Africa's finest: Kenya shines at travel awards

Sirai House is located in Laikipia County, one of the few places on the planet where the world's richest hobnob. [File, Standard]

Kenyan hospitality outlets scooped at least 20 awards at the just concluded World Travel Awards 2022 held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) last week. According to the organisers, the awards, now in their 29th year, “acknowledge reward and celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries”.

As a start, Kenya topped as ‘Africa’s Leading Destination’ while Nairobi, the ‘green city under the sun claimed the prize as ‘Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination’. The awards venue, KICC, was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre.

We take a look at other local outlets that hoisted Kenya’s hospitality flag high on the African continent.

In the air...

Kenya Airways

It was a big night for the national carrier, Kenya Airways, as it emerged as ‘Africa’s Leading Airline’ as well as leading in the business class category. In addition, the airline was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Airline Brand 2022’. On the other hand, Jambojet, a subsidiary of the national carrier was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Low-cost Airline’.

On land....

Sirai House

This is one of the most exclusive destinations in Africa, tucked at the highest point within the 35,000-acre Borana Conservancy in northern Kenya. Sirai is Maasai for the euphorbia tree, but that is not what makes the house tick. It was once described by UK’s Sunday Times as one of the world’s most exclusive locations where admission may not have much to do with your deep pockets but with the depth of your character. Picking a tab amounting to more than Sh1 million for an evening at Sirai is fair game. No wonder it was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Luxury Private Villa’.

Fairmont the Norfolk and Mount Kenya Safari Club

One of the oldest hotels in Kenya almost closed shop during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But resilience seems to be the hallmark of the hotel that has in the past survived a terrorist bomb, among the first casualties of such cruel acts. Like the proverbial Phoenix, it rose from the bombing to reclaim its place in history. It has risen again after the Covid scare to become ‘Africa’s Leading City Hotel’. Its cousin, Mount Kenya Safari Club was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Hotel’.

Aberdare Country Club

The temperate climate within the central highlands provides the ideal conditions for a relaxing safari. The former home of an English couple that was later named Aberdare Country Club is more of national heritage, having changed little from The Steep, as it was known then.

It blends so well with the environment around Mweiga that it was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Green Hotel’.

Four Points by Sheraton, Nairobi Airport

For a long time, Kenya lacked a modest airport hotel. However, the recent past has seen a few hotels come up around Jomo Kenyatta Airport, a convenient break for weary travellers. With the pool deck on the rooftop overlooking Nairobi National Park, the hotel was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Airport Hotel’.

Finch Hattons

Named after Karen Blixen’s second lover, Finch Hattons is a jewel in Tsavo, the land of lava. To the west lies Mount Kilimanjaro while the Chyulu Hills dot the northwest. Beyond these are “miles of untouched African wilderness”, making Finch Hattons ‘Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp’.

Olare Mara Kempinski

Tucked by the banks of Ntiakitiak River in Olare Motorogi Conservancy is ‘Africa’s Leading Luxury Tented Safari Camp’.

At Sea...

Billionaire Resort and Retreat, Malindi

“Unwind and recharge in a resort where souls and senses are stimulated and reinvigorated,” states the online review for Flavio Briatore’s resort in Malindi. Here, curated gastronomic experiences combine two worlds; Malindi’s idyllic hospitality and Italy’s vaunted culinary repertoire. The resort was voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Boutique Resort’. 

Diamond Dream of Africa

The creators of the enchanting resort in Malindi say this is where the “force of nature melds with the exotic Indo-Arabic architecture to create a hypnotic charm.” They call it bembeleza in Kiswahili. The dream here is to listen to the winds that brought Arab merchants to East Africa. You may not get the real diamonds here but topping as Africa’s ‘All Inclusive Resort’, serenity is guaranteed.

Swahili Beach

Still, on the coast but the opposite end, Swahili Beach also boasts architecture of a bygone era, interspersed with modern conveniences such as the cascading pool. Diani, where the hotel is located, has been named among the best beaches in the world, where the sun comes to play and the weather never takes a holiday. Swahili Beach Resort led in Africa as the ‘Leading Beach Resort’.

Baobab Beach Resort

There is sand in Diani but there are forests too. Baobab Beach Resort is located on one of the most wooded sections of Kenya’s coast. With verdant vegetation providing some peace of mind for people of all ages, the resort bagged the trophy as ‘Africa’s Leading Family Resort’.

The Residences at Leopard Beach

For those who want to enjoy the trappings of a beach holiday but retreat to some privacy, The Residences at Leopard Beach provide the perfect cover. The residences were voted as ‘Africa’s Leading Hotel Residences’.

Manda Bay

Located on the northern tip of Manda Island in Lamu, Manda Bay is a private retreat where the mantra is “no shoes, no news” to signify the laidback nature of the small island. So exclusive is Manda Bay that entry is only through prior arrangements. No wonder it scooped the ‘Africa’s Leading Private Island Resort’ award.

Ocean Sports Resort

Playing on the beach is the whole essence of a holiday and what better place to do so than the aptly-named Ocean Sports Resort in Watamu. The prize? ‘Africa’s Leading Sports Resort’.