News & Reviews Africa Kenya Review: Sirai Beach, Kenya

Sirai Beach, Kenya
Room type: Master Suite
Duration: 27 > 30th October, 2021

First impressions last, last impressions last longer, that’s why Netflix’s Midnight Mass is a masterpiece, which made up for its ponderous start to deliver a glorious, grandiloquent end. What’s this got to do with Sirai Beach, you ask? Nothing.  I just wanted you to know you should watch Midnight Mass.  

I guess you’re here to understand more about Sirai Beach.  Sigh.  Ok, as you seem like nice folk.

Sirai Beach is an exclusive use, behemoth of a property in Kilifi, the Kenyan coast.  When you think beach holidays and Africa, you’re probably thinking Seychelles, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Mozambique and maybe even Madagascar.  Oh sweet child, you probably never thought of Kenya.  And you still shouldn’t.  As Sirai Beach should be called Sirai-near-a-beach due to it being on a cliff and the high tide wiping the beach out for a large portion of the day.  Yet for someone like me that loves beach resorts due to their abundance of luxury, but doesn’t actually like the beach, Sirai Beach is the perfect non-beach beach themed resort.

Let me get some of the dirty laundry out of the way, as I want to offer you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but my version of the truth.  Let’s talk negatives, then I can focus solely on what an incredible property Sirai Beach is.  First up, the lack of any food menu.  This really sounds like a biggie, until I tell you that there is one, they just forgot to send it to me.  I will admit that this trip was so frequently postponed that they may have started to believe I’m one of those chat bots that never gives you any useful information and is ostensively just deigned to annoy you, but the pre-arrival correspondence was far from great.  In the end I dumped it on a tour operator, in the hope that being local they could physically stalk their reservations department, jump out on them in an alley way and confirm the booking, but they didn’t have a whole bunch more luck either.

All activities are outsourced and that was evident when our boat trip to see the carmine bee-eater resulted in seeing Messrs. Fuck and All, because the captain got there 30 minutes too late.  We were left doing a 90 minute tour where the outcome was hearing what a bird sounds like in darkness.  Gee, I could never have got that in England.  The air conditioning is also excessively loud; it’s an attention whore that demands you’re aware of it, even when it’s 3am.  Turn it off and expect to wake up in a sweat; ignore it and expect to wake up with a headache.

This guy tried the unusual “fish up the arse” technique to try and stop the screams of the air conditioning

But the one that will live long in my memory is the masseur.

Sirai Beach is all inclusive, but excludes spa treatments. What a shame, you may think, however, that’s like a strip club’s lap dances coming with a disclaimer that it’s extra if you also want gonorrhoea – you should be very happy it’s not included.  You could say: there is no happy ending.  The interaction was amongst the strangest I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been to Newcastle – twice.  First she starts negotiating her work hours, initially suggesting to come back tomorrow, then cutting it down further to specific times.  Undeterred, I agree to come back an hour later, only to find her on the phone with her sister.  Without any consultation on what I want, she starts the massage before heading back to her phone.  The massage was at least brilliant.  I kid, of course, it was amongst the worst I’ve ever had, with Burp from Ani Vilas finally having some competition in her Medieval Torture Club.  With the way she moved my joints into unnatural positions, it was not some revolutionary new technique but the signs of someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing.  Perhaps she was on her phone Googling what a massage is, but the internet can be a dark and dangerous place, so I suspect she ended up getting inspired by Fight Club and the bear from The Revenant.

I went in curious and left as a survivor.  

Splendid

In their defence, Sirai Beach is so awesome you won’t want to leave; sleeping will only take time away from the great facilities and food, and if you’re not prepared to rigorously fight with reservations for the ability to stay here, you don’t deserve to come.  The masseur I can’t explain, because I left my Ouija board at home.

So that’s it.  Not a negative word from here on out, as everything else was so outrageously good that I can confidently tell you it is one of the best properties I’ve ever stayed in.  Last year I was fortunate to call a five-bedroom villa in Amanzoe home and considered it my favourite accommodation.  Sirai Beach destroys it.  Does that mean with Amanzoe being Greek, Sirai Beach are the Romans?  If so, what a wonderfully, unexpected route back into Midnight Mass and religion.  But I digress.

Sirai Beach is a home.  Not a hotel, nor a lodge, nor a resort.  It’s a six-bedroom, exclusive use home, that boasts an impressive set of facilities and exudes luxury.  The grounds are vast, the views are stunning and there is an abundance of space and luxury.  Then they back it up with extremely attentive service, excellent food and an atmosphere of sheer tranquillity.

The view ain’t bad either

The facilities sounds like a checklist for a larger resort or a drug dealers Miami villa.  They include a spiral staircase, built into the rock, that takes you down to your private beach (or swimming pool, depending on the tide).  The perfect getaway when the Feds show up.  I cannot comprehend the work that went into building this, all so that I could just walk down it, stare at the lousy beach and go straight back to the epic swimming pool.

Seen here: the crowd of people deciding the beach is better than the pool

There’s also a gym, spa, tennis court, dining room, media room, drawing room, veranda, wine cellar, open kitchen and the spectacular pool.  Naturally you’ll also find a boutique, as they are harder to avoid than covid.

The facilities are unbelievable.  The moment I arrived on the property, which is down a road that makes it look like you’re off to work in a coal mine, you’re transported to this luscious, green paradise.

