A new holiday resort club that targets the worldâ€™s richest people is nearing completion at the North Coast.
On completion, the Sh880 million Billionaireâ€™s Resort in Malindi â€” one of its own kind in Africa â€” Kenya will start playing host to world celebrities, among them top class artists, politicians and sports people.
Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore said the unique resort would be completed in seven or eight months.
Briefing the media after a tour of the project at Casuarina, next to the Malindi Marine Park on Saturday, Mr Briatore said the resort would only admit the who-is-who in the world of wealth.
â€œThis resort will change the face and image of tourism for not only Malindi, but Kenya at large. We did not want to make something ordinary, but something out of the ordinary.
â€œWe have similar resorts in France and other parts of Europe including in Sardinia Island near Italy and not any other in Africa,â€ he said in the company of Malindi member of Parliament Mr Gideon Mungâ€™aro.
The billionaire, who is on a working holiday in Malindi and staying at his exclusive Lion in the Sun residence with his close friend, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said the new resort would have 24 private, exclusive apartments.
â€œFifty per cent of the apartments have already been bought,â€ he said, adding that the demand was overwhelming as inquiries and requests from the richest people on earth were pouring in â€œbecause Malindi is a world haven for holidays and I love itâ€.
He said the resort, built on the former Jambo Club land, would have a state-of-the art restaurant, casino, hotel and a special garden with 600 palms in addition to 1,400 species of trees, most of them imported. It will employ more than 300 people.
The resort also has access to a section of the Marine Park beach and an outlet to the sea, complete with berths where exclusive yachts for the rich will anchor. It will have 24-hour room and car services too, he said.
The investor said: â€œMalindi has amazing weather. Guests who come here naturally fall in love with the place. Itâ€™s hard to come to Malindi and fail to come for a second time and many more times thereafter.â€
I will choose
The Italian tycoon said the major objective of building the resort was to improve the quality of tourism in the resort town asserting: â€œFor this project, I will choose who will come here.â€
He disclosed that he planned to invest in Morocco in North Africa. â€œIn seven or eight years to come, Africa will grow tremendously,â€ noted the Italian.
The resortâ€™s management would build schools and put up other facilities in Malindi as part of its social responsibility activities for the community, he said.
However, Mr Briatore challenged the local and national governments to put their house in order by improving security, cleaning the environment and improving the infrastructure.
â€œThe dirt in the town is an eyesore and so are the gaping potholes on the roads. This sends a negative image to investors here and abroad. The government must fix these, not wait for us to come and do it,â€ he said.
Mr Mungâ€™aro assured investors that the government was serious in improving services and the way things were managed.
â€œWe have undergone a lot of transformation as a country especially after the promulgation of the new Constitution. We shall have county governments which will be better placed to deliver services. Investors are welcome to Malindi and Kenya,â€ he said.
He urged Kenyans to make sure the March 4 elections were peaceful for a smooth transition. He said from next week, many peace meetings steered by President Mwai Kibaki would be conducted at the Coast.
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