The resort spots traditional Swahili architecture that is fused with Italian style and modern luxury
By Cash Mandi
When Italian couple Severio D’Angelo and Antonella Baccini set off looking for a retreat away from the harsh European winters, they never dreamt that this would be the start of Malaika Beach villas. Married for 33 years and having worked in various countries in Africa mostly in the construction sector, they settled back in Italy but in their latter years came to Kenya to experience sun-kissed beaches, and try their hands on a resort business.
In 2013, the couple bought a property with 18 bungalows which were incomplete – the biggest battle was to renovate it. In 2015 work was finished, and the villas, located in Mayungu village, which is between Malindi and Watamu, opened its doors for business.
The property is structured strategically so much that when you pass through the wooden gates, you enter a whole new dimension of self indulgence. The lounge, decorated in white, opens to the delights of the central courtyard and the different trees that surround it. The furniture is traditional Swahili and the floor made of “Tareazo galena”, beautiful gleaming stones.
The colours of the cushions and around the property is a dominant white and green. The wall lampshades are shaped like a dhow. The wall on the other side had the map of Africa imprinted on it, a definite conversation starter.
Also, the centre wall, which was worked on by a local artisan who chipped an image of a turtle into it is a stunning focal point in the large open plan space. Next to it is a chalise from Italy, usually used to serve wine in catholic churches.
“This reminds us of home and our catholic faith,” says Angelo, adding that the property is located a short distance from Malindi Marine National Park, and only a 30-minute drive from Malindi.
“This road (referring to Mayungu road) leads to Watamu. If tarmacked, it will take you only 10 to 15 minutes to get here,” says Angelo.
The story of Malaika Beach villas will not be worth without mentioning Chef Joseph, a man who was trained by Ms Baccini and her late mother. As the face of the restaurants – the villas has two restaurants; one on the beach and the other within the resort – the chef has mastered Italian dishes. Every day, he whips out not only a la carte fish menus but also Italian, local and international cuisines.
It is also little wonder that the beach restaurant, which together with the beach bar, have the sand as their floor making your feet cool as you wine or dine. It is hard to believe that the restaurant area was once an unused strip, but visitors can now settle back into a wicker chair while at the spot, and watch the sun rise or set. Several gazebos and umbrellas made of wood and makuti roofs invite you to bask in the shade under the sun after breakfast and lunch.
Visitors can also take a walk back to the villas through the sandy paths flanked by sweet scented frangipanis and sprinkled with brightly coloured purple as well as white and orange blooms. The central court yard is relaxing with trees surrounding it.
One can pick a one, two, three, or four bedrooms cottage – their makuti roofs blend in perfectly with the landscape. As soon as you turn the key and step into a one bedroom cottage for example, you are drawn by a spacious room with king size beds draped in white sheets and mosquito nets, a reading table and chair. The floors have a cooling effect on your feet. The exposed beams on the ceiling give you something to think about as you lay on the bed.
The gleaming swimming pool is inviting – you can decide to go and take an evening dip and enjoy the serenading charm of the pool that is surrounded by “shading trees”. An early morning dip in the pool will also leave you refreshing; the best way to start the day as you get serenaded by the melodious songs of birds.
Essentially, the resort is family friendly and a hotspot with Wi-Fi connectivity everywhere –perfect for sharing fun moments with friends. Guests can play pool, darts, fussball (table football) or go to the gym.