Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge

Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge

Hi everyone! Haven’t written a blog post in aaaages, there are all sorts of feels right now! 🙂 I was recently going through some photos on my computer and I came across ones we took over Valentines weekend this year (2016) and I cannot believe I never posted about my weekend at Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge. For those who follow me on Snapchat, you’ll probably know all about my weekend but for those who don’t, this is for you! Also, this was my very first time at a game lodge, I cannot believe I’ve lived in South Africa my entire life and I only went to a game lodge this year!

So E actually surprised me with this little weekend getaway, I mean of course I knew we were going away for the weekend (we had to book Buddy in to a doggy hotel) but I just didn’t know where! All I knew was that it was a bit of a long drive and the whole time E was teasing me that he’s taking me to Sun City (I’m really not a fan since I’ve been before and it was rather average). We stayed for 2 nights, Saturday and Sunday (Valentine’s Day) and we drove back to JHB on Monday afternoon.

I must explain that I am a newbie safari girl, I don’t do camping or “roughing it out”, I enjoy my hot water baths and showers, a king sized bed with preferably white, Egyptian Cotton sheets (thread count is everything!), and I’m not even going to pretend for one minute that I’m chilled, I have zero chill when it comes to accommodation. If you’re just like me or you’re also a newbie safari-goer then I really think this would be a great first time experience. The rooms are extremely private, there are outdoor showers and trust me your neighbours can’t see you, the rooms are serviced and amenities are provided, almost like a hotel except you get more privacy. There is a restaurant that provides amazing food, there’s great entertainment on Saturday nights with traditional African dancing and singing, plus you get to dine in true African style, outside, candlelit and a braai! What’s a “braai”, you may ask? It’s a South African term for barbecue and we love it!

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Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge is located in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve (pretty close to Sun City), which is only about an hour and a half’s drive from Johannesburg. If you want more of a buzz, I would recommend going on Friday because I feel that’s when most people arrive and they go on their first game drive together on Friday afternoon after high tea (yes they provide high tea!). We arrived on Saturday to drumming and singing as we were checking in and we were welcomed by drinks and a delicious lunch. I recommend purchasing an all inclusive package if you are going for the weekend because it includes all game drives (2 per day), meals and high tea. It does exclude drinks, which we paid in total when we checked out but it was no biggie.

Let’s talk about the best part of the weekend, the game drives! There are two game drives per day, one in the morning (sunrise) and one in the late afternoon just after high tea, in time for sunset. The tour groups are MUCH smaller, I must emphasize, MUCH MUCH smaller than other game lodges, the cars that took us probably seats a maximum of about 10-12 people (they are rarely full because the guests are all spread out with other rangers). We’ve seen tours that had like 30+ people in one group so I definitely recommend doing some research about numbers when it comes to these tours. The smaller the better because then it’s more personal. We drove out 4 times that weekend because before we left on Monday, we went on our last game drive that morning and it was just E and I in the car, it was very romantic. 🙂 We managed to see 4 of the big fives that weekend because the Leopard is extremely hard to spot (no pun intended).  We managed to see active female lions close to our lodge on our first game drive, which is quite rare because they are hardly active during the day.

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The lodge made it even more special on Valentines Day because we went back to our rooms with roses, chocolates and sparkling wine on our bed waiting for us! Since we were in the middle of no where, there’s hardly cellphone reception but luckily the lodge does have wifi. I think it was a great weekend away to get away from all that technology we cannot live without, there wasn’t a TV in our room, which I thought was great! The stars were so clear at night because there were hardly any lights around us. I even want to go back as I’m writing up this post because I enjoyed it so much. I would definitely go back, it has the perfect balance between a luxury hotel and a “into the wild” experience!

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With love…xxx

*This is not a sponsored post.

*All rights to photos reserved.

Lovemarylu for Lanson Place Aroma Garden

Lovemarylu for Lanson Place Aroma Gardens

Hello everyone! Hope you all had a great week so far and it’s time to celebrate the weekend! As mentioned previously, I was accommodated by Lanson Place for the duration of the stay in Shanghai, China. For the first two nights, we stayed at the Lanson Place Jin Qiao which is on the East side of the Huang Pu River and for the remaining 3 nights, we stayed at Lanson Place Aroma Gardens which is situated on the West side of the Huang Pu River.

