A wonderful private property, Phinda The Homestead is located in KwaZulu, in Maputaland, in the north-eastern sector of Phinda Private Game Reserve.
Once a bric-a-brac of rundown farms, the core of Phinda is a wilderness rescued from years of poor land practice, by what was then known as Africa CC (now &Beyond). It has since been added to, and is today recognised in the industry as one of Africa’s leading examples of stakeholder conservation. Returned to its historical owners, the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities, who have in turn agreed to commit the land to wildlife in perpetuity, Phinda will be managed by &Beyond for the next 70 years or so. A bright future.
Phinda The Homestead – a largely wood and thatch build – compliments a Phinda portfolio that includes the likes of Vlei and Forest Lodge, two outstanding pieces of accommodation, and consists of 4 bedrooms, a lounge, dining room, media room, a verandah and pool. In keeping with what is fast turning into something of a Phinda style, the interior is a mix of modern architectural design, retro nods and Africana decor. 1970s style lamps sit cheek to jowl with slick, functional furniture, while surfaces and walls are decorated with bright white skulls, stressed picture frames featuring pen and ink cartoons and ornamental bowls. The lounge based eclectic mix is continued – though somewhat more sparingly – into the dining room, it’s long dining table dominated by 4 tall glass and metal candle holders, and is brought to a close, in the media room, where functionality finally gets the upper hand.
With a staff-to-guest ratio of 1:3, the level of attention and care at Phinda The Homestead is first rate, as is the food, which is prepared in what &Beyond call an interactive kitchen. While the cuisine is pan-African, menus are readily adapted to suit diets and tastes, and meals are taken outside, on the decking, as a bush picnic, or inside, at the dining table. The atmosphere is relaxed, flexibility being the key.
In contrast to the lounge, the suites are more a specific style. Objects, furniture and art are precisely placed, with glass cabinets used to create mini-galleries, and beds (double or twin) look out through sliding windows. Each suite includes a separate bathroom, which is divided from the bedroom by a sliding glass door, and features a bath, sink, flush toilet and shower. Here, minimalist motifs dominate, with the bath rim set at outside ground level, the toilet bowl suspended off the floor, pipes invisible. Comfortable, stimulating, the suites include a private verandah and outdoor showering facilities.
The Homestead comes with it’s own guide and vehicle, and itineraries are movable feasts. Activities 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.