It was a cold (Mombasa cold, not really cold) Saturday morning heading to South Coast, the rain pelted on my umbrella, as I stood there sandwiched between myriads of people on the ferry waiting to cross on the other side. It rained heavily that day; I was cold, drenched and emotionally drained from deadlines I had to meet, and work that needed to be done. As I stood waiting for the ferry back to North Coast in the evening that day; tired from all the pushing and shoving, the blank stares that were gazing at me, I slowly drifted away into the horizon, day dreaming of a quiet weekend away; just me lying by the beach somewhere peaceful, absorbed in a good book, while enjoying every minute of it, when suddenly a crazy homeless person shoved me back to reality with his loud singing. My day dream suddenly turned into a nightmare, while I begrudgingly shoved my way out of the ferry.
Last Saturday the rains were at it again; the weather was chilly, the skies dull and grey and my brain completely went on shut down. I knew I needed a break away from reality for the weekend, some place where I could relax and forget the outside world for a few days, and the only place that came to mind was Serena Beach Resort and Spa.
I was eager to get to Serena and have a feel of the first class experience that they had to offer, since my friends highly recommended the place. The drive down to Shanzu was dull and grey and I kept wondering who I would have to sacrifice to the sun gods to have some bit of sun; I wasn’t about to let the weather deter me from my daydream that involved me lying by the beach, while catching up on some books.
The friendly reception I received the moment I stepped into Serena made me realize I couldn’t have made a better choice; something about Serena made me feel like I had teleported back to Lamu! The entrance courtyard, somewhat reminded me of the coral ruins in Gedi, while the intricate carvings on the main door reminded me of old Swahili houses. I kept marveling over the Swahili architecture, that I didn’t notice the receptionist calling out my name to hand me keys to my room!
As we walked down “Lamu Street”, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in Lamu; the narrow alleyways winding between high coral walls, while the pathway led one directly to the ocean. In my mind, I could picture little children playing on the narrow streets, somewhere in Lamu, I could envision the tired donkeys slowly headed to rest near the beach, I could hear the Bajun women, with their heavy Swahili accent, catching up on some gossip, and I could see the men coming back from the sea, with their catch of the day! Little raindrops on my face, brought me back to reality, while I marveled over the beautiful tropical plants around each house, sparkling from the rain, which added more beauty to the walls, yet had a way of making me feel like I was home away from home!
The moment I stepped inside my room, I could feel like a weight had been carried off my shoulders; the bed felt like it had my name written all over it, and I knew it was going to hold me hostage for the night! The wooden furniture and hanging carved lamps, blended in well with the walls, while adding some warmth to the room. I decided to rest on the bed for a while, and as I did, I noticed the mangrove roof beams painted in reddish hue, which gave the ceiling a unique homely atmosphere to it! Hotels usually have a way of making me feel claustrophobic, but that wasn’t the case with Serena; the little balcony outside gave me a chance to warm up with a hot cuppa, while inhaling the warm, salty air outside. I didn’t realize how much time had passed, until I got a call to freshen up for dinner.
There’s something about the long walk heading to Jahazi SeaFood Restaurant on a windy night, that’s just so therapeutic; the moon beaming down on you, the interplay of lights and shadows at night simply have a way of taking your breath away! I sat overlooking the ocean, lost in thought, as the waves kept crashing on the shore, an array of stars twinkling from the skies, while the moon illuminated on the ocean, like a sparkling blanket! The ambience couldn’t have been more perfect than that; everything felt right at that point in time. The General Manager joined me for a meal, and it was evident to see the passion and commitment he had in making sure all the guests in the hotel, enjoyed first class experience at Serena.
The night was still young, so I decided to explore and get to marvel at the amazing Swahili Décor around, and found myself at the main bar. Picture yourself in the late 19th century; the sea is still, your boat slowly drifting away, wave after wave, while you enjoy a bottle of scotch, waiting to get back to shore. That’s how I felt when I stepped into the main bar; designed like a dhow, the bar counter looked like a hull, with the authentic canvas sail rising above, but what caught my attention was the capstans, which serve as bar stools! After a few drinks, I decided to call it a night and went back to my room for some much needed rest.
I woke up the next day feeling fresh and relaxed, and headed over for breakfast; the sun was peering over the clouds, and I could tell it was going to be a good day already!
With my fresh cup of coffee while overlooking the beach, I realized there’s so much I hadn’t seen yet, and made a point of visiting the Butterfly Park and Spa in the afternoon. The wind was trying to ruin my hopes of some sunshine by the beach, but the sun was determined to outshine (pun intended) it. Seated by the stone benches overlooking the beach, one can’t help but meditate and appreciate God’s wonderful creations, and judging by the other guests seated nearby, you could tell the beach always has a way of giving you inner peace.
Strolling back to my room, I decided to use a different route to get to explore other streets along the Village. I came across a large conical tower surmounted by a star and crescent. After inquiring about the origin of the tower, I came to realize it symbolized the mosques in Shela, near Lamu in which people often used to go to the tower to meditate and think; although the tower in Serena is often used for recreational purposes.
After such an active morning, I couldn’t think of a better way to end my weekend getaway than to have a nice, relaxing massage at the spa. I made sure I savored every moment there. After my session was over, I came back just in time for lunch, hoping that somehow time would stand still and I wouldn’t have to check out; but unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
Everything about Serena lived to its name; their world-class service, amazing hospitality and friendly staff, definitely make Serena one of my favorite weekend getaways! With December just around the corner, I plan on making use of the Lipa Pole Pole package that they have, and save up for a well deserved holiday! The serene atmosphere and solitude I got at Serena, was just what the doctor ordered. The narrow alleys, and the experience I had staying in the “Village” left me feeling like I had teleported to a traditional Swahili town and captured the timelessness and serenity of what Mombasa has to offer!