Meet Kenya’s latest 5 star property as the low season looms large now

THE RESIDENCES’ AT LEOPARD BEACH RESORT & SPA – OPEN FOR BUSINESS

(Posted 13th April 2014)

Kenya’s latest 5 star addition, ‘The Residences at Leopard Beach Resort’ will remain open throughout the upcoming low season, which begins on the 28th of April, a week after Easter.

The new development is situated on the same sprawling property where the main resort is located along Kenya’s famous Diani Beach south of Mombasa. The new development is a distinctly up-market facility of, when the second phase is completed later this year, 28 fully furnished and serviced villas set in 15 acres of indigenous forest

located within the Leopard Beach Resort & Spa. Phase one, comprising 16 ‘Forest Villas’ with a total of 41

bedrooms has been open since middle of February.

Phase II with a further 12 units is on course for completion by mid 2014 and is separate from the villas already open.

The Residences offer four villa types boasting a modern and spacious design, privacy and security, and a host of

facilities and amenities that set a new benchmark for the region. Guests at the Residences also benefit from the

excellent facilities and services of the adjoining main resort.

(Views of the stunning new villas at the award winning Leopard Beach Resort & Spa)

With sizes from 190 m2 to 390 m2 the villas come with two or three bedrooms, private pools and an outdoor poolside gazebo and offer total privacy to guests while allowing them access to all the facilities available at the main resort, like the ‘Uzuri Spa’, the restaurants and the beach.

For guests staying at the Residences lunch and dinner are available a la carte at Lemongrass – an Asian-fusion speciality restaurant. Overlooking the central rock pool, the Grasshopper bar boasts a selection of fine wines and spirits as well as a tantalizing choice of cocktails. This ‘distinguished watering hole’ even has an air-conditioned lounge bar.

Within the resort itself, the award-winning Chui Grill– an acclaimed Chaîne des Rôtisseurs restaurant – serves

fresh seafood and grills either al-fresco or in an air-conditioned and smoke-free dining section. The adjoining

Wines & Whiskers is a classical wine bar with an impressive stock of southern hemisphere wines. Casual meals

are also available at the Pool Bistro, great Italian cuisine at the Pizza ‘n’ Pasta Tornati and beach stir-fries at the

Coco Mchana. The Resort also boasts Mario’s Sports Bar and Marco’s Cocktail Bar overlooking the pool and

Indian Ocean. The recently refurbished Kalani Coffee Lounge serves coffees and pastries on sweeping terraces

offering panoramic ocean views.

Free wireless connectivity for resident guests is available throughout The Residences.

Planned before the downturn in business for the Kenya coast have the owners of one of East Africa’s foremost 5 star resort nevertheless decided to go ahead with the completion of the villa development on its full scale, a multi-million US Dollar development which shows their belief in better times ahead for tourism in Kenya.

While several gated estate and condominium developments along the coast have opened their doors in recent years, most notably the Vipingo Ridge near Kilifi and the Marina at the English Point in Mombasa, have other planned developments been put on ice, with financiers showing their anxiety over occupancy levels and returns on their investments until such time that a recovery is on the horizon again and arrival numbers are once more pointing upwards.

Tourism stakeholders at the coast have pointed to a range of supporting measures government is expected to put into place to aid sectoral recovery, which includes significant improvements in security, better service delivery for utilities, sewerage services, rubbish collection but also road maintenance, the completion of the bypass from the Nairobi to Mombasa highway directly to the South Coast and the construction of a second bridge from Mombasa island to the mainland north of the city. Another key point mentioned by coast based sources is the launch of an international conference centre at the coast able to lure the big time MICE business to Mombasa with the promise of state of the art facilities for conferencing. During their free time delegates will be able to enjoy the white sand beaches, cocktail or dinner cruises on traditional dhows or see the attractions of Haller Park in Bamburi, a globally acclaimed land restoration project which started in the 1970’s and is today a shining example of how a pockmarked quarry landscape can be transformed into a nature and wildlife sanctuary.

The Kenya coast still got what it takes but lack of government support has led to a downturn in business. The new government structure of devolved local government must learn to live within their means and not slap ever more taxes and fees on the tourism industry to finance the luxurious lifestyle of governors and councilors, and the same applies to central government in Nairobi. An industry in downturn and almost turmoil needs nurturing back to health with incentives. Investors need to be courted, interest reduced loans have to be made available for the modernization of resorts because product quality will be one of the keys for recovery. We need to get a handle on the so called beach boys which have become an absolute menace and require better management of our marine resources by KWS. They should not be a mere fee collection agency but a proactive partner able to showcase on a daily basis what it is they do to protect the reefs and marine life.

The entire coast is an ideal investment place for new upmarket estates where locals and foreigners can either buy time share or purchase condos or villas outright. In Europe there is now a fast growing number of pensioners and retirees who are fed up with their winter weather and that is a market we should also look at. In past decades these people went to invest in Spain but I see no reason why we should not be able to get our fair share to consider Kenya as their retirement home. That opens big opportunities to create marinas and adjoining property developments, leisure facilities like golf courses but all that takes a bit of a vision to make happen. Let us see what the low season will be like and what impact it has on our resorts, how many may have to close and how many will reopen come July or August. Tourism has been a business of up and down cycles in the past too and we will recover, the big question however is when that will be. Given enough support it can be a lot faster but the present government indifference to our sector could prolong the crisis into the next year if we are not careful’ contributed a regular Mombasa based source when discussing the outlook for the tourism industry at the coast, while another added his own view cut down to just one topic ‘Open our airspace, let foreign airlines fly to Mombasa, entice the charter airlines back with better services and an incentive package, because with the number of seats right now coming to Mombasa, they will not nearly be enough to fill all our beds’.

Searching questions no doubt which require answers and while the tourism board clearly is on the same wavelength as the sector, their political masters clearly are out of tune right now and need to take a fresh look on what it takes to return Kenya tourism to its former glory days. Fodder for thought no doubt.

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