A FULLY BOOKED ‘CHUI’ – BEST CHRISTMAS EVER
For many East Africans traditionally the Christmas holiday means going to the coast, taking time out, getting sand between the toes and the feet into the warm clear waters of the Indian Ocean, but for those lucky to get their booking confirmed at the recently re-opened Leopard Beach Resort and Spa aka Chui, they found a whole lot more than what they were probably expecting. Fully booked of course the resort was bubbling with activity, special events and the decorations reminded every one of the season, the lack of snow made up by the snow white beaches along the Indian Ocean shores.
After sustaining some serious fire damage earlier in the year, while closed for the annual spring cleaning, maintenance and refurbishment, the resort – risen from the ashes like a Phoenix – reopened on 12th December, at 12.12 pm sharp, and presented itself in an all new look.
For Chris Modigell, who became one of Kenya’s most eminent hoteliers since his arrival in 1976, the fire presented itself as an opportunity where others only saw damage and destruction, as a chance to not just rebuild like other less inspired characters would have done, but to inject creativity and vision into the process to produce something astonishingly new without losing the Chui’s hallmarks and traditions.
From the ruins grew new lounges, added restaurant spaces and shaded verandahs for outdoor dining but being the culinary guru he is, no one could begrudge Chris the extra attention to fine wining and dining.
In time for Christmas was the new Chaine de Rotisseurs ‘Chui Grill’ opened, all air-conditioned, all posh and far from hoi polloi, new furniture, new menus but the dishes prepared by the same team of seasoned chefs and served by a staff dedicated to make a meal at the restaurant an occasion to be remembered.
Chris was the first to introduce a grill room back in the late part of the 70’s at the Africana Sea Lodge, when conventional wisdom in most resorts at the time offered a weekly cycle of full board buffets, leaving those seeking some added culinary delights to venture outside and beyond. Since then, driven by a keen sense of innovation, product improvements and diversification, Chris’s fingerprints on the new grill room at the Chui are only bettered by the opening of his other brainchild, the Wines & Whiskers bar, where all of the resort’s 60+ wine selection is available, arguably the largest at any coastal resort in Kenya. As a vehement opponent of turning Kenya’s beach resorts into ‘all inclusive ventures’ – while nevertheless conceding that there is a place for those too, Chris and his team believe in offering their guests choices, admittedly at a cost, to enhance their holiday experience, including a la carte fine dining and the wines to go along with them. Add to that the indulgence with a fine Cuban cigar, available from a humidor – Chris himself enjoys his Davidoff’s after dinner – and location, room standards, food and beverage service, a renowned state of the art Spa and the tropical ambience all blend into a perfect vacation fit.
Three consecutive World Travel Awards as Kenya’s Leading Resort speak volumes as do past honours of ‘Best this and Best that’ from local and regional travel and leisure magazines, with trophies and plaques filling cabinets and walls at the welcome lounge where guests check in, check out, mingle and mix.
And as if this all is not enough, the addition of 28 private villas on the sprawling property, offering 2 or 3 bedrooms and a private pool for each of the Garden and Forest villas, will introduce a new dimension to the coastal holiday scene. Families or couples travelling together can on opening in a few months time enjoy the privacy of their own little compound, not overlooked by neighbours, serviced like the beach side villas at the main resort, room service available and a brand new dining concept in form of a fusion restaurant coming up too a stone throw away. A few minutes’ walk to the Spa, or the beach, or the restaurants and bars and lounges of the main resort, allow mingling and meeting but if not wanted, total privacy is assured. This will bring the overall number of rooms at the Leopard Beach to over 250, and yet will the wide gardens and long beaches never give a guest the feeling of being in a crowded, fully booked resort.
Unlike many other beach resorts, almost 40 percent of the resort’s guests are from Kenya, the Eastern African region or Africa, giving it a unique mix of nationalities only truly great resorts can showcase. Working with national airline Kenya Airways, and regional airlines like Air Uganda, the resort has captured a growing following, multiplied by word of mouth and the smart use of social media presence vis a vis Facebook and Twitter, providing those experiences of a sun, fun and sand vacation we all need once in a while.
The re-opening of the Chuiwas a Christmas present to Kenya’s upmarket tourism industry and being literally all now, only appropriate to with them a Happy ‘Maisha Marefu’ alongside the more customary Happy New Year.
Visit www.leopardbeachresort.com for more information, enquiries and bookings.