Keekorok Lodge is a Sun Africa Hotel (an East African chain of hotels), which is part of the Preferred Hotel Group boutique hotels. Keekorok Lodge was named World Luxury Hotel Awards winner in 2011. It also was named winner of TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Constructed in 1962 in the heart of the Masai Mara Reserve, Keekorok Lodge is the oldest property in the Mara. This 80-acre facility is located inside the 700-square mile Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Surrounded by springs and grasslands, Keekorok Lodge is in the direct path of the migration of wildebeest and zebras that occurs annually in July and August.
From Nairobi, the Keekorok Lodge is a short 40-minute flight from Nairobi-Wilson Airport on Air Kenya. This 16-seat aircraft provides breathtaking views of the reserve and lands at the Keekork Airstrip. At the airstrip, you will be greeted by a driver and Maasai Warrior who will accompany you to the lodge as you are transported 2.2 km by 4×4 land cruisers.
I arrived on the 4 pm flight, so we went straight to an afternoon game drive before checking into the lodge. Upon arrival at the lodge, you are greeted by Maasai Warriors and hotel staff handing out a warm wet hand towel—a much welcomed treat after taking a game drive, which will leave you VERY dusty. Overall, the service of the staff was outstanding. Everyone was very helpful and greeted you every time you walked by.
The lodge has 87 standard rooms, 10 chalets, 1 presidential suite, and one executive suite with 3 bedrooms. Wi-fi is available, but the connection is spotty and weak and only available in some areas: 500 KES (Kenyan shillings) for 1 hour or 1,200 KES for 24 hours. I booked my room through a tour company and the rate was $226 a night; the website advertised price was $259 for that time of year and days of the week.
The main dining hall at the Keekorok Lodge is buffet-style with a variety of dishes to choose from. There is also a custom corner when you can have omelets and crepes for breakfast and other dining options for lunch and dinner. The food was quite good. If you like Indian food, they had lots of good curry dishes at lunch and dinner. Buyer beware…only coffee and tea are included as beverages. Your waiter will offer you drink and not tell you there is a fee for them. This was really my only complaint about the hotel.
There is a bar by the hippo pond and bar in the lodge adjacent to the dining area. The lodge has a small coffee shop that serves espresso, instant coffee, tea, and a few snacks. The pool also had a bar and nice seating area.
The Eseriani Spa is a 3-room tent with two treatment rooms and a sitting area. The prices were really inexpensive (3,000 KES for a 1-hour aromatherapy massage), but the therapist was only okay. She was very sweet, but not an amazing massage therapist. In this case, you get what you pay for. That said, it was an interesting experience to visit a spa in a tent.
Depending on how you book your trip (through a company or directly yourself), game drives will be included. My package included a sunrise and sunset game drive each day in the same 4×4 land cruiser that met me at the airstrip. Our driver was amazing, and we saw lots of wildlife. You can also buy an additional trip to one of the Maasai villages just outside the park boundaries. The experience to see how these people live was well worth the $20 cost to have the driver bring you. You can also purchase a sunrise hot air balloon ride. While I’m sure it’s amazing, you get some good aerial views as you fly in and out of the reserve. The balloon ride is $450 per person.
Being environmentally friendly is extremely important for a lodge in a reserve. Hotel linens are not washed and replaced daily as advertised by a card on the bathroom sink. They also conserve energy by having power shut down for a total of 7 hours per day. The lodge also claims to focus on recycling, although I didn't see a recycling container once in my 2-night stay.
Overall, I really enjoyed this hotel. I would definitely consider going back. I had a wonderful experience (minus the water incident). I’m still a bit confused about the use of the term “luxury” that I keep seeing used to describe this lodge. While it was nice, it was older and somewhat outdated. It was also a bit grimy (especially the windows and around the edges of the floors, etc.), although there is so much dust that it’s hard to keep clean. The term luxury, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort,” “sumptuous environment <lived in luxury>,” or “something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary <one of life's luxuries>.” While the lodge was a luxury compared to sleeping in a tented facility, it certainly wasn't the same type of luxury that you get at the Ritz-Carlton.