Narok farmer to build Sh1.3 billion tourist golf resort
Posted Tuesday, April 10 2012 at 18:26
A Narok farmer is set to develop a Sh1.3 billion golf resort next to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, seeking to tap business tourists visiting the world famous wildlife sanctuary.
Olerai Ltd, a company backed by a large-scale Narok farmer, Tarquin Wood, intends to develop an 18-hole golf course, a lodge, cottages and an airstrip.
The resort will occupy more than 1,300 acres of land, currently under wheat, maize and French beans.
Details of the planned project indicate that the target clientele will be high-spending tourists seeking active holidaying rather than the traditional game viewing.
In an interview, Mr Wood said the project will offer tourists an alternative or additional attraction to the Mara.
“There is a big market for an alternative product for tourists; a golf resort will certainly raise the Mara’s profile,” said Mr Wood, adding that a new market niche of golfers is emerging out of the rapidly growing local middle income class.
“Golf tourism is a huge product in several markets like South Africa,” Mr Wood said.
Olerai Golf Resort will also have 80 cottages. Mr Wood said that the golf resort will also help to restore the land around the Mara, which has been degraded by increased human activity that is threatening the wildlife ecosystem.
The project is awaiting approval by State environmental watchdog, Nema.
“We (Olerai) are funding the project,” said Mr Wood when asked about financing of the resort construction, but added that about 30 cottages will be offered for sale.
Ownership of holiday homes within tourist resorts is a new concept in the Kenyan property market, and is picking up across top tourist destinations.
Olerai is one of several golf resorts coming up across the country, with investors positioning themselves to gain from the growing golfing population locally, and from golf as a product in the tourism industry.
Among the most notable developments include three upcoming golf resorts around Lake Naivasha, Sergoit Resort in Eldoret and the G20 Golf Resort outside the Amboseli National Park in Kajiado.
At the Kenyan coast, Vipingo Ridge is among the most exclusive housing establishments, built around an 18-hole golf course and is open for investors to buy holiday homes that can be let out to tourists.
Mike Macharia, the chief executive of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, reckons that Kenya stands to gain from the development of such facilities since they would complement the game and beach tourism.