It's large without ever feeling overwhelming. The reception, lounge and dining rooms are connected by open-air walkways shadowed in reflecting pools, surrounded by opulent, hand-carved relief work and dramatic chandeliers that never lapse into kitsch. A massive spa facility includes wellness center and Turkish bath, or
, before hitting the outdoor pool surrounded in traditional loungers and buttoned-up butler service. The lead dining room and its romantic prix fixe feast is headed by three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno of Le Maurice in Paris and Hotel Cheval Blanc, who counts LVMH's Bernard Arnault as a fan.
AFRICAN FALLS ARE A WORLD WONDER
While some romantics brag of a weekend in Niagara Falls or even of adding a trip to Iguazu Falls while in Brazil or Buenos Aires, a trip to Africa's Victoria Falls usurps all romantic bragging. It's a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Any way you look at it, the journey to this romantic retreat is a long one, usually an add-on to a South African getaway, but it brings you along the banks of the Zambezi River in Zambia to the falls, one of the Earth's most brilliant geological wonders. It's there on the river's banks you'll find another wonder: The Royal Livingstone hotel, which offers a British Colonial-inspired luxury experience. It's operated by South Africa's Sun International, owners of Cape Town's iconic Tablet Bay.
There's a pitched-roof lobby detailed in ebony wood, antique brass fixtures, zebra-pattern rugs and cushy loungers under period ceiling fans. While a riverfront pool allows viewing of elephants and other wildlife, the hotel can also bring more adventurous couples on trips rappeling in the dramatic Batoka Gorge or traveling on one of Africa's only private safari trains, reminiscent of a micro-Orient Express. But at the core of the experience is Victoria Falls, experienced on private jet boats, catamarans and riverboats packed with gourmet lunches (some ingredients harvested from the hotel's own gardens) and traveling cocktail bars before a return to the hotel's riverfront terrace, seeing zebras and impalas play by one of the world's most humbling romantic wonders.
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