Luxury and conservation in Namibia

How the hotel project Omaanda Lodge in Namibia combines exoticism with sustainability. And why film star Angelina Jolie was the inspiration behind it.
Text by Markus Hieke, Photos by Patricia Parinejad | 8/8/2019

When Angelina Jolie came across Zannier Hotels’ Phum Baitang Resort in Cambodia, she inspired the founder and hospitality entrepreneur Arnaud Zannier to come up with an idea: The concept of this authentic, vernacular holiday village in Cambodia with its claim to sustainability could be expanded – more than 10,000 kilometers to the west in a nature conservation area not far from Namibia’s capital Windhoek. Here, Jolie had supported the construction of an animal clinic for injured and abandoned rhinos and elephants as part of her work with the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. The initiators of the hospital were Namibian couple Marlice and Rudie van Vuuren, whose foundation by the name of N/a’an ku sê works to protect local flora and fauna. In order to guarantee this remained feasible in the long term, the Zannier family purchased a considerable piece of land on Jolie’s recount back in 2016. Hence, the Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê now covers an area of 9,000 hectares.

So that’s the background. Going forward, those at Zannier Hotels were well aware that they needed to plan carefully in order to ensure the reserve did not turn into a lifestyle park. The aim of the project is to offer unique experiences and relaxation, but also to generate awareness of how sensitively nature reacts to the impacts of a Western lifestyle – for several years now, Namibia has been suffering from drought, for example, which poses huge challenges for the government and agriculture.

So a holiday with a guilt trip? By no means. With the Omaanda Lodge, Arnaud Zannier has created an exemplary concept for responsible tourism. The resort was built using the traditional building methods of the Owambo, the largest ethnic group in Namibia. Ten round huts were thus created from sandbags covered in clay, then topped with thatches made by hand. Each hut has its own private terrace, which offers far-reaching views of the savanna and the mountains. Alongside eight huts set up as double rooms with 60 square meters, there are two larger ones measuring 120 square meters, which each boast two double beds and a living room. The central meeting point of the hotel, however, is the Boma. In keeping with African tradition, this is an elongated building. Originally a building like this housed the administration for the area, but now it’s a place where visitors congregate on sofas and by the fire. In front of the Boma’s large windows there is a terrace with a pool and pool bar, plus a fireplace to the side, while another hut houses a spa for guests with a selection of treatments available.

Guest room

For the furnishings, Zannier Hotels’ in-house designer Geraldine Dohogne has used products from Namibia and neighboring countries both inside and out, some of which are recycled and the vast majority of which are made of untreated, natural materials – in keeping with the sustainability ideal of the Zannier group. Even the cuisine has been kept as regional as possible, with supplies coming from organic farmers and fish from Namibia’s Atlantic coast. The resort’s operators do yet more, however, to keep their carbon footprint as small as possible, with power largely generated from solar energy, while wastewater is double-filtered before being pumped into the watering holes for the animals on the reserve. Safari adventures, relaxation, Namibian cuisine and conservation: Anyone visiting the Omaanda Lodge will find an unrivaled all-round package.

Contact Hotel

Farm No 78, Rest of Ondekaremba Farm, Kapps Farm
Windhoek East, Namibia

Phone: +26 48 11 45 53 61

Architecture & Design

Geraldine Dohogne (Interior Design Director Zannier Hotels)