We are lucky enough to have a personal connection to the beautiful iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
It is home to vibrant wildlife in the game reserve, the Lake St. Lucia estuary and superb coastal beaches on the eastern shores of the park. Leigh-Ann and Hugh Morrison own the 5-Star Makakatana Bay Lodge and I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the hotel the last time I was in this unique part of the world. It is has been their home for many years – and a home away from home to both local and international guests.
The lodge was built in 1999 by Hugh and Leigh-Ann after Hugh’s parents, James (Jimmy) and Ursula Morrison decided to move to Ballito after living at Makakatana for 50 years. The Morrison family have run trading stores in Zululand since the early 1900’s and Hugh’s grandfather, Jock Morrison, had a store at Makakatana called Lake Store which still stands today.
The lodge has 5 standard rooms, 1 honeymoon suite and 2 family rooms. The interior of the lodge has changed a lot over the years but the architecture is a mixture of African and Japanese style with a lot of glass and open spaces, allowing the flow of indoor to outdoor space and welcoming the beautiful scenery around you into the rooms.
The last major renovations were done in 2017 when the standard rooms received a full facelift and floors, indoor bathrooms and outdoor bathrooms were completely gutted and renovated. The interiors are constantly being refreshed with the last update done in November 2019.
Each of the guest suites have a very spacious and comfortable room layout, and are planning and designed with a strong emphasis on privacy.
The big beautiful glass doors provide a lot of natural light into each room and also show off the beautiful bush views. The private verandas are the perfect spot for a private dining experience or for guests to relax amongst their beautiful bush surroundings. The newly renovated bathrooms are modern and spacious, the blurred line between the indoor and outdoor bathroom creates a with a beautiful openness with your freestanding bath and outdoor showers set privately in the bush. Crisp white linen, luxurious fabrics, natural decorative textures combined with the use of natural wood carry the contemporary African atmosphere into each private suite as well as the generous communal area of the lodge. The lodge’s pool and deck area was dramatically enhanced with a new rim-flow swimming pool that overlooks the spectacular scenery.
“I love it when I see how rejuvenated our guests are when the bush starts to feed their souls. Guests often say that it is a very spiritual place, which I fully agree with and love to hear how guests can feel this energy. We are a family run lodge and the most important thing when visiting us is to relax and become connected to the environment. Breathe, smell and listen to the sounds,” says Leigh-Ann.
Reference to images:-
Some of the furniture was made by a local carpenter, Gerhard Pyper, renovations were done by Ryan Cooley at Town and Country Construction in Hluhluwe and also Gary Todd in Kwambonambi. Interiors by Nicola Baleta.