Leadwood was the conclusion of our journey through three different South African game reserves. We chose to end with it because it was the most exclusive, expensive, and intimate (4 guest villas insted of 6) of the &Beyond properties we visited.
It certainly lived up to the expectation in most of the regards. If we were blown away the beauty of the rooms and main lodge at Phinda Vlei and Ngala Tented, I guess you could say we were awestruck by Leadwood. The architecture was astounding, the rooms ENORMOUS, the private plunge pools and decks gorgeous and amazing. Let me mention again, for perspective, that this isn't my wife and my first rodeo. We've been around the world and we yawn when we walk into most 5-star resorts. We didn't yawn here, though our mouth was gaping open.
The service and food was, as we'd become accustomed to, bafflingly wonderful. Thich sliced Ostrich carpaccio drizzled with lime and olive oil, rare seared Kudu filet, whole Dover sole, etc. My wife is an Operations consultant for the only consulting firm that actually matters - you know the one, and at the end of our stay in Leadwood she was so impressed that she's setting up time with &Beyond leadership to help mine best practices and put together an inspirational module on "how to do the impossible."
At any rate, Leadwood dazzles. The game viewing was, again, spectacular as it was with Phinda Vlei and Ngala tented. The only minor note I'd make here is that Sabi Sand is a shared reserve. So we shared with Ulusaba - Richard' Branson's spot. Next to us, Singita and Londolozi shared. This arrangement is repeated throughout the area. It is a very minor point, but after being spoiled with exclusive unlimited viewing and tremendous off-road experiences in Ngala and Phinda, it was a trifle annoying to have to clear a viewing after 1t5 or 20 minutes because Ulusaba guests were on the way, etc. That being said, we the experience was phenomenal. We saw adult male lions chowing on a freshly killed Waterbuck, a leopard mother with two cubs feeding on an impala, etc. We also had Elephant some up to our room'splunge pool and take a drink, hippo wandering down the bank 15 feet away from our deck, etc.
What can you say to that? Amazing.
If I had to compare Phinda Vlei, Ngala Tented, and Leadwood, here you go...
Leadwood has the nicest rooms and lodge area. Though that's like saying a Bentley is better than a Rolls Royce. It can come down to individual preference.
I give the game viewing nod to Ngala and Phinda because &Beyond has exclusive traversing rights and there is never any "sharing." But that's like saying that a buffet is better than a la carte because it is unlimited. Not really, it kind of depends.
Note that the weather is also a factor. Someone who stayed and Ngala just prior to me posted a review where they said the viewing suffered because of rain. They still gave five stars, but the point is that you aren;t going to go wrong at any of them. Weather will be the biggest difference.
Food and Service are just impeccable at all of them. No differentiator. A final note is that &Beyond prides itself on community support. They believe in developing their local staff, and as a result they provide scholarships, build schools, support health clinics, etc. Our ranger at Phinda had been with them for 18 years, starting as a mechanic, becoming a tracker, and then a full ranger. Another Zulu ranger had a lifelong fream of being a high school teacher. At 36, &Beyond was picking up the tab for his schooling so that he could do so. We were teary-eyed listening to him tell his stories at a grounp dinner one evening. One more reason to feel good about spending $thousands per night.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in the fork of the Sand and Mabrak Rivers, andBeyond Leadwood Lodge offers a cosy and serene getaway completely at peace with the bush that surrounds it. With suites carefully distanced from each other, andBeyond Leadwood is ideal for families or parties of friends who want to share their safari experience without intruding on each other's privacy. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- And Beyond Leadwood Lodge
- &Beyond Leadwood Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- Dulini Leadwood Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve