Last November, I enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Namibia. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Concorde Room at London Heathrow Airport
- Review: British Airways Boeing 777 First Class from London to Johannesburg
- Review: South African Airlink E190 Business Class from Johannesburg to Windhoek
- Review: &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
- Review: Zannier Hotels Sonop
- Review: Zannier Hotels Omaanda (today)
- Review: Little Kulala by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Damaraland Camp by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Hoanib Skeleton Coast by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Onguma The Fort (Etosha National Park)
Today: Review of Zannier Hotels Omaanda (Namibia)
Zannier Hotels Omaanda is a boutique lodge set in the heart of the Zannier Reserve, a 22,000-acre wildlife conservancy located half an hour from Windhoek. A seamless sense of place resonates at the property through traditional Owambo architecture and elevated views stretching across soul-stirring savannas to the distant Khomas Hochland plateau. Accommodation consists of 10 individual thatch and clay huts, each with their own sunken bathtub and panoramic terrace. Relaxation at the lodge is balanced by adventures through Omaanda’s partnership with N/a’an ku sê, a foundation dedicated to the conservancy of Namibia’s wildlife, land and cultures. Breakfast with meerkats at sunrise; track a rhino or a herd of elephants going for a swim; spy a leopard climbing a Jackleberry tree or simply experience the nocturnal beauty of the savanna – all with your own private guide.
Zannier Hotels Omaanda features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in Namibia.
Have you ever stayed at Zannier Hotels Omaanda? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Zannier Hotels Omaanda is a soberly luxurious, yet completely unique safari lodge offering guests an exquisitely peaceful safari sojourn just a stone’s throw away from Namibia’s capital city Windhoek and its main airport, Hosea Kutako International Airport. Due to its close proximity to Windhoek (a 45 min drive) and the small airport (a 30 min drive), the lodge is the perfect starting or end point for any holiday in Namibia, a convenience which is further enhanced by complimentary airport transfers. But although the capital and the airport are nearby, the beautiful setting of the lodge couldn’t feel wilder and more natural with no sign of civilization in sight. The lodge is entirely surrounded by expansive bush plains stretching out to distant mountains, all framed under extraordinary skies.
- The story of Zannier Hotels Omaanda, which opened in summer 2018, can be read like a chapter in an book of epic journeys. It is the story of an encounter between Arnaud Zannier, the founder and CEO of Zannier Hotels, and Angelina Jolie, an internationally famous artist loved for her engagement as well as her acting talent. When Jolie stayed at Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang (which I reviewed here), she was blown away and recounted to its creator the existence of a parcel of land for sale – more than 10,000 km away – lying in a glorious natural setting that should be preserved and cherished in the same way that had been done in the Cambodian resort. When Arnaud saw the property, it was a genuine coup de coeur: he acquired the land and built its first property in the country.
- Zannier Hotels Omaanda is much more than a beautiful lodge. It is a vast conservation project that involves a 9000-hectare natural reserve, privately owned and managed by a local conservancy NGO, providing a safe haven and second chance for countless injured, orphaned and conflict animals. The Zannier Reserve by N/A’an ku sê, within which the lodge is located, was bought by the Zannier family in 2016. In collaboration with the N/a’an Ku Se Sanctuary next door, the gigantic reserve harbors a gloriously rich fauna and flora, and strives to preserve & reintroduce local endangered species. There’s even a hospital for injured or abandoned rhinoceroses and elephants, funded by Angelina Jolie, which aims to raise awareness and to educate the planet on the need to support and to preserve the wild world.
- Overlooking the boundless savannah, Zannier Hotels Omaanda offers ten comfortable round huts (including two family huts with bedrooms). With clay walls and thatched roofs, the design of the huts pays tribute to the traditional architecture of Owambo. All huts offer a bathroom with separate toilet, walk in shower, double sink and a large bathtub with a view. The bedroom has a king-size bed (twin bed configuration is possible as well), a walk-in dressing room, and an open fire place. Every hut also has a flat screen television, free WiFi, an integrated sound system, a safe, a minibar, and is equipped with an A/C system. All huts have a large private terrace, from where guests can enjoy the superb views stretching to the distant mountains and spot the occasional wildlife passing by.
- In an echo of Namibian traditions, Zannier Hotels Omaanda has been built in the layout of a rural village, with the ten huts centered around a main pavilion. Surrounded by a wooden fence called the ‘kraal’, this semi open air pavilion is the beating heart of the property, where guests can come together to socialize and relax. Facilities include a concierge desk, a shaded lounge with several sitting areas, a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating available. Both the lounge and dining areas overlook a heated infinity pool, with a fire pit at one end and a lovely bar at the other. Lined by a row of luxurious sunbeds, the pool overlooks a waterhole. An intimate spa made up of two double rooms and providing several different treatments complete the camp facilities, offering guests the opportunity to relax during the day in a calming atmosphere.
