For David and Maggie Kopp, Kenya is their second home.
For 20 years in a row, the couple from the UK have visited the country to sample the wildlife of the Maasai Mara and the pristine sandy beaches of the Kenyan coast.
Even the Covid-19 pandemic could not dissuade them from going to their little paradise, the Travelers Beach Hotel and Club.
“I am in love with Kenya, especially the weather. Kenya is my second home,” Kopp said in an interview with Business Daily.
The couple are among the many international visitors who flock to be pampered in their spa.
It was no surprise to the couple when their favorite hotel was voted Africa’s best luxury property and its Uzima spa the best at the World Luxury Hotel Awards.
“Our repeat customers are our biggest stakeholders. The British couple have been coming here twice a year, for 20 years. Mombasa is their home away from home,” said Travelers Managing Director Hilary Siele.
“Some were even here when the pandemic started. They stayed at the hotel for a year. They were running their businesses here. They said Kenya was safer than Europe.”
The price, he said, will boost the four-star hotel’s business and improve its bookings.
“We were nominated by customers on a platform and voted on through our database. A team came to prequalify the hotel and inspected the property based on categories,” he said.
“It depends on how you maintain your database, how loyal your customers are and how satisfied you are with service. We provide top notch service.”
He said the selection is thorough. “They just don’t give any awards. At the start of this year, the team came for the inspection,” he said.
Mr Siele praised his team, saying they are the best with top notch training in therapy, aquaculture and hotel service.
“The spa has six masseurs (four women and two men). They do their research online, which is why they give the best services,” he added.
The spa uses imported essential oils, he said.
Located in Bamburi, the hotel has a large clientele of very important personalities from the East African region.
It also has a 24-hour children’s restaurant and offers free babysitting services.
“You can order anytime. We treat the kids like our ambassadors. We have a unique family concept, with babysitters looking after the kids when the parents enjoy walks on the beach or at the spa,” a- he added.
Mr. Siele is hoping for a five-star rating.
“But the only thing that lets us down is the lack of a fireplace. We have a sauna, steam room, gym and massage room. This facility is always busy, so we encourage guests to book at the advance, “he said.
Mr Siele recounted how the Covid-19 pandemic affected their business.
“It was a tough time for the industry, but we tried not to shut down. Instead, we embraced the local market, which got us through the pandemic,” he added.
The facility is now forecasting the peak December season as industry players remain optimistic about a rebound.
He said local and overseas markets are making a comeback, although some tough measures like double vaccination in some countries remain a challenge.
“As we speak, our occupancy rate for December is 43%, which is a good sign. By the end of November, we expect full occupancy. Early bookings get a 25% discount. “Siele said.
The hotel receives visitors from Poland, Germany, UK and Switzerland.
“Our international customers say Kenya is safer than Europe,” he added.
He said they won the award because of the hard work they did.
“My directors have done a lot of renovations. All our rooms are digital, with a keypad opening system, digital AC, which the overseas market appreciates,” he added.
Silver Palm Spa and Resort won the award for the best luxury resort in East Africa.
The only four-star hotel in County Kilifi, located on the north coast, received a big boost after the victory as it started registering more tourists.
Its managing director, Mr. Michel Otieno, said the award is good for the hotel industry as it strengthens its recognition at local and international level.
The World Luxury Hotel Awards are the pinnacle of achievement in the luxury hospitality industry, delivering international recognition as voted on by customers, travelers and industry players.
Over 300,000 international travelers vote each year for four weeks to select the winners.
This year, there were over 100 award categories, 850 hotel profiles listed and 2,000 nominees.
In an interview with Business Daily, Mr Otieno said Covid-19 had harmed the hospitality industry, forcing Silver Palm Spa and Resort to close for six months.
The hotel, with 60 employees, has 50 percent bed occupancy.
Mr. Otieno said the four-year-old establishment plans to expand its local and international customer base, and strengthen and improve its service standards to exceed customer expectations.
The other winners are Maiyan, which won the Africa Luxury Family Resort Award, and Royal Tulip Canaan, which won the Regionally Luxury Business Hotel.
Kenya Hotel and Catering Association official Dr Sam Ikwaye urged industry players to market their spa and wellness treatment products to attract more tourists.