Islands that have put Kenya on the world’s leisure map
Posted Thursday, July 5 2012 at 18:01
Kenya’s resorts that have become popular with world famous visitors
- Funzi Keys Resort, located 35km from Mombasa's Diani beach and on Funzi Island, has been voted several times as one of the six best privately-owned islands in the world.
- The Majlis Resort on Manda island’s Ras Kitau Bay is the only five-star resort in Lamu.
- Kizingo Resort on Lamu Island.
- Rusinga Island Lodge on Lake Victoria.
- Island Camp, one of the lodges located in Ol Kokwe Island on Lake Baringo.
One arrives barefoot on the beach in front of the resort after a 10-minute boat ride from Lamu Airport.
“Guests arriving by air land at the airport where Safarlink had two daily flights before Fly540 and Air Kenya joined in. Kenya Airways is also keen to add Lamu on its destination list”, said Mocca who is also banking on the Lamu Port project which, on completion, is expected to raise the profile of this largely less visited island.
Majlis offers packages inclusive of flights at negotiable rates. “Rates to Lamu are quite expensive, but competition from different airlines will hopefully bring them down. With ongoing development, Lamu should become a cheaper destination than it used to be for locals,” he said.
“Important government figures in Kenya and world renowned actors and actresses are among those repeat guests at Majlis,” said Mocca.
The resort has 28 rooms with capacity of 55 people with a restaurant that is open to the public.
As Mocca envisions the future of Lamu in the midst of renewed investment efforts, Kizingo resort owner on the same island, is a happy woman, delighted to own a piece of jewel in Lamu.
“We are very happy in Lamu,” says the owner. “It is a small island with hardly any crime where the people are gentle and welcoming to visitors.”
It is the personalised service in these service establishments that makes the island resorts unmatched. And the owners want to keep them that way.
“We are very happy to stay small and personal,” says the Kizingo resort owner who preferred to stay anonymous.
“Many tour operators book clients to Zanzibar or Seychelles because, according to them, the Kenyan coast doesn’t have many luxury hotels and they complain that the beaches are crowded with beach boys.
"However, realising Lamu’s exclusivity, many have shifted a lot of business from foreign clientele to Lamu, which is still basically an undisturbed destination,” says Mocca.
“There are few tourists, no cars, no traffic, only boats and donkeys. In addition, you get the cultural element. Staying in a beautiful island with nothing around it, can get boring while in Lamu, you have so many options: cultural visits, fishing, water sports, or you can simply lie back and relax if you wish,” said Mocca.
The private and tranquil spots are exclusive to islands at the coast.
On the Western circuit, is the best-kept secret of the region - Rusinga Island Lodge with its swaying palm trees and well-manicured lawns where only chirping birds and banter from fishermen can be heard in the distance.
The Rusinga Island resort welcomes its visitors to a mix of wildlife experience at Ruma National Park, the Tom Mboya Mausoleum, bird watching, sport fishing and water sports.