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October 30, 2008

South Africa: Melton Manor, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Melton Manor
Bathroom with a view.
Photo: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Below, a post from this year's Hot Hotels list.

Melton Manor, a villa with accommodations for eight, is the latest addition to Kwandwe, a privately owned game reserve spanning 62,000 acres in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Like the other three lodges on the reserve, the CC Africa-managed Melton Manor has stellar service from a staff who seem to have a telepathic ability to delight guests. Because you have Melton Manor all to yourself, you can plan everything down to the smallest detail, from setting departure times for the twice-daily game drives to placing a standing order for waffles at breakfast. Architecturally, the property is a contemporary take on a traditional frontier farmhouse, with high ceilings and deep verandas overlooking a central courtyard and an infinity-edge pool. Decor is witty and nostalgic--imagine antique claw-foot furniture painted dark pink and Granny's crocheted blankets reworked in funky colors. An open kitchen gives you license to interact with (or even assist) the chef as he prepares a constant round of delicious meals, snacks, and afternoon teas. There is a misconception that game viewing here doesn't have the wow factor of other reserves farther north, but lion prides, black and white rhino, buffalo, cheetahs, and many other wild animals are prolific. The reserve is also a sanctuary for numerous bird species, not least the endangered blue crane after which the reserve is named.

When to go: Winter months (May-August), for spectacular displays of flowering aloes.
Which room to book: One of the two farthest from the lounge, dining, and kitchen areas, for peace and quiet and the best views of the towering cliffs along this stretch of the Great Fish River.

Further reading:
* Melton Manor
* Hot List 2008
* The best African resorts from our 2008 Readers' Choice Awards
* South Africa Guide
* Hot List on the DT

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