BotseBotse Luxury Retreat

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52 Zebula Nature Reserve and Golf Estate, Mabula District, Bela Bela 0480, South Africa


Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Free Parking, Restaurant, Room Service, Spa, Swimming Pool


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  1. Expert Review

    4.0 rating based on 1 rating
    Nov 2014 · Karen Elowitt

    If you're looking for a quiet, romantic retreat for an anniversary or honeymoon, BotseBotse is right up your alley. Located...

    If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic retreat for an anniversary or honeymoon, BotseBotse is right up your alley.

    Located in the vast (and mostly empty) Zebula Golf Estate, the only sounds you’ll hear are the rushing wind and calls of wildlife as you soak in the on-site Jacuzzi or dine in the candle-lit open-air lounge. And with only four rooms, you won’t have to worry about getting ignored by the staff or waiting in line for the pool. In fact, you don’t have to interact with other guests at all if you don’t want to — when I was there, the couple in the room opposite me never seemed to emerge, and I only caught occasional glimpses of them through the slats in their patio fence.

    The rooms are designed with lounging around in mind: They are kitted out with flat-screen TVs, super-plush sheets and pillows, cozy armchairs, full-size bathtubs, outdoor showers, and the aforementioned private patios. The decor is African-chic: textured floor coverings, wood lattice headboards, wood carved artifacts on the walls, and beaded window coverings. If you mention in advance that it’s a special occasion, you’ll get free champagne, and a rose on your canopy-covered bed during turndown service.

    If you do feel like venturing out, there is plenty to do in Zebula: obviously there is golf, but you can also play tennis, go on bike rides in the reserve, or view the animals in their wildlife center. At neighboring Mabula Reserve you can book a game drive, horseback safari or quad-bike safari, and at the nearby Elephant Center you can interact with elephants. Or you can just sit on the pool deck and watch the buffalo, zebra and eland wander by while enjoying a cocktail and enjoying the sounds of silence.

    BotseBotse includes breakfast and dinner in the price of the room: you can eat breakfast in your private patio, or in the dining area. Dinners are served in the dining room, and each night guests are seated in a different place: sometimes outside under the stars (weather permitting), or in the lodge itself, in the secluded nook of your choice. The in-house gourmet chef cooks up a couple of appetizers and a couple of mains at each meal, such as grilled hake, steak tartare, plus the most mouthwatering — and beautifully presented — desserts imaginable. Lunch can be arranged, for an additional fee.

    I really loved BotseBotse, and my only issue was with the staff: while they were lovely and polite, it almost seemed like they were trainees (and perhaps they were?). Little details were missed: our steaks were served with butter knives instead of steak knives; when the wind started to gust, they failed to secure a banging door; one morning we specifically requested breakfast in the dining area, but they brought it to our private patio; on the day of our very early departure they promised breakfast would be at 6:45am, but the chef didn’t wander in until 7:15; and the wrong time was written down for our horse safari, causing us to have to reschedule.

    Each of these minor complaints in isolation sounds like a lot of whingeing, but when they are all put together it speaks to a lack of attention to detail on the part of the staff. And for the rather steep price you pay — and the way BotseBotse is touted as a luxury retreat — I expected the staff to be more “on their game.”

    Children are allowed only at the discretion of management, and on weekends a two-night minimum stay is required.

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