Rugs, handmade Swahili-style furniture, elaborate rooms, and two swimming pools make up Majlis, a boutique luxury resort that was once a family retreat.
Situated on Manda Island in the Lamu archipelago, the resort, with its theme of Swahili culture, has a pristine private beach and breathtaking views.
We arrived in Lamu at the Manda airstrip, which handles both domestic flights and private travel.
The only way to get to the island is by speedboat so you hope that there will be no emergency. Should a guest at the resort fall ill, the speedboat is the only way to get you from the resort to the mainland for medical services.
At the airstrip, we were met by the resort’s representative, who carried our luggage to the jetty on a cart, then porters loaded it onto the boat.
After an exhilarating 10-minute boat ride, we arrived at the resort. We were welcomed with a refreshing drink and taken to our rooms.
The hotel has 25 deluxe rooms and suites divided into three beachfront villas. The resort has larger family suites for those travelling with their children.
The decor is a combination of the local Swahili culture, Western comforts, and luxury. High wooden beams are visible throughout the hotel, and the doors and furniture hand-carved in keeping with the local Lamu tradition.
With a mostly white colour scheme, the walls are white-washed, and many of the cushions and furniture is white.
All bathrooms in the resort, including the cloak room, have bidets. The premises are fumigated every two days, and the rooms are sprayed with insect repellant during turn-down. The hotel is perfect for walking around barefoot, but should it rain, you are well advised to walk carefully.
Even though the island is remote, there is an excellent mobile telephone connection and WiFi. The rooms do not have a telephone or television, so you call the reception from your mobile phone.
All meals are served a la carte — I especially loved the seafood. The breakfast selection is not as wide as that in other luxury hotels.
So if you don’t like what’s on the menu, the kitchen can prepare whatever you request. I would also recommend the pancakes, the crab salad and soup, mouth-watering pizza and fresh lobster.
Because Manda Island does not have a mains power supply, the Majlis uses eco-friendly solar panels and wind turbines in addition to its generators.
Even though the Majlis inspires relaxation and romance, there are several activities for both adults and children to participate in.
The excursions and activities include fishing, sea excursions, water sports, snorkelling & diving, yoga and wellness as well as cultural excursions into the main land.
For the children there is a Lamu dhow adventure, a Swahili cooking class, the Maasai warrior experience, a jungle gym and cycling trip, or they can go snorkelling to Manda Toto and Kiwayu.
For the sea excursion, we went on a sunset dhow cruise — a one-hour ride around Manda Island.
The sun went down in a blaze of splendour as the boat captain used the wind rather than the motor to sail.
The cruise was quiet as we absorbed the wonder of the ocean. We had popcorn and crisps on the ride, and some drinks.
We took a walk around Manda Island and bought coconut and sesame oils at one of the local shops, at just Ksh150 ($1.5) per bottle for the coconut oil and Ksh250 ($2.5) for the sesame oil.
It is advisable that you arrange to have a local guide before your get to your destination. The local people are keen to assist visitors, but they generally end up annoying the guests.