My editor-in-chief, Miss Mari, loves ‘Best Of’ lists, so out of forced obligation, I present to you my most memorable accomodation spots from around the world (in no particular order):
Shambara Hostel – Bangkok, Thailand
Located just off Khao San Road, this boutique hotel provides an ideal location but with an atmosphere so quiet and peaceful, it’s almost a Bhuddist experience.
Mango Drift – Likoma Island, Malawi
A hostellers dream with space for tents under the Bougainvilleas, or rooms on the beach facing sunset over Lake Malawi.
Top O’ Tobago – Arnos Vale, Trinidad & Tobago
Overlooking the Caribbean sea, this villa offers great rooms, a pool, gardens and 360 degree views that take the breath away.
Chumbe Island Eco Lodge – Zanzibar, Tanzania
An exclusive luxury getaway, this marine conservatory offers a personal guide, a completely sustainable cabana, and if you’re lucky enough, your very own island.
Seba Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana
With an unbeatable staff and a location so remote you have to fly in, it’s hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world more luxurious and unique to see hippos, giraffes, and elephants.
I’m not quite sure yet if Rock View Lodge located near the Amerindian village of Annai will crack the top five, but it does have the stuff to put it into contention.
Being an engineer, attention to detail is most appreciated by me. Rock View is endlessly impressive in this regard. Bougainvillea on the beds, sloping in the doorways that lead water (and bugs) away from the bedroom, fans built into the ceiling above the computer, and complimentary arthritis medication provided in the rooms are just some of the things that go above and beyond the typical level of service.
Rock View is a bit of a resort for people who hate resorts. The interior of Guyana might very well be one of the most off-the-beaten-track places in the world. Actually, even Guyana itself is a chore to get to. Despite the fact it lies on the South American continent, flights to Georgetown do not exist from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. In fact, even though Colombia and Guyana are separated by only Venezuela between them, the most direct route from Colombia to Guyana is from Bogotá to Panama City to Port-of-Spain to Georgetown! All this leads to Guyana receiving as many tourists in one year as Machu Picchu sees in one day! A trip to Rock View is not for those looking for the cheap and quick. With a capacity for about twenty guests, this is no mega hotel. Yet, amenities and activities for those staying here are incredibly posh. A football (soccer) pitch (field) and a beach volleyball court pretty much cover my sporting interests. The volleyball court even includes an extra few feet of sand on each end for the jump servers, and an umpire stand! Most places back home don’t have either of those! Then there’s the pool, with rock features and lily pond built right in. If that wasn’t enough, a picnic table, pool-side bar and shower were designed so perfectly that the whole thing blends in perfectly with the surroundings despite being ridiculously out of place for the savannah. Given the location, Brazilian football is also very big here. Thus, one of the on-site bars is set up for guests, and locals, to come watch all the big games. There are also a handful of benabs throughout the compound for socializing or relaxing.
If sport and play aren’t your thing then check out the Ranch House with its library of over five thousand books. Or walk around the grounds and take in the endless pieces of art that have been collected. There’s also placards identifying the trees and other plants, so a little agro-education is a possibility. For the more adventurous, a hike into the nearby Pakaraima Mountains offers views of the North Rupununi savannah and the Rupununi River. When serenity is needed, there are birds abound to watch and photograph. Rock View Lodge gets its name from the large rock near the Ranch House. A beautiful path cut into this boulder leads to a flattened lookout with three quaint stools waiting to be used. As I walked up, the rain had just finished. The combination of the design of the viewpoint and the sky caused these words to come out of my mouth: “Oh my god. There’s a f*cking rainbow!”
If all of that wasn’t enough, Rock View is a fully functional farm – and on many different platforms. First is the cashew farm where the nuts are grown, harvested and roasted on site. If you have never seen the traditional way of roasting cashews, I can tell you it’s actually pretty exciting. Anytime clouds of acid gas and open flames are combined, it makes for an entertaining experience for sure. Further to that, Rock View also grows a full vegetable garden and fruit orchard. There are horses for the vaqueros, cows for milking and a duck pond…for duck curries. 🙂 Most unique of all are the three aquaculture ponds where a species of Amazonian fish are raised to be used for dinners, or to be sold.
The touch that ties everything together is the service. From the meals to the transportation to the nature guides, everything is done with the utmost professionalism. Rock View is also a family owned and operated establishment. Owner, Colin Edwards, makes every effort to make sure the needs of his guests are met. He will personally greet you when you arrive from the airstrip, have a drink with you, and sit down and have dinner with all his guests. His two sons, Georgie and Veto, also live and work at the lodge, and are two of the most relatable people in Guyana.
So while our time in Annai was restricted to less than 24 hours, it will be remembered for the lasting impression that Rock View provided.