By Dr Hanningtone Gaya, CEO – The Knowledge Warehouse Kenya
After the devastating effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic that hit the aviation and tourism industry the most, we opted in our 7th 25th Anniversary Recognitions and Awards Series, to award what our panel of researchers and writers view as the Top 25 Resorts, Tours and Travels Brands that in the opinion of the reviewers, reminded them of the most memorable stays, Safari tours and travel in Kenya in the recent past-within the last 7 years.
The outcome of the deliberations of the seven informed and knowledgeable industry actors deliberately and purposively sampled, some of whom have led the various tourism institutions, surprisingly included two amazing world life conservancies in the country, known for their corporate social responsibility especially in the very strategic area of wildlife conservation and preservation of the most endangered species.
Others are included because of out of this world architectural structures and others for personalised customer experience that goes beyond the normal of a five-star establishment: some 6 o 7 Star experience, we had these ratings in Kenya.
Personalized family owned and managed properties earned extra ratings, especially where feelings of passion in customer care is often quoted in the customer reviews. A lot of these reviews have been gleaned from the very well structured and designed websites of both the properties and the travel advisory groups, notably Trip Advisor who do and exemplary job on behalf of millions of travellers who would otherwise feel lost and unguided.
For the properties situated within the national parks and reserves, the main criteria are visibility, views and access that the sites provide, rendering the properties a compelling resort to visit. Any serious and savvy developers know that location is key, design and ambience to go with it, an added bonus. The most important factor regarding travel is the distance: For instance, a journey of more than seven hours to a destination could be considered as punitive and this factor alone can to erode the number of those willing to visit the property. You want to weigh the magnetism of the site with the ease of access to it.
Provision of free facilities and amenities also plays into property selection, with most in the group offering free breakfast and one meal. The properties that are a distant to reach, private airports come in handy, with a game-drive included as part of the reception program from arrival, with refreshments thrown in.
For the travel and tour firms, good quality vehicles, value for money and well-crafted itineraries are on offer, including visits to some historic sites and local community villages, to add to the visual ‘wow’ moments.
Most of the beach front properties in Diani, for instance, have developed own infrastructure for essential services like clean water treatment, power backup and private sewage treatment facility.
Even natural endowment like the direction of the sun and wind patterns are considered while designing the direction of the room facilities. Designers like Mahali Muzuri and Angama Mara had clear vision for what they wanted for their property. There critical decision was to choose the desired essence and aura of the property. These two developments incorporate unique elements in the Maasai Mara National Park Landscape, include the Great Rift Valley, these features greatly impacting both design and construction of the two resorts.
In a nutshell, the factors include all the above firstly, then the following:
- Hotel Location-next to airport and valuable tourist destinations
- Hotel Amenities
- Testimonials by unknown customers
- Reviews by clients, through the independent sites
- Accessibility to Malls and Hospitals
- Represents value for money.
Otherwise, all the 100 shortlisted properties had the usual four and five-star hotel offerings, to quote from one, ‘we offer have luxurious spas and gigantic lobbies and provide welcome gifts and butler service. A typical room has an oversized bathroom lined with marble counters and a large vanity laden with high-end toiletries. Also included is a golf course, tennis courts, health clubs with personal trainers and even child-care services.’ So?
As an equal opportunity and an all-inclusive media, we have included worth micro and small businesses that we feel are outstanding and deserving.