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US-Thai billionaire boosts tourism offering with new Mt Kenya camp

Thai-born US billionaire William Heinecke. PHOTO | AP 

Thai-born US billionaire William Heinecke is expanding his luxury hotel portfolio in Kenya with the planned opening of a new luxury tented camp near Mount Kenya in June.

The Elewana Lodo spring in Loisaba — a 56,000-acre wildlife conservancy in Laikipia — will target the super-rich.

Its opening brings the total number of properties offered by the billionaire’s East Africa Elewana luxury portfolio to 16 camps, lodges and boutique beach hotels in Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya.

“Elewana Lodo Springs is a different kind of bespoke safari experience; it has been created to speak to the discerning, well-seasoned high-end traveller who has come to expect responsible conservation practices without forgoing luxury and privacy,” said Elewana Collection chief executive Karim Wissanji in a statement.


The camp, he said, would offer an ultra-private experience, with eight spacious tented rooms that have “impressive views of the landscape of northern Kenya stretching to Mount Kenya.”

“Each tent will be assigned an Elewana guest ambassador to cater to guests’ needs as well as a dedicated safari vehicle, driver and expert Elewana field guide to accompany guests for the duration of their stay,” the firm said.

The Thai billionaire recently acquired the Elewana Collection in Africa, Oaks Hotels & Resorts across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, and four-to-five star Tivoli hotels and resorts in Portugal.

The new Nanyuki hotel comes against the backdrop of a string of heavy investments by leading luxury hotels in Kenya last year.

They include Accor Hotels, Hilton, Carlson Rezidor and Acacia Premier.

Hotel chains are increasingly facing pressure from ultra-affluent clients who demand special service.

Kenya and South Africa have been tipped as the next continental hotspots in luxury hotel investment.

Nineteen hotels are expected to open shop in Kenya shortly, with a total of 3,453 new rooms in the pipeline, according to a report by Lagos-based consultancy W-Hospitality Group.

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