property’s combination of accommodations—only three suites and a three-and-a-half-bedroom villa—which is perfect for an extended family.
  • The modern farmhouse design, which merges country comfort with a vibrant palette of colors and contemporary African art.
  • The number of Master Trackers and renowned guides employed by Royal Malewane, which is the highest of all the lodges in South Africa.

Review

In recent years, the Royal Portfolio’s sleek city hotel, the Silo, has garnered accolades in design and travel magazines, but designer Liz Biden and her family have their hospitality roots in the bush—specifically, at Royal Malewane in the Thorny Bush Reserve. Considered by many to be the best camp in South Africa for the super spoiled—there is an on-property salon for blow-outs—Royal Malewane often has a waiting list. So when a land dispute was settled in favor of a local community who was interested in tourism, the Bidens and the community created the South Africa’s first public/private partnership. The Bidens paid to develop the lodge and will manage it, while paying lease fees to the community and employing and training their members. After forty years, the community will own the lodge outright and can choose to manage it on their own or continue to partner with Royal Malewane—making The Farmstead among the first meaningful community land projects in South Africa where developers partnered with the community from the outset, and built the lodge for the benefit of the community.

But the business structure is not the only innovative aspect of The Farmstead. The design, which was inspired by an old-fashioned South African farmhouse, uniquely combines a main lodge, three free-standing suites and a three-and-a-half-bedroom Farmhouse villa, all of which are tin-roofed, low-slung concrete buildings with large surrounding verandahs. Their great rooms feature large fireplaces, high-beamed ceilings and antique farmhouse furniture, mixed with striking black-and-white photos and contemporary African art, including works by James Jana and Kudzanai Chiurai. From the moment you enter, you know that this is not your grandmother’s farmhouse (or one resembling Karen Blixen’s), but rather that of a 21st-century lover of Africa, who appreciates popular culture, neon colors and intimacy. If you take over the Farmhouse villa, which comes with its own staff, and the three suites, a family of twelve to fourteen (there is a kids’ room with twin beds) can experience living on their own very modern farm in the South African bush, with daily game drives with some of the best guides on the continent.

Who Should Stay

Anyone who is interested in a stellar bush experience at a place that feels more like the residence of a stylish safari lover than a hotel.

– Melissa Biggs Bradley on May 14, 2019

Author

Quotable

From the moment you enter, you know that this is not your grandmother’s farmhouse.
~ Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder and CEO of Indagare

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