Sometimes in life, something comes along which is so special and unique that it takes our breath away. In the majestic lands of Africa, the Thanda Group of ultra-luxe hospitality experiences is one of those spell-binding places. Founded and owned by Swedish IT entrepreneur Dan Olofsson, the entire ethos of the company was born from a desire to not only reveal Africa’s magnetic beauty to visitors in unparalleled luxury, but to give back to the lands he loves so passionately.
The collection encompasses three extraordinary ventures, with perhaps its most ambitious and jaw-dropping fourth property launching this year. In the wildlife-rich plains of South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Thanda Safari is no ordinary safari experience. With a profound commitment to Zulu culture and environmental conservation, guests embark on a magical journey into plains teeming with the Big Five. Repeatedly named the World’s Leading Luxury Lodge, the accommodation is comprised of nine stunning bush suites, the exclusive and private Villa iZulu, and the Thanda Tented Camp of luxury tents.
From the wilds of the plains to the mysteries of the deep blue sea we discover one of the most exclusive getaways on the planet, Thanda Island. A tropical paradise in the midst of glassy waters off the coast of Tanzania, this remote, secluded spot offers a single ultra-luxurious villa and two traditional bandas (beach chalets). Guests spend their days enveloped in tropical luxury and total privacy, swimming with the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark, and watching sea turtles come ashore to nest. Yet Thanda Island stands as more than a prestigious retreat. Its philosophy is deeply-rooted in giving back, working with the Tanzanian Marine Parks on conservation issues and a range of social empowerment programmes for local communities.
Inspired by the epic journeys of Ernest Hemingway, the Thanda Cruise doesn’t just transport its guests to some of the most far-flung and unexplored corners of Africa’s eastern coast, but takes them on a step back in time. The classic yacht Over the Rainbow of London exudes old time glamour and nostalgic charm, its four cabins promising exclusion and privacy for those on board. From remote islets fringed with powder-white sand, to coral reefs teeming with iridescent fish, the Thanda Cruise traverses some of the most pristine waters on the planet.
Joining this illustrious collection of well-established hospitality experiences is the Thanda Group’s Royal Residences. In the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Africa’s most exclusive properties bring a new dimension to luxury. Together Dan Olofsson and The Zulu King, His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, welcome a distinguished group to be part of The Royal Thanda Club, and own their very own African haven. Amidst the 14,000 hectares of the Thanda Safari Big Five game reserve, 44 Royal Villas make up the Thanda Royal Residence Estate. It is a place of dreams, where the wildlife-laden bush, mountains, valleys and rivers stretch into the horizon. For those who have fallen in love with Africa, it is about belonging to a precious and ancient land, and conserving it for future generations. There is a reason that the word Thanda means love in the language of the Zulu.
22 Reasons Thanda Royal Residences Estate is utterly unique, valuable and one of a kind in Africa
- Thanda Royal Residences Estate comprises an exclusive number of only 44 Royal Residences with full title ownership, to be built in a 386-hectare pristine wildlife haven within the boundaries of the 14,000-hectare Thanda Safari Big Five Private Game Reserve.
- At Thanda Royal Residences Estate, like-minded members from around the world will enjoy the exclusive facilities and amenities of the game reserve and estate, all within a private, safe, fun-filled environment. Here, friendships and relationships can grow, and the asset can be bequeathed to future generations as a lifestyle legacy investment.
- Members who wish to exit or sell, must first offer the other members their membership/villa, before they can go to the open market. This is entrenched in the rules of the Home Owners’ Association (HOA). It retains the intrinsic value of the membership/villa, as members would want their family, friends and colleagues around the world to be part of the network. New members require the King’s and Dan Olofsson’s blessing. This approach retains the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the Thanda Royal Residences Estate network, and it also serves to increase the real estate value.
- Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve is a proclaimed Protected Nature Reserve in terms of South African Environmental Legislation. It was first proclaimed on the 30th April 1895 by the then British Colonial Government of Natal. It holds the honour of the first game reserve in Africa to be proclaimed in Africa, along with uMfolozi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, St Lucia Game Reserve and Pongola Game Reserve. It was de-proclaimed in 1907 in favour of Hluhluwe and uMfolozi Game Reserve. In the post 1994 democratic era, it was once again proclaimed, on the 9th October 2015. This is historic land of immense significance as it is the original hunting grounds of Zulu Royalty.
- Thanda Safari is one of only two African Safari Lodges in the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World membership group, consisting of some 420 of the world’s finest 5-Star hotels. With its multiple award-winning properties and service excellence, Thanda Safari will be responsible for all concierge and related services available to members of the estate.
- Thanda Royal Residences will have the option of participating in a rental pool system managed by Thanda Safari, based on an exclusive hotel business model that would generate rental income for members when their Villa is not in use.
- The Villas will undoubtedly be a magnet for the family to enjoy on an annual or regular safari, or for the ultimate getaway vacation, or where members can escape for total privacy, whether for business or to be left alone to rejuvenate.
- Access to Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve is restricted to residents and guests, with no day visitors allowed, no self-drive permitted, and all activity and movement is controlled by qualified game guides and rangers, under one management authority. This is unique in that no members of the public, including media, have any access to Thanda whatsoever, unless they are authorised as overnight guests or guests of the Royal Residences Estate.
