ACHOLA ROSARIO CHECKS OUT VIPINGO RIDGE
(Posted 26th August 2020)
Meandering is the word I would use to describe Vipingo Ridge, undulating, verdant and utterly rich. But not the kind of rich that speaks of ostentatious spending and fondant lamé. No. I speak of the richness of a life well lived in a manner of one’s own choosing, in an environment designed to cater to your every whim.
After a rather emotionally difficult crossing from Watamu to Kilifi, with a couple of detours I could have maybe done without (definitely in one case), a bored twenty-something M-pesa mobile-money operator who decided to make my life difficult for lack of a Kenyan ID (that man really needs to get a life!) and eventual rescue by the Hospitality Manager Debbie Diesbecq, I arrived. And what an arrival it was.
The plush black SUV’s automatic door swung open to reveal a sprawling ornate gate with a bevvy of saluting guards ready to monitor your temperature and sanitize you palm to foot. Then we drove for what seemed like a good 15 min to the Clubhouse and admin buildings, a cluster of neat Swahili styled courtyards with chirping fountains and conference rooms; with the reception and golf shop in the Clubhouse, where I was registered and was handed my villa key, and to my utter delight, my own personal golf cart.
The urge to speed, drift and do doughnuts was curbed by the speed governor installed on the golf cart, so I contented myself with going at 2mph so everybody sees me. I passed a couple of “young” African men busy giggling on the green, their carts parked akimbo, just as another cart whizzed nearby carrying another Asian duo that looked like father and son, who were going to meet their sister putting down on the next hole in tiny shorts and a saffron orange t-shirt. Not sure those were regulation but nobody seemed to mind. A 13 year-old female golf prodigy was getting her stats measured on the driving range by PGA professional master and Vipingo Ridge Golf Director Saleem Haji. This man can customize your clubs for you on-site. His skills are that sought after. He taught me everything I need to know about how golf clubs are made, and if you want props for your knowledge next time you are bragging in the clubhouse, take notes as you watch the video below.
I slung into Villa B11, my residence for the next 3 days and my jaw dropped. Stand-alone along a row of other villas, it stood 2 stories and had a veranda out back with a common pool for that row. I heard other villas within the row had their own plunge pool on the rooftop so I pretty much had the main pool to myself. I had my own fully fitted kitchen, lower bathroom and living room with DSTV. I think I should start the crusade for hotels installing Netflix. In this day and age, with stable wifi and home-fibre, this should be an easy thing. The upper floor had my bedroom and bathroom, as well as an upper deck with an asymmetric sail as a shade. The tiling was made from coral cut into small square slabs and gave it this amazing tactile quality that looked almost volcanic. And there was housekeeping. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Food is a very important part of the Vipingo Experience. The clubhouse restaurant surprised me enormously by first meeting my criteria in a “bloody” steak, popping me with salty calamari nuggets and salad as I watch my movies in my room, benedicting me with marvelous eggs in the morning drizzled with a perfect Hollandaise and ham, and sailing me to sleep with a Mediterranean salad with tuna chunks so large at the bottom that I thought they were slices of toast. I can still taste it, the vinaigrette and feta merging perfectly with the fish and olives.
Tamarind Mombasa popped up and treated the lot of us at the Sundowner bar to a variety of marine flavors unprecedented in their number. I barely even touched my Dawa cocktail, even though they are the ones who invented the now iconic in Kenya drink.
Vipingo not only offers villas for rent but offers land for people to come build their dream houses, so that they may partake of this lifestyle permanently. People have built stunning designs that have non-the less remained within the meager restrictions that only include height and colour boundaries. People love their privacy here and therefore I was unable to take pictures of all but two, polar opposites of each other, but gorgeous in their own right. One was a study in silver, chrome and bleached wood, infinity pool and humming Whirlpool kitchenware, and a massive veranda bar upstairs by the master bedroom.
The other one, mine, was an understated New Orleans double courtyard, fluid and ethereal, light yet protective, revealing yet very private. It offered the sanity of a long rectangular pool, right next to the irrational pull of the natural lake that begged me to just strip off and jump in. I resisted the urge, barely.
Instead, I officially became a Kenyan Cowboy, riding my steed in torn sneakers, willing my hips to remember the rhythm I thought I had forgotten, where (wo)man merges with horse and rides off into the emerald sunset.
For more information about Vipingo Ridge email:
To watch Episode 40 of The F.O.M.O. Travel show, Vipingo V.I.P: