THE RELAXATION STARTS NOW, in Johannesburg International Airport. Not many people can say that. The lines for security and boarding, the hubbub in and around the duty-free shops and the customer announcements — all seem distant. And they are. The main passenger terminals are out of sight on the other side of the airfield. Here we are in the exclusive Fireblade VIP Terminal, snacking and sipping Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc while our private plane awaits.
Our flight takes 90 minutes, heading southwest. We skirt the hazy sprawl of Johannesburg and fly across vast swaths of farmland. As we descend, the air is clear and the earth below is vividly red, speckled with trees and bushes and laced with game trails. We are arriving at Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa’s largest privately owned game reserve.
We transfer by open Land Rover to the Motse, one of the reserve’s two luxury camps. The camp consists of just nine thatched legae, the Tswana word for “home”; ours is on the camp’s edge, with a veranda looking out onto the Kalahari wilderness. Birds flitter and trill in the nearby acacia trees. Two gemsbok — large, straight-horned antelope — amble through the brittle grass toward the camp’s waterhole.
We arrived during the mid-afternoon lull. Guests lounge in their legae, where cold drinks and snacks are provided, or by the pool. As the ultimate capper to an unstressful journey, we opt for the spa.
In keeping with Tswalu’s ethos, the spa is in harmony with its surroundings. The décor is stylishly rustic, with unhewn walls and reed ceilings. We wait initially in the lounge before transferring to the couple’s room: two beds, a therapist each. I choose a hot stone massage while my wife selects the Signature Tswalu Touch Experience. The treatments incorporate local ingredients including Kalahari red sand, white crystals from a desert salt pan and aloe fibers.
As the therapists knead the knots out of our muscles and exfoliate our skin, the African bush provides the soundtrack: the pulse of cicadas, the rhythmic call of a Cape turtle dove, the rustle of a nyala antelope browsing immediately outside.
At 4 p.m. we clamber into an open Land Rover for a game drive. As the day cools, the animals become active. Our goal is to see one of Africa’s most elusive animals. In a lifetime of safaris, I’ve never seen one … until now. Our tracker, Jackson, points at a pinkish shape moving across scrubland. Our guide, Nicole, pulls over, and we get out. We stalk away from the road and are soon rewarded with a clear view of an aardvark.
Shy and nocturnal, these bizarre-looking anteaters have become habituated to humans in Tswalu and are often seen at dusk. This is the only place in Africa in which aardvark sightings are almost guaranteed.
We stop for sundowner drinks, then drive on in darkness, with Jackson scanning the bush by spotlight. We see a jackal, an owl, a brown hyena. We return to the Motse for an abundant barbecue (or braai, as it’s known in South Africa) in the outdoor dining area.
Before dawn the next morning, another game drive. Shortly into it, Nicole stills the engine. We listen. Lions roaring. She estimates they’re about seven miles away. We go in search of them as the sun rises, and eventually find a pride resting in a clearing. Even at rest, they’re formidable; the lions of the Kalahari are the largest lions in the world.
Back to camp and, after lunch, another spa session. We opt for a neck and shoulder massage, smoothing out the tension generated by gripping onto the Land Rover as it made numerous off-road excursions during our morning drive.
During our three days at Tswalu, we rack up numerous magical highlights. On the final morning, we spend unforgettable minutes with a group of meerkats as they emerge from their burrows and prepare to head off for a day’s foraging. They stand sentry-like within touching distance, alert for predators. We’re mostly ignored; they’ve come to view humans as honorary meerkats.
Prior to the meerkats, Nicole and Jackson had picked us up from the Malori sleep-out deck, a thatched wooden platform in the middle of nowhere. We had been left there the previous evening, with a radio to contact the camp in case of emergencies. Otherwise we were completely on our own. We had been supplied with everything we needed for a delicious braai and a cooler amply stocked with drinks.
After dark, we rolled the bed out onto the deck and lay beneath the dazzling desert sky, just us and the nocturnal sounds of the Kalahari. The spa treatments soothed our bodies, but the experience of sleeping under the stars went deeper. It was a tonic for the soul.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
Farm Korranaberg 296
Van Zylrus, 8467, South Africa
tel 27 53 781 9331
Set to open in 2026, Rosewood San Francisco will be the last skyscraper developed in the downtown region for the foreseeable future. The projected 800-foot-tall property will host a hotel, residences, office and rental spaces. The brand’s third property in California will join Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
It’s not even 9a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.
MMGY Travel Intelligence released findings from its 2021 fall edition of its Portrait of American Travelers survey. It revealed the vast majority of vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are planning trips in the months ahead, but the types of trips are different.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
Airbnb.org is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in moments of crisis, sheltering those displaced by natural disasters, offering frontline workers a place to stay at the height of the pandemic and, now, helping Afghan refugees.
Italian hospitality brand AG Group announced an international collaboration with Hyatt Hotels. AG Group’s IL Tornabuoni, slated to open in Florence in October 2021, will be part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt. The Tribune in Rome will become part of JdV by Hyatt in October 2021.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
Hotel diversity isn’t where it could be, but it’s a work in progress. Fueled with new energy that emerged from the racial reckoning of 2020, there’s more of a sense of urgency ... and with good reason. There’s plenty to do when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in the hotel industry.