People don’t take trips, trips take people –so said John Steinbeck, the famous American novelist and Nobel Prize winner. Imagine then a trip that takes you over pristine white waters and sandy beaches where you can go surfing, snorkeling or deep sea diving at the Coast and retire to dinner on a dhow and great seafood. Not a care for the sun? Try a safari game drive inland to the Maasai Mara where you can watch the famous wildebeest migration and go on a balloon safari that ends with a romantic dinner in the wild. Take a visit to one of the national conservancies or game reserves;enjoy a day out in the wild in the comfort of your five star hotel and mouth-watering meals.
Sounds exciting? That is the promise of Kenya’s tourism and wildlife – there is something for everyone. If you arrive in Nairobi while it is still daylight, chances are you will get a personal welcome from a lone giraffe or gazelle idling over the Athi plains right next to the airport. Either that or a beautiful sunset over the city’s changing skyline, as you make you arrive at one of Africa’s gateway cities. It is for this that moguls like Richard Branson and Flavio Briatore have chosen to invest in the tourism market by opening lodges in the country. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth went up a tree a princess and came down as Queen at a lodge in Nyeri, Kenya and her grandson Prince William would pay a return visit and propose to his then girlfriend Kate Middleton in a rustic log cabin in Rutundu. So whether on business or leisure, Kenya offers a wide buffet for any visitor and is worth considering as an alternative holiday destination. Nairobi is a major hub for some of the world’s largest businesses and hosts several major United Nations organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), UN-Habitat and has the UN headquarters in Africa domiciled there. The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the largest in East and Central Africa, serves as a major connection hub to Europe, the Middle East, Far East and the African continent. Kenya Airways, the national carrier has daily flights to Abuja and Lagos easing travel to the East African nation.
Beat the traffic and have your first meeting on Mombasa Road
Busy executives landing in Nairobi are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation and options for meeting places. Finding the traffic unbearable? Schedule your first meeting along Mombasa Road, which is the default route to the city from the airport. Try the Ole Sereni Hotel, which has a Safari outlook but its modern decor and minimalist effects will stay with you. Ole Sereni has various conference facilities and a business center equipped with everything you need to hold your formal meeting. Unwind at the Waterhole Snack bar for a sundowner and watch the sun set as you peer out into the luxury that is the Nairobi National Park – Africa’s only park within a cityscape.
Westlands – convenience, luxury and shopping
Westlands is a favourite with many travellers for its convenience to town and great nightspots. Many Nigerians favour the Sankara Hotel situated smack in the middle of Westlands for its great rooms, décor and that welcome feel. With favourable prices – in comparison to local costs of cocktails – one will easily toast to a successful business transaction at the Champagne Bar on the 7th Floor while you watch Nairobi come alive at night. Talk about living it up. Down the road is the very visible Villa Rosa Kempinski, one of the newer hotels that you can’t miss with its external pink decor. There’s nothing feminine about this hotel though, not its avant-garde taste in décor and style in the Kempinski spirit of things. If you favour Thai and Pan Asian Cuisine, this is the place where you mix business and fine cuisine. Sankara is a five-minute walk from the Sarit Centre mall that houses several banks, high-end stores and bookshops. It is about 20 minutes drive from the Village Market shopping centre, favoured by diplomats for its proximity to the UN. Westlands is equally the heartbeat of Nairobi’s nightlife. Whether you simply want a quiet movie and coffee or want some action, you are spoilt for choice of nightclubs on this end of the city.
Get a feel of colonial relic at the Norfolk Hotel
Located within the Central Business District is the Norfolk Hotel, now managed by the Fairmont Group. The Norfolk remains one of the city’s most respected hotels particularly with those older and well heeled in society. Combining the history of yesteryears and modern décor, you will love the mingle at the Lord Delamare Terrace which overlooks the University of Nairobi and Kenya Cultural Centre which is currently being refurbished.
Fancy some quiet? Head upwards to Karen
Nairobi’s Karen represents the last of the colonial relic in terms of living spaces. This is changing and even the old KCs (Kenyan Cowboys – a term referring to third or fourth generation Whites) have begun seeking somewhere untouched. It is here that you will find the House of Waine – and if you want exclusive, this is your stop. House of Waine is not your typical go to meeting place for everyone, but a definite choice for those senior level meetings that are planned well in advance. The executive high back leather seats in the meeting rooms evoke a sense of seriousness, wheeler dealing and strategic conversations. You can’t just walk in for lunch at this family owned establishment but will certainly enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and other courses served in the dining area.
Steal away and have some fun in the city
Mix some pleasure on your trip and schedule meetings or conferencing to end early and take a sundowner drive around the Nairobi National Park on Langata Road. You will have to brave the Nairobi traffic on that road but the experience will be worth it. Finish the evening with dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant, which is only 5 minutes away, and indulge in all sorts of deliciously roasted meats until you signal defeat.
Fancy a cuppa – take your pick. Some of the world’s best coffee is grown in Kenya and its top graded quality beans win praise from baristas everywhere. Fancy a cuppa to see if it is that good? Drop in at any one of the coffee chains found around town and in all the major malls in Nairobi. Most popular is the Java, Artcaffee or Dorman’s Chain of coffee shops – Kenya’s answer to Starbucks. One can sit back and get a feel of the Nairobi vibe while enjoying a simply cuppa or a large meal if you fancy.
Experience the Rift Valley all within a day
The Great Rift Valley makes up one of the country’s physical features and can be accessed only an hour away from the capital Nairobi. Naivasha, home to many great festivals, has become a weekend getaway of choice because of its proximity to the capital. Think of the Lagos – Ibadan journey on well-tarmacked roads. Visit the Enashipai Resort and Spa for great conferencing and team building at the Entumo Conference Centre, which has a seating capacity of over 500 people. To unwind, schedule a visit to the Siyara Spa for some indulgence. Enashipai – a Maasai word meaning ‘place of happiness’ was built with luxury in mind and it has retained its status for this. Parents with children will love staying here because the facilities offer a host of children’s activities complete with a minder so it all leisure for adults.
Fall in love with Kenyan music
Yes, we easily ascribe to Nigeria’s music culture thanks to exposure, but Kenyan musicians easily make their mark when it comes to the International stage. Experience Blankets and Wine, a monthly musical fusion founded by the talented Muthoni Ndonga, aka The Drummer Queen. All you need is a blanket – we favour the red printed Maasai blanket, a bottle of wine, a picnic basket and some great company. Do not leave behind your dancing shoes. This December, head eastwards and give your family an African adventure to remember.