I love water bodies, my mind and heart are at peace when I am near water. So when a chance to do a roadtrip to one of my favourite destinations Kisumu came up of course I was going to jump in. It was going to be an interesting trip because not only were we visiting the new Jewel of Kisumu, Acacia Premier Hotel but we were also driving down in some new cars that Simba Colt had launched in the market. So, it was going to be a chance to kill two birds with one stone, experience the new cars and hotel, but also get to visit some of the tourist destinations in Kisumu. I was looking forward to this trip, because Kisumu is Dala.
Kisumu is like that teenage girl who had taken time to develop, so suitors may have ignored her and gone for the girl with the obvious charms, the seductive Nairobi. But when she finally realizes her potential and has gotten over her shyness, she is a beauty. Suitors who previously did not notice her are now clamoring to get her attention, to get her to fall in love with them. The Simba Colt Corp is one of those suitors, who is wooing her with a beautiful hotel that is a jewel around her neck, to make her look more stunning and beautiful, to make her more hospitable, and help her show her charms.
I was late to get to Villa Rosa Kempinski where we were to have an early breakfast before departing. I was let down by a new Uber driver lady who took almost 20 minutes to find me (like how hard is it to read a map). Luckily Villa Rosa Kempinski had prepared for us snack boxes for the trip and the food was enough to last us up until Kisumu. We were in teams, as there were 6 cars. The cars – Mahindra Xylo and Mahindra XUV500, Renault – Duster and Kadjar, the new Pajero Sport and the Pajero V96. We were in the Mahindra Xylo which is quite comfortable and a dream to drive (it is a manual). It is a six seater and it is very spacious. Perfect for a road trip. The only drawback to this great car is that it does not have a boot but that is not an issue as there is plenty of space to carry bags if you are 4-5 people.
On the road trip to Kisumu we had several stops, mostly to take pictures. We had a drone among us and we would stop to get some good pictures of the team. Kenya is beautiful, looking at the green valleys and hills, it was amazing that we have such beautiful places. Often if one is driving or passing by bus one never takes the time to appreciate the green gold that is our hills and valleys in the Rift Valley. The most memorable stop was in Kericho, where the green tea trees as far as one could see was a beautiful canvas, framed with blue sky and fluffy white clouds.
The Acacia Premier Hotel adjoins the West End Mall on Achieng’ Oneko Rd. The Acacia Hotel is unpretentious from outside, but quite glamorous from the inside. The lobby is quite impressive, with the reception on one side and a café on the other side. The hotel has a wellness Spa with 3 treatment rooms, a fully equipped gym, an outdoor swimming pool, and an executive Lounge. There is also an AVIS Car Rental Desk, a business centre with administrative services. Some of the service offered include in-room dining from 6pm to 10am daily, concierge service, same day laundry service and airport transfers.
The rooms are quite big, with a comfortable (queen sized bed). I was on the 5th floor, and our bags were tagged and brought to our rooms, no struggling with luggage. Acacia Premier Hotel Kisumu has 94 contemporary rooms in Standard and Superior categories, as well as 4 Bay Suites and the region’s only International Presidential Suite (which I must say is a fantastic suite for the price it is going at). The rooms have a coffee/tea-making facilities, en-suite bathroom, climate control A/C, mini bar, Wi-Fi service, phone, flat screen satellite TV, luxury beds and a Digital safe box.
The things I appreciated about the hotel during my stay there were the little touches. Like the fact that the staff would come in the evening to draw the curtains, cover the bed with the mosquito net and freshen up the room so that when you came in to sleep things were in order. This is in addition to the normal clean up that they would do by around 9 am. There were also disposable slippers which is one of my pet peeves when one is travelling and one has to carry their own.
From my room I could look out and see Lake Victoria in a distance and watch the sun set over the lake. I could also see the turquoise blue pool that was calling my name, and I went down to answer the call every morning at 6 am when the pool was open. The pool was my favourite spot, not only because it was where I would swim every morning, but because it was also where we had some of our meals. I was able to get up quite early to swim (actually I don’t really get sleep in hotels – unless I stay there for more than 3 days. My insomnia tends to come full force and unless I am really tired I end up tossing and turning all night). I was the only one from the team up at that time to use the pool so I could swim and float around in peace, even as the morning security guards looked on. One of the things I noticed is that there is always security around – it is a great way to make guests feel safe in a hotel.
A photo posted by Rayhab Gachango (@potentash7) on
The first night there was a cocktail to celebrate the hotel’s first anniversary and industry players were invited to come and celebrate this Kisumu jewel. With good music playing in the background we could relax and get into a party mood. Afterwards we went for a late dinner and I had a chance to taste one of Acacia’s dessert specialties – the chocolate bomb. Which is some hot chocolate fudge cake which you add ice cream on top and eat the delicious combination as it melts. Thanks Alyana for introducing me to that little secret – I loved it.
