Like a bush fire clears out dry and dead plant matter opening the way for growth, so the lodge blaze exposed the fundamentals of what we were trying to create. – Robert More, Owner of MORE
After a recent fire, and previously a flood, destroyed River Lodge, there was never any doubt we would rebuild. It is too much a part of our heritage and, in fact, the first property we welcomed our guests to. But this time, we understand what is most important – the experiences shared in this place. We have created a space for people to come together; the rest takes care of itself. As we get closer to revealing the evolved River Lodge, we know it is going to be something beyond extraordinary.
Guy Chalkley, my great grandfather, purchased Kingston farm – the origin of Lion Sands Game Reserve – in November 1933, and built a small camp just up from the Sabie riverbank. In 1978, John More, who married Guy’s granddaughter Louise Chalkley, welcomed the first guests to the farm with the opening of River Lodge. For 67 years, the Chalkley and More families, and those of many guests, enjoyed this peaceful retreat, and the dedication to protecting its environment was passed from parent to child.
It is the memories of spending long summer days with my brothers in the rapid systems of the Sabie River, watching crocodiles and hippos, which ensure we will be custodians here for a very very long time. – The late Nicholas More (1967 – 2013)
My brother Nick and I took control of our legacy when the floods of 2000 washed away the old River Lodge. While devastating, we chose to see it as a fresh start. We rebuilt the new lodge with a vision to share with others that which we were so blessed to grow up with. Between 2001 and 2017, we welcomed over 60 000 guests through our doors. Witnessing how many memories were made and dreams came true in this magical place is an honour we have always held close to our hearts.
On the night of 23 June 2017, when a tiny spark took hold in the thatch above the lounge, our Lion Sands River Lodge burned and it all seemed to come to an end again. This place where couples fell in love, families reunited, children heard the trumpeting of an elephant for the first time… But it was then that we realised River Lodge is much more than a structure. It is our people and this wilderness that create with our guests the experiences that enrich their lives. Through sharing these experiences, they reconnect with themselves and each other, and rediscover how ‘wonder-full’ life essentially is.
Reopening on 1 May 2018, after a major rebuild – with the addition of enhanced guest areas, a spa, and two new River Suites – the new River Lodge will afford every comfort and convenience, leaving time to spend together. And even in the pauses between bush adventures, guests are never removed from nature. Limited walls allow a natural flow between interior and exterior spaces. While, the modern organic décor – utilising materials in as close to their raw form as possible, such as wool, burnt wood, and terracotta – serves to compliment, not compete with, the environment.
So begins the next part of our elemental soul safari…
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