Lion Roars is a family-owned and run company, started by the Bailey family and friends about twenty years ago. Together, we own, operate and develop boutique accommodation in our favourite place in the world: Southern Africa.
So, how did it start? Two brothers, with a passion for conservation and Africa, big dreams, and not a lot else (but for a supportive family) wanted to bring people to see the places they loved. We started offering personalised luxury travel to Southern Africa, with a particular focus on Zimbabwe’s wildlife. We loved the magnificent Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, on Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools border, and this inspired the development of Royal Zambezi Lodge and the progression to the unique Mwambashi River Lodge.
While we, sadly, left the great Zambezi behind (we had to grow up some time, and besides that, I think we needed to give the other fishermen a chance), the success of these lodges, not only as a family getaways, but also as a sought-after retreats, paved the way for the growth of the portfolio to the Eastern and Southern Cape of South Africa.
We started in Port Elizabeth, with the development of Singa Town Lodge, an oasis in the city in Summerstrand beachfront area. Shortly afterwards, the simple, stylish and well-located Ibhayi Town Lodge was added to the portfolio. Set in the tranquil, leafy suburb of Walmer in PE, Ibhayi is now home to 24 rooms, 5 conference rooms and the elegant Leo’s Bistro and Lounge.
Our Mom and Dad’s long-term beach home (open to all comers as long as you said you were invited by a cousin) on Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay, has been our family gathering place for over twenty years. In 2007, we took over the neighbouring Cottage Pie Guest House, which allowed us an opportunity to share another of our favourite destinations with guests. Over the years, Cordovan Villa, Robberg House and Beachy Head Villa (the original home) have been added to the complex to create the unique Robberg Beach Lodge.
Our love of wildlife and desire to undo some of the damage from man’s heavy-handed influence on our natural surroundings, led to acquisition of a large portion of the Amakhala Game Reserve. This allowed us to share our love of the rolling Eastern Cape landscape and further our commitment to conservation. Hlosi Game Lodge and Bukela Game Lodge were the first to join our Amakhala portfolio, offering warm hospitality, luxurious accommodation and a Big 5 game experience less than an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth. A few years later we joined forces with the inimitable Fowlds family, to add the charming Leeuwenbosch Country House to the Lion Roars stable. In another exciting development, all the families involved in the Reserve joined together to form a unified marketing umbrella and brand of “Amakhala Game Reserve: A Pride Member of Lion Roars”. In addition to Bukela, Hlosi and Leeuwenbosch, Carnarvon Dale, Quartermains Camp, Safari Lodge, Woodbury Lodge and Woodbury Tented camp are all available through the Lion Roars portfolio, giving a fabulous choice of tented camps, country houses or luxurious game lodges in what was voted the Eastern Cape’s Best Private Game Reserve.
Along the way, our team grew (we wouldn’t be here without them) and we collected a fabulous group of people, combining an amazingly varied bundle of passion, drive and unique skills. The dedication, energy and skill of our wonderful team of people are apparent in every Lion Roars experience. Most people seem to stay with the family for a long time, adding credence to our philosophy that when you join Lion Roars, you become part of the pride for life!
In 2012, Lion Roars fulfilled a long-term dream of expanding to the Cape when we teamed up with Mark Borrie and Simon Olding to bring Hawksmoor House into the pride. This added an unsurpassed authentic Cape Winelands experience to the mix. Hawksmoor is a superbly-located historic Cape Dutch country retreat, meticulously restored and beautifully decorated with exquisite antiques. It also bottles and sells the fabulous boutique Hawksmoor Wine label, now available at all properties.
In 2013, we were presented with an opportunity to include Cape Town, our favourite city, in our offering. And we’ve been rewarded with two great additions to the pride: The Three Boutique Hotel in Gardens, owned by the powerhouse husband and wife team of Justin and Natalia Pearson, and The Hyde Hotel in Sea Point, run by Leon Knoetze and his tight-knit team. These two properties offer a superb Cape Town accommodation experience under the Lion Roars banner.
And what a great year 2014 has been: in July we welcomed eight new properties to the Lion Roars Pride. This means we can offer an unprecedented variety of locations and star-grades to our guests under the Lion Roars umbrella: our guests have the choice of two new Winelands properties: Val du Charron Wine and Olive Estate and Guest House in the Wellington winelands, and Rickety Bridge and Basse Provence in the Franschhoek Valley. The addition of Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in Oudtshoorn provides guests travelling between the Winelands and Plettenberg Bay with superb Route 62 and half-way accommodation options along the beautiful Garden Route. On the Coastal Garden Route, Cape St Francis Beach Break Villas between Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth, offers direct beach access, in a gentle seaside village atmosphere. Near the world-famous Addo Elephant Park, the warm hospitality of Cosmos Cuisine Guest House offers a lovely extension of your Cape-to-PE trip. Finally, for locals and international travellers, Welgelegen Manor in Mpumalanga offers five-star accommodation and cuisine in a tranquil getaway less than an hour from Johannesburg.
And in 2015 the journey continues. Early in 2015, beautiful Orange Grove Farm in Robertson joined the Pride. With its pristine wilderness trails for hikers and joggers, and its luxurious self-catering and full-service options, Orange Grove is a great stop on Route 62. Along the Coastal Route, African Oceans and Bay Lodge offer beach-side luxury in Mossel Bay, and the warm hospitality of Tramonto in George and Tsitsikamma Village Inn in Storms River offer great accommodation and warm hospitality along your route. For local guests travelling in Gauteng, and international visitors travelling via Johannesburg, Greenfields Guest House in Alberton, near Johannesburg, offers an ideal stopover.
The result is a portfolio of venues that we love to be in and are proud to share with new-found friends. While each location has its own character, the portfolio is bound by a consistently superior experience in terms of comfort, attention to detail and warm, genuine hospitality. We hope you enjoy your stay.
If there is anything we can do to make it better, our team live to make it happen. Please let them know. If we haven’t got something right please feel free to let me know (I have put my contact details down below) – I am often on a plane (sadly not my own anymore, but, to be fair, I wasn’t a great pilot!) or in my car, but I will get back to you as soon as I can - we don’t ever want anyone to leave our family not having been given the best in good old Southern African hospitality.
For Central reservations, please call +27 (0)21 424 1530