The Aqua Pool Bar and Grill has spectacular views of the sunset and city skyline. I also watched the Sunrise from there as it rose over the trees. You can’t really see the sunrise as well as the sunrise but it is still beautiful. It is worth having a meal there with your friends as you have a sundowner as you watch the sun set. On Saturday evening, they have a DIY for dinner – they set up ingredients for you and you can decide what you want and they cook it as you watch. Or you can do it yourself. I had a very nice grilled burger with chicken and potatoes. Definitely something I would recommend.
The Hotel also has another bar, the Buzz bar which has signature cocktails and mouthwatering appetizers. You can watch a live game or chat with your friends there, whatever catches your fancy. Guys who were drinking cocktails also had a chance to learn how to make their own cocktails, so guys were buzzed alright.
For breakfast, we were spoilt for choice, there were freshly baked pastries and bread from the Barista Coffee Lounge and Bakery. I think Acacia Premier go by the saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They have quite a spread and anything you would want breakfast including meat (there was fish and chicken) is available. There is a corner where you can have your omelets made to your taste, and a range of local and international foods available for breakfast. Everything was delicious.
The staff is very attentive and are available to serve you if you need anything. Funny thing on the day we were leaving I went to have breakfast and I had won my kikoy over the dress I was wearing over my costume. They said I couldn’t get in like that so I guess even breakfast has a dress code – you can’t go looking riff raff for breakfast.
The Barista Coffee Lounge & Bakery offers freshly brewed coffees
and teas with delicious pastries and gourmet sandwiches. The Café Acacia is an all-day dining restaurant which features exotic local and international cuisine in extensive gourmet a la carte and buffet options.
Kit Mikayi – on the second day we went to Kit Mikayi. We had a Luo tour guide who told us about the story of Kit Mikayi- which means the stones of the first wife. We have written about it here so you can find out all the information about this beautiful rock formation. From on top of the rocks we were able to have a great vantage point of part of the city and it was easy to see why the locals had made it a spiritual place.
At some point my hat entered a crevice, and after the thin people tried to retrieve it and failed, we finally managed to get it out with a stick. Only for my shades to get lost somewhere along the way when we climbed down. It was clear the gods needed a sacrifice from me and my shades were it. Anyway, when we got to the bottom we met some women who danced for us, some of us got into the spirit of it and we danced as well, donning the sisal skirts the women were wearing.
Afterwards we went to Ndere Island http://www.kws.go.ke/content/ndere-island-national-park with a luxury boat. Ndere Island is a haven for birds, and it also provides beautiful scenic views of the Homa hills (south), Mageta Island (east) and the glimpses of Kampala in Uganda beyond the south west horizon. It also has some interesting grass that caught my attention. We did not climb to the very top as many of us were already tired by the time we got to a certain vantage point. The Island has a growing ecosystem as there are hippos, monitor lizards, Nile crocodiles, several fish species, snakes, baboons, impalas, the rare Sitatunga antelopes, water bucks, zebras and warthogs. KWS is still in the process of populating the island as they are transporting Zebras, Warthogs etc to the island to make it an animal paradise.
After that we headed over to Dunga Hill Camp where we had a delicious lunch of fish and ugali.
Later we headed back to the hotel and people had some free hours to do what they wanted. Some went for a massage but I went for a much needed siesta because we were to go out that night.
After dinner I called my friend Ominde to take us out to all the great spots in Kisumu. Guys were still having drinks so they were not in a hurry so we went ahead. We started at Jalils on Nairobi Road – where there was a biker’s bash, some pretty awesome music, and a birthday party. Kisumu guys are so friendly they made us part of their party, with the party girl feeding me lots of cake. We went over to Barcadia but there was no space to sit so we went to Buccaneers where we partied the night away. At about 3 it was time to go back to the hotel.
A photo posted by Rayhab Gachango (@potentash7) on
The next morning it was time to say goodbye with a celebration, a champagne breakfast. The guys at Acacia really really spoilt us, we all felt like VIPs with all the great hospitality we were shown. While people were having breakfast, I went to have my massage – a deep tissue massage. I considered my life’s decisions as I got that massage, it was painful but necessary. Very professional staff I must say. It helped me because for once after a road trip when I reached Nairobi I did not have the usual muscle tension. We had to take one last picture before we left as curious bystanders wondered what we were up to.
The road trip back was a sad but happy one. #TheAcaciaEscape was fabulous and it was sad that it had to end but we had some great memories to take home with us. All I can say is Tembea Kisumu and when you do please make sure you visit the Acacia Premier Hotel. They will definitely take care of you.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at email@example.com.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat