Travel | 30 Aug 2014 | By Sun International
The Lost City Fact File
Inspired by the myth of a lost African kingdom, The Lost City at Sun City is one of the most exciting and innovative tourist attractions in the world. The 5-star Palace of the Lost City indulges this fantasy of a mythical civilisation in every detail: stepping through the huge doors, you’re instantly transported back in time to a place of wonder.
Fabled to be the royal residence of an ancient king, the grand proportions and graceful towers of The Palace are enhanced by sculptural detail, mosaics, frescoes and fountains, and nestled in an enchanting setting of an exotic jungle, complete with murmuring streams and gushing waterfalls. The Palace of the Lost City, which was officially opened in 1992, is a tribute to man's imagination and brilliant architectural achievement.
On your next stay at the hotel, when you gasp at the sheer magnitude and marvel at the minute details of the architectural design, keep these awe-inspiring facts in mind:
1. Construction, which began in August 1990, took only 28 months to complete, a remarkably short period of time for a project of this breadth and complexity.
- At the height of construction, 5 000 people worked on the project.
- Almost 2 million cubic metres of earth was moved on site, excluding some 300 000 cubic metres of blasted rock.
- 85 000 cubic metres of concrete was poured.
- Almost 15 000 custom-made pieces of pre-cast were used on The Palace facades.
- During the first year of construction, an average of 1 million bricks were laid each month by a crew of 200 bricklayers. In the end, the bricks tallied 30 million!
2. The Palace exteriors are influenced by Africa’s prolific wildlife.
Belonging in a mythical fantasy, every corner of The Palace’s design pays homage to Africa’s wilderness and her majestic animals. Moulded towers are topped by domes with palm fronds, while elephant tusks and wildlife carvings govern the exterior structure. The six elephants tusks which arch in pairs over the Tusk Lounge and Bar, are 5.6m high, weigh 2 tons, and were made in four pieces out of Indonesian Square wood, which is heavier than ivory.
The atrium is dominated by a life-size bronze sculpture of Shawu, one of Africa’s most famous elephants. Brought to life by South African sculptor Danie de Jager, the sculpture's realistic quality is portrayed in the leathery texture of skin, ragged ears and cracked feet. Shawu towers 4.5m above the ground and is one of the most photographed animal sculptures in the world.
3. The interiors were designed by Trisha Wilson of Wilson & Associates, Dallas, Texas.
The interiors are characterised by grand scale – as befits a royal palace – and celebrate the world of nature. Domed roofs are enhanced with serpentine paintings; floors come alive with the textures of intricate mosaics. There isn’t a piece or surface in The Palace that hasn’t been attended to with the keen eyes of rich detail. 85% percent of all the requirements for the interiors were sourced within Southern Africa.
4. Nearly everything in The Palace was custom-made.
In The Palace, for the first time in Southern Africa, hand-carved furniture was used throughout the public areas and guest rooms of a hotel. All of the hotel’s timber doors were hand-carved, including the massive 8m-high doors at the royal entrance. The carpets span some 50 000 square metres, and were custom-designed exclusively for The Palace. Similarly, all of the fabrics used were made solely for the hotel.
5. The ceiling dome of the royal entrance chamber is an architectural feat.
The dome ceiling rises 25m above floor level, measures 16m in diameter, and is held aloft by six columns. Its construction was a major challenge, as was the roof of the Crystal Court with its 29m roof span, which has to support five floors of suites above it.
6. The lobby’s intricate mosaic floor comprises of 38 different shades of marble.
Each has been hand-laid and hand polished in a design with leaves at the heart surrounded by six different animals, and enclosed by inner and outer circles of bold zebra striping. Furthermore, the lobby’s reception and concierge desks were hand-carved from sapele pommele with tops of rosa verona and quagga marble. The total area of marble at The Palace is some 5 650 square metres.
7. The painting on the ceiling of the royal entrance chamber was created in the same way as Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
The evocative African landscape alive with animals and birds was hand-painted and took 5 000 hours to complete. The total area of murals at the palace is 3 400 square metres, while the total area of painting a staggering 425 000 square metres.
8. There are 75 000 meters of electrical conduit in The Palace.
This equates to some 6 500 light fittings, the most startling of which being the chandelier in the Crystal Court, which is over 5m in diameter, with a spectacular drop of 4,2m.
9. The King’s Tower, at 70m, is the tallest of the 10 Palace towers.
The Tower affords never-ending views of the crystal clear pools and lush ornamental forest that surrounds Sun City.
10. The King’s Suite is the epitome of regal opulence.
The walls are hand-carved from maple wood, and the suite boasts no fewer than 800 individual items that have been custom-designed and crafted. Each of the two bedrooms has a king size bed with a sitting area, desk, armoire, two telephones with external lines, an en-suite bathroom and a library. There is also a guest powder room, a sauna and a butler’s pantry.
Tell us: Have you stayed at The Palace of the Lost City? What was your first impression?