Marriott has announced the opening of JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge, marking the brand’s debut in the Luxury Safari Segment.
Location and Design
Sitting within the Masai Mara National Reserve in Southwestern Kenya, one of Africa’s most renowned wildlife and wilderness conservation regions, the lodge is a sophisticated sanctuary from which to discover animals and breathtaking vistas in harmony.
JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge is a 30 minute drive from Keekorok Airstrip and a 25 minute drive from Sekenani Main Gate.
The lodge’s elegant interiors are designed by Kristina Zanic Consultants. The interiors seamlessly blend the savannah inwards, drawing inspiration from the elements with soft, warm tones, natural materials and textures, and native colors thread through its design.
JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge features just 20 private tents, making for a very intimate stay, something that is very common in these type of lodges in Africa.
Each private tent features terraces overlooking the River Talek, a water source and habitat for many wildlife. The tented honeymoon suite offers a private plunge pool, while two interconnecting king and twin suites are ideal for families with children over the age of six (the minimum age of guests at the lodge).
A relaxing gathering place, Fig Tree Lounge offers panoramic views of the surrounding plains from the indoor and outdoor bar and serves refreshing cocktails and mocktails infused with seasonal ingredients from the lodge’s garden.
An indoor and alfresco dining experience at Sarabi Restaurant takes guests on a nourishing epicurean experience guided by JW Garden ingredients and local culinary heritage. Guests can venture out into the reserve with the lodge’s guides to enjoy a freshly prepared ‘Bush Breakfast’ or dinner while sipping sundowners and soaking in the breathtaking savannah vistas.
At the heart of the camp is the JW Garden – an outdoor space for guests to spend time discovering home-grown, organic ingredients, including the lodge’s signature rosemary. The garden’s produce is used by chefs to craft personalized dishes, cocktails, and mocktails. The garden will host daily programming, including live cooking, interactive cocktail mixology, and chef-led talks for a true farm-to-table experience.
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In keeping with JW Marriott’s ethos of mindfulness, the lodge is home to a number of thoughtfully-designed spaces, from the cozy Adventure Lounge full of books to get lost in and a nook for young adults to take time for themselves, to the Cultural Deck where guests can gather around the fire pit to share tales of the day’s exploration.
Capturing the essence of rejuvenation, the Spa by JW emulates the serenity of the reserve and offers tailored experiences and signature treatments which blend locally-inspired techniques and therapies. These are complemented by natural and organic products by renowned African skincare brand, Healing Earth, also available as in-room amenities. Guests can enjoy spa treatments from the comfort of their tented suite, accompanied by the sounds of the wilderness. Extending beyond body to mind and spirit with guided yoga, treatments include a ‘Masai Celebration’ incorporating local botanicals and therapies.
Supporting the local community
The lodge’s community programming provides an authentic insight into meaningful local projects, including The Maa Trust, an organization empowering local people by promoting small business start-ups. The lodge donates a percentage of the nightly rate per person to the organization and provides a space for craftspeople to retail Maa Beadwork and produce. Guests can visit The Maa Trust to meet with local artisans and forge a deeper connection to the people in the area.
Presently, 60% of the workforce are locals, with Marriott planning to take this number to 70%. As an ongoing initiative, JW Marriott Masai Mara’s Apprenticeship Program invites young women from the community to diversify their skills and broaden their experience to kick-start their careers in the hospitality industry. Partnership with the community began during the early development process of the lodge. Developed on land committed to a tourism project so as not to unduly disturb the surrounding environment, much of the construction was undertaken by local experts overseen by technical specialists, with build materials sourced from sustainable suppliers. The lodge has rehabilitated access roads to the property, installed power to the area, and provided access to clean drinking water for locals through a water treatment plant.
Emphasis on waste reduction and recycling is integral to daily operations. The lodge’s water treatment plant provides recycled and sanitized water; food waste is placed at the lodge’s compost site; and water wells are dotted around the lodge for animals to quench their thirst throughout the day.
By supporting local organizations such as The Mara Elephant Project and The Mara Protector Conservation Programme, JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge contributes to protecting animals and their habitat across the greater Mara ecosystem. Bringing a passion for the surrounding wildlife and nature to guests, the lodge’s Head Guide is a lifelong conservationist who holds talks about local culture at the lodge as well as guided walking tours. With an abundance of meaningful moments to experience at the lodge, guests can delve into photography and learn new skills at the lodge’s very own studio.
I searched dates in May to have a look at what the lodge is charging per night. For 1st May 2023, the prepaid rates start at 2,416$ for two adults. JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge is a all-inclusive property so all meals are included in the room rate. Award nights are not yet loaded onto the system.
Featured image by Marriott
All the other images by Marriott
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