24 Jan Stay: Tsala Treetop Lodge
I know it might seem extreme for me to recommend that you “stay” at a place where I only spent one night, but hear me out… When planning a trip pre-Covid, one of the budget line items I always had mixed feelings about was accommodation and how much it can cost to sleep and bathe somewhere. Per person sharing rates for accommodation used to drive me crazy. And if I am being completely transparent it’s because most times I never took the time out to read or enquire what that per person rate included or excluded. I also, due to my fixation on price (which is important), never took a moment to consider that when you are booking at Tsala (for example); only 50% of the total cost of the stay (deposit) is required on confirmation of booking and that the balance is due 30 days prior to arrival at the hotel, which essentially means that with a little bit of planning (and saving), a luxury destination / accommodation like this one is a feasible option.
Another truth, is that pre-Covid, the majority of my travel budget went to international travel and the logic loop that used to play in my head at that time was that if I have gotten on a plane, obtained a visa and the like to explore a new country, I would likely spend the majority of my time outside of “said- accommodation” exploring, having drinks, meeting new people and basically enjoying the world outside. So why then would I spend a fortune on where I am are going to simply put: bathe and sleep? Well, because, sometimes these magical spaces (if you pick right)… are and can be the actual destination, they can be the down time and reprieve that one needs from the daily slog of work life, the city, or the apartment you’ve been cooped up in for months due to a Pandemic.
When I booked Tsala Treetop Lodge, I knew 3 things:
- I wanted to be somewhere visually appealing;
- I didn’t want to go to Cape Town or anywhere in the Western Cape, as I had just had a trip to the winelands and Paternoster a month prior and;
- I did not want to lift a finger, which placed the search squarely in the 4-5 star hotel category of accommodation options.
A complete sucker for aesthetics (I am finally owning it), when I spotted Tsala Treetop Lodge on Booking.com I knew immediately that every cent spent there would be worth it, and the customer relationship management communication prior to the trip confirmed this for me. From the email I received from the Group Reservation Manager with details around the property and what to expect, directions to the lodge and the pre-arrival questionnaire where they enquired around alcoholic preferences, special occasion information (if applicable) and whether or not we wanted in room treatments etc; I was really reminded why 4-5 star hotel stays are top tier vibes. Service from the moment you confirm your stay is *chefs kiss*.
Aesthetics and Character
Even after seeing the pictures online, when you arrive at Tsala Treetop Lodge, you’re still pretty much taken aback by the fact that this place exists nestled and hidden in the forests of the Garden Route and that it is located about 10km west of Plettenberg Bay! This is because it kind of feels like you’ve wandered into an Ubud like destination surrounded by lush green and dense surroundings.
With ten suites, accommodating two adults per suite as well as six villas which can accommodate two adults and two children, this entire lodge is connected by a wooden walkway elevated above the ground. The best way to help describe staying in one of the suites is to simply ask you to imagine yourself staying in the most grown and sexy luxurious treehouse you could ever imagine – with its own private pool, a large room and seating area, private balcony, a complimentary mini bar filled with the beverages you told the staff at Tsala you like, a spacious bathroom with a “you must take photograph in me” bathtub, an outdoor shower and for when you stay there during chillier seasons a cosy fire place to keep the room toasty and sexy.
Things To Do
Our one night stay at Tsala was spent enjoying a couples massage in our room, followed by sundowner’s on our private outdoor deck whilst overlooking the forest, as we tried to imagine what was out there in the forest. If it was a warm summers day, we would have taken a dip in the pool, regrettably the pools are not heated. Which just gives us another reason, over and above what I have already been raving about above, to return to this really spectacular place. Reluctant to get out of our dressing gowns, we opted to enjoy dinner in our suite as the fire heated up the room and then fell asleep soundly to the sound of nothing else but nature.
We enjoyed our breakfast, in the open dining deck, opting to brave the chill in the air, to enjoy the view, as opposed to sitting inside the glass-walled Tsala Restaurant. And really, it was just because when else would we find ourselves perched several metres above ground level looking into the forest, whilst enjoying a delicious eggs benny and Mimosa?
A Final Word
Once upon a time, before the lockdowns and restrictions on international travel, I used to think of travel and by default vacations as requiring constant adventure and activity to be worth the effort. My perspective on travel (and vacation time, because that is what I used to use most of my leave / off days for) has since changed. I have come to have a deeper appreciation for vacation time and thus travel being a form of down time, a period to unwind and escape. This evolved outlook has elevated the concept of a hotel or AirBnB or Bed & Breakfast to being more than just a place to bathe and sleep, which is why a place like Tsala Treetop Lodge will remain on my list of places to return to.
The perfect escape, I really would have stayed longer, to do nothing else but read and simply soak up the views, but Knysna was our final destination and time (you know how it goes when you’re working with leave days) was limited. However, I will be returning in the summer to take a dip in the pool and to dine at Zinzi Restaurant, Hunter Hotel’s (who own Tsala) award winning fine-dining restaurant on the estate that Tsala is located on.
Watch a Reel of Tsala Treetop Lodge here.