JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge is now open, marking the brand’s debut in the luxury safari segment.
The lodge sits within the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya, one of Africa’s most renowned wildlife and wilderness conservation regions. Guided game drives give guests the opportunity to observe the “Big Five” that Masai Mara is home to, including lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinoceros, and elephants. Between June and September, the reserve is host to the annual great wildebeest migration, which sees more than 10 million animals travel a distance of 1,800 mills from the Serengeti in neighboring Tanzania.
Accommodation is in 20 private tents, all with terraces overlooking the River Talek. Designed by Kristina Zanic Consultants, the tents’ interiors feature soft, warm tones, natural materials and textures, and native colors. The tented honeymoon suite offers a private plunge pool, while two interconnecting king and twin suites are ideal for families over the age of six (the minimum age of guests at the lodge).
Other thoughtfully-designed spaces include the cozy, book-filled Adventure Lounge, and the Cultural Deck, where guests can gather around the fire pit.
The lodge also offers the Spa by JW experience via treatments in their tents, natural and organic products by African skincare brand, Healing Earth, guided yoga, and more.
A JW Garden is at the heart of the camp and its culinary offerings. Chefs use the garden’s produce to craft personalized dishes, cocktails, and mocktails. The space is also used to host daily programming, including live cooking, interactive cocktail mixology, and chef-led talks for a true farm-to-table experience.
Other drink and dine venues are Fig Tree Lounge, an indoor and outdoor bar, and Sarabi Restaurant, an al fresco dining experience.
Significantly, JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge offers community programming that provides an authentic insight into meaningful local projects, including The Maa Trust, an organization empowering local people by promoting small business start-ups. The lodge donates a percentage of the nightly rate per person to the organization and provides a space for craftspeople to retail Maa Beadwork and produce. Guests can visit The Maa Trust to meet with local artisans.
Currently, 60 percent of the lodge’s team are locals, with plans to reach 70 percent, ensuring the hotel contributes to the socio-economic development of the region.
As an ongoing initiative, JW Marriott Masai Mara’s Apprenticeship Program invites young women from the community to diversify their skills and broaden their experience to kick-start their careers in the hospitality industry.
Partnership with the community began during the early development process of the lodge. The lodge was constructed on land committed to a tourism project so as not to unduly disturb the surrounding environment. Much of the construction was done by local experts overseen by technical specialists, with build materials from sustainable suppliers.
The lodge has also rehabilitated access roads to the property, installed power to the area, and provided access to clean drinking water for locals through a water treatment plant.
Emphasis on waste reduction and recycling is integral to daily operations. The lodge’s water treatment plant provides recycled and sanitized water, food waste is composted; and water wells are dotted around the lodge for animals to quench their thirst throughout the day.
In addition, JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge contributes to protecting animals and their habitat across the greater Mara ecosystem by supporting local organizations such as The Mara Elephant Project and The Mara Protector Conservation Programme.
“Fostering meaningful connections and nourishing the soul is at the heart of the JW Marriott brand, so entering the luxury safari segment is a natural next step,” said Bruce Rohr, global brand leader, JW Marriott. “Offering our guests once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a deep connection to place, JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge balances the thrill of a game drive with thoughtful opportunities to switch off and take it all in. We are excited to welcome travelers to a transformative and wellness-forward stay delivered with JW Marriott’s legacy of extraordinary hospitality.”