Farmhouse transformed into lodge
Inspired by the breath-taking view of the sunset and the barren splendour of natural surroundings, Beit Bridge businessman, Mr Roy “Cooper” Muleya decided to transform his three-bedroomed farmhouse into a high-end tourism facility, which fully embraces the environment.
Perched on a hill overlooking a picturesque rugged landscape dotted with shrubby Mopane trees in the Mazunga forest, about 50km west of the bustling border town of Beitbridge in Matabeleland South, Zebra Hilltop Lodge is designed as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The lodge is not very far from Zhovhe Dam and the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, a vast safari land straddling Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.
The luxurious facility is an example of how Zimbabweans are embracing the New Dispensation’s vision of turning the entire country into tourism spots where the country’s rich culture and stunning natural vistas can be shared with the world.
The wooden modular self-contained chalets are elegantly designed and fully furnished with quality appliances.
The lodge, which is reminiscent of a classic alpine chalet, boasts of bedrooms with en-suite facilities, rooms with double and twin beds, trendy kitchens with fridges and stoves and living rooms.
The master suites in particular come with private dressing rooms and afford long views across the gardens from the bay window.
There is also solar-power for pumping water and providing electricity and a back-up generator in the event of power outages.
The 40-roomed lodge, which can accommodate up to 100 guests, provides a special retreat and the scenery outside is refreshing coupled with an ample space for outdoor sporting activities such as bush walks, hiking and quad bikes.
While the wooden construction uses high-quality Zimbabwean hardwoods sourced from Lupane, many of the interior fittings were imported.
The designs were used to explore architectural ideas that dovetail with the concerns of art.
The bathrooms are fitted with a Paris basin, a reproduction of a 20th-century French fireclay design, chosen to suit the size of the room.
Some of the bathrooms have frameless glass screens that prevent water splashing from the shower area, allowing the beauty of the book-matched Carrara marble wall to be enjoyed.
The interior space is connected to the timber clad exterior through the large windows and skylights, allowing you to interact with nature intimately.
Mr Muleya said he opted to construct his lodge using the wooden modular style following a holiday trip to Maldives.
“I was actually charmed by the vast open spaces, biodiversity of wildlife, majestic sunset and the tranquillity to turn my farmhouse into a lodge,” he said.
“I embraced the wooden modular style lodges following my holiday trip to Maldives.
“In addition to being recyclable and biodegradable, wood is also a source of energy that allows for good insulation, not to mention conservation and sustainability-friendly design.”
Mr Muleya said the timber, which was used in the construction of the chalets, was sourced from Lupane.
“When we built our farmhouse, we wanted it to be far from farm where there was privacy. However, soon after constructing our three bedroomed farmhouse on a hilltop, we realised that the view of sunset was amazing,” he said.
“We could see a lot of zebras among other game from the farmhouse and that is when we realised that this place has a potential for tourism. We thought it would be an ideal place where people can visit and enjoy the beauty of the place hence we decided to transform it into a lodge.”
The name of lodge is derived from his totem (Muleya/Dube).
“In addition to that there are a lot of zebras in this area and again the lodge is situated on a hill, which is the reason we named it Zebra Hilltop Lodge,” said Mr Muleya.
He said they expect to benefit from the ongoing modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post which is likely to result in more international travellers passing through the modern border town.
“We are also targeting international travellers that ply this route given that Beitbridge is one of the busiest inland ports of entry in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
“With the ongoing modernisation of the border post, there will be an increased volume of traffic passing through and to us it’s an opportunity to tap into the international market.”
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