Kilifi County, stretching along the northern section of Kenya’s stupendous coastline, has beaches and bays that draw the eye. For those looking to splurge, Tamara Britten recommends these five:
1. Temple Point, Watamu
On the site of an ancient temple whose ruins still stand on the headland today, Temple Point is set in sweeping tropical gardens that expand across the whole promontory. Where the gardens meet the sea is a private white sand beach that can only be accessed through the resort. From here, boat trips set off for Watamu Marine National Park, deep-sea fishing trips or snorkelling with the chance of seeing some of Watamu’s resident dolphins. Matthais of Extra Divers Dive Centre operates within the resort and can open your eyes to the wonders beneath the sea. The 100 rooms are housed in 20 thatched villas and all have modern amenities like air conditioning and Wifi, and views of the garden or the bay. Also on site are snack bars, restaurant, spa, gym, boutique, conference centre and floodlit tennis courts.
Rates: From 8,700 Ksh per person B&B, From 9,800 Ksh per person half board.
2. Lonno Lodge, Watamu
With only four tower rooms and four historical suites, this boutique lodge really does offer privacy and peace. Built using ancient techniques and Swahili styles, the lodge stands elegantly in lush tropical gardens near the beach. The open-sided restaurant beside the pool is adorned with swathes of white curtains that flutter beneath a high makuti roof. The menu combines African and European dishes with flair, using fresh ingredients bought daily from the local markets and fishermen. More surprisingly perhaps, the chefs can cater to any food intolerances, specialising in gluten-free bread, pasta, cookies and muffins. The bar beside the pool makes an ideal place to while away a day, while the Wellness Centre is on hand to offer a selection of Swedish massages.
Rates: From 28,000 Ksh per double room (2 pax) half board, From Ksh 18,500 pp sharing for the beach honeymoon package.
3. Lion in The Sun, Malindi
Established by billionaire Formula One tycoon Flavio Briatore – and with Tatler Spa Awards: Best Spa of the World 2011 and World Travel Awards: Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2013 already under its belt – this place has truly hit the headlines. Best known for its Thelaspa with six treatment cabins and three sea-water hydrotherapy facilities, and based on the science and technology of Henri Chenot, the spa offers curing, treatments and biolight diets: a system of eating that uses food correctly for our bodies. The suites, rooms and annexes are formed of whitewashed architecture that evokes Arab, Indian and African heritages and overlook the four seawater pools. As you might imagine, the menu is a delight: combining the flavours of Italy and Africa, the dishes here are fresh and fabulous.
Rates: Available on enquiry
4. Watamu Villas, Watamu
For something a bit different, why not opt for the privacy of a villa? Having a house to yourselves is a different experience from staying in a resort – yet it offers the same exemplary service. The team of staff can do as much or as little as you want: prepare the house, cook your choice of food and even go to the shops for you. Ibambe, overlooking the Watamu Marine National Park, has five bedrooms and a host of chill-out spaces, dining areas and verandas. Tazama, on the headland between Mida Creek and the beach, has four bedrooms, two sitting rooms and a spacious poolside deck. Matalai, on the beachfront, has three bedrooms, a traditional thatched sitting room and a top floor plunge pool. All three villas boast coastal Swahili architecture, stunning sea views and sweeping swimming pools.
Rates: Ibambe 60,000 Ksh per night, Tazama 45,000 Ksh per night Matalai 30,000 Ksh per night
5. Kilili Baharini, Malindi
The expansive white spa overlooking the swimming pool epitomises this elegant resort. Medicallife Spa uses products and certified methods for its range of treatments and relaxation techniques – and who could fail to feel relaxed in such a setting. The rooms – all furnished in Swahili style with whitewashed walls, draped mosquito nets and subtle lighting – overlook one of the swimming pools, and each has its own fully furnished private veranda. All the modern amenities you might expect from a resort of this calibre are here: air conditioning, satellite TV and Wifi to name a few. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served on your private veranda, by the pool or in the restaurant.
Rates: From Ksh 18,000 per double room (2 pax) per night.
6. Leopard Point Luxury Beach Resort and Spa, Malindi
The Bien Être Spa is just one of the high points of this lovely new resort. Combining phytotherapist and herbalist Marc Mességué’s wellness philosophy with the properties of locally grown plants, the spa offers Turkish baths, whirlpool thalassotherapy, scrubs, massages and more. The resort has 15 rooms in four Swahili villas; each villa operates as its own boutique hotel with a pool, garden, kitchen and team of staff. The restaurant, Jiko Gourmet, puts a modern spin on traditional dishes and is particularly known for its grills, be they seafood, meat or vegetarian. Aligning its menu with its wellness philosophy, the restaurant uses fresh seasonal ingredients and locally grown produce. Water sports, dhow trips, yoga and golf are all on offer here.
Rates: From 14,000 Ksh per person B&B.