Thornybush Game Lodge, one of South Africa’s much loved and iconic safari lodges, has been totally refurbished.
Opened in 1961, the game lodge has been a trailblazer in the Kruger National Park safari industry and a favourite among first-time and seasoned safari-goers. After a seven-week closure, it has reopened with a modern and fresh new look that still retains its classic safari charm.
Caline Williams-Wynn of Artichoke and her team were designers behind the transformation. Texture and tone play leading roles. Wood, steel, leather and rattan combine with neutral pops of colours such as charcoal and saffron as well as greenery to create a modern interpretation of an iconic luxury safari.
“The new look for Thornybush Game Lodge is all about what the guests can see and touch. It’s all in the detail, but at the same time not minimising on all the comforts required for a 5-star lodge. The colour palette has longevity and is classic,” says Williams-Wynn.
Guests to Thornybush will now experience a more spacious feel to the property, with the rooms being less cluttered and more practical – making stays even more relaxing and comfortable. The lodge has been resized to offer 16 beautiful modern luxurious suites to create a more intimate experience, with all the 5-star amenities a guest could want and more.
“Thornybush Game Lodge has been reimagined, but still preserving its legendary charm and history. As a result, it will continue to be a favourite South African lodge because of the hospitality, staff and amazing game-viewing experiences,” says Melanie Parker, head of Operations at Thornybush.
The refurbishment introduces a special new space at the lodge: “The Library”. This unique space is a take on a modern-day library and will allow groups and families to enjoy private meals and celebrations. A highlight of the space is a beautifully curated wall of artifacts and art pieces that tell the story and history of the game lodge and the Kruger National Park.
“Our aim is to nurture the guests’ curiosity about the flora and fauna of the area. The guests are encouraged to rifle through the library cupboards, exploring specimens that have been collected in the Thornybush area and read the factual and fascinating information that the Thornybush head guides have written about each specimen on the tags provided,” says curator Gina Waldman of Waldman Studios. “This experience is very different from viewing live animals in the wild. It’s rather exciting to pick up a giraffe bone and feel the weight of this, or look at how thick a giraffe tail hair actually is up close – enhancing the game-viewing experience.
“The idea is that the collection will be a growing library and will evolve yearly as the guides find more exciting items and can be enjoyed by all for generations to come,” she adds.
The pool area has also been increased in size, offering guests more opportunity to lounge in groups and enjoy the area even more.
The bar area has had a makeover, with the bar counter sporting a beautiful tiled front – the perfect spot to enjoy a post-game drive G&T or a nightcap. Guests will also notice new decks and flooring throughout.
“Thornybush strives to continually improve the way we operate and to be aware of our impact on our surrounding areas and communities. A major focus of the refurbishment was to make the game lodge more sustainable. This has been made possible by the implementation of our own solar plant, which distributes power to this lodge and Saseka Tented Camp. And there are plans in place to get more of our lodges, including Simbambili in the Sabi Sands, onto solar to further reduce our carbon footprint across the group,” says Parker.
As part of the refurbishment programme, May 2023 will also see the opening of Kamara House, a private safari villa overlooking a small riverbed. This new luxury safari accommodation is aimed at multigenerational families or small groups. A new spa, gymnasium and wellness centre with a pool will also be revealed in May 2023.
Simbambili Game Lodge will also undergo a soft refurbishment in July 2023.