A Weekend of WoW

  • 14 April 2015

Medina Palms is named Kenya's Best hotel

It was a great weekend in Watamu as the members of the ‘Wonders of Watamu’ got together for an awards ceremony and educational sessions with the Kenya Tourist Board and TripAdvisor.

In town for the weekend was Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa, along with the Destination Head for Africa for TripAdvisor, Chad Shiver. They both held meetings with members of Wonders of Watamu (WoW) to talk about the efforts being made to market the region and to see first hand the resources and efforts being made by Watamu stakeholders. Ndegwa praised the passion and drive of the trade to create a brand and market their products to the right audience, and talked about how better private sector initiatives can work with the Tourist Board. Several key agreements were made to work together on joint projects. This included a discussion with Tribe Watersports of Watamu as a venue for professional watersport events.

KTB meets WoW members

He then joined Chad from Trip Advisor to reward Medina Palms, a key founding member of WoW, with their award for best hotel in Kenya as voted by the Traveller’s Choice Awards. At a special event held with the local media in front of the hotel’s stunning Indian Ocean vista, Ndegwa said this was great news for Medina, for Watamu and for Kenya.

Muriithi and Chad then spent an entire day touring Watamu to experience the Wonders of Watamu firsthand. This was not just a typical hotel inspection- as each member gave their guests a flavor of the unique experiences they offer.

GOPRO Snakes at Bio-Ken

Their day included a beach walk to visit Turtle Bay Beach Club, drinks in the famous bar at Hemingways and a laid back lunch on the deck at Ocean Sports. They also got up close and personal with dangerous snakes at Bio-Ken and saw how specialist wildlife photographers get incredible footage of these creatures during a GOPRO shoot.

Beachcomber House from Discover Watamu

They visited some of the luxury houses and villas available for rent via Discover Watamu, and at Local Ocean Trust they learned about how tourism and the protection of endangered species can work together, before having a rare opportunity to release rescued turtles back into the sea, just the latest of the more than 12,000 turtles released by the project. Muriithi described this as one of the best experiences he’d ever had as he watched the Green turtle he had released vanish beneath the waves.

WatamuTreehouse

There was still time for a visit to the stunning Watamu Treehouse where a yoga class was just getting underway as the sun touched the horizon. They then joined all the members for a TripAdvisor educational session, with Chad showing how this amazing platform, the world’s largest source of travel content, can be better used for individual and regional marketing. Education of the trade to make better informed marketing choices is a central aim of WoW.

KTB MD Muriithi Ndegwa releases a Green Turtle

The guests then joined WoW members for a cocktail and dinner in the luxurious beachfront Amani Villa at Medina Palms.

Rounding out a perfect day, Muriithi said “I’ve been on so many familiarization trips and tours, but I have never enjoyed one as much as this. The variety of incredible things to do and the passion of the local people- all I can say is WOW!”

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