Issue 32
Old World Charm Renewed
Hemingways Watamu hotel on the Kenyan coast gets a modern revamp
Edited by Jo Kromberg  ·  2017-01-10  ·   Source:

Ernest Hemingway was profoundly shaped by his years spent in Africa and so the Hemingways Collection in Kenya was fittingly named after this legendary author, hunter and explorer.  Now they have announced plans for an extensive renovation of their Hemingways Watamu property. Plans include reviving this iconic hotel on the beautiful Kenyan coast to bring it up to the Five-star standards of the other award winning Kenyan Hemingways Collection properties, Hemingways Nairobi and Hemingways Ol Seki Mara Camp.   

The demolition is almost complete and now the stunning new structures are going up and starting to take shape. Whilst some of the facilities are staying roughly in the same place as they were in the original Hemingways, there are a number of totally new structures together with substantial improvements to existing facilities which, when combined together, will create a fabulous new experience for all their guests with better views, more light and fantastic finishes.   

Panoramic views  

With the total demolition of the old reception area, there will now be a panoramic view of the Marine Park from the main entrance as soon as you enter the hotel grounds and arrive at the Port Cochere.  

There will now be a lovely covered walkway flowing from the discrete reception area down through landscaped gardens and a Gede inspired garden cafe before arriving onto the main seafront terrace area. The main restaurant has also been demolished and is being rebuilt in a different shape allowing more light, better air flow and views over the main pool and new water features towards the sea. These water features will soften the terrace area and add to the wondrous view as you look out to sea, particularly at night with some very creative lighting effects.  

The iconic Hemingways Bar has been opened up with better views of the beach and sea. 

In the North Wing, 13 new deluxe rooms on the second story have been constructed. The tiling of the rooms and bathrooms has now started and is expected to be finished in early January. Improvements are also being made to the existing North Wing rooms. These 39 rooms will form the basic Hemingways Watamu boutique hotel.   

Concrete is being poured for the new botanical pool, which lies behind the North Wing in the old drop off area and the hotel will now have a beautiful, landscaped pool to use during the windier months when the seafront pools are a little chilly. It will also complement the beautiful new spa, which is located behind the new botanical pool. The new spa will feature the same treatments and therapies as the brilliant spa at Hemingways Nairobi, along with a fully functioning gym, and will be a great addition to facilities at Hemingways Watamu. 

Sea defense scheme   

Along with better views and more light, the hotel will be much greener with new garden landscaping being done throughout the hotel. There will be lovely garden areas to explore and to use to find shade during the heat of the day.    

Work on transforming the South Wing into the Hemingways Residences is also progressing extremely well but this is not planned for completion until October 2017.   

A significant piece of construction work is currently well underway - the reinstatement of the sea defenses. The old vertical concrete wall took a hammering in the El Niño storms over the last two years assisted by huge tides caused by loss of beach sand due to littoral drift - movement of sand up and down the beach. The new sea defense scheme is a very modern design that fits together like Lego. Design has been undertaken by the leading sea defenses consulting engineers in the UK and involves the use of synthetic reinforcement in the gabions aligned at 45° as opposed to a vertical structure. The structure is being built within the hotel’s own boundary, with the footings being on coral, which gives a solid structure capable of being in place for the next 50 years at least. Government authorities are very pleased with the design and have asked the hotel to allow the use of this design on other problem areas along the coast where coastal erosion is prevalent - a major environmental win for Hemingways. 

Currently, they are on target to open the 39 hotel rooms for repeat guests by mid February 2017; however construction will still be on-going on the rest of the site.   


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