As someone who works in the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, trying to avoid potholes, traffic jams caused by load shedding and trying to maintain my sanity through it all means I carry all my stress on my shoulders. So when I heard I was going to experience the refurbished Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate, it’s safe to assume that I was excited. The pitch was easy, the hotel group has “reimagined traditional safari lodge hospitality through a R100 million revitalization”.
The hotel offers a shuttle service from Skukuza airport or you can opt to self-drive there. The build-up to getting to the hotel is amazing, the scenic drive in open vehicles is a great idea as all your stresses and worries evaporate into the bush, in time to enjoy the marimba playing as you arrive at your destination.
Check-in is smooth and one can’t help notice the surroundings, as the concierge desk and foyer gives you the feeling that you are in a tree house. New features include a specialty coffee shop where guests can meet and relax while enjoying an excellent espresso or cappuccino. The area is decorated in a mix of modern stools and benches with traditional masks on the wall and a classic chesterfield couch. The hotel has added executive suites, the presidential suite and a helipad where executive groups, whether family or a corporate team, can now have an exclusive, private experience of all the hotel and its location has to offer. This afro-modern decorating style is echoed in the rooms too.
Push for a lighter carbon footprint
One cannot ignore how the travel industry is influenced by a more conscious traveller. Eco-tourism and travel that enables sustainability is where the mark and according to Francois Meyer, General Manager of Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate, only a small portion of the property is developed with the balance dedicated to conservation and providing a habitat for indigenous fauna and flora. “Over the last five years we implemented several energy saving initiatives which have amounted to a 22% saving in electricity. This effort to reduce our footprint is apparent throughout our new expansion, with technology introduced to continue improving our energy and water efficiency. In addition, all wet waste is recycled, and all grey water is cleaned and returned to the river,” he says. The hotel has a speedy backup generator (we got load shed just before dinner) and reliable wi-fi, which comes in handy for business travellers who still need to be connected.
The pool deck seals the deal
A special highlight is enjoying the quiet zone of the Pool Bar, here one truly experiences relaxing in a tree-house overlooking the Sabie River. The Pool Bar is a stylish feature of the hotel’s expansive game-viewing deck and is edged by a stunning infinity pool. It’s the drinking hole for everyone as elephants, buffalo, hippo and numerous species of antelope usually make an appearance. Enjoying a sundowner at sunset with elephants a stone’s throw away was the therapy I needed to tackle the concrete jungle.
For more information visit Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate’s website