Today, the holiday home option has taken root among moneyed Kenyans and expanded to places like Naivasha and Laikipia.
Most of us know that the name “Nairobi” comes from a Maasai word “enairobe”, which literally means ‘stream of cold water’.
If you’ve lived in the capital long enough, you must have realized that the truth of the above statement may have been lost in translation.
Had there been a Maasai word for ‘land of insecurity, traffic jams and general cacophony’ then this great city we call home would have had a slightly different name.
Don’t get me wrong, Nairobi must have had and still has a plethora of advantages.
But once in a while, you just have to get away from it all.
Holiday homes are a relatively new development on the Kenyan property scene.
They are always built around a great natural feature such as a water body, mountain or the wilderness.
In a country where natural beauty is in such extravagant abundance, it is no surprise that holiday homes are all the rage among the well-to-do in Kenya today.
Traditionally, the sequence of wealth accumulation was in such a way that after splurging on the city home, one would go for a holiday retreat at the Coast. Though this still remains true, the holiday home options have expanded to include Naivasha, Laikipia, and even Eldoret. Here, they exist mostly as gated communities with controlled access into the wild.
To sweeten up the package, developers have begun incorporating artificial additives such as golf courses to nature’s rustic beauty.
Though research shows that most home owners who buy into golf course luxury homes don’t even play golf, the prestige associated with the leisurely game is enough to justify the hefty price tags for them.
One of the most celebrated names in holiday home developments is The Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha.
The lodge is perched on the side of Eburru Escarpment 7,000 feet above the world’s largest valley. From the vast expanse of the rugged plains to the gentle shimmer of Lake Naivasha below, the hotel boasts one of the most spectacular views in Africa.
The credentials don’t end there; the lodge has a world class 18-hole golf course and numerous private cottages dotted around the course. With cottages going for between Sh25-30 million, this development has remained out of reach for the majority of Kenyans.
Some of the prominent home owners here include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, and KenGen MD Eddie Njoroge, Cotu Secretary-General, Francis Atwoli, among a host of other prominent Kenyans.
If buying one is not a viable option for you, you can always rent out a cottage for a quiet weekend getaway.
This creates a win-win situation for both home owner and guest tenant, as maintenance costs for the properties are upwards of Sh200,000 a year. A night in the best cottages will set you back by around Sh35,000.
For this price, you get to enjoy up to five spacious en-suite bedrooms, a wrap-around balcony and a view to-die-for.
Also in Naivasha, Osotua Villas is a proposed lakeside development consisting of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units. Prices start from Sh8.5million and go up to Sh20 million.
This development is the ideal alternative for those who are looking for a bargain, but don’t want to compromise on beautiful scenery. Due to its proximity to Nairobi and the beautiful scenery, Naivasha has proved to be one of the most popular holiday home locations in Kenya.
Down South, the Kenyan Coast has been considered a holiday home destination since time immemorial. From Lamu to Vipingo, the coast is what you may call a Mecca for holiday homes.
While in other areas they exist as gated communities, holiday abodes here are sprawled freely along the beach with great views of the ocean and the sunset beyond. Lamu, arguably the cream of the crop, is a favourite for holiday home owners.
The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and boasts the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement on the East African coast. The sense of preservation is so great, that the streets have remained as they were hundreds of years ago.
This means that vehicular movement is restricted within the Old Town, so most home owners have looked to the water for alternative means of transport. This is a town where a 40 x 20 plot goes for Sh40million but you can’t access it by car!
Renting isn’t very affordable either. Some of the three-bedroom houses with great ocean views will go for upwards of Sh30,000 a night, and that’s in the low season.
Lamu is not only a holiday destination for the Kenyan elite, but for the international monarchs as well. Prince Ernst August of Hanover, a cousin to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, owns property on the famous Shella Beach.
The Prince of Monaco recently came under the spotlight when he assaulted his neighbour because of his (the neighbour’s) incessant noise making.
Watamu and Malindi are also internationally famed for their holiday homes. A 3-bedroom house on Casuarina beach in Malindi will set you back anywhere between Sh100,000 – Sh300,000 a week in the high season.
For this you get a swimming pool, personal gourmet chef and a maid to help out with the intricacies of running the house.
If you’d like something more flamboyant, then Formula One Flavio Briatore’s Lion in the Sun Resort may tickle your fancy.
With weekly rates starting at Sh300,000 per person sharing and going up to Sh4,500,000, the villa is not your average bed and breakfast.
This comes with 6 phyto-mud therapy sessions a week, and 5-star cuisine. In short, you are guaranteed to be spoilt rotten and not just anyone is allowed entry into some of these outfits.
Still at the coast, Vipingo Ridge is another famous holiday home development that is coming up pretty fast.
Though not on the beach, the development is strategically perched on a hill side, allowing inhabitants to have breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean.
Some of the amenities include an 18-hole golf course and a private airstrip serviced by 4 weekly Fly540 flights.
An acre of undeveloped land in this prestigious gated community will cost you Sh11.5 million. Prices of off-plan villas start at Sh32million and go all the way to Sh41million. Sitting on the apex of the golf course is the Vipingo Ridge clubhouse.
Employing modern twists to traditional Swahili architecture, the clubhouse is an architectural marvel in its own right.
If you absolutely have to be on the beach side, you can join the Vipingo Ridge Beach Club, which offers all residents a tranquil environment in which to enjoy diving, snorkeling and water sports or just a relaxing day away on a secluded beach.
Some of the more notable names to call this development their second home include Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio.
Laikipia, with one of the most unique horizons in the world, is another favourite location for holiday home owners.
Mukima Ridge is one such development. With the silhouettes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares as its backdrop, Mukima Ridge truly has amazing views.
The development comprises of 10 houses each on 12 acres of private wilderness. Peace, seclusion and intimacy with nature are guaranteed without foregoing the luxury of modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and satellite TV.
The houses have high ceilings and elegant French windows that allow natural light to flood in freely.
A wrap around verandah ensures that great views are available from every room in the house.
Apart from 3 ensuite bedrooms, every house also comes with a detached a 2-bedroom self-contained cottage. At a price of Sh50 million each, the houses are truly exclusive to those whose pockets do not feel the pinch.
Eldoret has in the recent past laid claim to be a holiday home destination that can keep up with the other more established locations around Kenya.
This is all thanks to Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resort, touted as a Sh40 billion real estate project that offers residents the chance to own a home within a secure gated community.
The development is set on a 3,100 acre piece of pristine land located 15km from Eldoret town, and will comprise of three golf courses, 2,000 villas, a private hospital, a shopping mall and a 5-star hotel.
Plots are priced between Sh2.5 and Sh4 million depending on size and location. The resort will also feature a game sanctuary, and excursions to nearby tourist attractions.
According to the developers, construction of the first phase of 626 villas will be completed mid this year.
As discussed earlier, holiday homes are ideally located around an eminent natural occurrence.
It may not always be within immediate reach, but must be clearly visible when viewed from the homes. When this logic is defied, the result is more often than not disastrous.
An example of this unfortunate situation is Naiposha Villas in Naivasha.
The reasons behind the development’s demise are not clear, but the concept may have been flawed from the beginning.
Extensively advertised, the development promised to be the next big thing on the holiday homes scene.
But the location of the site was not extraordinary; there were no breathtaking views, nor a world class golf course.