Gondwana’s Grand Opening
Gondwana Game Reserve opens Lehele Lodge
15 August 2009 Gondwana Game Reserve officially opened Lehele Lodge and the game reserve on Saturday 15 August. The grand opening party was hosted at the newly completed Lehele Lodge and over a 100 guests were in attendance. Lehele Lodge provided the ultimate setting for this festive occasion. It’s cool organic style with warm African flavours set a wonderful backdrop to the celebrations. VIP guests included the Western Cape Minister Gerrit Van Rensburg, the Mayoress of Mossel Bay Marie Ferreira and the head of marketing for Pam Golding Properties Anthony Stroebel.
African singers got the party mood started as sumptuous hor d’oerves, free-flowing gluwein and champagne were passed to guests as they enjoyed the sunset. The elephants came out for the occasion and entertained the crowd from a nearby ridgeline. Gondwana has been the vision and hard work of Mark and Wendy Rutherfoord for the past five years and now the dream has become a top class reality. The opening of Lehele Lodge was another milestone reached and the next step is the completion of new bush lodge at Fynbos Camp including its luxury kwena huts.
The design of the lodge was organic in purpose and concept as it needed to suit multiple needs as an intimate bush lodge for guests to enjoy and as a boutique functions venue. The lodge is comprised of four thatched areas: rounded amoeba-like rugby ball shapes that are interconnected. The architect, FC Holm from George, conceived it to resemble the original Gondwanaland, the prehistoric super-continent that was slowly carved and split by tectonic forces into the continents as we know them today. The Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains that surround the reserve are the last visible vestiges of these turbulent shifts in the Earth’s crust. The design of the lodge allows visitors to relax in the lounge and library area while a business presentation is taking place in the meeting area next door.
The lodge is comprised of the lounge, bar, library and dining area including large outdoor areas with an infinity pool, boma deck area, which has been nicknamed ‘the party pit’, and ample outdoor seating for meals and sundowners. The interactive media library has Apple Mac flat screens for internet use and Fynbos identification programs for visitors to ID their latest finds of the over 5000 varieties found on Gondwana. A fun sighting map with the recent big five and other sightings is updated daily by guests when they arrive back from game drives.
Lynne K Interiors together with Gondwana owner Wendy Rutherfoord planned the interiors to be clean and organic with splashes of colour found in the surrounding Fynbos vegetation. The outdoors is the main feature with floor to ceiling glass doors and windows all around Lehele. The interior form followed the rounded building form with barely any straight edges in the entire lodge. All the furniture was locally custom-made with some items found at various boutiques in Cape Town and throughout Africa. The overall impression is a contemporary natural feel with colourful African accents.
Lehele Lodge not only acts as the hub’ for Gondwana but it is also a popular meeting place for the wildlife population on the reserve. The elephant are often seen walking through and grazing in the lush valley that the lodge overlooks and have delighted visitors with visits to the pool. Malachite and Orange-Breasted Sunbirds flutter at the windows and endangered Black Harriers are seen regularly flying low looking for prey around the waterholes. The Eland are enjoying the freshly planted aloes and the lion keep guests excited with regular visits to the lodge vicinity.