It’s hard to know what to expect with a name like Water Lovers. I had been speaking to Riccardo, the friendly proprietor, so I asked if he had space. He did – and he also threw in: “we’re a small eco-friendly property”. I kept an open mind and booked three nights.
I wouldn’t fly to Diani any other way than Airkenya’s direct flight out of its exclusive passenger terminal at Wilson Airport. Depart 9.30am, land
10.35, 11.00am on the beach!
We arrived at the Ukunda Airstrip and were met by a friendly taxi driver, John. We departed from the Airport, turned on to the main road and just when I was going to ask “how far away is Water Lovers..?” John was turning off the road. Water Lovers is literally seven minutes from the Airstrip. The gates opened and Lara greeted us. Immediately I saw the antique Indian swing and the Lamu doors I decided this was a truly beautiful property. The mvuli (Meru oak) walkway was another striking feature leading from the parking to the swimming pool.
Water Lovers is a small property, only on one-acre, but they have made such good use of the space it felt wide and open, warm and friendly. There is sand everywhere: in fact the whole property makes you feel as if you are already on the beach, and honestly once I kicked off my shoes I didn’t put them back on for three days – now that’s what beach holidays are about!
There are eight exclusive and spacious rooms – as well as a villa to accommodate a larger group and an exclusive penthouse with four bedrooms. All rooms (villa included) have a balcony or terrace with a view of the ocean, cooled by refreshing sea breezes. Each room is named after one of the wild animals that roam the African plains: we were given the key to the Leopard room – and as we opened the door we were met by a carved leopard in the entrance as well as on the doors. The attention to detail is exquisite. There was plenty of space for our family of four in the room, and my girls (aged three and five) were quick to change into their swimming costumes and head for the pool.
The most important feature for the kids was a beautiful turtle-shaped swimming pool. It didn’t take my daughters long to discover the “surf table “ which is a table made with a surfboard over a foot-bath with two big whale tail-shaped seats. We had our lunch at the surf table, in the sand next to the bar, with our feet dangling in the cool foot-bath. Menus offered a combination of snacks as well as the regular lunch and dinner menus. We ordered our lunch and dinner: sumptuous seafood as well as an ample choice for both meat lovers and vegetarians, all cooked to order and accommodating our special requests. There is a small gift shop too, which unlike many over-priced shops is not so over-priced at all. Who doesn’t like a bit of a shop even on the beach? And yes, there is a treatment room, offering massages and other beauty treatments.
After lunch, it was time to explore the beach: literally a skip and a jump and we were enjoying the salty water lapping on our feet. But how did they come to name this beautiful property Water Lovers? It didn’t take me long to find out. Riccardo is a Kite Surfer extraordinaire. The sand in front of Water Lovers was clean and soft, and as we started building sand castles we watched Riccardo take off on his board, performing high jumps and flips: pretty spectacular stuff. And Valentina, his wife, loves to Wind Surf, so it was natural for the water lovers, to call their property, just that: Water Lovers.
Everything is wonderfully homely about Water Lovers and the staff went out of their way to make us comfortable. Tea time was another treat: a fantastic array of teas and to crown it some home-made treats which we enjoyed on one of the day-beds scattered around the property: how far away from the hustle and bustle this felt.
After another dip in the pool it was time to get dressed for dinner. We had the option of eating in the open air dining area – or on our veranda as we had young children. Couples like us with young children will certainly appreciate dining near their sleeping children, but couples or indeed families with older children – if they’re lucky enough to have low tide in the evening – can opt to have dinner at a table right on the beach. Wherever you are on the property, you’ll be accompanied by the sounds of the ocean: bliss! We really unwound and enjoyed the beach so much more than we have on past coast holidays.
Time seemed not to matter, yet it passed by far too quickly. The days came and went, and it was with a heavy heart that we packed our bags to head back to Nairobi – the only consolation being that a trip back to Water Lovers was certain. They truly live up to their motto: “come as a guest…. leave as a friend!”