Singita Lebombo Lodge. Pictures: Supplied

Monied travellers are increasingly looking for “experiences, privacy, and unique memories all bundled into one bespoke package”, according to Forbes magazine, which drives lodges and camps to offer much more than just spectacular sunsets.

How, then, can properties gain a competitive advantage in the market, with new high-end lodges unveiled every year and visitors continually looking for the next thrilling adventure? 

This was something South African design team Cécile & Boyd intuited in 1993 when they created the effortless luxury that defined the 12-suite Singita Ebony Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in Kruger National Park. 

At the time, accommodation was typically an adjunct to the bush experience – often rudimentary, with little sense of ease or elegance. 

Working with Singita founder Luke Bailes, Cécile & Boyd pioneered the modern safari experience for visitors. As Boyd Ferguson told Introspective Magazine, “We thought, ‘Why can’t extraordinary boutique luxury happen in the bush?’ That just hadn’t been done yet.

When Singita Ebony Lodge was redesigned in 2015, Cécile & Boyd replaced external walls with canvas and glass to replicate the safari tent experience, without any of the inconvenience. 

Singita Ebony Lodge

Evolving the perception of an African aesthetic has always been part of Cécile & Boyd’s mandate – one of the reasons why visitors retain an emotional connection to Singita’s 15 luxurious properties. 

In fact, Singita Lebombo, Castleton and Ebony Lodges have just been named among the 20 top resorts in South Africa in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller (UK & USA) Readers’ Choice Awards. 

In the African resorts category. Singita Pamushana Lodge (Zimbabwe) and Singita Sabora Tented Camp (Tanzania) were named among the 30 best on the continent. A record number – more than 600 000 Condé Nast Traveller readers – cast their votes in 2019.

Singita Lebombo’s deference to natural elements means light, open, airy spaces and minimal distraction from the panoramic views at this eco-lodge in Kruger National Park, where the 15 suites appear to fall away from a sheer rock-face. 

In fact, Cécile & Boyd call the villas "translucent glass tents" canopied with branches that can be penetrated by both sunlight and moonlight.