Lake Elmentaita Serena Camp is truly a spectacular gem in the Serena Group portfolio of hotels & lodges.
We had tried to book a few months ago, and could not get any availability. So we were very pleasantly surprised when a few weeks ago, on a last-minute whim, we decided to try get a booking to celebrate a birthday & Father's day....and we managed to find availability just days beforehand!
We had been to the same spot sometime in the 90's when it was "Delamare Camp"...so we were very curious to see what Serena (my favourite group of hotels) had come up with in its place. It is now ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR!!! Turning off the Nairobi-Nakuru highway (be careful not to miss the sign board - which is really hard to see at night), you get a bit disoriented because the turn off is on the opposite side of where the lake is! But after a short drive on a gravel (once tarmaced) road, you go under a small bridge which puts you back into the right direction of the lake. Once you enter the main gate, you feel like you are miles away from civilisation - which is great! Nature has really been protected within their gates, and it was wonderful to see that nearly two decades later since we were first there! It is an easy - less than 2 hour - drive from Nairobi.
It is set a few metres from the shoreline of Lake Elmentaita. Lush thick 'carpets' of beautiful green grass, trees and wonderfully planted gardens surround the front of the property. It is an exquisitely and elegantly built and furnished property that seamlessly combines canvas, wood and stone for the structural aspects. When you walk into the bar/lounge area, it has a luxurious "old-world" feel. Along the walkways from the reception area through the bar/lounge and to the dining areas, there are beautiful water gardens that are very "zen". In the evenings, there is a lovely lady in the bar/lounge who plays the piano. There are lots of pictures and various "old-world" artefacts for your eyes to feast on. The lighting is mainly provided by lovely chandeliers.
Dining: There are several dining areas split into small, intimate sections which is just lovely. In keeping with the high standards of Serena food, there are set menus for all the meals (not buffet! Phew!) which provide you with a good variety of options. If you are not used to eating 3 ridiculously full meals per day, you may want to opt to book half board instead of full board. Although, the lunch menu gives you the option of a "lighter lunch" - which is great. The quality and variety of the food was superb for the duration of our 2 night stay.
Extras: I had asked for a birthday cake to be prepared on the evening of our arrival to be presented the following day. The presentation was AWESOME and the cake delicious :-) Upon check-out, we found that our car had been washed :-)
Accommodation: One of the best things about this property is the fact that it is 'small'....there are only 24 tents beautifully spread out across the property. Walking into my tent, I was blown away by the sheer size and beauty of it all! Amazing!!! We were in two tents next to each other, and the layouts were very different - which I thought was great! The tents have a huge wardrobe and dressing area; a coffee/tea making area (with a complimentary fruit basket); a beautiful huge patio overlooking the lake (only improvement would be some hammocks); HUGE, elegant bathrooms with a double shower - a rain shower on one end and a wall shower on the other end (given the amount of space in the tent, I would have gotten rid of the dressing table area and extended the bathrooms even more to include a bathtub...I think it's only the suites that have bathtubs/jacuzzis); the bedrooms are spacious and well laid out; excellent sleep quality; a great feature is the adjustable reading lights on the headboards.
Service: Elizabeth (the Assistant Manager) and her team gave us EXCEPTIONAL service! It was a wonderful experience as Kenyans to receive such great service from our fellow Kenyans! (Unfortunately, this is not always the case for Kenyans in Kenya!)
WIFI: Is available in the rooms and the main areas - but is charged as an extra (either per 24 hours or per hour). I had an issue connecting to the WIFI, but Eric - the IT guy - quickly and graciously sorted it out for me (Eric said that some Mac users have similar issues).
Gardens: It is great to see how hard, diligently and lovingly the team of "Garden Art" tend to the beautiful gardens on the property.
Rest & relaxation: if you just want to unwind in luxurious, naturally beautiful, tranquil surroundings, then this is the place for you! Many places to lounge about - your room, your patio, by the pool, in the gardens, in the main lounge... You can treat yourself to a spa treatment situated in a tent by the pool. Unfortunately, you cannot just take a stroll by the lake :-( You have to pay extra to have a guide take you... I think Serena should really review this! Given how much you end up eating during your stay... it would be good to be able to walk off and work up some more appetite as you wish. I have no problem going with a guide - given that there are wild animals in the area (there is an electric fence surrounding the camp)...I just have a problem having to pay for the guide...given that the cost of a stay here is not exactly "pocket-friendly"!
All in all, it was a wonderful wonderful experience. I have no hesitation in HIGHLY recommending Lake Elmentaita Serena Camp! Thumbs up Serena Group!
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