‘Buying a piece of heaven is a responsibility. We try to use it the best possible way. We feel that we can affect the world and make a change’ says the co-owner of the unique Funzi Keys hotel and mother of four.
We are driving along the popularDianiBeach. It’s before midnight and you can still hear the buzz of Ukunda. Roads are not one of Kenya’s strengths and after several minutes we enter a thick palm tree forest. When we reach the end of the road we can distinguish the sky from the water only thanks to the stars. We go up a wooden pier and into the boat. This moment, the 15 minute boat trip, with the mangrove forest around us and the stars above us, marks the beginning of our wonderful experience at Funzi Keys .
Despite the darkness, we can see the beautiful beach and cottages lit with warm lights, which are scattered among the tropical vegetation. The main building, a cottage with a thatched roof is situated in the middle, next to a wooden pier. There is a yacht moored to it. We are greeted by a man wearing a loose outfit. He claims to be a footman, porter and waiter, and says he will show us to our room.
Our cottage is located at the beach front. Thanks to mesh-covered windows we can enjoy the view of the ocean and the beautiful vegetation. There is a meal waiting for us in the room: melt-in-the-mouth beef carpaccio with parmesan, king prawns and a bottle of champagne.
‘Do you know champagne?’ our porter asks. This is his greeting.
The next morning we decide to get up early: we did not get much sleep over the last few days, but we both agree that we do not want to waste time. We want to experience more.
Breakfast is served in the main building, which blends beautifully into the green, tropical background. On the ground floor there are sofas and couches for those tired of the sun. There is also a bar there, with friendly, smiling staff bustling around. The inside is furnished with wooden furniture; there is also an old, wooden boat there. It is easy to notice many subtle details: chiselled wooden chests, sculptures, even the walls with carved plant motifs. Some of the things were custom-made; others were bought in various shops selling arts and crafts.
It is time for breakfast. We can choose between yoghurts, all kinds of eggs dishes, fresh fruit. During the meal the owner approached us: she is originally from Columbia, but she came to live in Kenya as a teenager, with her father who was an ambassador. Today, Funzi is her piece of heaven on earth, which she shares with her husband and their 4 children. They bought the land and the cottage many years ago: it was their getaway house for the weekends when they lived and worked in Nairobi and Mombasa. Their friends convinced them to build more bungalows: Fuzi Keys has been receiving visitors for the last 10 years. The 24-year-old son of the owners is growing into a smart manager: he is a natural. He completed his education inSwitzerlandand gained experience inMexico.
Today, guests at Funzi Keys can choose between 9 cottages located at the sea front and 8 located further away, with a view of the sea. All cottages are built of stone with mesh-covered windows. Even though there are no doors, we feel safe. Inside the cottage there is a wooden four-poster bed and a wooden canoe, which serves as a table. A jacuzzi is by the window, which allows us to enjoy the view of the sea, the private beach and the tropical vegetation, while bathing.
During breakfast we are asked about the lunch and dinner menu: we can choose one soup, one main course and one dessert, all prepared from fresh, light ingredients. Cold soups are excellent: we can choose between carrot, tomato and cucumber. Sea food, such as squid and king prawns is also splendid. We can also choose the when to eat ourselves. We will eat by the pool and we do not need any special outfits. Dinner can be served either by the pool or on the beach.
The swimming pool is amazing: in an irregular shape, with a mosaic at the bottom, filled with emerald water. What I like the most are the flowering bushes next to the pool. The white and amaranth flowers sometimes fall and float on the surface of the water, creating beautiful and colourful designs. The deckchairs are set out in such a way to ensure a cosy and intimate atmosphere. Other deckchairs and tables are situated on the narrow strip of beach between the pool and the sea.
Despite the seclusion of the hotel, and its location on the beach, there are a lot of things to do. On the first day we go on a kayak trip. We are surrounded by beautiful nature, with star fish underneath the water and the mangrove forest around us. On the second day we visit a “private island,” which appears and disappears. The boat trip takes 2 minutes and we are surrounded by water. Sun protection canopies are set up just for us on the white sand. Comfortable cushions allow us to relax. Besides all this, a fridge filled with cool drinks is brought for us: that is how Funzi Keys sees to the customers’ needs.
Staying at the hotel feels like staying at a friend of friend’s estate. The atmosphere was homely, no reception and a big family, which will always give you some ideas on how to spend the afternoon, but which does not trouble you in any way.
What we liked
– getting to the hotel only by boat or plane
– no reception or other standard hotel options such a fixed restaurant menu.
– exceptionally discreet staff
– private beach in front of the cottage
– cottages are scattered, which gives the impression of spaciousness and privacy.
– no regular doors or windows: the doorways and windows are covered with mesh; paradoxically it gives a sense of security
– customization (your stay can be active, but it can also be very lazy)
– “disappearing” beach and all the circumstances: the boat, having our choice of places to lie prepared for us, the fridge with the cool drinks, you decide how long you want to stay.
– spacious cottages
– jacuzzi with the view of the ocean
– old canoe used as a table
– meals served outside, lunch by the pool and dinner on the beach
– flowers in the swimming pool
– the harmony between that built by man and that created by nature.
Translation: GB English