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“Deserves its Reputation” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Mara Serena Safari Lodge

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Mara Serena Safari Lodge
4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   C14, Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Sunderland, United Kingdom
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Deserves its Reputation”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

We spent two nights at the Mara Serena in late October. Nestling high above the Mara River and the plains, the location is absolutely stunning, and an ideal base for game drives in the reserve, which is rich with animals. Sight, sound and smell combined to provide a phenomenal experience: the lion roaring its territorial ownership during the picth black of night, the grceful form of cheetahs moving through the grass and the stench of rotting flesh at the Mara Crossing, where so many wildebeest had lost their lives whilst crossing the river - a glut of corpses way beyond the immediate needs of the crocodiles, vultures and Maribou storks.

Staff throughout the hotel were pleasant and helpful and the food was very good; it was especially nice to have early morning coffee and a light snack before setting off on an early morning game drive. It was wonderful never to have to carry a suitcase, either up or down the relatively challenging incline to access the rooms, or 'pods'. These were clean and had excellent mosquito nets over the main bed, although they are made for two, really and with three of us in the room, it was somewhat cramped. The view over the plains was breath-taking, but they would benefit from mesh over the viewing doors and, given the high temperatures when we were there, a ceiling fan would have been a definite improvement. The lighting towards the rooms is subdued, and I did see that some people sensibly used torches; one elderly lady suffered an unfortunate fall, so I would recommend that, if you have any form of mobility problem, you ask for a room as close to main reception as possible. That said, we had a really positive experience, and would happily return.

Room Tip: Given the steep incline and subdued lighting, ask for a room close to reception: views will not be c...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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560 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Vancouver, Canada
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2012

Fabulous Lodge during our two day safari of the Masai Mara. The food was fabulous including their barbeques at dinner. The pool was refreshing with a nice view. The rooms were unique and charming. Wifi was a bit pricey at $20 per day at this lodge, and was totally free at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge...this was a bit disappointing, especially as the signal wasn't always that great. All and all, I would highly recommend this lodge to anyone!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012 via mobile

Great ambiance, perfect holiday destination, great hospitality, great staff and kitchen crew . Had the best holiday with friends at Serena ! Went for the bush diner and the hot air balloon safari it was bliss!! Overall amazing stay!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥

  • Stayed June 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

We stayed at the Mara Serena because we were in a family group with small children and several nervous travellers on their first trip to Africa. It absolutely suited our needs on that count (with adjoining childrens' rooms) and the safari drives were wonderful (Nicolas a great driver) but my husband and I, having stayed in other safari lodges and hotels in Kenya, were very disappointed in the staff. At Kishwa Temba a couple of years ago, we were given hospitality second to none and would return there rather than the Mara Serena on our next safari. The dining room staff were sleepy and inattentive and we often felt that we were in their way in a crowded dining room and a simple request to move tables was met with complete refusal. However, the rooms were lovely, with views over the savanna and Mara river and it was magical to sit on the balcony or by the pool and spot elephant, lion, hippos as well as all the usual game animals. The location could not be bettered and it was only really the dining and reception staff who let the lodge down. Disappointing, considering the cost.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
abu dhabi
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2012

We thank Migration kenya safaris for a wonderful stay in this resort and thank them for booking us in this resort. Also thanks to Michael maina for a wonderful driver /guide...we were very lucky to witness one of the wonders of the world..the Migration. Truly like the comapny baseline " a safari that stays with you" a promise that was full filled. Now coming to the resort it's an awesome location high on a hill and a magnificient view of the Mara...from the pool area. But if you are a family of three the rooms are small but for 2 it's just right... i would rate this 4/5 'cos the food spread was ok not as good as sarena amboseli..the stay was very comfortable..a must stay if you are in masai mara...but the drive from nairobi to this resort is very tiring...it's a very long drive and you have to cross the border and enter tanzania...as it's the last resort in the line of other resorts...

Room Tip: request for the rooms closer to the dinning rooms after 50 and after 60 are good room with views...a...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2012

We were a family group of 11 (6 adults and 5 children) staying at the Mara Serena at the end of October. Let me start by saying that if you choose to stay here you will no doubt have a brilliant time - the safaris are out of this world and the Serena really does have the prime location in the Masai Mara. Our game driver (Nicolas) was fantastic and the rooms and food at the Serena are both excellent.

