Compiled by Naomi Larkin ULUSABA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE WHERE: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga, 0800-056-343 or 011-325-4405, firstname.lastname@example.org, ulusaba.virgin.com WHY WE LOVE IT: With understated luxury and attention to detail that is often overlooked, Ulusaba delivers a superb experience with sincere hospitality that quickly makes you feel at home. The game drives are filled with regular sightings of the Big Five and to make these hours even more exhilarating the highly experienced rangers ensure regular up-close-and-personal encounters. Long, lazy afternoons are followed by delicious, unpretentious cuisine served on the deck that overlooks the majestic plains of Sabi Sand. X-FACTOR: The 360° view of supreme African savannah and being surrounded by contemporary local design and art. SCHOONE OORDT COUNTRY HOUSE WHERE: 1 Swellengrebel St, Swellendam, Western Cape, 028-514-1248, schooneoordt.co.za WHY WE LOVE IT: The charming little town of Swellendam is a popular weekend spot, peppered with delightful eateries and endowed with gorgeous scenery. You won’t find lovelier, or friendlier, lodgings than this restored Victorian landmark (meals are in a beautiful glass conservatory), with eight stylish guest cottages and a secluded honeymoon suite. We love the fine antiques and personal touches that abound. In summer, cool down in the salt-water pool in a lush garden setting. X-FACTOR: You’ll want to stay in for at least one dinner prepared by talented chef Wander Bester, while the breakfasts are a real highlight. UPTON HALL WHERE: 16 Eastbourne Rd, Morningside, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 031-303 7987, uptonhall.co.za WHY WE LOVE IT: Once a private homestead, this five-star boutique hotel, with its castle-like exterior, has sweeping views over Durban and along the KZN coastline. Each of the 10 suites has been decorated in a ‘contemporary African’ style that includes luxurious fabrics and high- thread-count linen. Its public spaces are equally plush and spacious, and fine dining offerings attract both guests and locals. The cigar lounge is a glamorous place to unwind. X-FACTOR: You can’t beat having the president as your neighbour. SPA OF THE MONTH Delaire Graff Estate is one of the most magnificent properties in the Western Cape, and that’s saying something! To be pampered in such breathtaking surroundings is true luxury. As soon as you enter the elegant entrance area (pictured) for the spa and Indochine restaurant, you know the experience ahead will be memorable. With Aromatherapy Associates and Swiss Perfection products, the treatments are high-end and specialised. Facilities include a gym, pilates area and hair-care studio. Make sure you enjoy a swim in the heated infinity pool while taking in the tranquil beauty of the surrounding valley. Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, 021-885-8160, delaire.co.za. This article was originally published in the August 2012 issue of House and Leisure.