You enter through a dramatic atrium that feels like a church (last Midnight Mass references, I swear).  Each bedroom is beautiful and has views across the lawns that gaze into the ocean, but the Master Suite is on another level.  Literally, as it’s elevated above all the other rooms, and metaphorically, because it is so large that they could build Australia’s new nuclear submarines in there.  If I had just this room and none of the other facilities were exclusive, I would have been happy.  It has the largest balcony I’ve ever seen, only to be surpassed when I discovered a staircase through to rooftop terrace that further extended the space available.  Screw that sub, I’m building my own country in here.  You could comfortably fit an extended family in just the Master Suite, and there’s still 5 more bedrooms.

Yet I’ve not finished yet, as I haven’t even mentioned the private office/lounge.  Why does it have one?  Because this is Sirai Beach and both nothing and everything makes sense. It’s the Schrödinger’s cat of luxury.  Their motto must surely be “why not?”.  Just as I thought I’d discovered every piece of awesomeness it has to offer, something else appears.  There is so much space at Sirai Beach, but the Master Suite really seems excessive, like using a monster truck for the school run, but occasionally switching to your nuclear powered sub.

There are no blackouts, but they did pre-warn me, and I was so tired from running around screaming “holy shit this is amaaaazing” that I slept through anyway.

The Sonos sound system, available everywhere except the tennis court, is the best I’ve ever seen in a property.  The pool, whilst amazingly not heated, was comfortably 32C and a delight to go in.  I have not played tennis since primary school, but my dad and I played every evening.  This was purely so he could humiliate me, so please don’t have Field of Dreams visions and think it was pleasant for anyone but him.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  The only other activity available in-house is the fishing boat, but it was not available and I’m not 115 years old, so wouldn’t have used it anyway.

Sirai Beach is not an activities place.  They told me in advance that guests book all kinds of activities, only to cancel them all when they get there.  Using my code cracking skills (aka morse code) I learnt at Cub Scouts, that normally translates to “there is nothing, don’t even ask”.  I find myself easily bored, but after 3 nights at Sirai Beach I had only let the property for the boat ride and was left wondering where the time had gone.  My Dad, however, did create time to use the nearby PGA certified golf course.  He was clearly experiencing withdrawal symptoms, because he had not spoken to me about golf in approx. 48 hours, a game I know nothing about.

From the hard product, all I would like to see them improve is better facilities at the gym, add a hot tub, fix the air conditioning and add another spa treatment room.  Just get a priest in to exorcise it first.

Beach safari

When you’re on safari the biggest factor is your guide.  They will make or break your stay.  Here, the biggest factor is the House Manager, and she was fantastic.  Omnipresent and ensuring everything was running perfectly.  The entire team did a wonderful job, but the House Manager is the face of it all and our main point of contact.

We would venture down to the pool, then suddenly some ice bowls with our favourite drinks were available; all kinds of delights would arrive without asking; housekeeping seemed to be in the rooms 93 times a day, making everything perfect. Even the dhow boat ride wasn’t a waste of time, as one of the butlers came with us and provided us with a selection of delicious snacks.  The room setups were perfect, the preferences were all well remembered and my personal favourite was being offered a ballboy when we were playing tennis.  Actually, I take that back, my favourite was the House Manager taking one for the team and seemingly getting bitten by all the mosquitos, leaving only a few of the bastards to make their way through to us.  That’s the kinda service I expect, a bit like flying in front of the missile in Independence Day.

The food was very good, even though the head chef was initially absent with malaria.  Finally, someone is off with something other than covid.  My hero.  With it being all-inclusive, and very much like a safari, you are pelted with food from every direction, every other hour.  The hardest to digest is the 4pm cake – different every day – always delicious, yet comes at a time when there is no space left. There is a focus around fresh catches from the fisherman that day, but other options are always available.

Cooked breakfast was limited, with a small selection of bread and fruits being complimented by offered eggs (more like an egg, it was so small it may have been a frogs egg) sausages and bacon.  The sausages were two cocktail, and the bacon was so wafer thin they must have just shaved it off the pig whilst it was still alive.  Of course, upon mentioning this they went to the next extreme of all the sausages, an egg from a dinosaur and the pig was brought out so we could see it being slaughtered and then all of it served up.

What makes a great property great is always the same: you need a great hard product to get there, followed by a soft product that matches.  Sirai Beach has both in abundance.  It then managed to top it by offering that little something extra that only the finest properties can.  It offered an experience that made time flow too fast.

The Good

  • Service
  • Setting
  • Food

The Bad

  • Anything they outsource, such as the driver sent to collect us having used tissues in the car, or the masseur who I can only assume they found on the FBI’s Most Wanted
  • Being called Sirai Beach, but do not be put off by the lack of beach, the pool, food, service, facilities and, most importantly, the unlimited amount supply of alcohol will make you forget all of it.

The Luxurious

  • All of the facilities
  • Master Suite
  • Privacy and exclusivity

Conclusion

As we departed there was a huge jar of sweets and a handwritten note from the House Manager.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with her having read my Soneva Jani review and the panic that had crept in.  I think I wiped five years off her life.  Yet great properties that allow – no, demand – frequent feedback should never be afraid of not delivering.  Sirai Beach exceeded my expectations and after a 14 month wait, they were pretty high.

During the last two years the billionaires became multi billionaires and the millionaires had to suffer with just millions. Don’t think I missed anyone else out. So I must be a bit careful when talking of somewhere at $5k/n being a bargain. I already played that card at Amanzoe. So let me take it back, Amanzoe is not a bargain, Sirai Beach is.  Amanzoe offers you a dedicated host and chef, whilst the entire team at Sirai Beach are at your service.  That means if I asked a gardener to sharpen up on his topiary and construct a 6m tall minotaur with my face, he’d have no choice but to do it.

It is the ultimate place to relax and the perfect way to either begin or finish your Kenyan trip.

Available on an exclusive use basis from $5,000 per night

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 8th Nov '21

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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