A resort built around the fable of an African kingdom lost in the mists of time, Africa’s leading family resort Sun City is still the ideal destination with an opulent experience and a stay at the Palace of the Lost City hotel is still truly worth it.
If you aren’t sure if Sun City is still the place to visit then let me tell you, no place in Africa surpasses this one. Sun City opened in 1979, but the Palace of the Lost City was only added in 1992 – and what makes it truly special was the ability of developing a 5-star hotel in a dusty stretch of bush in the North West Province.
Now, 30 years later, having undergone refurbishment, the Palace of the Lost City is still the place of legends and continues to give its guests a rich experience. If it is not its wild life, it’s the world-class hotel and activities available for visitors.
A majestic entrance and luxurious accommodations at The Palace, Sun City
It was simply a two-hour drive from Sandton City to the world famous resort developed by Sol Kerzner in the heart of the Pilanesberg. As we drove up in our shuttle bus through the boom gate, we were welcomed by an amazing cheetah sculpture leading to the astonishing view of the Palace.
The legendary five-star deluxe hotel inside Sun City, which was designed by “dreamers for thrill seekers”, underwent a full décor refurbishment in all of its 326 rooms and suites.
A stunning entrance, the warmest welcome, along with complimentary drinks, defined the quality service at the palace. If you want to know how it feels to enter a palace, then that experience is definitely it. The hotel’s architecture and décor weaves a rich and colourful tale of Africa’s creativity: its textures, intricate designs, pat terns, wildlife, and the talent of its craftsmen and women. A hand-painted dome and exactly 18 752 mosaic tiles were hand-placed during the development of the lobby floor itself as the crystal chandelier hangs over the court.
Photos and videos truly do no justice. After a smooth check-in, we headed to our palace suite. It’s important to note that no matter where you are, opening your hotel room for the first time is an undeniable experience – and the suite did not disappoint. While the refurbishment of the Palace started shortly before the Covid lockdown and the revamp continued mid-Covid, the hotel’s floor manager, Darryn Pypers, said Sun International and the hospitality industry as a whole were affected quite drastically when they had to close all properties.
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Suite options and thoughtful revamp
“It’s something that I never thought I would actually live through, being in hospitality,” he said. “We had to go through a retrenchment process like the majority of other hospitality proper ties, which affected our staffing ratio. But that was the only way in terms of keeping certain doors open. So the lay-off process was the last resort,” Pypers said. “We came back when Covid was still actively with us. So it was about adapting our safety protocol and instilling that throughout the team; constantly training with the team, constant reminders of obviously hygiene and how to conduct yourself with interaction.”
The Palace has a mix of junior suites, superior suites, luxury rooms and family rooms. The Roy al Suite, The King Suite and the African Suite are their Presidential Suites. We got to experience the Superior Luxury room, facing a pool, which costs around R6 717 per night. Designed in African style, the 42m2 spacious room had WiFi, air-conditioning and an exquisite en-suite bathroom with separate shower. Unwinding in the lap of luxury, you’ll get to rest on a king-size bed while also enchanted by the magnificent views of the tropical gardens.
As far as the eye can see there are spectacular views over water and a jungle. Having toured the famous African Suite, we got to see revamp of the suite, which came about with the celebration of The Palace’s 30th birthday celebration. The suite per night costs about R100 000 to R117 000 and comes with a private butler. Pypers said extensive thought into it was done with the revamp costing about R5 million just for the suite. “This was in terms of the type of carpet and curtains we used throughout the rooms and mainly for the African Suite. “It was about giving that extra attention to detail that would stand out, but still keep that African experience and theme to the suite but also not taking away the palace ambiance,” he said.
“When you do such a revamp, you have to provide the service that goes with it. You can’t have such a massive revamp without exceptional service. And that’s how you differentiate yourself from just your normal standard rooms, to a suite experience.” “It’s about giving that emphasis on what the suite is known for, which is simply a true palace, an African experience and the detailed items which are just unique to the African suite.”
Exquisite dining and exciting adventures at The Palace, Sun City
If the luxurious rooms weren’t enough, the Palace’s restaurants and food were amazing. Breakfast was a unique experience, world renowned and outstanding. Dinner at the Grill Room makes the experience even more enchanting. The Grill Room incorporated ostrich, kudu, impala and springbok on the menu, and with the introduction of the new menu, we got to experience SA dishes such as tripe, chakalaka and pap. Describing the menu as “con temporary Afro-Asian grill”, executive chef at the Palace Wesli Jacobs believes it will create an experience guests will not have anywhere else.
There is so much to do at the refurbished hotel, especially in the winter season. Offering fantastic winter rates for the whole family for a fun filled and action-packed holiday at Sun City, one is spoilt for choice in leisure activities. We got to experience the Segway Tour of the Gary Player Country try Club with a guide who made it easy and safe to use as we took a drive capturing the sights and toured the expansive resort. For adrenalin junkies like myself, the world’s fastest, longest, and highest zip slide was a wild experience. We got to slide on a 2km-long wire with a gradual descent.
Zip-sliding, quad-biking, spa bliss, and more
Zip-sliding does not give you the same stomach-dropping feeling you experience on roller coasters. The motion is a gentle lateral movement and nothing erratic. People with moderate fears of heights and motion sickness can comfortably take a zip-slide tour. It’s an experience leaving you wanting more. Other activities included a quad-biking safari, archery and, for game viewing, Mangwe Game Trackers to experience the Big Fice, as Sun City borders on the Pilanesberg National Park.
And if you would like elite pampering, the stunning new Royal spa is the place for you. Our visit ended with a rejuvenating massage at the Royal spa which opened its doors at the end of last year. Set up with six individual treatment rooms and three suites with hydro-baths and sensation showers in lush garden surroundings with water features, the “luxurious wellness sanctuary” has treatments that range from massages to body wraps, skincare therapy and an advanced skin clinic. From the most comfortable beds to the highly skilled therapists, you’ll leave the spa a completely new person. I know I did. There is something for everyone at Sun City with unmatched peace, food and the ultimate experience which is simply the finest recommendation one can offer for any tourist destination.
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