Africa

Kenya’s got the Big 5 and new hotel product too

TORONTO — New upscale accommodation options including Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan safari camp, and the soon-to-be-opened Isiolo Airport (bringing visitors straight to the heart of Kenya’s safari circuit in the Samburu region) should keep Kenya top of mind with luxury travellers.

Branson’s Mahali Mzuri is a Virgin Limited Edition camp with 12 unique tented suites, accommodating no more than 24 guests at a time. The tents are perched on a ridge overlooking the valley and a stay here is sublime, says Sue Webb, Managing Partner, VoX International and representing the Kenya Tourism Board at an industry lunch event yesterday.

The high-end market is an important one for Kenya but it’s not the only market for this African destination, by a long shot. “Kenya is a year-round destination and it’s famous for its Great Migration. It has well-established safari operators, it’s great for the niche/affinity market and it offers an education experience especially when it comes to environmental and animal conservation,” said Webb.

Multi-generational groups have huge growth potential for Kenya, she added. “This is your big opportunity to get the grandparents to spend the bucks to take their kids and grandkids on a safari,” she joked.

Serena Hotels is set for a $20 million refurbishment project starting in 2016. Fresh from the upgrades of the public areas at Mara Serena Safari Lodge, 12 new tents at Sweetwaters Serena Camp and a refurbishment of bedrooms at Mombasa Serena Beach Resort and Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, Serena Hotels is adding more to its lineup with new facilities at Nairobi Serena Hotel.

Other names in Kenya’s hotel news include a Radisson Blu Hotel, the Villa Rosa Kempinski and Four Points by Sheraton, all in Nairobi. There’s also Billionnaire Resort in Malindi.

Webb also noted that Kenya’s visas-on-arrival program is back and will continue to be an option along with newly introduced eVisa applications. See magicalkenya.com.