Category Archives: Malindi

Turning Dreams into Hotels – Angama and Hemingways

From recent social media posts, we have two tales about how two award-winning hotels came to be built.

Angama: The story of Angama was published back in 2017 but was re-shared this week in a newsletter from the lodge. It was contained in a blog that was written by the founder on the putting together of finding the right partners and putting together a project team and how they managed to execute on a design and vision to build a 10,000 square meter lodge on a cliff in the Mara, in just ten months. This came after eight months of chasing funding.

Hemingways:  The story of Hemingways, is from an interview of the Chairman of Hemingways Holdings, Dicky Evans by journalist Joy Doreen Biira.

He narrates how they operated a hotel in Watamu on the Kenyan coast for 30 years before deciding that there was an opportunity to do a hotel property in the capital city of Kenya. Then, on to the search for an ideal location, acquiring the land, growth by acquiring other companies, working with planners and neighbours, sourcing environmental permits, utilities etc. all to build and fit out what became Hemingways Nairobi at a total cost $22 million. To do this, they also got some funding from I&M Bank, and also invested in other properties in the Mara and in Naivasha and are doing renovations and expansion into new apartments at Watamu.

The importance of partnerships comes in both stories; Hemingways at Watamu partners with other hotels in Nairobi, which don’t have properties as the Coast, to host tourists who want a  private luxury experience at the beach, while Angama, in another post, narrates how local airlines came together to reduce the flying time for their tourists moving between the Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania to just a few hours – eliminating an extremely  long process of several flights through Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha and airports.

In the two posts, there are unique insights you rarely hear local investors talk about such as how much money they put have invested into their projects, the process of acquiring land, and how infrastructure developments lead to new investment opportunities and possibilities. Also, the day-to-day running and management, and the use of expatriate project managers is a theme that runs through the stories of the two properties that were built quite fast and which are now receiving global accolades for excellence.

Some of the recent awards the hotels have been feted for include the “Best Resort in the Middle East and Africa” by Conde Nast Traveller for Angama, while Hemingways was named the “Best Hotel in Kenya” in three categories (top 10 hotel, top luxury, top service) by Trip Advisor.

Chevrolet Tembea Kenya – Part III

Chevrolet VascoDaGama Pillar

Vasco Da Gama Pillar

The  #TembeaKenya Maina Kageni Road Trip Tour visit to Malindi and Watamu was scheduled to have many interesting things to do over the three-day weekend between Friday and Sunday.

On Friday evening, after a late lunch in Malindi town, there was a visit to the Vasco da Gama Pillar as well as one to Swahili House which showed a lot of history of the people of the coast, and the infrastructure and development of Malindi.

Chevrolet snorkel Watamu

Snorkel at Watamu

Saturday had a full day of activities available to try around Watamu beach, from the Ocean Sports Resort point. This is one of the hotels that faces the  Watamu Marine Park in which tourists can get to try snorkeling, deep-sea diving, Jet-skiing, kite surfing, beach volleyball & rugby among others.  The park is supervised by Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) who have rules that bar fishing, and forbid tourists from stepping on, or removing,  coral pieces, as they dive to see the  hundreds of species or fish or coral in the shallow water.

Chevrolet Biko skydive lesson

Biko gets a skydive lesson

On trips like this, hotels and other tourism operators expect that conference travellers (will) spend more than leisure travellers as often their expenses are paid for by the organisations they represent, leaving the tourists with substantial disposable incomes that they can spend.

One highlight was skydiving, and fellow-blogger Biko Zulu, went for his first ever skydive, along with a few other brave members of the group. See his post on what it feels like to jump from a tiny plane that’s 10,000 feet above the beach, just a few minutes after a brief talk on parachute safety, figuring our how much you weigh and signing an indemnity form.

After  a late lunch on Saturday, we went for a  sunset dhow sail at Mida Creek, which was a few kilometers away.

There wasn’t much to do on Sunday, but watch as Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala also did a skydive down to Watamu Beach. He later went and released a turtle back into the ocean that had been caught in a  fisherman’s net then rehabilitated – see more pics.

We were all staying at Turtle Bay Kenya, a wonderful resort that’s popular as it’s very well-oriented to family relaxation with a dedicated free club for kids with all-day activities for them. It’s an all-inclusive resort (meals & drinks are included in the prices) and get’s a lot of business by word of mouth, and indeed, they reward repeat visitors and people who recommend the resort to new visitors, with even more discounts.

Chevrolet Watamu fleet

Chevrolet Trailblazers at Turtle Bay

We got around to different venues using the Chevrolet Trailblazers which were also available for test drives by potential buyers at the hotels in the daytime.

 Things like sky diving and the sunset dhow sail were new activities from the last time I was in Watamu. It helped that we had an interesting group of people around, and had discussions on different things like the state of the media, road conditions for tourists who try and drive around the country , the recent KDF soldier deaths in Somalia, and how best to revive domestic tourism in Kenya.

Mida creek sunset sail

Sunset at Mida Creek

Other sights we did not get around to, but should see the next time, include Hell’s Kitchen, Mambrui Town, Juma mosque & Pillar tombs, Portugese museum, the Cobra village paddle, and  go boating in search of dolphins in Watamu park.

Meanwhile, the Maina Kageni Road Trip Tour will continue on during Valentine’s Day weekend and visit more local tourist attractions in another county, somewhere in Kenya.

Earlier, along the highway, the Trailblazers attracted a lot of curiosity and different people from truck drivers to policeman would all come up and ask to say hello to Maina Kageni.

R&R

WC to Malindi: Newly crowned F1 champion Fernando Alonso and his Renault team will return visit to Kenya in December. This has become an annual event that involves team building and physical training at the Malindi estate of the team principal Flavio Briatore.

TV debate: The Media Owners Association has convened a debate on the proposed draft constitution which will be broadcast on most of the major television and radio stations on Tuesday, October 18, at 7:30 PM. Members of the Cabinet from both fruit camps will answer questions sent ahead by members of the public via e-mail. In the countdown to the 2002 general elections attempts were made to have a televised debate featuring the presidential candidates, but which didn’t take place since the big two candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki, never committed.

Good week for investors: Last week saw the completion of a successful rights issue by Uchumi, confirmation of the Kengen IPO for 2006, and partial privatization of the management of the Kenya & Uganda railways by a South African firm after an extensive bidding process. Meanwhile, right issues have emerged as the preferred investment vehicle for privatizing state companies as they enable firms to raise new capital, gain new shareholding & management and reduce government ownership – since the government opts not to take up its allocated rights – this happened at KCB, Uchumi, and next at KPLC.

Paint obsession: The Nairobi City Council wants the City to look good but only in terms of appearance. They have issued a notice to building owners who don’t paint their dilapidated buildings – which the council considers to be a nuisance – or they will be fined 1,500 shillings per day and charged in court under the publish health act. There are so many old buildings crumbling on the inside and with cracked sidewalks on the outside, that paint is the least of their problems. The Council has also taken to painting road markings, while not really bothering with potholes or pavements.

Debt Relief: The Kenya Planters Coffee Union (KPCU) has again extended its debt moratorium window, this time by 3 months to December 31. This is a waiver on all interest above 18% on coffee farmers debts accrued between 1992 and 2001. Enquiries can be made to the firms’ lawyers.