The Accommodation SA web site has been designed to help you plan your travel to, your travel around and, most notably, your stay in Southern Africa.
Accommodation SA provides you with information on specific hospitality venues, their tariffs, facilities and services. Accreditation or references that the establishment has eg. portfolio, AA or the local Publicity Association will be listed on there information pages. This will enable one to be in a position to form an opinion of the establishment and is a result of the pending changes to SATOURS accreditation system, and introduces you to the various regions within the subcontinent, their climates, their road and air links, their towns, game and nature reserves and their many other attractions. The major centres are covered in some detail, so that a first-time visitor can survey the options - what to see, what to do, where to go - at a glance.
The web site also offers a wealth of information, under various icons, on the practical aspects of a visit to Southern Africa - in the first instance South Africa (coverage will extend to the wider region, embracing Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, in the near future). These include currency, travel to and travel within the region, tourist information services, history and culture, lifestyles, food and drink.
Visitors to South Africa and its neighbours are comprehensively served by hotels, guest-houses and other kinds of paid-for accommodation. The southern and eastern coastal areas are especially well endowed.
The South African hospitality industry - notably Satour, the national tourism agency, and the South African Bureau of Standards' tourism arm (SABS Tourism) - has yet to agree on a definitive grading system. Pending agreement, alternative exercises are in progress to award stars to hotels and other establishments. Participation is voluntary; ratings range from one to five stars. Satour's Crystal system also grades conference venues, taverns, 'shebeens' and 'cultural accommodation'
Most establishments display symbols denoting the type of occupancy, and whether or not they hold a liquor licence and the type of licence held (full or restricted).
The following is a brief run-down on the different types of accommodation from which travellers and holidaymakers can choose. The list is informal, unrelated to the strict arrangement of an official grading system; the divisions are not precise (for example, a hotel may also offer self-catering units; so can a guest-house; a country lodge can also be classed as a hotel, and so forth).
The top (five-star) South African establishments compare with the best in the world; many of them are controlled by one or another of the half-dozen or so large hotel groups. They provide luxury, fine food, excellent service, and spacious suites as well as rooms. Most offer packages, special out-of-season and family rates and other inducements, and the full spectrum of amenities ranging from 24-hour room service to swimming pool and health centre, from conference venue to computerised communication and business facilities.
At the other end of the scale, a one-star hotel will be an unpretentious establishment offering modest amenities at reasonable rates - a dining room (usually set menu), limited room service (light refreshments, for part of the day) and en-suite bathroom or shower in at least some of its accommodation units.
However, many one-star country hotels have a lot more going for them than these minimum facilities suggest, most notably personal and friendly service and beautiful surrounds.
Motels cater for the practical needs of motorists and their families, and of business visitors to the cities. They are comfortable, tend to be impersonal, and their tariffs are competitive. Many provide business aids, a health studio, and a restaurant of the steak-house type.
Boutique Hotel is a term to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique Hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain/branded hotels and motels by providing personalized level accommodation and services/facilities.
These are small accommodation residences, ranging from the ordinary to the luxurious, that provide serviced rooms, sometimes of the self-catering or partly self-catering type. Breakfast is often included in the tariff; some offer full board. The owner may but does not usually live in. The more sophisticated ones have attractive amenities, including pleasant grounds and a swimming pool.
A great many private homes, in city, suburb and country, offer this kind of comfortable, convenient, relatively inexpensive lodging. It is a home from home situation where one lives with the family. (privacy is usually respected)
These are secluded, restful little lodges and country houses tucked away, often among forested hills, in the major rural tourist areas. Most are supremely comfortable, some highly sophisticated in terms of appointments and cuisine, all of them informal and friendly. Eastern Mpumalanga (escarpment and Lowveld, within easy reach of the Kruger National Park), the southern coastal areas (notably the Garden Route), the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Drakensberg, coastal and Maputaland areas, and the Western Cape Winelands are especially well served by these venues.
The spectrum here is wide, ranging from the basic and isolated overnight hiking hut to the well-appointed, even luxurious apartment or resort chalet.
The bigger resorts, nearly always located in areas noted for their natural attractions (lake, river, mountain, mineral spring, game park, beach or nature reserve) usually offer a selection of chalets, bungalows and cottages, which may either be fully self-contained (kitchen, bathroom) or adjacent to communal cooking, eating and washing facilities. Other customary features include a central restaurant, swimming pool, shop, filling station, perhaps an entertainment centre, and a range of sporting and recreational activities. Some resorts incorporate a conventional hotel; nearly all make provision for caravans and campers.
Furnished holiday apartments and cottages in and around the coastal centres are a relatively inexpensive alternative to hotel accommodation: in many cases an entire family can be housed for the cost of a single upmarket hotel bed. Most apartments have a private bathroom, kitchen, and fitted carpeting; the furnishings tend to be functional and durable; not all are serviced nor is bedding always provided. Again, however, the choice is wide: some units are luxurious. There is usually a refundable deposit.
Timeshare has become fairly fashionable in the region. Here, one buys a portion of the title to the unit or complex of units, sharing ownership and use (on a rota basis) with other part-owners. Part-owners can also join broader schemes that encompass timeshare ventures in other parts of the country and in other countries of the world, which of course creates many more holiday options. Game lodges, seaside apartment blocks and 'oceanettes' clustered around a marina are typical timeshare enterprises.
Visitors to national parks and the larger regional sanctuaries usually have a choice of thatched bungalows of varying degrees of sophistication. The better units have their own bathrooms (or showers) and kitchens, mosquito screening, sitting and barbecue areas. Occupants of other units have access to communal cooking, eating and washing facilities. The larger park rest-camps boast a restaurant, shop, pool, recreation area, petrol filling point. Pretty well all camps offer walking trails and game viewing drives, some conducted, others self-guided.
These are usually located on private reserves and cater mainly for those who want to experience the African wilderness in supreme comfort. Most lodges pride themselves on their personal service, on the skill of their rangers and trackers, on their sociability (the evening meal, taken in the 'boma', or outside enclosure, invariably turns into a great party),
and on easy access to the larger game animals - with the 'big five' the ultimate quarry.
These have much in common with the Game Reserve Lodges (see above) and indeed may have some or all of the features of Hotels and Country Getaways. But with this important distinction - though labeled 'safari', the property itself is not primarily a game area. Rather, one must drive or be conducted to a nearby reserve.
These are similar in some ways to the Game Reserve Lodge (see above) but rather more rugged and with fewer guests. They are concentrated, of course, in the northern bushveld regions, though you'll also find them in other parts of the country. The game animals are farmed commercially, for their meat and hides, and sometimes bred for sale to conventional sanctuaries; the farmer supplements his income by providing accommodation and a modest number of other visitor facilities, and by allowing hunters onto his property. The latter is fenced; the animals are often not endemic to the area; some are confined to special enclosures; the normal predator-prey relationships of the classic wilderness are either severely inhibited or entirely absent.
These are ideal for the low-cost, healthy family holiday. One stays in either the farmhouse or a chalet or cottage on the property, and takes part in the life of the farm, ranch or wine estate.
Usually designed for the overseas independent traveller who enjoys a relaxed, informal, self-sufficient and reasonably priced sojourn. Accommodation varies from basic dormitory-type units with bunk beds to well appointed double rooms with en-suite facilities. Simple meals (notably breakfast) are sometimes provided.
Youth hostels provide some of the cheapest accommodation available. There are hostels (including those run by the YMCA and YWCA) in several of the larger centres.
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