Travelers anticipating a lavish, billionaire-like holiday have every reason to smile after a luxurious stay in Kenya’s seaside town of Malindi, a private property that has opened its doors to the public. The Billionaire Resort and Retreat, which is famed for hosting celebrities like British supermodel Naomi Campbell, transitioned in January from a hotel for the elite to a resort for the public.
Located in the serene upmarket area of Casuarina, the hotel (also known as “Lion in the Sun Retreat”) houses palatial villas and a beach resort composed of deluxe apartments. It is in an affluent and secure community with a navy barracks nearby and takes at least 20 minutes to drive from Malindi Airport.
“We have essentially opened up the facility to the general public to promote the touristic potential of Malindi for people from all corners of the globe. We want them to come and enjoy its beautiful weather, lovely beaches, and inspiring adventure like the marine life near the resort,” notes the General Manager of the Malindi Billionaire Resort and Retreat, Manuel Quiros.
Malindi is situated along the Indian Ocean and was founded in the 13th century. It is located about 75 miles northeast of Kenya’s second-largest city, Mombasa, and is often referred to as “Little Italy” for the many Italian businesses and restaurants that popped up in the 1960s. The Billionaire Resort is owned by Italian billionaire and former Formula One boss, Flavio Briatore.
“It should be understood that Billionaire Resort and Retreat is not a destination for billionaires, as some people may believe. Instead, we endeavor to offer our customers high-standard services curated with seamless billionaire-like lifestyle during their stay,” adds Quiros.
The booking cost varies depending on peak and off-peak seasons with some villas going for $280 USD inclusive of dinner and breakfast, while some apartments go for $520 USD inclusive of breakfast.
The Malindi Billionaire Resort and Retreat is among a chain of hospitality enterprises that Briatore owns across the world, including in Sardinia, Monaco, Valencia, Istanbul, and Dubai. Prominent personalities who have unplugged at the Malindi Resort include the American private equity real estate investor, Tom Barack, French motorsport executive, Jean Todt, and former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Others are Italian billionaire and co-founder of the Benetton group, Luciano Benetton, and the influential Kenyatta family, Kenya’s first family.
The number of international and local visitors at the resort continues to grow since it transitioned from a private facility, according to the Head of Guest Relations and Community Management, Diana Gascon.
“It was well-booked in February and the occupancy has greatly improved, especially on weekends and holidays. Our prices are affordable for anyone desiring to experience our satisfactory billionaire-like treatment. It is great to come and feel like a billionaire!” assures Gascon.
She affirms the management’s unwavering commitment to providing maximum security to their guests, and protecting their privacy and freedom during their stay.
What to Expect During Your Stay
Groomed indigenous trees and palms are scattered around the tidy green lawn with the main turquoise saltwater swimming pool at the center surrounded by two villas, a spa, and a small restaurant/bar. The small restaurant only serves breakfast to in-house guests, but lunch and dinner are served at the main restaurant.
Three of the five villas have turquoise saltwater pools, each stretching from the sunny patio into the living rooms and decorated with eye-catching art. The pools are lined with sets of comfy sunbeds and pool cabanas. Two villas including Jambo House (Naomi Campbell’s favorite during her tours in Kenya), have majestic open balconies with lustrous wooden floors and a view that faces the main swimming pool. The stately, spacious balconies have cushy handcraft furniture for resting while relishing the breeze that drifts across the grounds.
The Lion in the Sun villas have a total of sixteen rooms that are furnished with spectacular opulence and curated with an African touch. Some of the villas’ well-designed, wide patios have a bar and grill used by guests when converted to venues for small social gatherings like 50-pack wedding ceremonies and birthday parties.
The Billionaire Retreat boasts a state-of-the-art spa that offers life-improving massages, like hydrotherapy for removing toxins in the body and anti-aging therapy. The most exclusive massage the spa offers is the soothing Italian Henri Chenot (HC), which uses electrified cups to soften the body by breaking down tension and toxins.
For workout lovers, there’s a fully-equipped gym for in-house guests that is free of charge unless a guest seeks the services of an instructor. Also, yoga training is offered but the guest has to pay the trainer. Moreover, staying at Billionaire Resort and Retreat isn’t boring for bookworms as there is a library on-premise.
A Seaside Restaurant and Spacious Apartments
The on-site restaurant stretches about 15 meters (50 feet) to the shore and is modestly covered with pale cream sand and neatly arranged wooden seats and tables beneath a canopy of palm trees. Guests from all walks of life get to enjoy a mix of Italian and international cuisine, including fresh seafood.
“We are consistent in maintaining high standards of cleanliness and preparing original, delicious cuisines for our customers, since we are very selective in purchasing food from suppliers,” states Gascon.
The resort offers 24 two-story apartments, which include a two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and a four-bedroom option for groups and families. The U-shaped apartments face the sea and a turquoise “infinite” saltwater swimming pool that extends towards the ocean.
The apartments’ neat, green lawn is scattered with palm trees and indigenous trees and a network of paved footpaths leading to the swimming pool. Two pairs of snuggly gazebos and sunbeds line the resort’s private beach where guests can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, boat riding, fishing, cycling, or strolling deep in the sea when the tide is low. There is also a beach volleyball court opposite the swimming pool for in-house guests to have fun as they unplug.
Special Events and Activities
The resort readily organizes special events, like birthday parties and wedding ceremonies at its beach venue. Every Sunday, guests can enjoy a live DJ during the resort’s Sunday Brunch extravaganza where attendees are treated to a variety of drinks and food, including an antipasto buffet ($25 USD). The resort also hosts a Pizza Night every Thursday where guests have a choice of ordering either limited pizzas served in patches or unlimited pizzas served full-plate and costing as little as $18.
Apart from getting pampered with the resort’s splendid billionaire-like treatment, the facility borders the Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve for guests to experience the marine life. Some of the fascinating adventures at the park include coral gardens in the lagoon, sea-grass beds, and turtles, among others. To navigate inside the coral reef, guests usually ride on a Kaliffa, a locally-made handcraft vessel from hardwoods.
Also, guests are driven to the nearby Malindi Museum and the Tsavo East National Park hosting big mammals like the red elephant, rhinos, buffalos, lions, leopards, hippos, and fascinating sightseeing of about 500 bird species. Moreover, guests are exposed to the cultures of the local Mijikenda community (a community of nine Swahili sub-tribes in Kenya’s coastal region) and the Maasai way of life, which is recognized internationally.