What's new at the Fairmount Mt Kenya as facility roars back to life after 2-year hiatus

The facility has officially re-opened its doors to local and international tourists after a two-year hiatus

Fairmount Mount Kenya Safari Club (Photo credit- Star Chase)

There is a famous quote by Saint Augustine that says, "The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only on page". I tend to concur with this quote on so many levels, especially after spending three days at the iconic Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki, Laikipia County.

Founded on June 21, 1959, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is located within the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy – the home of the critically endangered Mountain Bongo.

The facility has officially re-opened its doors to local and international tourists after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Complete with revamped spaces the property was relaunched with a three-phase approach, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is ready to roar to its feet – reclaim its spot as the preferred tourist destination and a holiday home due to its affordability, and uniqueness in terms of location and even activities found on the facility.

The club is situated at the foothills of the snowcapped Mount Kenya, one of the highest mountains in Africa, and is strategically located on the Equator.

With magnificent views of the majestic Mount Kenya, the club has more than 100 luxurious hotel rooms, suites, and cottages that span over 100 acres of landscaped gardens, offering a unique blend of comfort, relaxation, and adventure.

Once you land at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, you are guaranteed an array of activities ranging from horseback riding, bike riding, game drive, golf, lawn tennis, basketball, swimming, nature walks, fishing, a maze, an animal orphanage, table tennis, climbing of Mount Kenya and much more.

The William Holden Animal orphanage offers a rare opportunity to get up close and personal; with indigenous species found at the Club.

The orphanage is also open to animal adoption, which is part of the Mount Kenya Wildlife conservancy. One can adopt an orphaned animal for a period of one year by paying a one-time donation of $100. With $200 you can adopt an animal for two years while with $500 you become an automatic lifelong guardian of the chosen animal.

Chef Aris Athanasiou at the Fairmount Mt Kenya Safari Club

They say people who like to eat are always the best people. Yes, I'm one of those people. I love food and not just food but good and delicious food prepared with love.

My taste buds were put to test and every time the food on my plate received a positive review. The food found in this facility is out of this world, prepared by one of the best chefs in the world.

A one-of-kind experience while at the Mount Kenya Safari Club is purposing to have dinner at their newly launched Open-fire Kitchen along the River Likki.

“The inspiration of the Open-fire Kitchen is from Francis Mallmann, an Argentine Celebrity Chef and author. He cooks only with fire. We got this idea because we believe that everybody loves barbeque and whatever we cook here is by firewood.

"We don’t use electricity, or gas here and we only start to cook when you sit down so that you can have the really time Barbeque experience,” said Aris Athanasiou, Cluster Executive Chef at all the Fairmont properties in Kenya.

Apart from that, the Club also plays host to three restaurants other restaurants.

The Colobus Grill, which is also a new addition to the facility, offers guests the opportunity to indulge in a gastronomic experience at the heart of Mount Kenya.

Tusk – this restaurant faces the mountain and also overlooks the magnificent grounds. It boasts an all-day buffet using locally sourced foods, including fresh herbs and vegetables from the Club’s organic garden.

If you are a salad lover, then Ze Bar is the place to be where they offer an exciting snack menu.

I also got the opportunity to speak to Mr. Mehdi Morad, General Manager of the Fairmont Hotel and Resorts.

What was going on behind the scenes, since closing down the facility back in 2020?

First of all, we are happy to be back. But the property was not fully closed like nothing was happening. All along we were planning the reopening, rethinking our purpose, experiences, offering, and products.

When everyone’s mission was how do I attract local and regional business, for us, we had this and we were thinking of how to ensure that when we reopen, local and even regional businesses will be more delighted to come back to us.

What’s new at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club – let’s say I was here in 2020 and I’m coming back in 2022?

The Riuki Spa. We used to have a small spa but we have now expanded it because it’s becoming a critical thing.

Our guests will also see the new user path in the wild that was highly demanded.

We also renovated the rooms and even the restaurant where you are seated now (Colobus Grill) is also new – it’s been redone. The Tusk restaurant was re-done to give our guests a perfect view of Mount Kenya and the surrounding environment.

We also have cycling around the conservancy, an experience that helps our guests connect with nature which is a huge step toward conservation

Tells us more about the unique relationship that exists between the Mount Kenya Wildlife conservancy and the club.

We have always had the conservancy but it’s how we established the link between the conservancy and the hotel and the amazing Mountain Bongo program as far as their breeding is concerned. The most beautiful antelopes of Kenya and the region.

We are also giving access to our guests, in a manner that they can go and observe them without interrupting or disturbing them.

After that, we went up to 76 but lost them again. But now we have a man who believes in protecting these animals with all his heart and that’s Humphrey Kariuki. He has invested a lot in this program. It's our legacy, if we don’t do it, nobody will do it and somehow all our guests take part in this through their stay at the club.

What are some of the lessons you picked from the pandemic?

That we can survive anything and that humans are resilient. People love traveling because the first thing people did when the lockdown was lifted, is travel.

Traveling is an interesting thing and people are looking for more experiences there is no place to be better than Fairmont Mountain Kenya Safari Club.

What is the secret to the success of the iconic Fairmont Mountain Kenya Safari Club, from a GM’s perspective?

Amazing teams, amazing grounds with amazing people who believe in conserving the environment and we share the same vision with the conservancy. This is not your normal hotel where you go for dinner and that's it. It’s also a unique property that you will never find somewhere else.

How many rooms or units do you have in this facility? And how much will it cost me to spend a night in this beautiful space

We have 100 units – between villas, Cottages, and rooms. If you are a resident, we have different rates and they start as low as Sh13,000 per person sharing and Sh 16,000 per person on half-board, per night. It’s not expensive when you compare it to other facilities.

What is your favorite meal that is a must-have whenever you are on the Fairmont property?

I must admit it’s a new one, setoline with seafood, I will advise that you try it while you are there.

What’s your favorite drink?

I love red wine.

Who are your target customers with the reopening of Mount Kenya Safari Club?

There are not many hotels that can do what we do. We range from family to young active travelers with the ability to maintain our high-end guests from our local markets. Covid has been a good time to rethink our strategy.

What is the best financial advice you have ever received in your life?

If you don’t take risks, you won’t have unexpected gains and if you keep doing the same thing, you keep getting the same results, and this is not only on finances, it's on everything in life. You have to take risks in life or else you will be in the same place forever.

Did you rehire former employees or you have to source for new ones during the reopening?

I think about 80 are our old employees because others had already found jobs elsewhere and for that, we replaced those positions with new people.

Someone is visiting Kenya for the first time and I have a list of hotels to explore, why should I come here?

There is only one Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in a conservancy. Going to Maasai Mara or Amboseli you have a list of hotels to choose from but when going to Mount Kenya, there is only one hotel that can be conferrable and the one and only in Africa -Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.

As I sign off this piece, always remember that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all - make sure you go for an adventure at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club - relaxation and enjoyment are a guarantee.

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