HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIPINGO
(Posted 14th October 2017)
Given Kenya’s more recent challenges for coast tourism is it all the more a pleasure to wish Vipingo Ridge all the best on their 10th anniversary.
Since opening the gates 10 years ago to their permanent and not so permanent residents has Vipingo welcomed thousands of golfers from around the world and of course tourists who came there to stay, at the coast but away enough from the often sweltering heat experienced right at the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Located just over 30 kilometres north of #Mombasa, about halfway to the town of #Kilifi, is the resort set way above sea level on an elevated ridge. Vipingo enjoys an almost permanent breeze, making it cooler and much more pleasant to play golf during day hours or sit on the roof terrace of one of the villas, many of which have a small plunge pool for the added comfort and convenience of guests.
General Manager Mike Round-Turner and Front Office Manageress Ms. Virginia Mutua who impressed generally as the good soul behind running key areas of the resort recently took time out from their busy daily routine to discuss the resort’s operations and aspirations, which are to become East Africa’s golf destination of choice and vacation spot also for non golfers.
On my question what visitors other than golfers find vis a vis activities Virginia recited a list which among others includes
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Plans for a game sanctuary
- Kids activities play area
- 3 pools
Seven horses are kept in stables on location and a competent guide is available daily to teach the basics and take groups out for a ride across the sprawling estate.
Mountain bikes too are available for hire, as is upon prior arrangement a mountain bike guide, again able to cycle across the estate, keeping fit while sightseeing.
Those averse to bikes can use the trails around the estate to jog or run and perhaps even race, depending on their fitness levels. This author, truth told, would at best walk, ready to flag down one of the golf buggies frequently traversing the estate.
Vipingo has its own beach located right at the Kuruwitu Marine Conservancy, arranges transport for guests from the estate to the beach side and ensures that cold drinks and tasty food, just as they serve it in the Club House, keeps that peckish feeling under control which arises when exposed to the smell of the ocean.
At the end of the year, on the 27th of December, will in fact the 2017 Vipingo Ridge Triathlon be staged from the Beach Bar (https://www.facebook.com/The-Beach-Bar-1523808334592029/) and anyone interested should contact them to sign up for the event.
A large kids playground is now complete, nannies can be provided upon prior arrangement and a pool is inviting for a cooling dip while, besides the playground and sundowner area pool two more await guests close by the villas which are available for rent, as a single bedroom or of course as an entire unit for a family or a group of friends.
Still under planning is a 400+ acres game sanctuary, which will be walled in and fenced, primarily to keep predators out as the game ‘inside‘ will comprise plains game only. No doubt, once all permits are in place will this be an additional attraction for visitors and in particular their kids.
Golf of course is the main reason why Vipingo is in business and after receiving accreditation by the PGA as the only such course in the wider Eastern Africa region does it go without saying that playing on such a facility is a major incentive to coming here. Given the challenges this 18 hole, Par 72, 6.688 metre long course poses to the players and given the general ‘congestion‘ in many other top ranked courses around the world, is the Baobab Course giving no such headaches to players.
Have a look at the course as seen through the lense of my camera last week:
The ‘shortest‘ hole, number 4, a Par 3 with a length of just 165 metres, is dwarfed by the longest, number 2, a Par 5 with a length of 585 metres, more than three and a half times the length of the former.
(Only golf balls are allowed to travel faster than that)
Being set up now is a PGA Junior Golf Academy which will help promote the game and introduce youngsters at an early age to it, seeking to identify talent and then nurse it along.
Beginners coming to Vipingo Ridge can enlist the services of a golf coach who will give them guidance and help to improve their stance, swing and other elements of good play.
Golf enthusiasts with a hunger for unhindered play and having to hardly ever hear the call ‘coming through‘ can at the Kenya coast take in two 18 hole courses in the space of a couple of days.
Flying with Safarilink out of #WilsonAirport, the only airline to serve Vipingo Ridge with daily scheduled flights using a Bombardier Dash8-100 aircraft – large enough to uplift a golf bag per player / passenger FOR FREE – can one reach Ukunda / Diani, where the Leisure Lodge Golf Course is a mere 10 minutes from the airfield.
Accommodation is plenty to choose from in Diani – just type Diani Beach in the search column of this blog for some guidance – and maybe two days play will then set the mood for the real thing, PGA golf.
Safarilink’s scenic flight along the Kenya coast takes a mere 10 minutes from Ukunda to Vipingo and guests are upon landing picked up, taken to the clubhouse to complete their check in formalities and then escorted to their villa, rarely taking more than 15 or 20 minutes from landing to one’s new home for the next few days.
Transactions for meals – #EggBenedict is by the way on the breakfast menu – and drinks taken at the clubhouse are cashless, using a chip card with the account to be settled prior to checkout, for payment using cash including key foreign currencies and of course all major credit cards.
Flying with #Safarilink is the easiest and fastest but of course not the only way to get to Vipingo as guests have the option to fly via Moi International Airport Mombasa, Malindi Airport, arrive from Nairobi using the new Madaraka Express train (five hours city to city) and then hop on the transfer vehicle Vipingo Ridge is happy to arrange against a nominal charge.
Vipingo is beyond doubt the Mecca of Golf in Eastern Africa as Kenya is the Home of Golf in the region.
As just witnessed, Vipingo, informal to a point – a club house dress code applies – is a place where for this author time both stood still and yet flew by as two days seemed to have evaporated in the blink of an eye before having to pack and leave back for the city of Nairobi – with Safarilink of course.
Tourists staying elsewhere at the coast can have a day of championship golfing, lunch, green fees and a caddy all at the cost of 70 US Dollars – plus transport from and to their resort – while a weekday round of golf, including an overnight and breakfast the next morning – goes for US Dollars 125 per person. If this is not a great deal for golfers, I don’t know what ever will be!
For those who hear the words ‘Kenya Calling‘ ring in their ears and like to stay longer, or have a place of their own, where they can spend time in warmer clime when winter in Europe or America bites, Vipingo also has residential properties for sale and residency permits for Kenya can be obtained with ease when showing one owns a home in the country.
Vipingo also offers state of the art meeting facilities in a separate conference centre, a helipad nearby for visiting dignitaries and VVIP’s and bringing a board meeting or focus group or brainstorming think tank to this location will no doubt find a very conducive environment besides the opportunities for team building challenges on the course – perhaps demanding a hole in one for a special prize giving.
Wedding celebrations – launched incidentally by this author’s daughter a couple of years ago – are now common place and taking vows at Vipingo Beach, baptized by yours truly as Vipingo Cathedral against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean, it surely does not come any better. Vipingo has the logistics in place and the team to see such and other functions through with the guests being able to concentrate on having fun and celebrating rather than worrying about the nitty gritty of such events.
For more information about the estate simply click on www.vipingoridge.com but also visit www.flysafarilink.com and get added information about Destination Kenya on www.magicalkenya.com and www.kws.go.ke
Karibu Kenya, Karibu Vipingo Ridge and yes, #ILoveMyJob