Kenya does not discriminate. It is “truly the ideal luxury destination for all types of clients from couples, families, and retirees, to solo travelers and multigenerational groups. Kenya caters to clientele seeking a life-altering trip, as well as those who enjoy authentic cultural experiences and off-the-beaten-track destinations,” says Alyson Marks, U.S. public relations representative for the Kenya Tourism Board.
Kenya continues to offer luxury product each year and it’s safe to say that 2013 did not disappoint with many high-end properties opening up across the country. Marks reminds us of a few, such as the “Richard Branson property in the [Masai] Mara, two new Kempinski properties, Hemingways Nairobi, and the Segera Retreat in Laikipia, just to name a few. We are certainly seeing an increased demand for high-end accommodations and luxe offerings within this sector.” And expect more luxury products this year, notes Marks.
Here we highlight a few properties that opened in the last few months that will have your clients signing on the dotted line.
from camps to suites
Elewana’s Sand River Masai Mara Camp: This tented 16-suite camp is located within the Masai Mara National Reserve, close to the Tanzanian boarder and situated on the banks of a river from which its name derives. The camp, which opened in July, was designed to imitate the tented camps of the late-1920s, and its suites offer a private sun deck area. While there, guests can enjoy daily game drives; bush meals; a billiard room; a library; and a swimming pool. During peak season, rates, which include a game drive, start at $714 pp.
Villa Rosa Kempinski: This property, which opened in August, is the second Kenya property in Kempinski’s portfolio. Located within Nairobi’s commercial center, and only a 30-minute drive from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the hotel features 200 rooms and suites; restaurants such as 88, serving Pan-Asian cuisine; the Italian bistro, Lucca; and Tambourin, a Moroccan rooftop lounge. Kempinski The Spa features nine treatment rooms, a gym, an outdoor pool, a steam, sauna and jacuzzi, as well as a cafe. Room rates start at $207 per night.
Mahali Mzuri: This exquisite African gem is the first in Kenya for the business mogul Richard Branson. It opened its doors last summer on the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Masai Mara. Part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio, the property’s name, in Swahili, means “beautiful place,” and this location is truly stunning offering 12 tented suites. Note: The property caters to a maximum 24 guests. Facial and body spa treatments, offered with Africology products, can be scheduled on site at Nasaro. Rates start at $620 pp per night and include meals, beverages and daily game drives within the nearby conservancies.
Speke’s Camp: This camp, which opened in July, is located just outside the Masai Mara Reserve on private land, and is the sister camp to Maasai Trails’ Jan’s Camp. Speke’s Camp features only eight rooms, and guests can choose from a selection of different game drives and an 8- to 14-day Great Maasai Land Trek tour with starting rates at $2,360 pp.
ABERCROMBIE & KENT
“New flight schedules, improved roads and infrastructure have enabled us to completely redesign some of our classic African safaris, offering new boutique properties and more convenient routing, ensuring a more relaxed pace and a more enjoyable experience,” says Phil Otterson, president of Abercrombie & Kent USA. A&K’s 10-day Kenya Safari in Style tour ($7,995 pp) leads travelers straight to the wildlife action with 4×4 tours of Amboseli National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Highlights include meeting the Masai people during a private village visit; watching young elephants interact with handlers before they are reintroduced into the wild at Daphne Sheldrick’s Orphanage; savoring local dishes and organic products at a Chef’s Table culinary experience; and enjoying top-tier accommodations at Hemingways Nairobi, Lewa Safari Camp, and Sanctuary Olonana.
“We do continue to grow our Kenya business. In fact, it has doubled over the past three years. Every program is bespoke, but the classic appeal of Kenya is the individuality and personality of the owners/managers of the camps and lodges. We have added visibility to programs such as walking with warriors (a 5- to 10-day walking/bush camping program led by Masai), camel treks, Samburu-for-a-day or Masai-for-a-day type of program,” says Marcia Gordon, co-founder and president, Extraordinary Journeys. The operator’s 8-day Focus on Kenya Family Safari offers guests a night at Giraffe Manor where feeding giraffes from one’s bedroom window is the norm. The itinerary also includes trips to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Masai Mara Game Reserve, where guests stay at the Mara House. Rates start at $25,000 for two adults and two children.
AFRICAN TRAVEL, INC.
“Kenya represents the original idea of safari, conjuring up images of ‘Out of Africa’ and William Holden’s Mt. Kenya Safari Club. It’s romantic and now has a wide variety of properties with the most exotic and well-recognized scenery, including Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his book, ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro,’” says Jim Holden, president of African Travel, Inc. The tour operator offers its 10-day The Masai Mara Luxury Safari tour ($9,695 pp), which includes day and night game drives and guided walks, as well as cultural and archaeological tours; one night in Nairobi; two nights exploring the Amboseli National Park; and three nights within Lewa Wildlife Center and the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Travelers won’t be disappointed with stays at Hemingways Nairobi, Tawi Lodge, Lewa House and Sala’s Camp in Masai Mara.