- Blending into its natural surroundings, Zannier Hotels Omaanda features a beautiful, rutic design which ehances the lodge’s classic safari-style feel. The predominance of curves, straight and pure lines, the omnipresence of different shapes of wood, the warm color schemes evoking earth and nature all give the property a particularly welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. Inspired by the traditions of the Owambo tribe, the entire site was created with a profound sense of respect for ancestral architectural techniques. For example, the rounded walls of the pavilions were built using natural clay covering a basic sandbag structure, and each pavilion is covered with a roof of hand finished thatch. The decoration of the lodg’s public areas as well as stand-alone suites is composed of antique pieces coming from Namibia or neighboring countries.
- Open exclusively to guests, Zannier Hotels Omaanda’s sole restaurant – Ambo Delights – serves delicious cuisine inspired by the best local products. Set in a welcoming decor, the enormous open fire with live cooking adds a particular charm to the atmosphere. In the morning, a beautifully presented ‘à la carte’ breakfast is offered. From fresh juices and fruit, warm baked breads with jam, granola and health bowls, pancakes and waffles to savory dishes such as eggs, bacon, sausages, vegetables and charcuterie, a wide selection is available. Lunch is made up of mezze-style sharing plates and copious salads. Every evening, a refined 4-course menu is offered, including an amuse bouche, meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Offering a culinary discovery of Namibia, the cuisine is prepared from seasonal and – where possible – organic ingredients. A special focused is placed on local meat, which is exceptionally tender and lean.
- A highlight at Zannier Hotels Omaanda are the safari drives within the lodge’s pristine and private 9,600-hectare reserve. All excursions are conducted in state-of-the-art Land Cruisers, each accommodating a maximum of six guests. During the conservation drive, you might see a variety of wildlife, including rhinos, elephants, girafes, cheetahs, ostriches, black-backed jackals, warthogs, various antelopes (kudu, red hartebeest, steenbok, waterbuck, oryx, springbok), and many types of birds. Lions, leopards, and even some wild dogs also live in the reserve but are harder to spot. Early drives at sunrise are ideal to observe the Namibian plains waking up, while evening drives reveal the elusive beauty of the nocturnal savannah. For all-inclusive bookings, non-private safaris are offered twice-daily giving the possibility of discovering the savannah at sunrise or sunset and observing the wild life and flora.
- Omaanda is managed by Zannier Hotels, a luxury hotel group owned by Arnaud Zannier, a Belgian-French business man who spent over 20 years in the fashion industry prior to launching Zannier Hotels. Arnaud Zannier’s hospitality vision and philosophy is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous quote “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. The key principle behind every project of the hotel group is devotion to simplicity and authenticity. Zannier Hotels currently manages properties in Cambodia, Namibia, Vietnam, and France. The Zannier brand is also working on the opening of two hotels on Mexico’s Pacific coast, a destination hotel in Menorca, residential villas to launch under Zannier Residences, and a curated portfolio of the world’s most remarkable Private Estates for short-term and long-term rental. Launching Zannier Hotels in the US is also on the horizon.
- A stay at Zannier Hotels Omaanda can be easily combined with a stay at its sister property, Zannier Hotels Sonop (which I reviewed here). Constructed on top of granite boulders, the tented camp enjoys a remote and unspoilt setting in 13,800 acres (5,600 hectares) of untouched wilderness. Every object and antique in the lodge’s ten spacious tents are carefully selected – binoculars and maps, travelers’ tales, telescopes, antique desks and handmade stationary – to recall the 1920’s era of British explorers. Guided excursions include horse-riding from our own stables, private dining atop of the sand dunes, electric fat-bike or walking trails, and private sunset safaris. The magic continues after dark with a nightly gala-style dinner, open-air cinema and stargazing under the endless African skies. There are daily transfers on demand from Sonop to Omaanda and vice versa.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- While Zannier Hotels Omaanda offers great game viewing within its private reserve, it cannot (yet) match the experience of a game drive in Namibia’s Etosha National Park (where there’s an abundance of animals). For example, there are just a handful of elephants and lions present in the reserve (but if you’re lucky, you’ll spot them all). The aim of the conservation project is to release animals that have been rehabilitated in the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary into the wild habitat that the Zannier reserve can offer (so the number of animals will grow overtime).
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8.8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Zannier Hotels Omaanda (and/or receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Namibia is from July to October, when the temperatures are comfortably warm during the day and the chance of rain is low. This is also the best time for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing, making it peak travel season. Between December and March, some days will be humid and rain may follow, often in localized, afternoon thunderstorms.
HOW TO GET THERE
Zannier Hotels Omaanda is a 30 min drive from Namibia’s main getaway, Hosea Kutako International Airport. Complimentary airport transfers are provided.
Below is a selection of my photos of Zannier Hotels Omaanda. To view more hotel photos (including meals), click here.