For David and Maggie Kopp, Kenya is their second home.
For 20 consecutive years, the couple from the United Kingdom have been visiting the country to sample wildlife in the Maasai Mara and pristine sandy beaches on the Kenyan Coast.
Not even the Covid-19 pandemic could deter them from travelling to their little paradise - Travellers Beach Hotel and Club.
“I’m in love with Kenya, especially the weather. Kenya is my second home,” said Mr Kopp in an interview with Business Daily.
The couple are among many international visitors who throng Travellers to get pampered at its spa facility.
It wasn’t a surprise for the couple when their favourite hotel was voted the best luxury facility in Africa and its Uzima Spa the best in the World Luxury Hotel Awards.
“Our repeat clients are our biggest stakeholders. The UK couple have been coming here twice a year, for the last 20 years. Mombasa is their second home,” said Travellers general manager Hilary Siele.
“Some were even here during the onset of the pandemic. They stayed in the hotel for a year. They were running their businesses here. They said Kenya was safer than Europe.”
The award, he said, will boost the four-star hotel’s business and improve its bookings.
“We were nominated by clients on a platform and were voted through our database. A team came to prequalify the hotel, and inspected the property to suit the categories,” he said.
“This depends on how well you keep your database, clientele loyalty and satisfaction of service. We offer top-notch services.”
He said the selection is thorough. “They just don’t give awards. Early this year, the team came for the inspection,” he said.
Mr Siele lauded 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, that’s why they give the best services,” he added.
The spa uses imported essential oils, he said.
Situated in Bamburi, the hotel has a big clientele of very important persons 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 children as our ambassadors. We have a unique family concept, with babysitters who take care of children when parents are enjoying beach rides or at the spa,” he added.
Mr Siele hopes for a five-star rating.
“But the only thing letting us down is the lack of a foyer. We have a sauna, steam room, gym and massage room. This facility is always busy, so we encourage clients to book in advance,” he said.
Mr Siele narrated how the Covid-19 pandemic affected their business.
“It was a tough time for the industry, but we tried not to close. We instead embraced the local market, which saw us through the pandemic,” he added.
The facility is now planning for the December peak season as industry players remain optimistic about a rebound.
He said the local and overseas markets are back although a few stringent measures like double vaccination from certain countries, remain a challenge.
“As we speak now, our December occupancy is at 43 percent, which is a good sign. By the end of November, we project full occupancy. The early bird bookings are getting a 25 percent discount,” Mr Siele said.
The hotel gets visitors from Poland, Germany, the UK and Switzerland.
“Our international clients say Kenya is safer than Europe,” he added.
He said they earned the award due to the diligent work they have been doing.
“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 bagged the Best Luxury Boutique Resort in East Africa.
The only four-rated star hotel in Kilifi County, located in the North Coast, got a major boost following the win, as it began registering more tourists.
Its general manager, Mr Michel Otieno, said the award is good for the hotel business as it boosts its recognition locally and internationally.
The World Luxury Hotel Awards are the pinnacle of achievement in the luxury hotel industry, offering international recognition as voted by guests, travellers and industry players.
Over 300,000 international travellers vote each year, over four weeks, to select the winners.
This year, there were over 100 award categories, 850 listed hotel profiles, and 2,000 nominees.
In an interview with Business Daily, Mr Otieno said Covid-19 hurt the hotel industry, forcing Silver Palm Spa and Resort to close for six months.
The hotel, with 60 workers, has 50 percent bed occupancy.
Mr Otieno said the four-year old facility plans to broaden its customer base locally and internationally, and bolster and improve its service standards to exceed customer expectations.
Other winners are Maiyan, which bagged the luxury family resort in Africa award, and Royal Tulip Canaan, which took the luxury business hotel regionally.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers official Dr Sam Ikwaye urged industry players to market their spa and wellness treatment products to attract more tourists.