Small, intimate lodges and boutique hotels are a great choice for a romantic occasion – not only do they provide the right atmosphere, they have the flexibility to offer some inventive staging.

Tintswalo Safari Lodge, for example, in the Manyeleti Private Game Reserve on the border of the Kruger National Park, once set up a proposal scene for a couple, placing a ‘will you marry me?’ sign in a tree.  The couple went out on a bush walk, and at a certain spot the gentleman asked his lady to take a peek through a pair of binoculars.  As soon as she saw the message, she turned to find him down on one knee.

The lodge has also taken honeymooners and anniversary couples on a bush drive, stopping at a spot where they find a champagne bucket and glasses hanging in a tree. The couples are also treated to a complimentary spa lunch, which includes a romantic hydrobath experience in the bush.

“Each night, guests get a different turndown in their room,” says Kirsty Coetzee, responsible for Tintswalo’s PR and Marketing Liaison, “and the last night is a romantic turndown with a prepared bubble bath, a heart-shape arranged in leaves on the bed, and heart-shaped cookies for guests to enjoy.”

Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa has also mastered the art of the romantic proposal, and is happy to assist in making all types of ideas real, whether for outside guests using the lodge’s romantic Rose Spa as the setting, or a couple staying at the five-star Hazyview Lodge on the Sabie River.

According to Alida Botes, Marketing and Reservations Consultant, Summerfields once filled a guest room with rose petals strewn on every possible surface, hung photographs of the dating couple all over the walls, and supplied a bottle of bubbly to set the scene.

On another occasion, the scenic site was the river bank in front of a lapa bar at the swimming pool.  A small table covered with rose petals was prepared for pre-dinner drinks and proposal, with Botes hiding in the bushes to take photographs of the moment.

Says Keegan van Zyl, Manager at The Last Word Long Beach at Kommetjie in Cape Town: “I have personally overseen an instance where a lady wanted a host of red and black balloons to be put into the room as a surprise for her new husband on the first day of their honeymoon. The whole room was filled with black balloons and a single, large heart-shaped balloon with a red rose hanging from it. We also included champagne and some cheese as a welcome surprise.”

On another occasion, recalls Van Zyl, a man used a proposal service to carve a ‘will you marry me?’ sign in the sand in front of the hotel. The hotel assisted with blanket on the beach, glasses for the bubbly and platters for snacks. When the couple got back to their room, hotel staff had decorated their bed with a huge heart of rose petals, more champagne and a congratulatory letter from the hotel.

“When I am on duty I personally ensure that I type up a personal letter for the couple, wishing them well from the hotel. I always like to include a quote or two about love and marriage – this helps to make it known that we’ve taken the time to really invest in their time here with us.”