Get away to the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club 22 Mar 2012
Less than three hours by road from Nairobi, the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club is set in 100 acres of landscaped gardens in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, with magnificent views of Africa’s second highest mountain. The hotel has recently been renovated and upgraded but maintains its rich history and ambiance of a hunting club for the rich and famous.
The main building was originally constructed by a wealthy American woman who fell in love with Kenya and the charming Frenchman who took her on safari. She left her family in New York to become part of Kenya’s happy valley set, building her dream home and entertaining friends and family. The next owner expanded the living space and opened a small inn.
In 1959, the film star William Holden (Bridge Over The River Kwai) and some friends stayed there and, falling for its charms, set up one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, 'The Mt Kenya Safari Club’. The club, offering membership by invitation only, quickly became the retreat of the rich and famous including Winston Churchill, Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Conrad Hilton and the Maharaja of Jaipur. The hotel has done a superb job of keeping the history of the hotel alive with enchanting black and white photographs of romantic times past, strategically placed throughout the hotel, while upgrading it with modern amenities.
Getting bored at this hotel is a sin. In fact, there are enough activities to keep you entertained for weeks. The most relaxing activity is also my personal favorite- to sit on the verandah and stare at the magnificent view while sipping a cup of tea or a glass of champagne. Or head to the spa for a massage and mani/pedi (no need to put down that glass of champagne).
For more rigorous activity, there is horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, walking, golf, croquet, a bowling green, table tennis, swimming and much more.
For lovers of animals, the Mt. Kenya Safari Club borders with a 1000 acre game reserve and there is abundant game on the drive in and out of the hotel. There is also fantastic bird-watching on the property and a magical animal orphanage. We enjoyed tea on the lawn in front of the bar one afternoon. The birds were practically tame, wandering past us in pursuit of the day’s meal. In the short time we stayed at the hotel, we saw vultures, Ibis, Crowned Cranes, Maribu Storks and much more.
One of the more exciting activities that the staff can arrange is a meal in the bush. Ride a horse, a mountain bike, walk or get a ride in a Landcruiser and, upon arriving in a picturesque location in the bush, your meal will be cooked and served onsite (often surrounded by game and fabulous views). Truly magical.
The club is built directly on the equator which cuts through the bar and one of the rooms in the main house. You can be in the same bathroom at the same time as your significant other, but be in different hemispheres. Since multi-hemisphere weddings are considered good luck, many are held at this hotel.
We stayed in one of the upper cottages which has two double bedrooms, each ensuite with a shared living room space. The bathroom is luxurious, the beds dreamily comfortable and the huge fireplace roars at night to stave off the evening mountain cold. The curtains allow for total blackout so be sure to set your alarm if you have someplace you need to be in the morning (like the delicious Fairmont breakfast).
Although the days of jackets and ties are no longer enforced, the dress code remains smart casual in the dining room. And that leads us to the best part about the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club- the food. The fruits and vegetables, many of which are organically grown on the property, are outstanding. All meals were fresh and delicious, generous and varied, including an Indian and a vegetarian offering at each sitting. I’m afraid the temptation was always to overeat. We loved the desert section. The pastry chef was trained at Savoy in London. On top of excellent food, we enjoyed very friendly and efficient service.
There was a fire on the mountain during our visit. Thankfully, the mountain is far enough away that it didn’t affect us in anyway- even the smoke didn’t come close. But it was dramatic to watch especially at night when that patch of the mountain was glowing red and we could hear the distant crackling of the fire.
Whether you are considering a romantic getaway, a family vacation, a conference or a special event, the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club is the ideal escape.
Stay 2 nights at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and pay 50% on the 2nd night! Offer valid from 1st March till 30th May 2012, excluding Easter Break.