COVID-19 has impacted the modus operandi of the hospitality and tourism industry worldwide. Accordingly, MalaMala Game Reserve has introduced a set of health and safety protocols designed to protect the wellbeing of our guests while still providing for an amazing safari experience.
MalaMala adheres to the hospitality protocols of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA protocols), which are governed by the World Health Organization’s recommendations. These protocols, as they pertain to MalaMala, have been set out in a précised version below.
It is worth highlighting that South Africa has a world-class, sophisticated private healthcare system with an extensive network of private hospitals, doctors, and specialists. This should provide some comfort that expert medical care is available, if required.
Although not specifically related to COVID-19, we would recommend that all travelers are covered by a comprehensive travel insurance policy, including medical cover.
MalaMala has implemented an extensive training program for all staff which includes education about COVID-19, physical training in all aspects of health & safety, basic disinfection protocols, COVID-19 preventative measures and procedures that ensure staff with early signs of COVID-19 are promptly precluded from the workplace.
Advisory documents and posters are displayed throughout the camps highlighting the key COVID-19 protocols.
General safety measures
The health and safety protocols are detailed by department or activity below but there are some general safety measures that apply throughout the camp.
All guests and staff are required to wear masks in common areas and where social distancing is not possible.
Hand sanitizer (70 percent alcohol) and antibacterial disinfectant/wipes are available throughout the camp.
Each guest is temperature tested on arrival, and again every afternoon, in a non-invasive and safe manner. These screening and monitoring protocols are supported by the necessary contingency plans and isolation/quarantine facilities.
Prior to their shifts, all staff are screened, and temperature tested. All our staff have single use or partner shared accommodation in the staff village and can be self-isolated.
All staff reside on site at MalaMala and there is limited movement in and out of the camps except for guests and deliveries. Staff work in shifts which can be isolated in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case amongst guests or staff.
Safety and hygiene standards have been enhanced and checklists are completed for each department to ensure stringent controls.
Check-in, Check-out & Reception Services
MalaMala s renowned hospitality and warm welcome will sadly no longer include a handshake on arrival or a hug on departure.
On confirmation of the reservation, guests will be asked to provide a copy of their passport or identification documents, a completed indemnity form and a Health declaration form. The latter should be handed to management on arrival at MalaMala.
Check-in and check-out times have been amended to 14h00 and 11h00 respectively to allow for the deep cleaning of rooms.
The porters sanitize their hands prior to and after handling guests luggage and luggage will be left at the entrance to the guests’ rooms unless requested to be placed inside on the luggage racks.
All room keys will be disinfected and placed in the guests’ rooms prior to their arrival. Guests will be advised to keep their room keys for the duration of their stay and only return them on check-out.
Individual, personalized stainless-steel water bottles will be available in guests’ rooms on arrival and can be filled with still or sparkling water from the Vivreau machines on the safari decks.
On check-out, guests’ credit cards will only be handled by the guests and the credit card machines will be disinfected before and after every use. Gratuities can be paid via credit card.
Housekeeping & Laundry
Comprehensive new cleaning measures have been introduced to safeguard against the COVID-19 virus.
All rooms are thoroughly cleaned, and disinfected before the arrival of each guest.
Items which are not easily cleanable have been removed from guests’ rooms including notepads, magazines, hotel directories, massage menus, bed runners and throw pillows.
Guests’ rooms are serviced and fully sanitized each morning. An evening turn-down service is included unless camp management is otherwise advised not to include this service.
Guests’ laundry will only be done if it can be machine washed at high temperatures. Handwashing powder is available in each room.
MalaMala has done everything possible to phase out single use plastics and as such our room amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, bodywash and body lotion will still be available in 250ml glass bottles with a pump action dispenser. These will be disinfected before each guest’s arrival in camp and during the morning room service. A bottle of disinfectant and single use paper wipes will be available in each room for guests to use.
Linen and towels will be changed every 3 days unless otherwise requested. Mattress protectors and pillow protectors are mandatory in our rooms and will be changed, together with the duvet inner between each set of guests.
Mini bars will not be stocked on arrival. We request that guests advise us of their mini bar requirements so we can ensure these are stocked with their individual preferences.
Tea and coffee stations will be thoroughly sanitized before and during the guests’ stay with individual sachets available. A sealed milk carton is available in each fridge as is purified water in sanitized glass bottles.
Air conditioning filters, insect proof window screens and windows will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each guest’s stay. Natural cross ventilation is available in each room.
Catering & Meals
Brunch and dinner are served outdoors – on the safari deck or under the stars in the boma. Both venues are ideal for social distancing and allow 2-metre spacing between tables. In room dining is available in accordance with the safety and hygiene regulations.
Self-service buffets are no longer available.
· Chalkboards are used to ensure limited contact with paper-based menus.
Tables, chairs, placemats, and condiments are sanitized before and after every meal.
Waitrons are allocated to specific guests for the duration of their stay.
All chefs, cooks and assistants are trained on safe food preparation and service practices.
Access to the bars will be limited to the number of guests that can be safely accommodated with 2-metre social distancing between parties.
The common areas in all three camps are relatively large and open and can accommodate all parties in camp being at least 2 metres from one another.
The number of guests on game drive vehicles will be limited to a maximum of 4 guests where occupancies allow, but there will never be more than 6 guests per open safari vehicle.
Guests are allocated to a specific ranger and vehicle.
The front seat of each game drive vehicle should remain empty to ensure the correct social distancing between ranger and guest.
Animal checklists and sanitized pens will be available in the guests’ rooms on arrival.
Morning coffee stops and evening sundowner stops will be available, but snacks will be packed in individual sealed tiffin tins / sealed bags for each guest.
Game drive vehicles will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each game drive and between each set of guests.
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant will be available on each game drive vehicle. We encourage guests to bring their own binoculars and reference books.
Full training by our partners, Healing Earth, has been provided for all masseurs on the necessary health and safety protocols for a safe massage.
Regretfully, in room massages will not be available in the immediate future to limit the number of staff accessing guests’ rooms.
Use of the gym is available by appointment only. A schedule is available in reception and only one party of guests (travelling together) has access to the gym at a time for a period of 45 minutes. This allows staff to sanitize the gym and equipment before and after use.
Yoga mats and free weights are available on request at reception should guests wish to exercise within the confines of their own rooms.
The pool loungers and umbrellas will be spaced correctly with a 2-metre distance between parties travelling together.
Sanitized towels will be available, and a towel drop basket will be provided for dirty towels.
The swimming pool area will be serviced by a staff member who will sanitize all pool loungers and umbrellas after each guest use.
Only 6 guests will be permitted into the safari shop at MalaMala Camp and only 2 guests at Rattray’s Camp at any one time.
Guests will not be able to fit clothes in the gift shop. Instead, they will be able to take purchased items back to their rooms and return those that are not suitable. The returned clothes will then be disinfected prior to being replaced on the shelves.
The safari shop will be thoroughly sanitized & fogged every morning
The gift shop has a no cash policy and all purchases will be charged to the guests’ rooms to be settled on check-out.
All transfer vehicles will be thoroughly disinfected and sanitized prior to transferring guests to and from the MalaMala Airstrip, Skukuza Airport, or other camps.
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available on all transfer vehicles.
Drivers will wear masks and carry sanitizer enabling them to sanitize their hands before touching guests’ luggage. Alcohol wipes will be used to disinfect luggage handles.
A standard operating procedure for the delivery of goods to MalaMala Game Reserve has been sent to all suppliers and delivery companies so their staff are aware of the safety procedures in place.
All delivery staff are screened, and their temperatures taken prior to offloading of stock.
All delivered items are thoroughly disinfected on off-loading.
Isolation & Quarantine Facilities
Our staff are familiar with the procedures to be followed in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.
An isolation suite with an en-suite bathroom and a small deck area is available.
· Our Chief Medical Officer will provide any interventions necessary and ensure the affected guests are well cared for pending transport to the appropriate medical care facility. The nearest private hospital is situated in Nelspruit, a 25-minute charter flight or a 2-hour road transfer from the camps. Medical service providers will provide the necessary transport. Regretfully we cannot accommodate guests who are confirmed COVID-19 positive.
We recognize the severity of the COVID-19 virus and the risk that it poses to our guests and staff. We have therefore introduced a stringent set of measures to protect the health and safety of our guests and staff and to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.