Hotelier turns retirement home into lodge

Maanzoni Lodge chairman Chris Musau during the interview at his property on November 1, 2019. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

What you need to know:

  • Maanzoni Lodge started as a pastime two years after Chris Musau sold off his Nova Supermarkets’ retail outlets to Naivas Supermarkets.

Chris Musau built a retirement home near Nairobi to live with his interior-designer wife Ndanu Musau.

He had a maisonette with a swimming pool on the 28,000 acre property built and an ‘extension’ of 10 rooms that served as ‘family’ guest rooms.

“Spending time with my grandchildren forced me to love swimming as their complete joy cannot come without diving into the pool for some water sport,” reminisces the Kenya Association of Hotel Caterers Chairman.

He is also the man behind the three-star Maanzoni Lodge that boasts of 360 deluxe rooms at Lukenya area, Machakos County.

Development of the property, now worth Sh680 million, started as a pastime two years after he sold off his Nova Supermarkets’ retail outlets to Naivas Supermarkets.

“None of my children were keen on taking over operations of Nova Supermarkets in Machakos and Komarock that saw me work for eight straight years starting at 6am to midnight daily,” he says.

Tall trees and lush vegetation envelopes the main buildings at Maanzoni Lodge.

It’s 500 metre-long entrance off Nairobi-Machakos highway lined with solar street lights ushers one into a an expansive parking area where most slots have been taken by mini-buses, company vans and private vehicles as well as tour vans.

The main reception building is covered by a jungle green colour that enhances its theme of an eco-friendly facility.

It is a 40-minute drive from Nairobi. Guests arriving in the country via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) will drive towards Mombasa for about 25 minutes to the facility.

The Maanzoni Lodge. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Inside the quadrangle reception area is a verandah lined with the evergreen bamboo plants leading to the swimming pool next to one of their restaurants next to an open barbeque area.

Guests have access to a wide variety of dishes - African, Indian and Mediterranean - at the facility’s two restaurants.

Zebra, giraffe, eland, swara, wildebeest, gazelle, ostriches among other wild animals roam freely within the expansive compound where lush green lawns also serve as open meeting areas for team building as well as large meetings that require tents.

It boasts of 15 conference halls of various sizes, which are leased out to wedding and graduation parties as well as for meetings convened by national and international groups.

While on his sabbatical, he disposed of part of his parcel of land to pay loans with the balance spent on putting up the first phase of the new hotel .

Musau’s day starts at 5am when he hits the treadmill for a three to six kilometre run thrice a week followed by a 15 minute weightlifting session. He spends three days at the hotel while allowing his children to run it on alternative days.

“A friend advised me to expand it to accommodate more people and the businessman in me grabbed the opportunity. Even my private Shanzu home is leased out to visiting tourists when I am not in Mombasa for holiday,” he adds.

The new activity is a gem as he spends all his days at home with his wife who is also actively involved in running the property from building designs to greening.

“She has been instrumental in greening the property and chooses all flowers, plants and a variety of tree species that dot the property. We invested in a water recycling plant provides water for gardening all year round,” he adds.

According to him, all his children know their share in the property he owns and abhors property wars that only ‘enrich’ lawyers with properties being wasted as the succession cases drag in court.

Ndanu says couples must be transparent to avert later year squabbles over property.

Musau adds that children must be encouraged to pursue various interests to the highest level and where necessary seek employment elsewhere with the experience ploughed into the family business.

“I also encourage my children to acquire their own property and develop it. This is the best pain of working for their own livelihoods,’ he says.

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