MALACHITE LUXURY TENTED SUITES - The inspiration behind their creation

Victoria Falls River Lodge (Zambezi Crescent) • 1 February 2024

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Victoria Falls River Lodge’s Malachite Luxury Tented Suites are positioned about 2.5km (1.5 miles) downstream from Victoria Falls River Lodge’s Main Lodge and approximately 4.5km (2.8 miles) from the legendary Victoria Falls.
Opened in June last year, the exclusive Malachite Luxury Tented Suites have prime and uninterrupted views over the Zambezi River. Complementing the unique natural setting, the décor of these suites could best be described as ‘Art Deco meets Afrocentric’, with an attention to detail to which guests of Victoria Falls River Lodge have become accustomed to.
Victoria Falls River Lodge Interior Designer Jena Gradwell reflects on the inspiration that went into the creation of Malachite Luxury Tented Suites. Gradwell was part of the creative team, including Victoria Falls River Lodge Senior Architect Neil Smith, who conceptualised, designed, and oversaw the construction of the latest addition to the Victoria Falls River Lodge collection of luxury properties.

How can guests reach Malachite Luxury Tented Suites?

Guests will have a smooth and enjoyable journey to Malachite Luxury Tented Suites. Upon their arrival at the airport, our warm and friendly team will be ready and waiting to welcome them, making their transition from travel to relaxation seamless. Alternatively, guests who have arranged their own designated transfer company can follow a similar process. From the airport, the journey continues with a scenic drive through the town of Victoria Falls. Along the way, our guests will receive fascinating bits of information about their surroundings. The drive from the airport to the entrance of Zambezi National Park takes approximately 25 minutes. Once in the national park gates, a short drive leads to the entrance of Malachite Luxury Tented Suites. This journey is the start of an adventure, filled with natural beauty and tranquillity.

What was the inspiration behind the name?

The inspiration behind the name "Malachite" was a thoughtful process that aimed to create a distinct identity while staying connected to the existing logo for Victoria Falls River Lodge, which features the Skimmer bird. In our quest to develop a unique name for this property, we considered various elements, including our environment, the local flora and fauna, and the overarching concept for the new property. Upon closer observation, we discovered that the area was frequented by the small and vibrant Malachite Kingfisher bird. After some research, it became clear that we had found the perfect name.

This petite bird seamlessly embodied the essence of what we were creating at the camp. Its vivid coloration perfectly mirrored the colours and glossy metallic accents characteristic of Art Deco design, and the bird itself symbolised a beautiful presence perched along the banks of the river. With this serendipitous discovery, we knew we had found the ideal name for our camp: "Malachite," a name that not only embraced the visual aesthetics we were striving for but also celebrated the natural beauty and wildlife of the area, creating a harmonious connection between our vision and the local environment.

Would the typical guest for Malachite Luxury Tented Suites be a romantic couple?

Malachite Luxury Tented Suites warmly welcome a diverse range of guests. While it certainly provides an enchanting setting for romantic couples, our camp is designed to accommodate a wide array of guest preferences. Whether you are planning a romantic getaway, a girls' trip, a guys' adventure, or a family reunion across generations, we are here to meet your needs. Our exclusive and luxurious environment is versatile and adaptable. It can operate seamlessly for group gatherings or offer intimate, private spaces for couples seeking tranquillity. Malachite is all about flexibility, ensuring that all our travellers, regardless of their preferences or the nature of their trip, can find a welcoming and accommodating atmosphere to make their stay truly special.

Are there communal spaces at Malachite Luxury Tented Suites?

Absolutely, Malachite has a variety of onsite amenities to enhance our guest experience. We offer a small curio shop, providing a selection of special gift items for those looking to take home a piece of their African adventure. Additionally, we have a magnificent infinity pool that boasts sweeping views of the Zambezi River. This space is perfect for leisurely afternoons, where you can relax with a good book while soaking up the African sun or unwind under the pergola in the dappled light. For those seeking a bit of ‘nightlife’ and relaxation, we also have a vibrant bar. Our bar serves up delicious cocktails, offering the perfect way to end off an exciting day of adventure in the region. Whether you are looking for a unique souvenir, a tranquil poolside experience, or a lively evening at the bar, Malachite has a range of communal spaces and amenities to cater to your preferences and make your stay a memorable one.

