The New Phinda Vlei lodge!

Escapism. Let’s be honest, we all rely on it in some form or another. By definition, it is the “avoidance of unpleasant, boring, arduous … or banal aspects of daily life.” So what’s your favorite form of escapism? How do you escape reality to recharge? For some it’s Netflix and music. For others it’s shopping and going to the gym. For us, it’s travel. More specifically, the call of Africa.  (and a nice glass of wine en route).

Earlier this month &Beyond debuted the highly anticipated reopening of  Bateleur Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara as an ideal way to escape the humdrum of city life.

Well, great news for all the armchair travelers and escapists seeking relaxation, pampering and Mother Nature. &Beyond have yet another unbelievable transformation and perfect escape to showcase to the world, this time in South Africa. The gorgeous and much-loved Phinda Vlei Lodge on Phinda Private Game Reserve has undergone a magnificent and refreshingly dramatic makeover of its own.

Built in 1996, Phinda Vlei Lodge was originally inspired by the elegant plantation houses of southeast Asia. A favorite among so many guests for more than two decades, the lodge was in need of a refresh and a stronger sense of identity among Phinda’s five other lodges. Of course, the award-winning design masterminds, Chris Browne and Debra Fox of Fox Browne Creative, were once again appointed to give their magic touch to our beloved lodge.

In Chris’ words, “We always felt that the interiors were lacking a strong identity, so we wanted to maintain the good ‘bones’ of the buildings and set about creating a fresh, new KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) plantation narrative, giving it a more local sense of place.”

Chris and Debra conceptualized a strong, bold and vibrant story for Vlei Lodge, which is very different to that of each of its sister lodges, but which still retains a deep sense of place and relevance. Inspired by the lavish homesteads of the pineapple and sugarcane plantation barons that once dominated the surrounding KZN landscape, the subtle hero of Vlei Lodge’s new look is the cheerful banana tree wallpaper. The old and the new have been layered harmoniously, giving the lodge a bold new look that is homely and nostalgic. We’re talking quirky pineapples, vintage brass, antique furnishings, tropical accents, deep chartreuse velvet sofas and pale pink North Coast anthuriams.

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The spacious ensuite bathrooms have been redesigned to provide a sense of old-world luxury, with antique mirrored walls , thoughtful lighting and of course those glorious standalone bathtubs. The room interiors on the other hand are very much an eclectic mix of classic lines and modern amenities layered with unusual collectibles. You really have to see it in person to admire its quirky charm and bygone elegance.


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The main deck has been redesigned to offer a spectacular 360 degree view of the amazing surrounds and the tranquil dining veranda has been extended to allow for covered al fresco meals with a sweeping view of the adjoining wetland. There’s also a fire pit for those festive pre-dinner fireside gatherings under the stars and late night recaps of a magnificent day.


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