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The Majlis Resort - Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu, North Kenya Coast

The Majlis resort is a small luxury beach hotel on the Lamu archipelago of northern Kenya. The resort is named ‘Majlis' after the Arabic term for an exceptionally comfortable and special place, where the host traditionally entertains his most important guests.

Located on the exclusive Manda Island, which looks across to the ancient town of Lamu, this privately-owned hotel offers just 25 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, all of which are presented in timelessly elegant Lamu style.

The resort, which offers superb views over the Ras Kitau bay and Shela Village, offers a range of restaurants, a wellness centre, two pools and a wide range of activities (to include personalized dhow trips and tours of the archipelago). It is accessible only by boat (10 minutes from Lamu town).

Kenya's north coast, one of her most popular beach holiday destinations, offers clear blue sea, marine parks, excellent water sports, coral reefs, monsoon winds, numerous hotels and beach resorts, family vacations, sun n sand, cultural and beach travel and more. Close to Mombasa, it is also within easy reach of Malindi, Lamu, Diani and many other popular Kenya safari resort hotels.

Beach vacation facts
Hottest time is between November and March, rainy season is May and June and strong winds May /August. September to November is cool and pleasant.

Lamu
The Lamu archipelago is a cluster of hot low-lying desert islands, which runs for some 60 km parallel to the coastline of northern Kenya. The last survivor of a one thousand year-old civilization, Lamu was founded by the Arabs in the seventh century and traded for centuries thereafter in ivory, rhino horn and slaves. Today it offers a unique showcase for the traditional Swahili culture, a bustling historic town and some of the most pristine beaches in Africa. The most famous in the archipelago, measuring about 16 km by 7km, Lamu resembles a smaller version of Zanzibar.

Here, however, transport is by foot, donkey or dhow - there are no cars on the island. A magnificent Swahili settlement and a World Heritage Site, Lamu Town is a maze of winding streets and intricately carved doorways, which lies to the north-east of the island. Shela lies to the south-east (with a 12 km beach), while Matondoni is the local centre for dhow-building and palm-mat weaving. Transfers to Lamu take around 10 minutes by boat from Manda Island.

Lamu town
The oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, Lamu is a centre for the study of Swahili culture. Although founded in the 13th century, the majority of buildings date from the 18th century. Today the town is a living monument to its past. The old houses, built with coral walls two-feet thick are built with a series of alcoves rather than rooms, whose size is decided by the length of the ten-foot mangrove poles that are used for both floors and ceiling. Many are three-storeys high and feature winding staircases, vast carved doors, intricate fret-work screens, balconies and flat roofs. In the winding streets, the majority of women are black-veiled, while the men wear traditional Swahili dress. The majority of the population are Muslims; and the town echoes to the call of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer at the 23 mosques of the town. Lamu also hosts the important Maulidi Muslim Festival.

Accommodation
Exceptionally elegant and exquisitely presented, this island hotel offers 25 superbly-appointed Superior and Deluxe rooms and Junior and Royal suites, all of which are accommodated in three villas. Each villa was constructed making use of the archipelago's natural resources, combining white coral blocks with hand-carved timber. Particular attention was paid to integrating the villas among the indigenous trees and plants, to enhance the preserve the beauty of the local surroundings. Each villa opens onto the white sand beach and has its own verandah. The rooms themselves are spacious and offer traditionally high-beamed ceilings, large windows and terraces with spectacular views over the beach, gardens and swimming pool. Tastefully presented, the suites offer a large bedroom area with king-sized bed, a generous en-suite bathroom and a private verandah (AC, fans, safe, WiFi).

Dining and bars
The thatched restaurant overlooks the bay and the swimming pool and combines an open-plan veranda on the ground floor with a terrace and bar on the first floor. Using only local produce and fresh seasonal ingredients, the restaurant features freshly caught fish and seafood as well as a wide range of international cuisine to include home-made wood-fired pizzas. There is also a bar in the main hotel and by the pool.

What to see and do
Activities include exclusive dhow trips, visits to Lamu town and the Takwa ruins. Sports include diving and snorkeling, windsurfing or kite-surfing, water-skiing, wake-boarding or knee-boarding in the calm waters of the central bay. Majlis can also arrange exclusive desert island picnics (Kiniyka Island: 30 minutes south-east of Lamu) and Manda Toto Island:40 minutes north of Manda Island), or dinner under the stars. A full range of game fish can be caught in the waters off Lamu's coast including: black marlin, blue marlin, striped marlin, broad bill swordfish, mako, tiger shark, hammerhead shark, bull shark, yellow-fin tuna, wahoo, king fish, giant trevalley and many others.

One of the most pleasurable ways to discover the beauties of the Lamu archipelago is aboard one of the Majlis' dhows. Gently following the sea breeze, guests are likely to spot dolphins and marine turtles darting through the waters, and even possibly whales and whale sharks during certain seasons. The surrounding areas present clear-blue waters, undisturbed stretches of white sand beaches, rolling sand dunes, and impressive mangroves boarding river waterways.


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