The Roman Poet Plinius captured the ancient world’s awe with Africa and its ability to always spring some surprise when writing that “Out of Africa, always something new.” It is in this same spirit that hospitality legend, Adrian Gardiner, continues to delight and surprise guests at any one of the Mantis Collection’s 72 luxury boutique hotels and lodges around the world.
Gardiner has come a long way since launching the legendary Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape years ago. Shamwari was a risky and bold initiative – establishing a Big Five game reserve in a malaria-free zone thousands of miles from South Africa’s game-viewing attractions up north in the bushveld. Yet, as has consistently remained true, Gardiner had his fingers on the pulse of what tourists valued most, and he was proven right in his bold assumption that South Africa’s other main tourist region, the Garden Route, could offer an incomparable game and bush experience. With Shamwari as flagship, Gardiner and his team have since grown the Mantis Collection to stretch over all seven continents, with each destination dedicated to offering something truly exceptional.
But Gardiner’s heart remains at home where it all started in the Eastern Cape. It is here at Founders Lodge where many a perfect day was created as he hosted friends, families and celebrities. Memory and legacy hang thick in the atmosphere. Most recently, after extensive renovation, guests have started to share this rare experience by being invited to stay over inside Gardiner’s original Shamwari home, under the excellent care of the Mantis Group’s perfect hospitality. A world-class experience in itself, with six private suites only, and with walking areas at the Lodge and access to Shamwari game drives, one would have expected Gardiner to move on to his next big project. Yet, as Plinius reminded his Roman contemporaries, there were still more surprises to be added. The founder of conservation tourism in the Eastern Cape was still not done. He once again sensed that there was something special that his guests would enjoy, and he set the wheels in motion. This time to bring guests even closer to nature.
Future guests at Founders will soon be able to enjoy several additions to an already otherworldly experience, by spending more time in close contact with nature. There are few things in the world that can compare to sleeping out under the stars and hearing the African night sounds around the fire, and a safe, yet pristine sleep-out venue is to be added soon. For bird-watchers, the two dams on the property will offer hides from where guests can unobtrusively enjoy the abundance and variety of this region’s bird-life. And if this is not enough, a special boma in one of the reserve’s valleys will create a unique venue for outdoor dining experiences. Arrive from your game drive to hear the sizzle of hearty fare. When the sun gets high later in the day, retreat under the deep shadows of the umbrellas at the pool.
The Mantis Collection has built its business by offering a wide variety of exceptional experiences away from home, and once guests have had their first experience, they never need to look outside of the Collection for their next travel adventure. Whether a boutique cruise, an exhilarating ski holiday, an African game experience, a visit to an exotic and far-off country, or even when traveling for business, the Collection has something new to offer time and again.
Today, The Mantis Collection is the only international hospitality group with a presence on every continent in the world. One wonders what the old Roman poet would have had to say about the novelty of it all, yet you can bet that his military colleagues would have been in awe of such rapid and successful expansion. Shall we say that traveling with the Mantis Collection has become a “sine qua non” – something that nobody should be able to do without?