However, and it is a significant however, the Serena could do so much more to make your holiday a holiday to remember. On our second day I logged on to Tripadvisor to read the other reviews which had persuaded us to book there and, sadly for us, they didn't quite match our experience. The Serena is charging premium prices and at these rates you expect a little bit more when it comes to customer service and attention to detail. Perhaps it was simply that we were staying at the end of high season and everyone was ready for a break or maybe our expectations were too high but we felt like we were missing out. Let me give some examples.

As a family group of 11 who had booked together and were on a holiday of a lifetime together we obviously wanted to eat together but for the first day we were told that we had to eat on two separate tables as another group was using the big table. This would have been understandable if it wasn't for the fact that the restaurant was full of tables which could have been pushed together to accommodate us but we weren't allowed to slide them together - we don't know why. Three times we asked the restaurant manager if we could just push the tables together but we were told that we have to wait until the following day when the larger group had gone. It isn't a biggy - but it wasn't the best start.

Our frustration was compounded on our first game drive. We started in 2 separate vehicles (which is worth noting if you're a large group - other lodges have larger vehicles) and the heavens opened. One of the vehicles only had canvas sides and the occupants were getting cold and wet and wanted to head back. The other vehicle was far better and the occupants wanted to push on. Our drivers were excellent offering to give us an extra game drive the following day if we headed back but the young children wouldn't have coped with three drives on the same day so they wanted to keep going - some of the adults wanted to head back and take the extra drive the following day. The problem was that we were told that as we were a single group both vehicles had to do the same thing. I honestly can't see how it made a difference whether we were one or two groups but given the dining room experience (being treated as two groups) we were less than impressed.

The reception desk epitomised the lack of customer service. You are given information packs which say you can borrow binoculars from reception but when we asked reception seemed mystified and told us that there were no binoculars. Whenever you went to speak to reception staff members were often too busy speaking with colleagues to actually speak with customers so you slightly felt as though you were in the way.

One other niggle worth mentioning is that the rooms are quite noisy. If someone down your row flushes the toilet then you hear a rushing noise for four or five seconds. Not a problem in the day but quite a pain in the middle of the night. It seemed to be every 20 minutes or so that we were disturbed.

I could give loads more examples but you get the impression. There are plenty of positives I could give you too. I spoke with the Assistant Manager Dan about my concerns and he listened brilliantly and made sure we got the big table in the restaurant but a free bottle of wine on our table or a small token of an apology wouldn't have gone a miss. There are free bottles of water in the rooms and they are replenished twice a day which is a nice touch (particularly as you have to pay for water in the restaurant - no free tap or filtered water) the free WiFi was a bonus (although a pain that you had to call reception for a new password every 24 hours) and the rooms were kept immaculately clean (thanks Richard). The pool area is stunning - great views over the park where you could spot hippos, lions, elephants etc. (although the pool itself was a little chilly). It really is a great place.

I guess the bottom line is that you aren't going to the Serena Mara for excellent customer service - you are going to see the wildlife, and wildlife you will see. On the first morning drive (after the flood the day before) we saw a black rhino, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, elephants and plenty more. The location at the corner of the Mara triangle means you can quickly get to the river and escarpment and find the usual haunts of all the animals. Our guide was excellent and they are in radio contact with other guides to help them find the animals you want to see. It does mean that when you find a rhino you are suddenly surrounded by 3 or 4 other vehicles but it's better that way than just tree spotting all day.

We chose the Serena Mara because it seemed the best option for kids (interlocking rooms, children's menu in the restaurant, swimming pool etc.) and it certainly was. We would probably even go again for the same reason but it could have been so much more with 10% more effort. Perhaps someone will read this and give the staff the rallying call they need.

Room Tip: Rooms out on the left hand side of the hotel (60-78) get great views of the park from their windows.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2012

Everything about this place bring great memories. The food was good, the staff very friendly...the view and experiences incredible and amazing. Very comfortable, clean and pretty. I saw elephants outside my balcony, and the sunrise and sunset were just glorious. Hope to get back someday.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Address: C14, Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Maasai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #53 of 116 Specialty Lodging in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Mara Serena Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 74
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mara Serena Safari Lodge, set on a saddle of a hill, overlooks the 1,800 square km of rolling plains at an altitude of 1625 meters at the Masai Mara Triangle, one of the world's richest wildlife sanctuaries. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Serena Safari Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Serena Safari Lodge Kenya/Maasai Mara National Reserve

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