Sometimes the most beautiful of places are hidden in the most unusual corners of the world.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH SIMBAR
Happy January Life dee-zigners. Its a new year and with it comes new experiences. This year I will be running a column on building structures and choice destinations from an architectural point of view. (Finally! I know.) So this month the destination of choice is a lavish new resort located in a quiet pocket along the Kenyan Coast. It is one of a handful of gems strewn along the beach that I had the pleasure of visiting the past December holidays.
St. Thomas resort is located in Mayungu, which is in the middle of Malindi and Watamu, some of the better known towns along the coast. We approached it from Watamu which was the wrong choice. We kept hoping the bumpy ride would be well worth it. Needless to say, it was.
The gate and surrounding wall rose into our horizon view. It looked like a fortress, covering all the interior contents. However, that alone was beautiful enough for us to preempt what was waiting for us.
The architecture is reminiscent of the Islamic architecture all over the Kenyan coast, highly influenced by Arabic architecture. This resort was however quite different from existing structures. It achieved a very modern look.
The boundary wall had pockets of planters and the entrance was surrounded by water, a feature replicated in what I call the heart of the resort. The inviting paths were lit by low-lying lights, a feature that I shall definitely be borrowing.
The resort’s site organisation is radial. This is whereby a focal point determines the positioning of all other spaces. The focal point in this case is the restaurant and spa building(the heart of the resort). This building is surrounded by two swimming pools all round giving the building an island look. This is the same feature as the entrance replicated in a larger scale.
The other buildings are villas which radiate from the restaurant forming a semi circle sort of organisation around it.This forms an inward kind of feel which easily allows for interactions at the central point which can easily be translated to a large courtyard. This aspect may have been borrowed from the African Architecture along the coast (But who knows?)
The villas consist of various size apartments, from studio, one bedroom, two bedroom to the lavish holiday home (Think Mt. Kenya Holiday Homes) I didn’t get a chance to see the existing one but there is space for about three or four others and the model for acquiring one is similar to the one used in Mt. Kenya Holiday Homes, pay first then they build.
The whole resort faces the beach with a small fence acting as a barrier. The small picket gate opens out into the white sands along the beach. Probably the whitest sand I have ever seen. And the view is breathtaking.
The features that stood out for me are;
The walkway-The low-lying garden lights that illuminate the path only pose little competition to the moonlight at night.
The window frames- The beautiful carved patterns are reminiscent of old-town’s timber doors. Such a lovely frame for my face too.
The outdoor curtains along the balcony- This transformed the balcony into either a private or public space as needed.
The pool-this was a great design decision. I loved how it made the restaurant building seem like an island. It not only included the pool in the entire layout but created extra great views from the villas.
The beach- Location!Location!Location! A great project begins with a great location. And the Kenyan coast, especially Mayungu is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The great staff was also quite refreshing.