At the 20th World Travel Awards held in Nairobi, Kenya, the host nation scooped 15 awards. In the aftermath of the Westgate tragedy, the awards came as a welcome boost, endorsing the quality of Kenya’s tourism product. Kenya’s tourism revenues come second in foreign exchange earnings and tourism provides numerous jobs both within the tourism sector and supporting industries. Over the years, Kenya’s tourism has proved resilient to adversity. The industry is working to retain its position as a leading long haul destination as the high season approaches in December. Kenya deserves the world’s support.
Africa’s Best: Kenya’s awards
Beating off stiff competition, the accolades went to :
- Kenya Tourism Board for the best tourist board
- Kenya Airways for best Business Class airline
- Twiga Tours best in Responsible tourism
- Masai Mara National Reserve, the best African game park
- Amboseli Serena Lodge, the best eco-hotel
- Il Ngwesi Lodge Laikipia, the best ecolodges
- Aberdare Country Club at Mweiga near Nyeri for the best Green Hotel
- Gamewatchers Porini Camps for the best tented safari camps
- Finch Hattons for the best safari lodge
- Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi, the best new hotel
- Alfajiri Villas for the best resort, Diani
- Leopard Beach for the best spa resorts, Diani
- Serena Hotels for top hotel brand, with African properties based in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Mozambique
- Safari Park Hotel and Casino, Nairobi, for the top MICE hotel
- & Beyond, Africa’s leading game reserve brand with camps in the Masai Mara
Room steward at Il Ngwesi Community Ecolodge, Kenya
Il Ngwesi Lodge
One of my favourite lodges, I first visited Il Ngwesi in 1995 before it opened to the public. It was the first community owned and managed lodge in Kenya. And its design set a new precedent too with its free-form architecture and open plan rooms under a grass thatch. Since then the lodge has won a plethora of awards, wildlife in the area has increased and revenue derived from tourism has contributed to the local Laikipiak Maasai community. I was enthralled watching an African orange-bellied parrot while looking across to the blue hills of the Mathew’s Range. Going on a camel trek, clouds of white butterflies danced before me with views to Mount Kenya. And at night I heard the distinctive ‘sawing’ sound of a leopard on the prowl. On my next visit I hope to see the pack of wild dogs.
The Aberdare Country Club
Many moons ago I worked at the Ark, a lodge built on stilts in the Aberdares National Park. Visitors arrived at the Aberdare Country Club for lunch before we headed off in a bus to the salient for an overnight stay at the Ark. This combination is still going. It’s lovely to see that the ACC has retained its traditional character and relaxed setting and that the Ark has had a makeover. The Ark overlooks a salt lick frequented by elephants and buffalo. On the drive through the park, black and white colobus monkeys may be seen in the trees. The ACC is a perfect stop off point between Nairobi and Samburu National Reserve.
Gamewatchers Porini Camps
Having developed from a strong ecotourism base, the Porini Camps are located in the regions of Amboseli and the Masai Mara in community conservancies adjacent to the main parks. They also have a camp in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The Amboseli Camp in the Selenkay Conservancy is part of an important wildlife corridor, especially for elephants, connecting with Amboseli National Park. Here, the community has benefitted from tourism revenue and employment while wildlife in the area has increased substantially. All the camps follow a traditional tented style – comfortable without being opulent. They are intimate in size ranging from six to 10 tents. But, most importantly, the guides are excellent, giving a fascinating insight into the flora and fauna, whether on a bush walk or game drive.
Other Africa winners
South Africa carried off the majority of Africa’s World Travel Awards, while other countries featured included Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique.