My inbox used to be filled with endless questions about Laucala, but now they’ve been replaced by a perpetual curiosity around Kisawa. I have not seen interest this level of intrigue in a property since Boris’ piss-ups turned Downing Street into Glastonbury.
For those of you who don’t know, Kisawa Sanctuary is a new luxury beach resort in Mozambique. Not a whole lot to be excited about, you might think. It’s not on a private island, it’s not part of a known luxury hotel group, it’s not in a country renowned for luxury travel and there’s not a single identifiable USP….except they’re opening at €6,000/n. Oh and that only includes your accommodation and drinks, so throw in transfers, food and activities – suddenly you’re wishing you were in the comfort of the sanely priced St. Tropez. You’ll be dreaming of that bargain-price €30 glass of water.
Here’s why I think Kisawa has received so much attention: price, PR and press. At €6,000/n you’re sticking your flag in the sand. I just don’t know what you’re declaring: you hate common sense or the poor? This is the opening rate for a brand new property in a country with nothing even remotely comparable. It’s like opening a Louis Vuitton in a shopping mark in Hull, right next door to Poundland.
Then there’s the PR, which has worked its magic as everyone keeps asking me about it. I’m clearly entranced too, as I too am keen to go and just by writing this I’m pouring petrol on the fire. Their PR team have given enough hints to make me wanna go, but not enough information to give me an idea of what will be there.
Lastly, there’s the press, or should I say the lack of them – no one has reviewed it yet, and I’m well aware that several journalists for major publications have been invited then randomly uninvited. I don’t mean those writing for shite blogs like mine, I mean the magazine’s and newspapers people actually read. Or used to read, until the not-so-shite blogs started killing off print. I digress.
So they’ve grabbed our attention with a price point that makes you think it’s going to be great, given enough information to keep our focus on the greatness, and ensured no one can review it so their greatness cannot be taken. If no one can say anything bad about you, you can keep the illusion alive.
The intrigue is also enhanced by the owners – people without experience of running a luxury resort, which makes it a bit like driving past a car crash, where you are compelled to watch but really shouldn’t. For myself, the price is the entire story. Were it just another €1,000-€2,000/n property then it wouldn’t have created the attention it has and I wouldn’t be bothered to go there, but when you launch with prices comparable to North Island, Fregate and Miavana, you’re telling people that your product is equal, if not better. That’s either an astonishing level of self-belief, arrogance or both. Or they’ve been to Fregate and understood why it needed to shut for two years for a refurb. I digress.
So when am I going?
I wanted to go last year when I was in Kenya, but they did not open in time. I rebooked for June. And I was all set to go, with a discount offered – until I was informed last week that they do not want any reviews prior to September and the discount was subsequently removed. That makes the entire situation even weirder; they launched with such high rates but lack the confidence to back it up.
So regrettably I will not be going. I really thought about it, but at nearly €20,000 for a 3-night stay, I could not see what I would get out of it when the resort itself is telling me they’re not ready. If the excuses are already present, then all I’ll hear is how I need to come back, but I know I’d never want to. I possess a stubbornness that hears a “no” and becomes even more determined, but I’ve found that apparently my silence can be bought and you can put a price on my pride. Even five years on, Miavana clearly impacted me too much to want to repeat it again.
My feeling is that it will repeat the mistakes of Banwa, which launched a focused campaign on being the most expensive private island in the world, only for no one to go. Now you can rent a villa for as little as $2300/n. With my second daughter due in September, I will unlikely get an opportunity until 2023 to go, which hopefully gives one of you the opportunity to be the guinea pig instead.
I’m hoping it turns out awesome and they’re able to justify the price, but currently the evidence is not stacked in their favour.