On average, a night at one of our preferred Mint destinations goes for about Ksh 40,000 per couple per night. Sounds like a lot, no? But, we all like nice things, and nice things rarely come cheap. So, how does anyone afford to go to these places? Read on for some tried and tested tips on how taking a holiday in Kenya’s premium destinations can be within your reach.
Timing Is Everything
We all love to travel during Easter, Christmas, New Year and over the school holidays. Granted, that’s when we take time off, that’s when the kids are home, and maybe that’s just how we have been socialized. But, during those times, the beaches are overcrowded, you can barely float about in a pool for more than two seconds without bumping into the next person, you have to endure long waits for the chicken tikka to be refilled at the buffet station (for the umpteenth time) and if you’re travelling with kids, you dare not take your eyes off of them lest they drift off with another family. That is not a holiday, and the price you pay for that experience is exorbitant.
At one of our favorite destinations in Diani, the rate is about Ksh 35,000 for a double room during the low season. During Christmas, the same room goes for over Ksh 60,000 per night. Demand and supply. When we all clamor for the same beds at the same time, hotels hike their prices.
Low season is your friend. At the Coast, rates generally drop significantly from the second week of January to the end of March. In the National Parks, you will get unbelievably low rates between April and June, or between October and December 19th. And when you choose to stay at a Mint destination, even at the height of the rainy season, there are plenty of activities to keep you engaged, fireplaces to keep you warm and plenty of reasons to enjoy the cozy indoors alone or with a loved one. We daresay, this is the perfect time for solo R&R trips and lovers’ escapes.
Weekdays are also your friend. Some destinations will give up to 25% discount for guests staying between Monday to Thursday, without excluding anything that is on offer during the weekend. So you will enjoy the same world-class service, have access to the same amenities, go on the same game drives, have the same classic sun-downers and other extras, for a fraction of the price you would otherwise pay over the weekend.
Say you have been dreaming about a holiday in the exclusive Presidential Villa at the Almanara. You have seen the pictures, read raving reviews on TripAdvisor and heard about the Jamie Oliver trained chef, who prepares fresh sea food at the acclaimed Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant. You asked for the rates, all you could say was “wah!” and that dream went out the window. But you can’t stop thinking about it, and you can’t stop looking at the pictures. What to do?
Start planning early and plan to travel during the low season. It’s January, so if you target November, and you put aside about Ksh 7,500 per month, you will have flights, three nights’ accommodation, on full board, all-inclusive (with the good kind of alcohol, because Mint destinations do not compromise on quality) a secluded beach, and one destination checked off your bucket-list. While paying for a holiday doesn’t need to feel obligatory- like rent- if you’re really serious about vacationing in Kenya’s premium destinations, maybe you forego a couple of new weaves, or pass on a series of weekends in Naivasha with the boys. Like all great outcomes, it takes commitment, but it’s easily within your reach. Help me plan!
Book Through A Local Agent
Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and many of the other online booking agents are excellent resources. They will give you options, price comparisons, cheapest flights and a seemingly quick and seamless booking process. But, one very important thing they will not give you is a local resident’s rate. As a Kenyan, residing in East Africa you are fortunate to have access to discounted rates across the region. And while there is a lot of debate about the ethics behind lower rates for residents, as a Kenyan, you are on the winning side of that debate. Resident rates were put in place to encourage more local tourism, and in most cases, they are a fraction of the non-resident rate (which is what you will find on most hotel websites). A local travel agent, will offer you the discounted rates, and they are more likely to be aware of other concessions that you can take advantage of to make premium destinations more affordable. Get Discounted Prices from Mint Safari!
There’s Nothing Wrong With Half-board
So, this may not work if you’re travelling to a remote destination where the closest restaurant is a long way off. For example, if you’re staying at the Sands at Chale, you definitely want to be on full-board. But, if your destination of choice is within close proximity to other restaurants, take the half-board option. You will still get to experience the same comforts, indulgences, amenities and service at the Mint destination, but you also enrich your holiday experience by trying different restaurants, and varied menus. Some places will not be explicit about a half-board option, so just ask. It’s unlikely that the difference in price between half and full board will be what you spend on the extra meals outside your accommodation.
Just Do It!
Pick a location, choose the dates, get some friends on board (accountability partners, motivation buddies, whatever you call your crowd) and commit to a plan. We can help with all that, but first, you have to dare to dream. That’s where it all starts. Book my dream holiday!
At Mint Safari, we are passionate about showcasing Kenya’s premium destinations and encouraging more local travel to these places. You’ve already been to a lot of the usual places. You have had the same experience too many times. You have shared a tour van with complete strangers, and it worked- at the time. Now, you’re ready for the next level of travel and Kenya has an abundance of out-of-the ordinary places and experiences for you to explore. You only need to pick the right time, plan in advance, work with the right travel partners, and you will be amazed by the places you will travel to.