A new brand, upcoming destination, sustainably built, conservation and community-focused – Habitas Namibia ticks a lot of boxes, and is the latest in TTG Luxury’s In The Spotlight series.
We know Africa could be a tough sell at the moment, given travel bans and worries over new strains of the virus. But that doesn’t stop us looking ahead and giving applause to new hotels and projects in the region – especially when they are in beautiful Namibia.
It’s also good to get a new brand on the radar, with Habitas making its continent debut with this little hotel with a big heart set on a huge reserve.
Habitas is an experience-led sustainable hospitality brand co-founded by Oliver Ripley, Kfir Levy and Eduardo Castillo in 2016, and the trio say their hope is one of “redefining the concept of traditional luxury in hotels”, with a belief that luxury “cannot be bought or sold, but it is a feeling that exists in the experiences and memories that we create with others”.
This is only the second hotel of the portfolio, and while Namibia may seem like a niche destination for a new brand starting out, it certainly chimes with the Habitat ethos, with the country having become a quiet success story in recent years, building a reputation for experiential and low-impact tourism.
It’s joining the Habitas flagship in Tulum, Mexico which opened in 2017, and Oliver Ripley says of the move: “We could not be more thrilled to establish our first ‘home’ in Africa with the opening of Habitas Namibia. The country’s rich history, culture, landscape and wildlife lends invaluable perspective to those who seek greater understanding of the world through shared experiences.”
Habitas Namibia is set on a 50,000-hectare private wildlife reserve 45 minutes from Windhoek airport, and has just 15 “safari rooms”. On-site, there’s a pool, outdoor cinema, communal dining area and firepit, all designed to ensure guests feel comfortable in coming together to engage and connect with one another while appreciating the landscape and wildlife; there is also a stunning private villa option.
Habitas’ in-house team create their projects using a modular concept of light-footprint rooms made using sustainable materials at its own factory in Mexico, which are then shipped and assembled on-site.
Programming includes safari drives, sound journey meditation, indigenous spa treatments, free dance, drum circles, savannah yoga, and agora gatherings with local live music.
Habitas can also arrange for guests to learn survival skills from local San tribesman, one of the oldest indigenous tribes in Africa.
The hope is that in doing so, guests may personally contribute to Habitas’ local wildlife conservation efforts as well as benefit from the brand’s community impact initiative, Habitas RISE, in partnership with Saira Hospitality, which empowers locals through employment opportunities and hospitality training.
“We’ve seen our community-minded focus on sustainability and reciprocal learning inspire and bring people together time and again,” said Ripley. “We’re excited to bring that vision to life to create an enduring positive impact on both our guests and the community that welcomes us.”
Future projects this year include another hotel in Mexico and one in Costa Rica.
• Nights at Habitas Namibia start at around £400 a night, which includes all meals and some drinks (except premium spirits and champagne), daily activities, two safari drives per day, and tourism levy.