Tom Cruise took South Africa by storm when he landed his helicopter in Limpopo to film the 8th instalment of Mission Impossible in February last year.
Photos shared by the Limpopo Tourism Agency showed Cruise piloting and landing a helicopter in the lush bushes of Hoedspruit, where he was greeted by adoring fans.
In what became a daily routine, Hoedspruit residents would greet the actor in the morning on his way to work and in the evening upon his return.
"Every morning Tom arrives in a car with his security and film director where he is met by a helicopter … Tom always walks around the helicopter and does pre-flight checks before climbing in and piloting it himself to the film location," Antares Bush Camp and Safaris owner, Mel Owtram, told News24 at the time.
READ MORE | Tom Cruise on his stay in South Africa: 'It would be nice to live here permanently'
Months later, in December, Cruise returned to the country to reportedly tie up loose ends concerning the film.
According to a spokesperson for the Killarney Country Club in Johannesburg, "His chopper landed here and dropped him off. And then, he was escorted by security off the property. He then came back about two or three hours later and agreed to meet some of our staff members. And then he left again on his way."
Cruise later shared a video of himself flying "over stunning South Africa", wishing his fans and followers happy holidays before jumping out of the aircraft.
READ MORE | Tom Cruise jumps out of an aircraft over 'stunning' South Africa to wish fans happy holidays
Throughout his travels to the country, Cruise called various locations home, including Qambathi Mountain Lodge – an adult-only boutique lodge and nature reserve nestled in the heart of Kamberg Valley, Drakensberg, in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Tom Cruise and the production team stayed with us for a few months in 2022 while filming Mission Impossible 8," lodge owner Nadia tells News24.
"We were very pleased and honoured to find that they chose our little lodge to stay at," she adds, sharing the story of how she and her husband, Stephen, moved to South Africa from the United Kingdom in 2019, bought the lodge and refurbished it before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Sharing more about Cruise's stay, Nadia says, "They enjoyed locally sourced food – our suppliers, even though they didn't know who they were supplying, pulled out all the stops and provided the best that Midlands has to offer."
The entire production team stayed at the lodge, with Cruise calling the Stable Suite – aka the honeymoon suite – his home away from home.
The suite is their "biggest room with stunning views right from your bed" and offers a "cosy fireplace and its own chill-out deck with hanging basket chairs to enjoy the beautiful gardens and mountain views," per the Qambathi website.
The Stable Suite includes luxury finishes such as a handmade super king camphor wood bed, free standing bath and a separate shower for extra comfort.
The price for a luxurious night's sleep in the suite starts at R2 300 per guest, with breakfast included.
GO INSIDE TOM CRUISE'S SUITE HERE:
"They were just very lovely and generous," Nadia says. "They made an effort to speak a little bit of Zulu, so to say, at the end, they said thank you to the staff in Zulu, which I thought was a very humble and a very nice thing to do."
As for whether Cruise had any downtime during his stay, Nadia says, "He came to South Africa to work, and he worked very hard to make the best possible movie."
She highlights "the importance that the movie industry brings to our economy", saying: "Many businesses survived and thrived while the film crew were in the country. Hotels, restaurants, food suppliers, farms and many other industries were given a huge boost thanks to them choosing our country as a backdrop for the movie."
Filming of Mission Impossible 8 in South Africa has since wrapped, and Nadia says when leaving, Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie wrote "a lovely letter" thanking them for their hospitality.
"To everyone at the Qambathi, thank you for welcoming us into your home and for making our stay so peaceful and memorable. We hope to see you again soon," wrote McQuarrie.