At a spectacular ceremony in Italy this week, it was announced that Great Plains Conservation would be breaking new grounds for Relais & Châteaux. ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp are the first properties ever to be accredited as Relais & Châteaux members in Kenya and Botswana respectively and be accepted into this prestigious association.
This Relais & Châteaux membership highlights the quality and mutual ethos of both companies. The Relais & Châteaux 5C’s ethos of Calm, Charm, Character, Courtesy and Cuisine personifies the experiences at both ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp. In addition these Great Plains Conservation properties add a further two C’s into the mix in the form of their underlying Conservation and Community ethics.
"I'm delighted that Great Plains is joining the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association” says Dereck Joubert, CEO of Great Plains Conservation. “We have just seen, at the 38th Relais & Châteaux Congress in Turin, the level of excellence the association embodies and promises its guests. It is a really good fit, in that we strive for the gold standard in conservation tourism as well as in the experience we deliver. Guests come to our camps and lodges to change the future of conservation, whilst at the same time enjoy only the finest service and quality. This has been recognized by Relais & Châteaux even though our worlds are very different."
The epitome of working with communities to their benefit from conservation tourism is ol Donyo Lodge. Its ten pool and standard suites are located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills in 275,000 acres of Maasai-owned land in southern Kenya. This is quintessential Africa with Mount Kilimanjaro as an ever-present backdrop, wildlife-studded plains and acacia forests below offering the opportunity for numerous low-impact activities including day and night game drives, horse back safaris, mountain biking and guided walking safaris. Guests at ol Donyo Lodge can also meet with authentic Maasai villagers, or spend the day in a open air hide watching some of the world’s largest tusker elephants up close, or sleep under the stars from their rooftop star-bed waking to see Kilimanjaro illuminated at dawn.
“This association makes us want to be better at everything, from cuisine to service, and as a result we’ll be fine tuning our operations and training our chefs with the finest in the world” says Dereck.
Zarafa Camp, in the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana, is a very low environmental impact camp, but one that does not forfeit luxury to do so. With just four huge 110 square metre tents, the Relais & Chateaux board were captivated the minute they walked in. Sustainable building materials and ecological operations combine with authentic period furniture to create a discerning safari ambience and refinement, set in a private reserve with thousands of elephants, buffalo and hippo, with good lions and leopards and wild dog populations. This paradise is second-to-none. Guests can chose day and night game drives, catch-and-release fly fishing, use of the house boat, canoeing and walking safaris.
As Great Plains Conservation and Relais & Châteaux team up we believe that we will enhance our mutual offering of an environmentally friendly, abundant wildlife experience as well as the finest hospitality. The perfect combination of heart and soul.