Lanson Place Aroma Gardens, another serviced apartment, opened up for business only in April 2015 which means the residence is brand spanking new inside and outside. The one thing you must understand about Lanson Place is that the standard of service has been impeccable and the same throughout the group. You can expect the same scent in the lobby and the same comfortability, landscape and design. The only thing that may vary the is the book collection. 🙂

 

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The staff are friendly and efficient and I was welcomed with open arms into the new residence. The hotel manager, Joshua, was nothing less than professional and welcomed me with a wonderful message set right next to the Nespresso machine. The staff who works at the lobby are available around the clock to ensure that the guests are enjoying their stay 100%, may it be booking taxis or other concierge services you can expect at a normal hotel. Similar to Lanson Place Jin Qiao, Aroma Gardens offers continental breakfast during the weekdays between 7am and 10am and room cleaning services on the daily. Unfortunately, our stay coincided with the Dragon Boat Festival in China so breakfast was temporarily suspended due to the public holiday. Fortunately for us, that was no inconvenience at all because we went out for breakfast at local restaurants close to the residence.

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Our room was on the 15th floor with spectacular views of Shanghai. The residence and our unit had a wonderful new smell to it, which I love (everyone loves new stuff). The apartment had a kitchen conjoined with the lounge area, a balcony, a study area, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and the master bedroom had a spacious dressing area with a view of the city. Again, it was clearly much too big for E and I but we definitely did not complain about that, plus we had a friend join us for a night at our apartment. There was plenty of cupboard space available and the design of the unit is cosy, sleek and modern. There’s a tv in very room and the number of channels available will keep you very entertained for hours. Luckily for us, it didn’t rain for the 3 days that we were there so we went out and about to explore the city of Shanghai.

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The residence is very well located, The Yu Yuan metro station is only 2 blocks away from the residence and there are restaurants and fruit shops all within walking distance to the residence. There’s also a cafe downstairs, on the ground floor of the residence for the convenience of the guests as well as to the public at large. If it’s your first time traveling to Shanghai, I definitely recommend staying at Lanson Place Aroma Garden because all the great tourist attractions are conveniently within walking distance. The Bund, which is equivalent to the promenade along the Huang Pu River is approximately 1.5km away from the residence and the famous Nan Jing Road, great for shopping and eatery is located about 1km away from the residence. Everything is pretty much walking distance, unless you are traveling to the airport, a taxi is only a phone call away by the friendly concierge services at the residence. Surprisingly, the residence is very quiet despite that it is located in a prime area with people out and about around the clock, so the guests can get proper rest during their stay at the residence.

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The lounge available in the residence is serene and a great place to unwind and relax with a bottle of wine. Together with the lounge, the residence also offers a business centre equipped with 2 computers, a printer and a large meeting/conference room for all your business needs. Of course we cannot forget about the gym, it is fully equipped with cardio machines, weight machines and a fairly large studio separate to the rest of the gym perfect for yoga and pilates.

I definitely recommend Lanson Place Aroma Gardens in Shanghai whether you’re looking for accommodation for short or long lease, their quality and standard of service never fails to impress! Hope you enjoyed this review and the pictures!

With love…xxx

Ding Tai Fung Shanghai

Ding Tai Fung Shanghai

Hi everyone! Hope you all have a great week ahead! If there’s one thing that makes my day without fail, every single time, that would be food… well and also puppies. I’m a huge fan of great food and especially enjoyed with great company, that’s why I always make an effort to go to at least one famous restaurant when I travel. Since I was in Shanghai, China, I couldn’t say no to eating at Ding Tai Fung in XinTianDi. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically the only asian restaurant that holds a Michelin Star and various celebrities from all over the world have tried and tested the delicacies offered by Ding Tai Fung. The most famous dish is the “Xiao Long Bao” which is a small, delicate, steamed bun with a filling of your choice but that’s not all, it contains soup. The correct way to eating these soup-filled buns is to very carefully place one on your soup spoon, bite off a small piece of the skin and then proceed to slurp the soup out. Once you’re done drinking the soup then you eat the rest of the bun. 🙂 Simple no?

The Xiao Long Bao (small cage bun – direct translation) is not the only dish Ding Tai Fung offers though, they also offer various other dishes, noodles, fried rice and traditional Chinese desserts. We like to try the food from Ding Tai Fung everywhere we go and so far it has been the same. The chefs who make the Xiao Long Bao are only trained to master the art of making the Xiao Long Bao, which means they ensure that the pastry is the perfect thickness and the bun is perfectly crafted to ensure that no soup is leaked out during the steaming process. Hope you enjoy the photos and it made your Monday to some extent! 🙂

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With love…xxx