- The 386-ha high security, access controlled Royal Residences Estate, situated within the protected Big 5 Nature Reserve, further restricts any public access, which means that only residents and their authorised guests will be permitted onto the estate. Access control guards are members of Thanda’s in-house security company, which ensures the guards are carefully selected, well trained and well-armed. The guards are trained in anti-poaching, VIP security and asset protection, and many are ex-military. These extra layers of security and access control make the Thanda offering totally unique in terms of safety and restricted access.
- One of the 44 members of the Thanda Royal Residences Estate is the reigning Zulu King, His Majesty Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, Head of State of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This brings elevated stature, security and restricted access. Thanda Royal Residences Estate is the only real estate and associated members’ club to which he has agreed to belong or of which he is a resident. His presence, together with his special invited guests, including heads of state and high-profile persons who require absolute privacy beyond all media scrutiny and public attention, is one of the unique attributes of this estate.
- Thanda Royal Residences members have access to the Leading Hotels of the World Thanda Safari Lodge, Tented Camp and Private Villa.
- Thanda Royal Residences members have discounted, preferred access to Thanda Island, situated off the coast of Dar es Salaam, East Africa, and preferred access to the classic cruise yacht, Over the Rainbow of London, operating in the Mediterranean. Both assets are wholly owned by the holding company Thanda Group (Pty) Ltd which owns Thanda Safari. The entire organisation in Africa is a family-owned lifestyle asset of the Olofsson family, headed by billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Dan Olofsson of Malmo, Sweden.
- Thanda Royal Residences members have unrestricted and exclusive access to the members’ clubhouse situated within the Thanda Royal Residences Estate. It will offer banquet facilities, a restaurant, library, cigar lounge, business centre, sports facilities and front-of-house concierge services, available to members and their guests. It is anticipated that the clubhouse will be the exclusive venue to host annual charity balls, auctions and special events where Founder Members will be seated at the main table with the Zulu King. The clubhouse is an additional, unique asset in the bush, and ownership of it is vested in the Thanda Royal Residences Estate Homeowners’ Association of 44 members.
- Included in the title deed description of each Thanda Royal Residence is the traversing right for the Mduna Royal Reserve of 6,700 ha for the duration of the 40-year, plus 40-year renewal lease agreement with the Ingonyama Trust Board and His Majesty, King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu.
- The developer of the Thanda Royal Residences Estate is committed to building an 18-hole championship golf course, discreetly situated in one of the valleys of a neighbouring farm adjacent to Thanda. The land is presently secured with an option to purchase, linked to the launch of the first phase of construction of the estate. The golf course will be totally unique as it will be incorporated within the protected Big 5 Nature Reserve and will include its own clubhouse within a magnificent new hotel lodge to be built on the same site. Thanda Royal Residences members will automatically become members of the golf club and will be able to play a round of golf and experience an African Big 5 Safari within the same boundary of the game reserve.
- Added to this unique offering, is the present authorisation for the construction of a 2-km tarmac runway within a remote section of Thanda Safari where international private jets could land and safely park in a hangar if required, all within the game reserve. Clearing customs at a small efficient airport such as Malalane International Airport upon entering into South Africa’s airspace from abroad, means that international private jets can fly members and their guests directly into Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve without ever having to land, fly or drive elsewhere off the property. This ‘world in one’ will indeed be a first for Africa.
- Thanda Royal Residences Estate will own its own Airbus / Eurocopter EC 130 twin turbine 7-seater Helicopter, that will be able to transport guests landing at King Shaka International Airport directly to Thanda in less than an hour’s flying time, landing within the reserve at the clubhouse of the Thanda Royal Residences Estate. This also means that trips to play golf at prestigious golf estates such as Zimbali, Princess Grant, Durban Country Club and others, are all within a 45 minute flight from Thanda. Members will only be required to pay for the running costs of the flights.
- Another unique offering is that a 30-minute helicopter ride takes members to the Indian Ocean and immaculate beach in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, either at Sodwana Bay or Kosi Bay. Enjoy some of the best snorkelling, diving and big game fishing in the world.
- Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve is surrounded by a rich diversity of other nature reserves, historic cultural and archaeological sites of international importance, such as the Ingwavuma Border Cave with human records dating back an estimated 190 000 years. Cyclists have a choice of safe, wilderness trails within the area, making it a truly spectacular outdoors adventure experience.
- Although Thanda does not support hunting within its own property, nor does it arrange for off-property hunting safaris, there are game reserves within the area where ethical, controlled hunting is permitted for members who wish to partake.
- While there is no obligation for members to become involved in local conservation, healthcare or educational programmes, the opportunity to pursue them is already well established by the founders of Thanda, Christin and Dan Olofsson of Malmo, Sweden. They are Sweden’s largest philanthropists in South Africa and their passion and quest to make a positive difference in the life of local, financially impoverished communities, will undoubtedly resonate with other members. Thanda’s founding CEO, Pierre Delvaux, who has been involved with Thanda from its outset in 2002, is the Chairperson of the Olofsson’s principle youth empowerment charity in the region, Star for Life, as well as The Thanda Foundation Trust. Having grown up in the area, with deep roots in Zululand, Pierre is fluent in Zulu and close to the Zulu King and his family, Thanda staff and neighbouring communities. This special, enduring relationship is based on trust and mutual respect, ensuring stability.
- No land claim exists over Thanda Royal Residences Estate, and no rural communities were ever dispossessed of their land on Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve. Considering the significant lease agreement Thanda has with the Zulu people’s Ingonyama Trust for the Mduna.