By John Kachembere
Victoria Falls will soon boast a new luxury boutique hotel called Mbano Manor (Mbano) – to cater for the discerning international traveller to the region’s famous world heritage site.
From early 2019, the new 19 all-suite establishment will offer a unique and nature-based travel experience for the global, high-end tourist, who seeks comfort and privacy to commune with nature.
Mati Nyazema, a Zimbabwean-born global tourism businesswoman, and the driving force behind Mbano, says the vision is to cater for the top-end of the international market with an upmarket and deluxe offering in Victoria Falls.
“The high-end clients visiting southern and east Africa are currently staying in suites at top hotels, and exclusive game lodges in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique and Tanzania. However, there is limited bespoke, quality product to complement their stay when visiting Victoria Falls (and therefore) we foresee meeting their needs with this new luxury offering,” she said.
“We aim to cultivate and safeguard the unique, exclusive and bespoke nature of Mbano… to become the luxury destination of choice. We see a great opportunity to leverage the new-found optimism enjoyed by Zimbabwe following recent positive political and economic developments. Mbano… is ready to unleash the abundant luxury tourism opportunities (in the falls),” Nyazema said.
This comes amind reports that the global luxury hotels market continues to expand, characterised by high-end experiences.
Nyazema noted that Mbano was designed to embrace the latest trends such as responsible tourism, perceptive dining, a simple focus on rest and pronounced sleep experience.
The hotel boasts 18 luxurious standard suites and one presidential villa nestled “within the natural beauty of the surrounding teak forest”.
“Nature took precedence in the design of Mbano hotel. Hence, buildings were carefully positioned to ensure minimal disruption of the original forest, dominated by large ancient teak trees,” Nyazema said.
Givemore Chidzidzi, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief operating officer, said the new boutique hotel’s strategic positioning to the Zambezi National Park and at the edge of the Victoria Falls village “gave it the best of nature, and luxury comfort in one setting”.
From the majestic falls, to superb safari offerings in Hwange, Mana Pools, the eastern Highlands and Great Zimbabwe monument, the country has so much on offer for the global traveller, he said.
“In Victoria Falls, Mbano’s discerning guests will be able to enjoy many exciting activities… including river rafting and safaris, helicopter rides and a plethora of other adventures,” Chidzidzi added.
The ZTA boss noted that tourism plays a critical role in the development of the Zimbabwean economy by luring foreign direct investment and the much-needed foreign currency, which results in job creation, improvement of the country’s social and economic life or index.
Chidzidzi indicated that Harare had embarked on a review of the national tourism strategy to inform, harness and champion a more centrally focused development, and strategic growth path for the sector.
The new tourism strategy seeks to increase tourist arrivals to seven million from the current 2,4 million and boost sectoral earnings to $7 billion from $1 billion.
“The objectives of the NTSS are to ensure Zimbabwe increases its share of global tourism and convert it into tangible benefits for the economy. It is encouraging to see private initiative harnessing the opportunity and supporting our national tourism initiatives by development of new quality products such as Mbano..,” the ZTA number two said.
With a classic chic design, defined by refined countryside architecture, abundant spaces and generous verandas from where to enjoy the rich nature of the setting, rates are expected to hover around $950 per person sharing per night and for suites with old-world comfort complemented by modern amenities, touches of nature and stone.
A cluster of large trees weave through the main building – reception, lounge and restaurant areas, and Mbano also has a curio shop for bespoke local artefacts.
The veranda style restaurant offers formal and informal dining under large trees, with a secluded swimming pool offering opportunities for a cool down in the year-round clement weather.
Each spacious standard suite features high rafters, open ceilings and large windows allowing natural light to flow in and providing a cool interior. The suites comprise a relaxing lounge area, a spacious bedroom, modern best-in-class bathroom, as well as a dressing room.
A generous veranda offers guests the opportunity to relax outdoors, while enjoying the beauty of the lush site and sounds of nature. The suites are equipped with modern essentials, such as air conditioning, TV and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The presidential villa is located in a private corner of the estate, and boasts its own gardens, plunge pool and individual access. A king-size bedroom is complemented by a separate lounge, a boardroom area with separate access, and a double-volume bathroom area featuring fine finishing and luxury couple amenities. A generous veranda borders three sides of the villa, and a discreet plunge pool allows guests to cool down in privacy.
A local and regional team of hotel and technical experts has worked tirelessly to bring Mbano to life, and deliver small yet great hotel experience. And nature is playing its part.
“At the Mbano site… we delight in daily sightings of wildlife – mostly during evenings – as they stroll past. In under three months of construction, four of the Big Five – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard – have already paid a visit, curious about the new neighbours,” Nyazema said.