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“Beautiful Lodge in the Sabi Sands Reserve”

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Lion Sands Ivory Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 8, 2009

I looked long and hard at multiple luxury lodges in the Sabi Sands area before choosing the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. I selected this lodge in part for the offer it had with the Cape Cadogan in Capetown (two nights free at Cape Cadogan). Were a discount offer still available with the Singita Lodges at the time of booking, I probably would have chosen Singita instead. Lion Sands was apparently selected as the third best hotel in the world in 2006 by Tatlers. The service, food, and the price all reflected that. There are only six villas, and each villa has a great view of the Sabie River. The bedroom and bathroom are split from the living room by a heated plunge pool, which is great for cooling off between the morning and afternoon game-drives. The bathroom was heavenly, with the egg-shell tub and outdoor shower (I never used the indoor shower). The bedroom area has an excellent view of the bushveld. We barely used the living room, although we ate there one evening (food was served by our butler via a pass-through door). I never touched the liquor bounty inside the living room either, because there simply was not enough time to consume that much alcohol in between the drives (the same alcohol is served in the game drives and at mealtime). Two or three villas share one butler, who attends to your gastronomic needs. While our butler was very nice, we did not have a butler at Phinda, and could have obviously gotten by without one at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. In fact, aside from memorized drink preferences and bringing them to the dining table, I was not entirely sure what the butler did, because the regular staff could have easily performed his duties instead of standing around. The game drives and rangers/trackers were great. Game drives, I figured soon enough, are a hit or miss. Depending on your luck, as well, as the time and day, drives can be excellent or boring. Despite the Sabi Sands Reserve's reputation for leopard sightings, we only saw one during our three days there. We did, however, see a ton of elephants (including newborns), white rhino, and cape buffalo.
We celebrated my birthday there, and the lodge prepared a birthday cake at dinner time and gifted me a pair of binoculars.
We did have an issue during our stay: there are two aircon units in the bedroom/bathroom area. While the bedroom aircon unit was fully functional, the bathroom one was not in our villa. I reported this to multiple staff and manager on the morning of our second day. The problem was that the room became quite hot during the day (one aircon unit was not enough to cool off the large area). Also, I preferred to lie under blanket cover at night to prevent mosquitoes from biting (despite the presence of the mosquito netting), but it just got too hot with only one aircon unit. End result was that I got bitten by mosquitoes in a malaria endemic area. Despite my complaints, the aircon unit was never repaired during our three days stay. For the money we paid, I expected almost instant service regarding this issue (we could have moved to a different, unoccupied, villa at the lodge). All I received was an apology on a card.
In the end, I think Lion Sands (or ultra-lux lodges of that ilk) are nice to try once if you have the money, but more bang for the buck can be had for half the price (and still be deemed luxury)

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank chinochulo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 6, 2009

Early December 2008 during my South Africa safari trip I visited Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. During the 20 minute light air transfer from Nelspruit to Skukuza Airport we flew over some farming areas, roads, hiways and the odd elephant - a strange mix of developed and natural areas. On arrival I was met by a Lion Sands representative for a 20 minute road transfer to Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. On the way into camp I was eager to experience my first animal encounter of the trip but had to settle for reading the different signs for neighboring lodges and camps.
The camp itself consists of 6 well designed spacious suites. As you walk into the room through beautifully crafted wooden doors you directly face a large deck with your own heated private plunge pool overlooking the Sabie River and of course any thirsty visitors who may happen to wander down to the river for a drink. On one side of the pool deck there is a large lounge area great for relaxing with a book. There is a telephone, fireplace, fully stocked maxi bar, tea station, writing desk etc. The room is surrounded by glass walls ensuring you do not miss out on the fantastic views while keeping the lovely cool air conditioning in. A fun and unique idea is the “Bulawayo door”, this is a hatch door that your morning tea or coffee is set into so the staff do not have to enter your room and disturb you. Opposite the lounge area on the other side of the pool deck is a separate open plan bedroom and bathroom. Again glass walls to maximize the view as well as to keep the cool air conditioned air in. Behind the bedroom area is a large bathroom area. The bathroom area consists of a shower, double basin area, large bathtub, and separate toilet. My favorite addition to the bathroom was the outdoor shower. Although on my stay it was a little overcast and drizzly I could not help but enjoy a steaming hot outdoor shower. The setting is my favorite of any outdoor shower I have experienced, and I have experienced many, I even had 2 little birds dive bombing me… enjoying the warm shower too! All the amenities you can imagine are available in the rooms including umbrellas, mosquito repellents, a safe… The bedroom / bathroom area is very open, with exception of the toilet area. Having the lounge area completely separate to the bedroom / bathroom is great for guests who are traveling as friends, or mother / daughter etc combinations. You can still maintain privacy if needed.
The main areas of the camp are accessed by slightly raised board walks. At the entrance of the camp there is an office as well as a lovely shop. The main building includes a lounge area with internet access for those who cannot live without their email, an indoor dining area as well as an outdoor dining area, a boma and a wine cellar.
The food was fantastic. For lunch I ordered a vegetarian tortilla wrap stuffed with spinach and eggplant, something I normally would not choose… but it was delicious and paired well with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a view of 2 lazy water buffalo. At dinner I was surprised with managements’ decision to arrange a private dinner in my room, this would have been fantastic… if I weren’t traveling alone! I was given the option of having the food brought to me one course at a time or all the courses at the same time. I opted for them to bring all the courses at the same time, but did regret that, at least if they brought each course separately I would have had company for part of the meal!
I had a lot of fun on the game drives as my guide Diederik had a fantastic sense of humor. We saw several prides of lion, 2 white rhino, waterbuck, hippo, kudu, bush buck, 2 honey badgers (Diederik nearly fell out of the vehicle from excitement!), impala, buffalo, leopard, elephant, hyena… the game drives were quite active! Diederik's sense of humor was especially appreciated during the morning game drive as it was raining quite hard. The other guests on the vehicle were not too happy with the ponchos that didn’t quite hold up! Within minutes we were all soaked. After we found the leopard everyone was dying to see we decided to head back to camp early as the rain was not letting up (I was still having a great time), about 2 minutes from camp we came across a true road block… a herd of elephant that would not budge. The unhappy and by now completely saturated guests in the back were not impressed to hear we had to take an alternate route back to camp that would take another 20 minutes!
In short Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is a fantastic property. The camp itself is wonderful, the rooms are large and well designed. I love having a private plunge pool for each room and the outdoor shower is to die for. The area provides great wildlife viewing. If you are looking for a high end property in the Sabi Sands area such as Singita Boulders at a lower nightly rate Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is a great option.

Lorna Davidson, Ultimate Africa Safaris

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled solo
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Thank Lorna-UltimateAfrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2009

Thanks to the Ivory Lodge team for the dedication and determination of resurrecting our holiday plans after an airline strike put us 2 days behind our scheduled stay. Upon arrival at the lodge, the warmth and friendliness of the staff lead me to believe we were in for something special.
The villa was breathtaking and the attention to detail was evident, particulary the welcome note which was a display made of flowers and leaves on our beds.
The plunge pool, freestanding bath and outdoor shower were all part of our own private oasis in the middle of the bush.
The game viewing was superb and who would have thought that we would see a herd of roughly 50 elephants pass by us while we were relaxing in our villa.
The food was terrific and our butler set up a special dining experience under candlelight by our open fire.
What a wonderful experience and we will be waving the Ivory Lodge flag for many years to come.
Peter & Leticia - Australia

  • Stayed: August 2009
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Thank BrandiAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2009

Myself and my husband spent a 3 night stay here as part of our honeymoon. It was such an amazing place / experience / food and wine. Our lodge was out of this world with our own private heated small pool that overlooked the Sands river so while relaxing you could see (on occasion)some animals coming down to the river. Food and drink really good. The Safari experience was brilliant - morning and evening safari and really felt that all effort was been made so we could view as much as possible. It is expensive but you are paying for what you are getting. Our only complaint leaving was that we had to leave. Would highly recommend this hotel

