Reminiscent in design of something one might find in Spain or Mexico, Phinda Rock Lodge is located north of Durban, in the Phinda Private Game Reserve, overlooking Leopard Rock.
Part of a collection of lodges managed by &Beyond (on the behalf of the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities, to whom the lands were recently restored, and who have agreed to commit them to wildlife in perpetuity), Rock Lodge is built into the side of a cliff, and possesses the most extraordinary views. A stone and wood build, it consists of a main lodge and 6 suites. The shared areas include a lounge, dining room, shop, rooftop viewpoint and verandhah. Up close, Phinda Rock Lodge’s thick off-white and roughly finished walls – its old shutters, propped up porches, open log fire, mixed seating, its arched and winding passageways, low ceilings and exposed supporting beams – continue the Iberian theme, producing a lovely cottage-like effect.
In keeping with &Beyond’s reputation for providing its guests with fine food, the cuisine is pan-African, and the service is excellent. Dieters beware. The food just keeps coming. Dining consists of an early morning pre-game drive snack, followed by brunch / lunch, day long snacks, tea and a 3 course dinner – outside or in. Evening meals normally take place around a large table.
The suites are accessed by means of a stone walkway, their entrances marked by heavy wooden doors with old iron door handles. Each suite includes a seating area, double bed, separate bathroom, plunge pool and private verandah. Characterised by unusual glass tables, marble sideboards, sculpted black metal headboards, polished floors, easy chairs and the same rustic shutters used in the main building, the rooms are sweet, well kept and cosy. Outside, on the verandah, the view is breathtaking, and can be enjoyed from the comfort of the pool, which literally hangs over the edge of the cliff.
Situated within easy reach of a range of habitats, including the beach, the activities at Rock Lodge are legion. They include game drives, guided walks, rhino tracking, bird watching, river boat trips, canoeing, deep sea fishing, cultural visits, scuba diving, scenic flights and beach adventures.
At &Beyond we believe in taking shared responsibility for our futures and those of our children. You may be surprised to know that we have a small physical footprint in terms of buildings and guests. Our entire group of lodges comprises less than 800 beds, smaller than a medium-sized city hotel, but we have a disproportionately large positive impact on the more than 3.5 million hectares (8.5 million acres) of wildlife areas we help sustain and the communities whose lives are interwoven with our business.
Our values are and always have been: “Care of the land. Care of the wildlife. Care of the people.” They have become an intuitive part of the way we operate and are increasingly part of the reasons why our guests find their experience with us so rewarding.
We believe that all businesses can “take less” and “give more,” and we apply this philosophy every day through actions big and small at the group’s 46 lodges. Whether it’s pioneering the re-introduction of an endangered species such as black rhino, facilitating the establishment of an income producing sewing co-operative in a local community or simply managing the vegetable peelings from our kitchens, we consciously look for ways to leave a positive legacy.
Education helps to break the cycle of poverty, allowing communities and individuals the opportunity to enhance the quality of their lives, which is why the building of schools and classrooms, training, bursaries and adult education are all key areas for the &Beyond Foundation.
The rangers at Phinda host conservation lessons for an average of 350 schoolchildren and their teachers every year.
Because &Beyond’s most valuable asset is our staff, in 2003 the company launched the Positive Health programme across the group. A preventative health programme, it trains staff members to become counsellors on health, nutrition and psychological wellbeing, and caregivers for people living with life threatening illnesses such as HIV/Aids.
The &Beyond Foundation has boosted the level of medical care at two facilities through the building of a clinic and nurse’s accommodation at Mduku, and the renovation of a second facility, the Cezwane Clinic.
Through a simple innovation, we have helped address one of the challenges of water supply for local families with the introduction of Hippo Water Rollers. These are drums that hold 90 litres (25 gallons) of water and are easily rolled along the ground by means of a stainless steel holder, as opposed to the usual five litre (one gallon) containers that are traditionally carried on the heads of women and children.
Recycling is right on track at Phinda. Every month the Reserve recycles three tons of glass, three tons of tin cans, and four and a half tons of plastic and paper.
Earthworm farms have been introduced at seven locations on the Reserve to decompose organic wet waste and produce vermin compost and worm wee, which is cultivated back into staff vegetable gardens.
Improved consumption levels of water, energy and power have been achieved through the installation of 25 water meters and other water-saving devices on Phinda.
Following the launch of a major leopard conservation programme in 2002, the leopard population at Phinda has bounced back in a big way.
Phinda protects the greatest number of Pepper-Bark trees in KwaZulu-Natal – 1 400.
In order to further reduce our impact on the environment at Phinda the sustainability team is currently investigating ways to: increase rain water-capturing capabilities and fit water tanks with filtration systems, install solar panels in staff villages to substantially cut back on electricity consumption and introduce an organic biodigestion power plant.