Welcome to your Kingdom

by Adam Garden

Pulling into The Kingdom Hotel always puts a smile on your face as you are greeted by a host of men dressed in Ndebele tribal attire, amabhetshu.  The warmth in which they greet any visitor to the hotel makes one feel like a king returning to his castle and the stunning architecture, which reflects the ancient Kingdom of Munhumatapa, does everything to try and convince you.  The Kingdom is built with a man-made water feature that winds itself around the property, just like a moat, and as you make your way to the front door, you meet the number of Koi fish that occupy it. As you step through the wide doorway, it feels as if you enter a completely separate realm with scores of activities taking place all around the main reception. Most of the comfortable rooms overlook the relaxing lake that settles in the midst of the hotel grounds, but you will never find yourself in your room; the real beauty of Kingdom is found in its shared spaces.  Three bars and two restaurants call The Kingdom’s spacious building their home and each one provides it’s own special touch. 

Jumping in their massive pool, which is surrounded on all sides by sunbeds equipped with bath towels, is one of the most relaxing things to do in the middle of a hot afternoon, but that is if you can tear yourself away from walking through the old-fashioned corridors that fill their tall ceilinged spaces with gas lights and rich history.  Traversing through the garden, the moat shows up all over and immediately I flash back to when I was a kid and was running around Kingdom and running over its various bridges and pathways with a glorious smile on my face and wonderous possibilities in my eyes.  I could see this very same astonishment on the eyes of a young child that was deep in his own imagination, running around the place pretending to be a warrior defending the castle. As I sat down around lunchtime, enjoying my fresh orange juice at the poolside bar, I was joined by an assortment of travellers all looking for the waterhole to quench their thirst.

The Belgians were looking for a relaxing champagne to celebrate their morning and the Americans were proudly telling anyone they could find about the suburb, city, and state that they hailed from.  Luckily, I was able to slip away to my poolside seat, but did later overhear that they were a massive group of travellers from an Ivy league business school and were visiting The Kingdom for a conference and a group tour of Victoria Falls.  As they piled out of the conference rooms, I wondered whether their large numbers would start becoming a problem, but The Kingdom’s large grounds easily accommodated for them with enough space for the independent travellers. I almost forgot I was in Victoria Falls as I wasted away half the afternoon taking in some sun and finishing half my book – my sunbathing spot next to the pool far too comfortable to consider moving.  In the late afternoon, I decided to take a walk. “Location, location, location” as the saying goes and you won’t find a better one than The Kingdom.  Less than a 750-metre walk to the Falls themselves, The Kingdom finds its impressive structure right between them and the centre of town.  Walking out of the gate, you are perfectly situated to explore the vibrant town and the local curio shops, cafés and activity hubs that area joy to visit in and around Victoria Falls town. That evening, as I waited for my dinner guest to join me, I took a quick walk around the gardens and over the illuminated bridges that spanned over the water-feature to revive those precious memories.

Later, we were greeted by our server who had a wide smile on her face. “Just in time” she told us, and I was starting to guess that our dinner was not going to be just an ordinary meal.  A beautiful buffet of exquisitely presented starters and nutritious main courses had me thinking about all the lovely plates I could potentially throw together.  The commotion around the entrance was starting to buzz as I found my seat and my heart skipped a beat as the drums started and the nights entertainment presented itself.  Ten tribal dancers, all exquisitely prepared began a show that took the imaginations of its viewers on a wild ride of authentic Zimbabwean dancing and singing. The entertainers sung for the entire hotel and their voices beautifully echoed through the hotel; several guests that were on their way out for the night just had to stop and admire the performance. After a few renditions of local songs and a few internationally known classics, we decided to skip dessert and see what entertainment the town had to offer.  We had walked only 20 metres out of the front door before we found some; The Kingdoms very own Makasa Sun Casino.  Much later that night, I returned and realised what a grave mistake skipping dessert was.  Thankfully The Kingdom always tries to deliver and this time it was their 24/7 room service which came to the rescue– what a treat! The Kingdoms goal is to take its guests on a magical, mystical experience and this was done before I entered its walls and will stick with me long after I left them.

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