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank phil-tipperary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2009

We have just departed South Africa (now in Mauritius and will post a review of the new Four Seasons) following our 10th wedding anniversary visit to Lion Sands. We concur with the enthusiasm of prior guests. The river setting, Ivory villas, food and especially the service are exceptional. Our experience at LS compares well to previous visits to Singita, Olonana (in Kenya) and Botswana. The most direct comparison is with Singita. Based on a few days at each, we preferred the game viewing (volume, density and variety) at Singita but found a "family owned" atmosphere and superior service at LS. Every dining experience was excellent (be sure to join the bush lunch and take a candlelight dinner in your villa) and we appreciated the high quality of the included wine selection. We were disappointed that our plunge pool was nice cold, but otherwise very pleased with our accomodations. The Lion Sands game experience was very good. We enjoyed every game drive and were fortunate to spot the Big 5 through the tenacity and team work of the guides and trackers. We also enjoyed a visit to the Henna pre-school in a nearby village. Ask the lodge for a brochure describing the support program in advance of visiting the school. Lion Sands was time and money well spent.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank KPTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 27, 2009

Four days of heaven- for our 40th wedding anniversary! There is little I can add over and above the other superlative reviews. Six lodges, twelve guests, one hundred and thirty four on the pay roll apparently. Accommodation in two adjacent rooms which comprise your lodge. The deck between has seating, your own plunge pool and superb views over the River. My wife, who is normally an avid reader, spent hours just staring at the wildlife on the river!
Game drives are what a safari holiday is all about and you get two per day and a third outing if you are up to it! Early starts (up at 5.30) but worth it for the wildlife. Max 6 guests in a landrover with lots of off road to get near the game. and you get NEAR! Apparently lions don't eat guests on vehicles! (hope they remember that). The ranger and tracker instill every confidence but we have to say that one evening in pitch dark surrounded by hunting lions was definitely better enjoyed AFTER the event than at the time!
The food is superb and plenty of it:
breakfast in bush
breakfast back at the lodge
lunch
tea
sundowners + food in bush
dinner
You have your own butler back at base. And the arrangement is fully inclusive including drinks!
The staff are wonderful. You are known by your first names, which we were more than comfortable with.
The stay is not particularly relaxing if you want to make the most of the game facilities. There is not a great deal of time to change for dinner, and anyway no-one does as dinner is usually served around a Boma (bbq around a large fire) - definitely not suits and nice shoes! The up-side was we found we were so busy that time stood still and four days seemed to last for ever! Wonderful.
Most guests seem to stay for 3 or 4 days. In our view this is just right. Longer and we would not have stood the pace of early starts/ wonderful food/ unlimited luxury. We will be talking about Ivory for years!
And we saw "The Big Five" plus a few others too!

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank GBW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2009

We have recently returned from our stay in Lion Sands Ivory lodge which was second to none! The lodges were beautiful, with a plunge pool and a living area. The Safari was superb and gave us the most amazing experience, the Tracker and Ranger we were put with showed us the big 5 in two drives! which was simply outstanding. We also enjoyed a massage which was set up outside on your private deck with music and an excellant masseuse! The staff were the nicest and most helpful people i've ever met in a hotel who adressed us both by our first names. The food was delicious and if you want the best possible Safari experience then Ivory Lodge is the way to go there is no way you will be dissapointed.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank Number1Tourist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lion Sands Ivory Lodge

Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve | (Shaw's Gate Entrance), Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #22 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Class:5 star — Lion Sands Ivory Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Family owned since 1933, this international award winning private game reserve spans across the world famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. Lion Sands has four lodges; Lion Sands Ivory Lodge & Lion Sands River Lodge (Sabi Sand) and Lion Sands Tinga Lodge & Lion Sands Narina Lodge (Kruger Park). Each has a unique style, but is a reflection of Lion Sands' five-star signature of sophisticated interiors, unique experiences and service excellence. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Lion Sands Ivory Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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