Eleven years ago, Bruce Madete, a former ambassador, built cottages in Vihiga, named them Sosa, meaning rest in Luhya, offering travellers to Western Kenya unique accommodation in the laid-back town.
Now the home away from home concept is picking up fast and the villas are already fully booked for December.
Mr Madete charges Sh15,000 per day and Sh100,000 per month and as Western Kenya struggles to meet the rising demand for accommodation, his investment is paying off.
A two-bedroom villa with a sitting room and a kitchen where guests cook for themselves goes for Sh9.5 million and Mr Madete’s company manages them on behalf of buyers.
“Currently, all the 10 villas being used as home-stay hotels have been sold. We build them and then sell them but help the owner in managing them. That is, we receive visitors on the owner’s behalf,” says Mr Madete.
Two more villas will be ready in two weeks and Mr Madete says “demand for them is already high as people have inquired about them.”
The cottages located four kilometres from Vihiga county’s Majengo, along the Kisumu-Kakamega highway are a rare kind in the region.
They provide an escape from the chaotic city life yet they have modern facilities such as two swimming pools, a hotel and bar, a gym, a beautiful garden with guinea fowls and free Wi-Fi.
“We built a place where people can come and rest. A home away from home was the basic idea,” says Mr Madete, who formerly represented Kenya in several foreign countries before he retired into hospitality business in 1996.