In keeping with the design philosophy of Zimbali – a tropical estate set on 925 acres of coastal forest vegetation, a 50-hectare nature reserve and dune conservation area, a top of the handicaps golf course, residential and resort dwellings on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal – Nyoni looks out over the land it occupies, and all the way to the ocean, without making so much as a sound or a bold statement. Harmoniously abiding within nature, this hideaway graciously reveals its timber limbs from behind the foliage of ferns and forest trees, aloes, grasses and cacti as if it were a bird emerging from its nest, settled amongst the branches.
Little wonder, then, that the name Nyoni translates to bird in Zulu. With Zimbali’s prolific birdlife claiming the skies, cackles can be heard from the main ensuite as the bird-feed receives an early morning visit from flocks of francolin, finches and wagtails, as Egyptian geese perform a battle of the bands against the resident fish eagle, goshawks and ibis family. Though the birds be beautiful it’s the nest, that calls us home to a true sentiment of tranquility. Here, the interior designer owner has embraced the vernacular of the architectural principles within the estate, and created a contemporary sanctuary of light, clean lines, lulling tones and layers of texture. Together with a noble collection of artwork, local artisanal mastery, familial mementos, eclectic furnishings and lighting, and an eternal essence of being nurtured. Nyoni holds you in its space with sincerity – rather like a mother’s warm embrace.
Five ensuite bedrooms pivot from the hub of the home where the kitchen opens out to the entertaining, dining and lounging spaces, taking in the fabulous views of the estate’s terrain, its glossy green golf course, and all the way out to the ocean. Warm brown tones of Herringbone flooring connects each space together, with floor-to-ceiling slide-away glass doors, raised rattan ceilings, fancy gas lift pop-up shutters that open out to the lovely courtyard and its swimming pool, a downstairs cinema and a study overlooking a Koi pond. An African-Asian amalgamation of style and symphony has been planted and grown to seed bearing its beautiful fruit down every corridor, around every corner and lingering in every crevice of this hideaway.
However which way your days unfold at Nyoni is entirely up to you and your clan. With its abounding tropical nature walks through the forests – accompanied by the odd resident bushbuck – birdwatching, golfing, beach walking, swimming, surfing or simply snoozing in the courtyard, after that last chapter, whilst the cook of the clan prepares yet another feasting around the table, you’ll have your hours invested into the art of salubrious living. After an early morning meditation and yoga practice, a cold shower or dip in the plunge pool beckons. A breakfast produced by the gods ensues and a hot brew on the verandah, witnessing the morning light take charge of the ocean’s tide. Evenings depict a slightly different tale with the light, as the sun sets and the birds take flight into the night. Gatherings around the bar or the fire-pit in the courtyard or huddled on the sofas in the downstairs cinema or simply settled on the verandah, listening to the sounds of the tropical wonderland as they escort you into the night, will become an imprint of a family ritual for decades to come. It’s hideaways like Nyoni that furnish those memories and propel those plans to return – year after year – for some more moments with our favourite people to cherish. Even if some of them can reach the green with a 5-Iron. And putt the longer putt. Some of us prefer the walkie-talkies with the birds.
What we love!
- The courtyard off the main ensuite mimics – in the most authentic manner – a typical spa found in the harmonious hills of Bali or some Indonesian sanctuary where your morning and evening showers water the hanging ferns and orchids, the plunge pool invites you in to a revitalising dip and the space itself is tranquil and sacred.
- Going for lovely beach walks or through the forests, identifying the magnificent birdlife and bumping into the mongooses, buck and deer, the occasional python and enjoying endless hours of tropical nature trails.
- Nynoi embraces the climate of the coast and its stormy days and humid nights and sunny hours and misty mornings. It’s the ever-changing weather conditions that makes for exciting adventures – whether is be at the property, indoors, in the courtyard, or out and about.
- Wherever you are on the property, you feel connected to each space by its clever layout and use of sliding screens, the open feel and flow of being adjoined by the courtyard, and exposed to the elements.
- Spending evenings gathered around the bar, exchanging stories of the day gone by, lapping up the magnificent views and letting the night unfold.
What you need to know…
- Zimbali lies on a vast tropical coastal estate – combining a residential and resort estate, and a golf course – just outside the popular beach town of Umhlanga – a vibrant hub of activity with long beaches, shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment.
- The property is no more than a twenty-five minute drive from Durban, and only a 15km drive from the airport.
- Due to its location, its conservancy as an eco resort and the wildlife that preside within the estate, no pets are permitted at the property.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie