Product owners and service providers can be impressively creative when it comes to romantic trips. Here are some examples. By Michelle Colman.
Star baths and sky beds at Sanctuary Baines’ Camp
Instagram @emtaneva Sanctuary retreats
Constructed on raised platforms above the Boro River in a private concession bordering Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve, Sanctuary Baines’ Camp is small and exclusive, with just five suites.
Each has a private deck where a private ‘star bath’ for two can be set up. On their return from an evening game drive, guests are surprised to find a free-standing bath tub on their deck, romantically lit by lanterns. The zinc baths, filled with warm water and plenty of environmentally friendly bubbles, invite the travellers in for a relaxing soak. Mobile canvas screens are placed around the bath for complete privacy, but the bather can still ‘soak in’ the view.
After this indulgent bush bath, guests can continue to enjoy the African night by sleeping outdoors under the star-filled skies. Each suite at Sanctuary Baines’ Camp has a four-poster ‘sky bed’ that can be rolled out on to the lantern-lit wooden deck.
For those concerned about safety, Anna Neville, Sanctuary Retreats’ Marketing Manager, says the raised platforms are high enough above ground to eliminate any potential risk.
Less luxurious but more adventurous – and equally romantic – is a night spent in Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge’s sleep-out hide. This lodge is in Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West province and, catering for just 16 guests, is intimate and private. Currently honeymooners at the lodge enjoy a special inclusion of R1 000 worth of spa treatments, as well as a complimentary bottle of bubbly and a fruit platter on arrival.
Coffee safaris and Strandveld eating and Mozambican idylls
Luxury travel specialist, Grosvenor Tours, which tailor makes 90% of its packages, successfully challenges the bounds of creativity when it comes to romantic couples’ travel.
Peter-John Mitrovich, company CEO, says what is considered ‘romantic’ is often market specific, and varies from country to country. But, as much as it’s about destination, he says, it’s about “how we journey”. Thus, even when the budget is tight, romance can be incorporated through affordable special touches.
Currently proving a hit with Grosvenor Tours’ clientele are private ‘coffee safaris’ of Cape Town, taking in the growing list of roasteries and cafés that make up the city’s coffee culture. Some are unusual for their off-beat locations, while others have been likened to coffee boutiques for connoisseurs. The tour operator has teamed up with coffee specialist, David Patrick, who does the ‘coffee route’ by Land Rover and builds in a great lunch.
The venue for the lunch could well be the Wolfgat in Paternoster, which offers a seven-course tasting menu highlighting ‘Strandveld’ cuisine, using local ingredients sourced from sea and veld. The beachfront restaurant serves a limited number of people per sitting, making for an intimate environment. The experience can be topped off with a helicopter sightseeing flight back to the Mother City, says Mitrovich.
A sunrise or sunset at Tintswalo Atlantic is always a win for a romantic touch, and for a note of personalisation, private dining where a well-known chef invites the couple into the kitchen to assist in or observe the preparation of the meal, is popular.
Water works on the Sabie River
Couples’ spa treatments are a popular value-add associated with romantic getaways. Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa has crafted a particularly romantic spa experience where water is a central element, suited to its location on the Sabie River in Hazyview.
The Eden Romantic Couples Spa Package includes back, neck and shoulder massages, followed by a scalp massage and a hand and foot treatment. But the high point is the signature hydrotherapy experience.
It involves a hydro walk, where guests make their way outdoors towards the river, passing through four showers. At first, guests are sprayed with a mild mist that gently touches the skin. A few steps down and they reach the second shower, a heavier flow of water emanating from a tree trunk. At stage three, guests walk through a shower of jet-propelled water directed at front and back of the body, and the fourth stage is a regular shower. It ends in a Jacuzzi, with a fruit platter and a bottle of champagne. On departure, guests receive a complimentary bunch of roses.
“It’s fantastic for a cool-me-down during the hot Lowveld summers, leaving one feeling refreshed,” says Alida Botes, Marketing and Reservations Consultant.
Zambezi for a romantic interlude
On the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls at Livingstone, is aha The David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa. Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, it overlooks the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park.
The lodge’s five signature suites are perfect for guests with romance in mind. Each is equipped with satellite TV, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, Internet connections, air-conditioning, and a private patio.
One of the highlights of a stay is a sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone, a three-deck vessel that casts off to view the Falls at a time when hippo and elephants are down at the water’s edge. The experience can be followed with a meal redolent of Afro-Arabian cuisine at The Kalai Restaurant.
Therapeutic treatments at a spa on the property will further enhance the feeling of romance.