Sarova pulls out of Mara luxury lodge agreement

Sarova Managing Director Jimi Kariuki
Sarova Managing Director Jimi Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sarova Hotels’ deal to manage the Spirit of the Mara, a luxury lodge at the world famous game reserve, has come to an abrupt end— barely two years after the two entities signed a 15-year partnership.

Sarova confirmed Wednesday that it will cease managing the lodge from September but did not divulge reasons behind the contract’s termination given that it is just 16 months into the 15-year deal.

“The agreement to discontinue Sarova’s management of the lodge is mutual between us and the lodge owners, the McCarthy family,” said Sarova Hotels Managing Director Jimi Kariuki.

The partnership was the second management deal to be signed by Sarova Hotels, coming a year after the hospitality group first changed expansion tack by signing a similar agreement with the owners of the now Sarova Woodlands Nakuru.

The partnership between Sarova Hotels and the McCarthy family, the owners of Spirit of the Mara, started in April last year in a deal that saw the facility’s room count grow to 1,250.


The cancellation of the management deal also means reduced earnings and room count for Sarova.

The hospitality group is now left with the Sarova Mara Game Camp at the popular tourist destination.

“Sarova will continue to have a strong presence in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve through our tented lodge Sarova Mara Game Camp,” added Mr Kariuki.

Sarova, through its central reservations office in Nairobi is set to continue managing all bookings for the lodge up to end of October.

Sarova however says the move will not affect staff as the lodge will retain its original members as the hotel group redeploys its employees.

The Spirit of the Masai Mara is a 10-suite lodge and the only property at the 12,500 acre Siana Conservancy, a private facility within the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Sarova was set to add a family suite and a spa to the property.

The lodge has been operational since 2015.

Siana Conservancy is part of a 35,000-acre private conservancy set up by the McCathy family with the help of World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Spirit of the Masai Mara’s main focus is on wildlife conservation, in close cooperation with the WWF.