Elephant Hills Resort: Victoria Falls

Article and Images by Mike Garden

I have spent many a night at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls: Sometimes it was just for a weekend away from the big city; on others to attend a week long, work related conference. The most enjoyable times were, however, when we came up to play golf in our annual Nomads National tournament with some 200 fellow golfers, taking time out to chill and catch up with old or new business colleagues.

The one thing that I love to do here is wake up early and take a walk or run around the golf course situated right in front of the hotel. I did just that this morning, taking photos of the sunrise as well as the impala, waterbuck, warthog and kudu scattered all around the estate. The wildlife here is used to humans walking nearby, yet they always keep a wary eye, pausing every so often from their morning meal to see who or what is approaching.

The eighteen-hole golf course was originally designed by Gary Player to be the hardest in Africa. When the hotel was rebuilt in 1989, Roger Bayliss redesigned the course, together with Roy Jennings and Jumbo Thompson, to be more suitable for the social golfer.  Grass was imported for the fairways and the greens, blending in very effectively with the natural flora and fauna. Local rules allow for the golf ball to be dropped out of piles of animal dung or sunken hoof marks.  Retrieving the ball from water holes is not recommended due to the occasional crocodile taking up temporary residence every now and again!

The Elephant Hills has established itself as the conference of first choice amongst larger companies around the country wanting to take their employees away from the daily office grind to educate them on the latest information on their particular type of business.

On the way back from my morning stroll, I came across four gentlemen out on the tennis court having a fun game whilst the temperature was still fairly cool (22ºC at 7am).

Adrian Landry is the current General Manager at Elephant Hills and he has been tasked by the Legacy Group of Hotels to bring the hotel back to its former glorious position in the Zimbabwe Travel arena. On my way out of the Hotel at 6am, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the waiters being spoken to by their superior, giving them their daily advice on how best to deal with guests at the dinner table. Over the past two years, I have noticed a huge improvement overall in most aspects of the hotel and Adrian assures me that there is a lot more included in next year’s budget.

There are 267 rooms in the Hotel so the eating area is very large. The buffet breakfast was very appealing with an enormous spread that include all sorts of fruit along with a selection of choice croissants to satisfy the Continental tastes as well as the mouth-watering English breakfast.

I sat on the window side where one can view the ever daunting Zambezi River flowing towards the largest waterfall in the world. The Victoria Falls are known locally as the Mosi-oa-Tunya, (“The Smoke that Thunders”) and even though they are 4km away, one can view their seemingly ever present clouds of spray comfortably from the lounge alongside the upstairs bar.

Victoria Falls is well known for the entertainment supplied at most hotels every evening and Elephant Hills is no exception to this with energetic drummers and dancers giving an excellent display whilst you are having your evening meal.

There is a specially laid out casino room with a dozen gaming tables which is opened up whenever there is a large conference or golf tournament taking place at the hotel.

A free shuttle service travels into the town centre every hour allowing guests to see the Falls or go out to dinner at one of the numerous dining places all within ten minutes of Elephant Hills.

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