Xigera, the Versailles of the African bush


Xigera, the Versailles of the African bush

An exclusive first look at Botswana’s grand new safari camp, a spectacular monument to a travel industry tycoon

David Pilling

Stanley Tollman’s instructions were clear. Build a safari lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and make it the finest of its type in the world.

“The brief was simple,” says Anton de Kock, the architect engaged for the task. “Mr Tollman said: ‘I want an extraordinary camp. I want an extraordinary experience.’ That was the word: ‘extraordinary’. And knowing Mr T, it had to be the best of the best.”

Tollman, a South African hospitality magnate whose Travel Corporation employs 10,000 people in 70 countries, mused a little more. Each of the 12 suites must have air-conditioning and constant hot water. The lodge must not be decorated in the drab khaki and beige typical of African safari camps. It should be colourful and titillate the eye, with at least a splash of red in every room. There must be a fountain. There should be no black. It should look like a safari lodge, but not too much. There should be an air-conditioned library. And a fabulous bar. And an orientation map of the camp. And, oh yes, some sort of nod to Africa’s “big five” animals. Apart from that, he hardly said a word...

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