The African luxury resort of The Highlands, Asilia Africa, was a recent nomination by Hospitality photographer Antonio Cuellar for the Luxury Travel Guide Awards. Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Northern Tanzania, you will find this incredibly unique accommodation offering. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the vast, volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and the ‘big 5′ of authentic African safari experiences. Guests, if they are lucky, will be able to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhino. During their annual migration, vast herds of wildebeests and zebras cross the plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation area. There is also livestock, belonging to the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe that graze alongside the wild animals.
The design of the Highlands, African luxury resort was always about creating a wildlife experience while ensuring that luxury surrounded the guests. Compared to other African hotels, the location of The Highlands is exclusive and remote providing comfort and privacy for the guest.
Until 2016 the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area was primarily the domain of the Maasai herders. That all changed when Asilia Africa opened its much-anticipated new safari camp, the Highlands. Although The Highlands is technically a ‘safari-camp,’ it cannot be mistaken for what it also is. A unique, luxurious boutique hotel that offers an Eastern African experience that is entirely unforgettable. The Highlands is a African luxury resort that is made up of only eight accommodation tents. It would be easy to imagine, eight conventional canvas rectangles, awash in khaki and brown. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This African luxury resort is made up of bulbous domes akin to igloos. They have substantial Perspex windows that provide the guests with uninterrupted views over the Serengeti. These igloo type constructions had nothing to do with being a gimmick, as the stunning setting of this luxury hotel does not need any tricks. Instead, the design came from the fact that the igloo shape was the best shape for retaining heat throughout the night. Famous African designers based in Cape Town impeccably designed the guest rooms and common areas. Guests can find black and white images of local villagers. Maasai inspired tartan cushions are used to provide colorful touches of luxury as do the plush faux-fur throws offered to warm up those very chilly evenings. The Highlands, Asilia Africa is a luxury hotel that seamlessly combines classic and cutting-edge design with sophisticated luxury.
There are only 8 of these singularly designed, canvas accommodation suites. Because of these minimal number of suites, guests can revel in an essential element of any luxury hotel experience. That of knowing that what you are experiencing is both exclusive and your privacy is highly valued. Accommodation at The Highlands, Asilia Africa is designed so that the guest can feel that they are part of a wilderness escape. At the same time, the sophisticated tented sanctuary provides its occupants with all the creature comforts that are part of a luxury hotel experience.
These luxurious canvas suites offer king-sized beds with floor to ceiling bay windows overlooking this incredible area. All suites have ensuite bathrooms with hot running water, showers and flushing toilets. Also, to ensure the guests’ comfort, especially during the evenings, when the temperatures can plummet, there are wood-burning stoves. The suites of this luxury hotel provided by the eight eco-domes are incredibly cozy and quite spectacular. Each of the domes has a side of perspex, so when night falls, you can also lie in your bed and gaze at the stars above. The décor is a mix of African chic and a remote log cabin. The tented accommodation suites of this luxury hotel are about as sophisticated an interpretation of the safari experience as you can imagine.
A stay in East Africa would not be complete without the Eastern African campfire experience. The eight domed suites of The Highlands, Asilia Africa, are scattered like the Maasai bomas that dot the landscape. The heart of the camp is the authentic indoor fireplace in the considerable Lounge Dome tent which acts as the hotel common area. Here guests can visit the library or partake of refreshments from the extensive bar as they unwind in comfort and style. The Highlands has set a level of experience unlike any other in the area. While they pride themselves on being a low impact camp, they also provide the critical elements of a luxury hotel experience. Exceptional service, luxurious surrounds, and tempting dining options.
Hearty gourmet meals are made daily using fresh, organic ingredients sourced from the Karatu area. It is interesting to note that communities inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are not permitted to grow crops as this is a protected area. Packed breakfasts and lunches are always an option, and the camp chefs are happy to cater to dietary requirements.
It is imperative for Asilia Africa to look after the communities where they are based. The Highlands, Asilia Africa is no exception. Staff members are made up of as many people as possible from the surrounding communities. Having so many locals as staff members also offers guests the chance to become involved in community visits and activities such as visiting local markets. Both are beautiful ways of providing direct benefits to local villages. Indeed, one of the biggest drawcards of being a guest at The Highlands, Asilia Africa is all the activities that are available for the guest.
Another hallmark of this African luxury resort is that of a unique location. The Highlands, Asilia Africa is the only camp hotel located on the Olmoti volcano, so its home is undeniably exclusive. Due to this location, The Highlands, Asilia Africa offers a range of activities that are unheard of elsewhere in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As well as viewing game and wildlife guests can participate in the Olmoti climb, the Empakaai descent, community and cultural visits and the Ngorongoro Crater descent. All these activities, of course, can be catered for by kitchen of The Highlands. Chefs can prepare beautiful picnic baskets and packed lunches.
The Highlands, Asilia Africa is indeed an incredible African luxury resort. It has unprecedented respect for its environment and ensures that it is as eco-friendly as humanly possible. It also has a singularly beautiful design that embraces its incredible location. This philosophy goes hand in hand with the desire to ensure that every luxury is available for their guests. This luxury hotel allows the guests to enter a world where they are at one with the landscape and the wilderness. At the same time, they receive impeccable service in luxurious surrounds. A luxury hotel in East Africa that is unlike any other.
About the Author
Lara Flanagan spent the first 15 years of her working life working with luxury hotels throughout Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, the USA, Caribbean & Latin America. The birth of her twins changed things somewhat and now she writes full time about hotels, food, travel and everything in between such as writing for Hospitality photographers.
Antonio Cuellar is a luxury resort and hotel photographer and a avid travel blogger.