I started travelling when i was young as a result of my dad and his travels while working for an NGO, This continued in campus where I got the chance to travel to certain places across the country i had never had the chance of visiting. After a few years of working and travelling, I got married and we started a family.
The two groups of friends I travel with were also at the same place. Starting families and we made a decision to continue travelling together. The dynamics are however different since children and nannies are now included in the mix. So now the objectives of the holiday are to spend time with the kids doing something they love. As both groups consist of more than 5 families I am always looking for accommodation for at least 20 people.
So how do you go around finding accommodation for a group this big?
First you decide where you want to go with the specific area in mind e.g if you want to go to Mombasa, then say Nyali or Shanzu if south Coast say Tiwi or Watamu. Before Airbnb became more common place these are some of the other places that offer accommodation for larger groups.
- Hotels – There some hotels who offer both hotel rooms and cottages or apartments. Apartments tend to be able to take more people and for families travelling together that very important as you want to stay together. Most apartments though are better on a self catering option which means you will have to get a chef and shop for food. Some hotels which offer this include Great Rift Valley Lodge and Hillpark Tiwi. For a chef it takes time to find the perfect one who works with the dynamics of you group. Due to doing this multiple times I have about 3 chef’s I use who understand how to cook for a diverse group of adults and children. Additionally Great Rift Valley Lodge offers parents the Explorers club for kids which organizes different activities for them that they can do in and around the lodge.
Hillpark Tiwi had a 4 bedroomed house which worked well for us for all the families and some couples and also as a place to have the chef to do the cooking. It also had the advantage of being beachfront which gave us a good breeze and a very good view day and night
- Holiday Homes – Holiday Homes are homes whose owners have put them out in the market as places one can hire it for a weekend or a whole week. Holiday homes are scattered across the country and thus are very hard to find or even know. That’s were Langata Links Holiday Homes Kenya http://www.langatalinkholidays.com, Discover Watamu https://www.discoverwatamu.com/, Kilifi Konnection https://kenyacoast.com/ and Kenya Holiday homes http://www.kenyaholidayhomes.com. Now there is Booking.com and Airbnb, though I should say in Kenya it’s a bit hard to find one property that can accommodate all 20 people on Airbnb. I have dealt most with Holiday Homes Kenya by Langata Link, who had quite a good list of holiday homes in different parts of the country. Holiday Homes had a good listing showcasing the amenities locations and dates available. Downside was their listings did not include a different rate for kids as kids were considered adults even though their accommodation arrangements are different. Currently they have a new site langatalinkholidays.com with quite a number of different offerings.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is the new kid on the block with different solutions to fit any type of budget and also location. The menu helps you be able to choose location, budget and total number of people you would be looking to have. The system works well though it’s restricted to a debit or credit card payment. Certain cities like Nairobi and Mombasa tend to have more options though this is spreading out to other towns. The only downside is finding a house for a big group and maybe that is a problem only I face and also the fact that you can’t pay via mobile money.
- Other options include bookings.com and jumia travel which I have used albeit fleetingly. Jumia Travel worked well the last time I was looking for an affordable hotel in Nakuru town.
So I’m a guy and sometimes all I’m looking for is a roof over our heads and not a luxury room with all the trappings and fittings or a queen. I also happen to have 3 boys which my wife is convinced makes packing & travelling a whole lot easier. I always look at travelling with family from what the acceptable minimums would be and build up from there. Here is my checklist when i am looking for a holiday home;-
- Location – How far from the town/city is it? At the Coast it’s always about how far from the beach is it? I have found properties on the 2nd or 3rd row tend to be better priced that properties beachfront. Also how easy is it to get around?
- Travel times – How long does it take to get here? I enjoy driving and can practically drive anywhere. I however need to factor in the travel times to the different places. E.g to drive to Mombasa i always find it easier to leave Nairobi at 4am as there will be less vehicle and human traffic all the way to Mtito Andei.
- Amenities;- When travelling with the kids I’m more open to a facility with a swimming pool and a recreational area than one without. Also in the coast i will always go with the house with a resident swimming pool.
- Room Facilities – Wifi, TV make a big difference. I have been to holiday homes with a complete library of books, videos and even board games. That was completely amazing and made our holiday so worth it.
- Packing – what do you need to pack? Does the place offer towels and blankets? What don’t they offer?
- Self Catering – usually with Self catering trips with my 2 groups since they are during the long holidays I have a longer period to plan and hence I engage the chef on the menu early so that we agree and know where to shop. To have a more sustainable budget ask your chef if there are any places in the neighbourhood where you can make purchases in wholesale.
I hope this information has been helpful and if you need any help planning a holiday for a big group please drop me a line.