thumb image

You know you have arrived someplace special when driving up the jacaranda-lined boulevard that leads to the 120-acre estate surrounded by gardens, lawns and streams sprawled at the foot of Mount Kenya. Situated in an old-school Colonial setting, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is a destination reminiscent of times gone by. In the 1950s, American actor William Holden was on a hunting safari near the town of Nanyuki when he came across this plot of land. He and two partners purchased it in the 1960s, and the Mount Kenya Game Ranch was born.

Upon taking over the property several years ago, the Fairmont Group restored its majesty while honoring its historical significance. The Club was the watering hole for the glitterati of the fifties and sixties, and the hotel’s gold book was a veritable who’s who of that time period. Black-and-white photographs adorning the walls depict Holden and such famous guests as Winston Churchill, Bing Crosby, Ernest Hemingway and Steve McQueen.

An animal orphanage sits just steps from the main guesthouse. Started by actress Stephanie Powers in Holden’s name after his death in 1981, this nonprofit sanctuary acts as a modern-day ode to wildlife preservation. It is home to the only bongo breeding area in all of Africa. Also in residence is a massive, 150-year-old tortoise named Speedy Gonzales. The orphanage offers a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with indigenous species, from caracals and cheetahs to antelope and primates.

Traditional charm meets modern-day comfort in the resort’s 120 guest rooms, suites and cottages. They feature hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, fireplaces and verandas.

The food is top-shelf, highlighting locally sourced, organic fare along with a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables procured from the hotel’s own garden. The signature eatery is Tusks, which offers vistas of the property’s beautifully manicured gardens and nearby Mount Kenya. The main lounge, Zebar, sits along the equator, and servers cross from the southern to the northern hemisphere to deliver drinks.

Daily activities range from game drives in the nearby conservancies to horseback riding through the forest. The resort features a state-of-the-art fitness center, spa, outdoor pool and golf course. One-of-a-kind experiences can be arranged, from breakfast on the slopes of Mount Kenya to the ever-popular deck dinners outside the William Holden Cottages to a romantic dinner along the River Likii.

Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club carries a colorful legacy unmatched in the region. Moreover, it delivers an unforgettable African experience.

If You Go

Delta Air Lines offers daily service connecting in Amsterdam, with a travel time of 18 hours each way.

Kenya has a tropical climate, with daytime temperatures averaging between 68 and 82 degrees.

Pack a small amount of comfortable clothing that can be layered for cool mornings and evenings, and plan to make use of the resort’s laundry service. A pair of sturdy shoes or boots is a must.

Upon arriving in Kenya, savvy travelers renew and refresh at Fairmont The Norfolk in the heart of the capital city. An institution since its opening in 1904, the hotel is often used as base camp for going on safari. It offers 165 well-appointed guest rooms and suites, a heated outdoor pool, and private tropical gardens.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This