THE BIRTH OF THE HEMINGWAYS BOUTIQUE COLLECTION
Once upon a time there was a seaside resort in Watamu called Seafarers, back in the 70’s one of the upcountry local crowd’s favourite hangouts at the Kenya coast, for deep sea fishing, frolicking in the sand, for ‘those’ weekends and lots more. But when the post August 1982 coup attempt crisis struck Kenya’s tourism industry, the Seafarers never fully recovered and was eventually sold and closed for a rebuilding and modernization.
What opened its doors then, was at the time nothing short from a phenomenal transformation, as the new Hemingways opened its doors. Same beach location, in large part the old staff thoroughly retrained or ‘retooled’ as we used to say but with a new flair in the air, catapulted from 3, or in the latter days of the Seafarers 2 stars to a proper 5 star rating, rooms, food, service and all.
Hemingways swiftly made new friends while retaining many of the old aficionados and became a hallmark name for Kenya’s coastal hospitality at its best.
Two and a half decades on the Hemingways in Watamu still forms the backbone of what has become a trademark name in Kenya, as a new boutique collection has started to emerge, first with the Ol Seki Hemingways, a truly luxurious tented safari camp with only 10 ‘canvas villas’ on the Naboishi Conservancy adjoining the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve and in a few weeks with the latest addition to Nairobi’s upmarket scene, the Hemingways Nairobi.
In the tranquility of Karen, not far from the Karen Blixen Museum, the Giraffe Manor and the Nairobi National Park, a new 45 all suite property is now nearing completion, due for soft opening before the end of the year, and introducing a level of service, personal butler and valet included, rarely found even amongst the most sophisticated 5 star hotels in Nairobi if not the entire Kenya. In a recent meeting in Nairobi with Hemingways’ Chief Executive Alastair Addison, formerly Director of Operations for Serena Hotels, he made it quite clear that the new Hemingways Nairobi would aim to set new standards in accommodation, service and food, a statement surely to be made good of, knowing his eye for the exceptional and his attention to the minutest details.
The ‘new kid on the block’ will launch as a full member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an exclusive club of top rated properties in some of the world’s greatest spots, all united by bringing levels of hospitality to their guests they would be hard pressed to find elsewhere in the same location.
It can be expected, that once the Hemingways Nairobi is operational, management will turn their attention to new ventures in new locations, widening the presence of the Hemingways Boutique Collection in other scenic parts of Kenya, or who knows, even the wider region in the future.
Watch this space as Hemingways Nairobi moves towards pre- and soft opening status and then get a first hand experience report from personal visit.