OPENING A NEW HOTEL
Nairobi the gateway to Kenya's unrivalled attractions, tempts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
"The sheer variety of Kenya's attractions have few equals anywhere," said His Highness the Aga Khan," I speak not only of the National Parks with their mountains, forests, plains, deserts and coastal shores nor even of the wildlife - which of course is unique - but also of the cultures, people and traditions. "These priceless assets must be preserved and cherished at all costs, not simply for tourists, but for their own sake."
His Highness was speaking at the official opening of the new Nairobi Serena Hotel by President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya on 16 February, 1976.
Set in the lush green lawns of the city's Central Park the 400 bed modern hotel merges beautifully into the surrounding landscape with flowers cascading from its balconies and its open lawns separated from the public park only by flower beds.
The Nairobi Serena is the starting point for a Kenya Safari with other stops at the Mara Serena set high on a saddle in the rolling plains of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. It overlooks the Mara River to provide a grandstand view of the awesome migration of wild beasts and zebra twice a year.
The visitor can also proceed south of Nairobi to the Amboseli Serena Lodge, styled after a typical Masai village in a free form architecture. Behind the traditional stockade to ward off the wild animals, the guests can enjoy the panorama of Mount Kilimanjaro rising majestically in the clouds.
Further down south on the Kenyan coast, there is the Serena Beach Hotel reflecting the best of Swahili culture of Mombasa. Sited at Shanzu, it has white-washed walls enlivened by arabesque arches, palm trees and a minaret tops the bedrooms arranged in narrow street, complete with the Swahili coffee sellers.
The 400 bed Nairobi Serena, the two lodges with 100 beds each and the 250 bed Serena Beach all make up the Serena chain in Kenya initiated by Tourism Promotion Services of which His Highness Prince Amyn Aga Khan is the chairman.
It all started with the Industrial Promotion Services project sponsored by His Highness the Aga Khan. The largest single hotel project in Kenya has been promoted since 1969 by the Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) group of companies; which was also sponsored originally by His Highness the Aga Khan.
His Highness said, "The chain of Serena Hotels would try to give the tourist a real feeling for the history , culture and lifestyle of the country. This aim was reflected not only in the architecture of the hotel building, but also in its setting and landscaping, its decoration and furnishing".
It was under the aegis of the IPS group that Tourism Promotion Services (Kenya) Ltd. Was established and the Serena concept evolved. It brings together the resources of the Kenya Government one public and two private Kenyan companies, six corporations which operate internationally and six local and overseas financial groups.
His Highness is a major international tourism promoter. As chairman of an international consortium, His Highness was the driving force behind the announcement in January 1962 of a major plan to conceive and construct about 3,000 bungalows in north east Sardinia over a period of 15 years at a cost of Pounds 27 million.
It was the official opening of the Nairobi Serena which brought His Highness the Aga Khan and Begum Salimah to Kenya on yet another of their smiling safaris to see the flowering of their ideas in reality in February 1976 on a memorable week long tour.
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