Run by the Planhotel Hospitality Group which also owns Sandies Tropical Village and Diamond Dream of Africa , this cozy gem is a real slice of paradise on the coast.
Text: Nomad Photography: Brian Siambi
Owned by the Planhotel Hospitality Group which has stunning properties around Africa and the Maldives, there are technically three unique boutique hotels set along the powder-white backdrop of one of Malindi’s best beaches. First there is Sandies Tropical Village, one of the key and longest-running successful hotels in town, with a locally influenced Swahili architecture and decor. There is also the Indo-Arab style Diamonds Dream of Africa which is one of the most luxurious offerings in this part of the coast. Finally, there is Malindi Dream Garden which is where our team stayed, checking in through a reception which used to be an old English house before being extended and renovated, outfitted with attractive art accented by whitewashed wooden furniture which blends seamlessly into the coastal atmosphere. Guests have access to all spaces, and there is a different ambiance throughout the property.
At Malindi Dream Garden, there are 44 deluxe suites and four stylish superior suites spread across two floors and semi-circling a lush green garden dotted with palm trees, and in whose center sits a large swimming pool. Much to my delight given our all inclusive status, a pool bar is only a stone’s throw away from my room, and those rumand-passion cocktails aren’t going to drink themselves. Walking in through the front door of my room, there is an air-conditioner and a fan, a large en-suite bathroom, double bed, refrigerator, safe, working area and the usual conveniences found in spaces of a similar standards. Large glass doors lead to an open terrace with sun loungers, overlooking the garden and pool. For art lovers, the exterior walls of each suite has a vibrant tropical painting, a pleasant addition to the decor.
For lunch we meet at the beach which has daybeds facing the blue water where guests take turns dipping in the sea or basking in the sun. As far as set-ups go, this is as special as it gets. Tucked in the more secluded end of the beach, a rustic white-washed wooden table with four chairs sits in the shade of a white sailing canvas which billows gently in the afternoon breeze. The white backdrop is offset by a colourful wreath made out of palm and accessorized by bougainvillea flowers. There is a bottle of white wine chilling in an ice bucket, and this is served as soon as we settle in. Chef Ayaz then comes to take us through his menu; most of the dishes are either from the sea or sourced from their organic farm, making for the absolute farm-to-table dining. The amusebouche is a bite-sized California roll with a side of smoked sailfish and tomato-topped bruschetta. This is followed by delicious seafood paella which comes topped with lobster and served in a wok. The star of the show, however, is a miniature wooden ‘seafood boat’ laden with all sorts of grilled seafood, and I don’t care where we’re sailing to…I’m jumping aboard and jostling for space! I spot lobster, octopus, prawns and tuna, and after grabbing a few pieces of lime, we tuck in!
After dessert, fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue, I all but waddle to Mvua African Rain Spa for a relaxing 30 minute massage in which I fall sound asleep, followed by a soothing dip in the thalassotherapy center which has pools lined with water jets said to boost circulation. The rest of the afternoon passes by in a glorious blur of cocktails, sleep and a rented kayak from the adjacent diving and water-sports center taken out to sea: it’s not a bad day to be a travel writer.
For business travellers, this spot has just opened the biggest hotel conferencing facility in Malindi with a capacity of about 500 people. Two restaurants and three bars complete the idyllic vacation setting, and there is also a gym on site which I actually don’t set foot in as I am altogether too content to be a beach bum. We tuck into themed gourmet dinners ranging from African to Mongolian, and on our second of five nights, an animation team provides the evening entertainment.
The hotel helps set up most of our excursions around Malindi, from diving and snorkelling to out-of-town excursions to Marafa Hell’s Kitchen. What stands out the most is however the friendly staff with whom I can tell that every interaction is truly genuine. Whether they are whipping up a cocktail at the pool bar, offering a bottle of water at the lunch buffet or ensuring the rooms remain fresh and polished, truly enjoy what they are doing and just want to ensure that we are having the best time. At these three hotels set just off Malindi’s Casuarina Road, we arrive as guests but leave as friends, having had a good ol’ time by the beach.