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Mahali Mzuri Kenyan Safari Camp
Friday 05 Jul 2013
One of the most hotly anticipated launches in luxury travel, Real Studios’ stylish take on sustainable safari living with Virgin Limited Edition’s new Kenyan Safari Camp, Mahali Mzuri, opens summer 2013.
Real Studios co-director Yvonne Golds has brought the last word in contemporary chic to this ultimate safari camp experience, creating a vivid sense of place through the strategic use of vibrant local prints, materials and craft skills, while offering every creature comfort guests could wish for.
Twelve unique tented suites are strung along a ridge above a river, with spectacular views out over the Motorogi Conservancy at the northern edge of the Maasai Mara. From the design of the tent to the bold prints that adorn the walls and sofas, Yvonne has worked closely with local Kenyan designers and makers to bring a real integrity and organic beauty to the interiors.
Yvonne says: ‘It’s great to work with a client that gives you a lot of creative freedom. It’s also wonderful to spend time on the ground, finding the local craftspeople, designers and furniture makers and using as much as possible of local talent and local materials. In this way our designs can convey a real respect for the environment and culture in a contemporary way, and also in a way that reflects Virgin Limited Edition’s key brand values.’
The striking, contemporary safari tents have been created specifically for Mahali Mzuri by Kenyan manufacturers Canvas by Design. These bespoke, steel framed, architectural dwellings are clad in robust terracotta canvas and elephant grey lining with colour inspiration drawn from the natural environment around the area. Local textile experts helped Yvonne to source exuberant African prints from the markets of Kenya and Tanzania; these she has deployed for strategic sweeps of uplifting colour in every room, giving each tent its own distinctive palette. Yvonne also unearthed the best local furniture makers to create a stylish and eclectic array of indigenous wood and basketwork furniture and fixtures, which range from clean cut contemporary to organic and retro in style. Yvonne commented: ‘We want it to feel rich and homely, stylish but welcoming.’
Each tent features a spacious bedroom – some with four-poster beds - and a luxurious bathroom. Ten of the 12 tents are designed to sleep two adults and all can be split into twin beds. The remaining two tents are configured so that the sitting area is enclosed with sofa beds accommodating up to two additional guests. Private deck areas are shaded by the tent’s wide curved canopy. Neutral upholstery and natural materials provide the perfect setting for the vivid African prints used in cushions, rugs and – most strikingly – in a bold fabric backdrop behind each bed; here rich patterned sections are mixed with more subdued, locally woven ‘ticking’ style fabric, in a tribute to the happy eclecticism with which local people layer Maasai patterned robes with coastal prints.
The tents are linked by walkways which lead towards the centrally located communal tent that comprises the dining/bar/lounge areas; adjacent to this is the spa treatment room and swimming pool with surrounding sun terraces. At breakfast and dinner, guests will dine together at a communal glass-topped table supported by a magnificent length of untreated Cedar tree trunk. Coffee tables made from sliced cross-sections of deadfall trees enhance the organic, natural vibe, as does a central fire pit feature in the lounge, adding warmth and a welcoming gathering place for cooler safari nights.
Great care has been taken over the tents’ designs, facilities, materials and operations in order to minimize Mahali Mzuri’s environmental impact and maximize benefit to the local communities.