What was the inspiration for the decor and art curated for the Malachite Suites?

The inspiration was a blend of African aesthetics and Art Deco style. We focused on incorporating textures and natural elements that are characteristic of African aesthetics, while also infusing the design with pops of rich, appropriate colours and metallic accents from the Art Deco style. This approach allowed us to create a harmonious fusion of two design elements, with Art Deco providing the opportunity for vibrant colour accents that we strategically placed as 'pods' within the spaces to create a dynamic and visually stimulating atmosphere.

Each suite boasts an impressive 4-poster/canopy bed - what inspired this dreamy look?

The inspiration behind the canopy above the bed was to create a space that exudes a sense of comfort, luxury, and security. We considered the elements of shape, texture, and pattern to achieve this desired outcome. While the bed itself serves a simple function, we wanted to elevate it into a distinctive feature within the space, purposefully designed to add height and volume to the room. The bed design incorporated gentle curves inspired by both Art Deco and African aesthetics, while the texture featured a timber 'reed' aesthetic around the canopy perimeter, creating a connection to the natural surroundings. To enhance the sense of comfort and coziness, we added soft, lush waves of fabric that gracefully enveloped the bed, providing a feeling of being 'held' within the space - this also serves as a mosquito barrier at night, ensuring a peaceful night. The colour palette played a crucial role, with deep greens drawn from both Art Deco and the natural environment. The pattern on the canopy net was carefully chosen to mimic a contemporary take on a grassland environment, infusing the room with a tranquil and harmonious atmosphere. We believe that this unique approach to a mosquito net adds a touch of luxury and distinctiveness to the Malachite Suites, enhancing the overall guest experience.

What was the inspiration for the natural textures and decor items used in the suites?

The inspiration stemmed from a deep connection to the surrounding natural environment. Given our location as a tented camp, it was of paramount importance to infuse our designs with elements inspired by the wilderness that envelops us. As a designer specialising in high-end safari lodges, our primary aim was to seamlessly blend the outdoors with the interior, while maintaining a level of luxury and ensuring the safety and comfort of our guests. To achieve this, we incorporated a variety of natural elements, including matepe poles, natural grass baskets, rattans, and a carefully selected range of timbers. Additionally, we utilised timber elements from the site itself, collected during the construction phase. These elements collectively form an integral part of the natural aesthetic of the spaces and rooms, bringing a touch of the wilderness indoors. It's important to note that creating natural-feeling spaces doesn't always necessitate the use of raw, untouched natural items. Instead, we paid keen attention to texture, rhythm, and colour. We selected colour palettes that harmonise with the natural environment. This approach ensures that our guests can fully appreciate and connect with the stunning natural surroundings while enjoying the luxury and safety they expect from our interior spaces.

How important is lighting (and the expansive views) to complement the decor of the suites?

These elements play a pivotal role in complementing the decor of the suites. Natural light is an indispensable element in our design philosophy. Credit is due to our exceptional architect, Neil Smith, who consistently goes above and beyond in ensuring that natural light is optimally harnessed within our designs. In our vision, we aimed for the spaces to be bathed in natural light. To achieve this, we incorporated stunning arched windows that immediately capture one's attention upon entering the suite. These windows frame breathtaking views of the mighty Zambezi River, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for the interior decor. The deliberate placement of multiple windows strategically offers glimpses of the treetops, views into the surrounding bush, and introduces beautiful, light-filled 'pop-out' boxes. These boxes feature skylight ceilings adorned with timber slats, which not only introduce texture but also create captivating patterns of light within the spaces. As the day transitions into night, the magic continues. The suites transform into glowing lanterns along the river, and the surrounding bush is strategically illuminated to create opportunities for wildlife sightings. The result is a truly beautiful and enchanting sight, where the interplay of light and expansive views enhances the overall decor, ensuring that our guests have an unforgettable and immersive experience.

For bookings and enquiries, contact Victoria Falls River Lodge



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