Since I joined Mantis, I have had wonderful opportunities to explore some of the hotels in our portfolio. At every destination I have experienced the “sense of family” that Adrian Gardiner, Founder of Mantis, imparts to the hotels in the group.
I have recently returned from an Eastern Cape Meander, where I had the opportunity to explore the delights of the area. It may not be as famous for safaris as the Sabi Sands region of South Africa, but it is rich with game reserves – it also offers nearby beach destinations and is malaria free. What struck me most was the uncrowded game viewing and absolutely beautiful scenery. The roads are good, which made my self-drive meander effortless.
My first stop was Founders Lodge, near Grahamstown, 79 km (an hour’s scenic drive) from Port Elizabeth Airport and was once Adrian Gardiner’s personal holiday home. It is an intimate lodge with six suites overlooking the surrounding plains adjacent to Shamwari Game Reserve.
On arrival, we were warmly met by the friendly staff who prepared a tasty harvest lunch before we set off for a much needed walk amongst the animals (no predators) in the private 400 hectare Founders reserve. Our instructions from game ranger and assistant manager Phillip Gouza included “talk softly”, “stay close” and to obey him at all times on the walk. It was an amazing experience.
The reserve has such varied scenery from grasslands to mountains and hills. Phillip has a passion for animals and nature and he freely shared his knowledge as rhino gazed at us while he identified the flora and fauna. Before we knew it, our 5km walk was over and our vehicle was waiting to collect us. Later, on a game drive we enjoyed wonderful sightings of a cheetah, more rhinos, elephant and buck then we watched the sun go down from a quiet scenic spot in the reserve with much needed G & Ts.
The emphasis is on African luxury and from the moment you arrive you are pampered.
It’s a beautiful 118km drive from Founders to Port Alfred, where we stopped at The Highlander Pub at the Mantis’ Royal St Andrews hotel.
Royal St Andrews in the heart of this small town, is a scenic property that seamlessly blends 12 historic rooms dating back to 1920 with a modern 50-roomed wing, beautiful restaurants and spa. It’s a unique find in the heart of the Sunshine Coast and ideal place to base oneself to explore the 101 things to do in and around Port Alfred– golf, boat cruising, fishing, historical site-seeing, enjoying the long stretches of beach and visiting the first Mohair factory in South Africa.
My last stop on my Eastern Cape Meander was a night at the beautiful Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve. As its name suggests, this haven 10km outside Port Alfred, is a game park with sea frontage. Here the emphasis is on African luxury and from the moment you arrive you are pampered. The private suites, each with a “his and her” bathroom, have the most beautiful views of the reserve and the endless ocean that lulls you to sleep in the evening.
We enjoyed a game ride in the afternoon and saw shy nyala buck, which are not often spotted on game drives. There are no predators on this reserve so the game that wander here are very relaxed. It is the perfect place to unwind. At Oceana every meal is an occasion of fine dining, whether it’s the relaxed lunch served at the beach or a sumptuous dinner (you can choose to have supper in the privacy of your suite, on the deck overlooking the ocean or in the dining room).
Nothing is too much trouble at this property and as soon as you leave, you will start planning your return. It is an exceptional place to find yourself!
Please have a look at the special offers we have on stays at many of these wonderful properties!
I do hope that we will be able to strengthen our ties over the year ahead and if I can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Group Sales Manager