Located in the Eastern Cape, on the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve and set back from the Great Fish River, owned and managed by &Beyond, a member of Relais & Châteaux, the recipient of almost universal praise, Ecca Lodge is an outstanding and ultramodern destination.
Situated overlooking a semi-arid valley of acacia, aloe and spekboom, a stone, wood and corrugated iron build, Ecca Lodge consists of a main area and 6 sleeping rooms. The main area includes a dining room, lounge, veranda, pool, playroom, computer room and library. Designed by Chris Browne, he of Phinda fame, the main area is characterised by cool, spacious interiors, brick flooring, meshed sandstone walls, vibrant, iridescent colours, by an eclectic mix of retro furnishing, giant colour-treated photographs, Japanese-like lighting, long corner sofas and industrialised surfaces. Purposefully at odds with its outdoors environs, the overall effect, and one underlined by both its art and music collections – is one designed to cultivate the urbane.
The food and service is equally fine. In keeping with &Beyond’s philosophy with regards to personal, face-to-face care, the level of service is something else. Warm, attentive and discreet, everyone is capable, multi-skilled and committed. Likewise the food. Prepared in an open kitchen, the cuisine is African-European and meals are served inside, outside and as picnics on game drives. In between main scoffs, the day is one endless round of tasters, hot drinks and sundowners. Delicious.
The sleeping rooms at Ecca Lodge are extraordinary. Like the main area, every room is beautifully put together, only less eclectic, more minimal, its polished flooring, industrial walls, wood cladding, Rothkoesque curtains, shutters and lineally patterned seating designed to create an effect bereft of ornament. Each room consists of double bed, low room divider, a lounge, veranda, pool, en suite bathroom and outdoor shower. Eschewing the sort of luxury elements (period, gold tap, retro-chic) that tends to feature in much of today’s leading safari accommodation, it is a tightrope design, one that manages to feel cool and luxurious and, at the same time, irreverent. Great fun.
Activities at Ecca Lodge include game drives (day and night), carnivore research workshops, guided walks, sundowners, massage, historical and cultural visits and trips to the beach.