The truly lovely thing about Serena Beach is the layout. You are taken back in time to a Swahili Village as this is what the hotel is modelled on, the town of Lamu. Winding pathways through lush gardens connect the rooms with the public areas, the pool and the beach. The pool is the central focal point of the hotel and it is truly beautiful. Palm trees give you natural shade and there are plenty of loungers around the pool and the gardens overlooking the beach. We always managed to get 4 loungers together which is often a real feat at a beach hotel!
We stayed in a family room which is in fact 2 separate rooms and 2 bathrooms. You enter your space through a main front door, which opens up to a private corridor which the 2 spacious rooms are off of. Both rooms have balconies that are also connected. Be warned however, you are back in vervet monkey territory and given any opportunity they will try to steal your fruit! Always shut your balcony door!
Here, the obvious draw card is relaxing around the pool, or sitting with a milkshake or a cold beer at the swim up pool bar. Once you have recharged your batteries however there is plenty to do.
Our first activity was a full day tour of Mombasa Old Town, which started with a trip to a woodcarvers co-operative where you see the true skill that goes into the beautiful souvenirs that you can bring home. We couldn’t leave without wooden elephants, lions, warriors and coasters. From here we drove towards the heart of the city pausing to view beautiful mosques and temples, the famed Mombasa Tusks and finally Fort Jesus. Here we continued on foot through the winding streets of Mombasa Old Town where you really do feel you have taken a massive step back in time.
Our other activities revolved back around wildlife and the water. To start with we went on a 30 minute free catamaran tour of the coast that Serena Beach offers its guests. This is with a skipper – we were not left to our own devices! On another day we went to the protected marine park to go snorkelling. The great thing about this is that it is only a 15 minute boat ride to the marine park from Serena Beach and then you feel like you are in a completely different underwater world. Beautiful coral and brightly coloured fish surround you whilst your snorkel guide directs you to some of the best spots for viewing such delights as sea cucumbers, sea urchins and crabs. To finish the trip off we were taken to a sandbank to view the rockpools and see what else we could discover.
Serena Beach have a number of conservation projects, but 2 that we experienced first hand were the butterfly project and the turtle project. Daisy and I visited the butterfly farm, seeing the various stages of a butterflies life. At the end of the visit, Daisy got to release a butterfly that was ready to leave. They named it Daisy and then we all called out “long life to Daisy” as she released it.
However the most magical experience had to be the privilege of witnessing 135 newly hatched sea turtles being released into the ocean. The turtles come up onto the beach outside Serena Beach to lay their eggs. These eggs are then moved by staff to protected hatcheries. Once they hatch, staff and guests form a protective corridor to help them find their way to the ocean. Truly incredible.
It must be said however that it was not all about the children! Serena Beach has a wonderful spa that enabled me to escape for a few hours and feel truly pampered! Steve also managed to take refuge in the early evening, watching the sunset from the rooftop bar.
Each day bought something new and even the last day, we were persuaded by the children to let them have a camel ride along the beach before we were heading back to the train station.
So, we bid farewell to Serena Beach and took the car journey back to the Mombasa Train Station. This time we were on the direct non-stop to Nairobi which took just over 5 hours and for the 4 of us in First Class cost just US$132! Arriving into Nairobi at around 8pm we were met and seamlessly transferred by a Serena vehicle to the newly renovated Nairobi Serena.
The hotel is the ideal end to a wonderful stay in magical Kenya. It has retained its pan-African style, so you still feel immersed in an African environment. The eclectic mix of artwork all tells a story and one, if we had had more time, the staff are keen to explain to you through a guided tour.
It was here that the children enjoyed their first room service meal in a five star hotel and what a treat that was! Big fluffy bathrobes, dinner in bed and the latest movies on demand. What child (or adult) wouldn’t love that! The rooms are wonderfully spacious and the massive beds so comfy. It was just a pity that we were only there briefly as the next morning we were off to the airport for our return flight home.
Kenya left us with wonderful memories, an increased awareness and understanding of conservation and gave us the opportunity for well earned family time. We have the staff at all the Serena properties to thank for that as they went out of their way with their friendly but unobtrusive service to ensure that we had the perfect family adventure.