Tips, deals, and advice on traveling the continent on a budget.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kenya Coast Five (5) Star Beach Hotel - Best Kenyan Coast Hotel

The Indian Ocean beach club Kenya is possibly the most up market hotel on Diani Beach. It definitely has the best setting on the Kenyan beach. Located at the northern most part of Diani, close to the winding Tiwi River mouth, the club looks over wonderfully clean golden sands and good surf. There are enormous old baobabs, and right next to the club, nestled in a forest of these ancient trees, is a 16th century Arab mosque.

The club has been designed as a Swahili village, with clusters of white washed cottages arranged on both sides of the large main buildings. There are 100 rooms, all of which face the Indian Ocean. Some cottages are single-storied with makuti-thatched roofs while others, housing a few rooms, are double story with flat roofs in the Swahili style. The main building, with its grand red tiled roof and wooden shutters, is more reminiscent of colonial Kenya. The overall effect is a rather busy mélange of architectural styles.

The public rooms are simple and elegant. "Spices," the large and airy upstairs dining room, seems to have no walls, just a series of arched-top windows lined in wood. Instead of glass, there are wooden shutters, opening to reveal glorious views of palms, white sand and blue ocean-all only steps away. Below this restaurant is an open sided breakfast area and a large free-form swimming pool with water flowing over the edges.

The Indian Ocean Beach Club does not intend to be just another hotel-on-the beach. Arriving guests are greeted with scented towels and then, instead of queuing up at a long reception counter, will be ushered to chairs at individual welcoming tables. There are message boxes outside of each room and a 24 hour valet service. Many water sports are included in the tariff such as windsurfing, sailing, goggling and there are guided bird walks up the Tiwi River. In addition to the large main pool, three plunge pools are scattered around the grounds.

The rooms also evidence quality and detail. There are king sized Lamu beds, cushioned window seats, nice stone-tiled floors, dark mangrove beams set in white ceilings, and the hotel logo of a fish painted on the tiles above the bath. There are fancy extras-direct-dial telephones, hair driers, and air conditioning, which automatically turns off when you open the door. The rooms feel cozy. The arrangement of the cottages is such that some rooms are very close together-ideal for families or groups.

To an appreciable extent, it is the clubs location which makes it so special. The baobabs are truly awesome-enormous bulges in undreamed of shapes-hundreds of years old. They provide interest and focal points to the grounds which are still rather lacking in shade or colour. Because there is a gap in the reef, waves are able to reach the shore and even at low tide, the water is deep enough for swimming. This is quite unusual along this coast. With exposed sand banks and indigenous vegetation, the gentle meandering channels of Tiwi River add a special interest. Children were leaping off sheer cliffs of sand into the river, and then floating gently upstream in the clear ocean water of the incoming tine-great fun.

Special offerings

Free sports facilities (tennis and squash) including green fees at the Nyali Golf Club, unlimited water sports (extra charge for deep sea fishing and scuba diving), free courtesy shuttle bus to Likoni and Diani, fully equipped conference room with air conditioning, gift boutique, beauty center, children's club.

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