Share with us your journey to the position of a General Manager?
When I moved to Kenya, I founded a consulting firm for small-to-medium-sized businesses. I also met my business partner who told me that Shimba Hills Lodge in Kwale county was about to be closed down by the owners. I bought the lodge in 2014 and took over its operations.
How was your first experience in Kenya and what made you stay?
My first travel to Kenya was a classic tourist experience. I toured the Mara, Tsavo as well as Diani Beach. I fell in love with the country and its wonderful people. I am still impressed by the way Kenyans handle challenges (very innovative and creative) and the ability not to get stressed even if – from my personal perspective – time matters.
So I started a charity project to share what I had and to support some vulnerable communities, such as orphans without a loving family or home. After finishing the project, it was hard for me to return to Europe. I decided to stay and spend – God willing – the rest of my life in Kenya.
What is special about Shimba Hills Resort?
It is a hidden gem in the midst the Coastal rainforest. The serenity and peace of this place makes one forget about daily stress. One can reunite with nature and one’s soul, recharging the physical and mental energy for the challenges lying ahead.
It’s a hotel where a professional team caters for guests to make their stay as relaxing as possible.
On top of all this, one may spot elephants, buffalos, gazelles, leopards or the last breading herd of sable antelopes in the Shimba Hill National Reserve. This is what I call “The cream on the cake”
What challenges does Kwale tourism face?
Crossing the ferry en route Diani has made some travel agents overseas to recommend Mombasa county hotels to avoid delays when transferring guests back to the airport. This is unfortunate as the beach in Kwale county provides a one of a kind scenario.
This area could become even more attractive to guests if the infrastructure is improved and more animals availed in the Shimba Hills National Reserve. It is unfortunate that the numbers of wild animals keep decreasing.
What should people be aware of before booking to stay at the lodge?
The ambience of peace and tranquillity combined with the nocturnal concerts of animals around may get you hooked. Be aware of the power of nature! Be aware of noise withdrawal! No cars, no matatus, no tuk tuks, no piki pikis, no TV, no phones. Just you and nature!
The lodge is located inside a national reserve, so an entrance fee has to be paid to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Citizens pay Sh300, residents Sh600 and non-residents $22 (Sh2, 244).
All vehicles are charged too. This fee helps the KWS to maintain the roads and the parks but most of all to protect the great wildlife in this country.