April 2024

Coming full circle – the evolution of Singita Ebony Lodge

in Lodges and Camps

Coming full circle – the evolution of Singita Ebony Lodge

Change is the only constant in life – and in nature. The seasons change, wildlife and plants adapt and evolve, and somehow the cycle always finds its way back to the beginning. The same applies to Ebony, our founding lodge in the Sabi Sand – where the Singita story began 30 years ago.

Ebony has always been the epitome of a classic African safari bush lodge. A game-changer then and a beloved favourite still, the property remains symbolic of Luke Bailes' pioneering vision to shake up the safari industry – a vision where unparalleled safari experiences and the opportunity to contribute to conservation converged. Currently being updated to offer an even more elevated experience, it will remain true to its heritage.

The first of Singita's lodges, Ebony, in the Sabi Sand, was built in 1993 and epitomises a pioneering vision for luxury ecotourism

Where the past meets the present

It's just-completed renovation has focused on opening up the lodge for a greater sense of flow while paying homage to the spirit of Ebony. The chunky walls, rough-hewn plaster and original Adobe architecture (inspired by North and West Africa) are combined with lightweight timber and canvas architectural elements, first introduced in 2016 and now expanded throughout the main lodge to ensure 180-degree views onto the Sand River, to give an elevated sense of light and space.

Cecile & Boyd’s Design Director, Geordi De Sousa Costa says the new design is an intentional mix of traditional and modern, and contrasting elements. "The classic safari lodge concept is taken to the next level with an emphasis on strong and rounded Adobe-style shapes and finishes, and every area has a balance of bold and lightweight, dense and open."

Georgina Pennington, Group Head of Creative Direction describes the newly refurbished lodge as a big exhale, a calming space that retains Ebony's deeply rooted sense of place, which she unpacks further in our latest podcast, available on Spotify.

Classic safari lodge details have been complemented with updated elements to enhance the sense of calm and celebration of the riverside setting

An interior revival

The contrast between old and new is a thread that runs throughout – steel and canvas folding utilitarian furniture sits alongside sturdy and simple sofas and armchairs. Cotton slipcovers update antique chairs, and contemporary African art is the perfect paradox for Cape Dutch-style chandeliers and vintage traveller chests.

Existing Berber rug murals underscore the North African theme, and leather buckles and fold-up-style furniture are a nod to the campaign era, and combine beautifully with old antiques. Natural fabrics and fibres, silks and linens, and woven elements have been used wherever possible, and layered to give a luxurious yet uncluttered feel.

One of the most significant changes for the design team was removing the animal print, which has been part of Ebony's design language since its inception. The resulting pared-down look introduces new fabrics and softer shades inspired by natural dye colours – indigo, écru, ochre and dark chocolate – for an updated mood.

Natural materials and layered textured contribute to the calming and uncluttered new scheme

Enhancing the guest experience

The new build at Ebony includes a few significant updates to the guest experience. The main lodge has a new bar/deli area, giving guests easy access to snacks and drinks throughout the day. The wine cellar has been moved, creating more seating with expanded views of the gardens. And the new Conservation Room is a thought-provoking, carefully designed space strategically placed in the centre of the lodge – underlining our intention of sharing Singita’s 100-year purpose with guests and sure to become a hub for many different interactions.

A new informal guest lounge has also been created as a comfortable and homely retreat with a well-stocked library, board games, cards and puzzles, where children and adults can relax after an action-filled day out in the bush.

While updated and refreshed, the essence of Ebony – as a significant piece of Singita's history – has been preserved

An energised but intentional incarnation

While significant changes have been made with care and intention, the essence of Ebony as the foundation of Singita's story remains intact. Ebony has come full circle over the past 30 years, and this fitting refresh marks the next chapter in the evolution of this legendary lodge.

Ebony will reopen later this month. Contact our travel team to book your next visit.

By Denise Slabbert

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