Nestling some 100 kilometres north of Nairobi, is the latest entrant into the resort and spa industry in Central Kenya. Commanding a picturesque view of Mount Kenya, the Oldoinyo Lengai in Karatina is situated just a few metres from the Karatina – Kerugoya road junction.
The hotel has brought a breath of fresh air to the slopes of Mt Kenya with state-of-art five star amenities.
Themed as a cruise ship with the front structure consisting of the captain’s bridge on the upper deck, the Oldoinyo Lengai Resort and Spa derives its name from the Maasai language, which means ‘mountain of God’.
A section of the hotel’s front entrance wall has images from the Maasai culture. On the opposite wall are striking drawings of Kenya’s famous big five animals namely the elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo.
A water fountain flows from the sculpture of a flamingo with such grace at the entrance ushering visitors into the mystery of the cruise ship’s tavern.
The complex has a terrace cafe, a bistro on the ground floor and a premium bar on the upper deck – whose terrace restaurant can seat upto 100 people.
Visitors have several options on where they want to be served their meals. A main popular priced restaurant, which caters for casual dining forms the first compartment of the cruiser’s lower deck which also has a state-or-art bistro which can be set up to suit the taste of the client, whether it is a family gathering or a corporate meetings.
There are also five gazebos complete with private party areas for groups with a Lido bar next to the half-Olympic size heated pool with a baby pool on one side.
For accommodation, the resort has 47 standard rooms and 24 African style cottages to be opened soon. The second phase of the hotel comprising of a health club, a wellness centre and a second seminar room is well near completion.
According to the proprietor Macharia Gitonga, the idea of building he hotel came from the fact that he could never find a place with recreational facilities where he could take his family for an outing. Whatever was available had no facilities for children.
“I wanted something that would not only target the locals but international visitors as well.
He reveals that the first phase which comprises of the bistro and swimming area cost over Sh20 million to put together.
“The second phase that comprises of a state of art business centre is expected to take up an equivalent amount on completion,” he says adding that the whole venture should by April of this year.
He discloses that the hotel will arrange excursions to Mt Kenya among other adventures for their visitors.
As the general manager, Lawrence Kiragu, takes us around the complex, he explains the reason for the hotels’ Maasai theme. He attributes this fact to tourists’ obsession with this particular Kenyan tribe and their culture.
“This is the only culture that has maintained its originality for decades. The hotel has five gazebos all with Maasai names.
He narrates how they settled the unique design and theme as a distinctive way of attracting visitors of all ages and races.
Kiragu explains that the second phase will have a half Olympic size swimming pool, baby pool, children’s playground, 24 African style cottages, two additional seminar rooms and a wellness and fitness centre.
Further, he adds that there will be a special subscription rate for schools and organisations willing to partner with them to access their facilities.
In between the pool and the gazebos is a choma-banda, where visitors can enjoy all sorts of barbecued meats.
The general manager says their target clientele is diverse depending with the day of the week.
“We are still in the process of identifying our niche but already middle-aged executives and international tourists on vacation are our main visitors,” he adds.
Only three months old, Oldoinyo Lengai is already quite popular on weekends with local revelers coming to enjoy music by the local DJ Docktish.
“A cool Friday at Lido’s bar is never complete without soothing soul and Jazz music while Saturday is an all genre day,” says the bubbly DJ adding that gospel music and old school gives a boost to the start of week on Sunday evenings.
Also in the offing for the surrounding community are three biogas digesters with a bias on eco-tourism – a clear indication that waste from the hotel is recycled and put back to good use.
The hotels proprietor reveals they have plans for excursions programmes to local attraction sites, like the Mt Kenya National Park, Aberdares National Park and water falls, trout fishing, Mau Mau post office, extreme sports such as bungee jumping and rafting, climbing Mt Kenya, trekking safaris and team-building exercises.