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Desert Divine: The Djibouti Palace KempinskiApril 14, 2008 By: Mary Ellen Schultz Travel Agent
Five-star luxury in the Horn of Africa’s emerging luxury and adventure tourism destination
Located on a private islet in the blue-on-blue Red Sea and surrounded by palm trees and bougainvillea gardens, the Djibouti Palace Kempinski feels like a sumptuous, secret hideaway. The $100 million property boasts 177 rooms and suites, plus a 1,100-capacity conference center. Open since November 2006, this hotel is conveniently situated 15 minutes from Djibouti’s international airport and 10 minutes from Djibouti Town’s French colonial-flavored center.
Lake Abbe is known for its limestone, steam-releasing chimneys.
Beyond the sand-colored marble and a lobby adorned with a glass ceiling, a splashing fountain and dramatic traditional African art displays, the Djibouti Palace’s smart accommodations fuse Swahili sophistication and Arabian elegance with rich earth tones accented by graceful Djiboutian art.
General Manager Bugra Berberoglu believes the Palace’s magic is that “it was an impossible dream converted into luxurious reality…prime beachfront location, combined with the building’s mystical beauty and unique, traditional architecture…our guest service standards are unsurpassed in this region.” Indeed, the Palace is the first African recipient of a Seven Stars and Stripes hospitality excellence award.
Room choices include garden/seaview Deluxe Rooms, Jr./Deluxe Suites and the posh-plus Presidential Suite. Most coveted are the seaview rooms; agents should specify client’s preference. The Deluxe rooms are the highest demand, then Jr. Suites, featuring rain shower bathrooms stocked with St. Barth amenities.
A Deluxe bedroom at Djibouti Palace Kempinski.
Appetite-appeasing options include the Grand Barra lounge; Lac Assal’s international menu and popular Asian and seafood buffet; Café Arta’s sandwiches and homemade gelati; and oriental-tent-like Nirvana Lounge, bursting with pillows, for mango juice and shisha (flavored tobacco smoked through a hookah). The Lac Abbe bar quenches thirst poolside.
Other draws to this property are the infinity pool, gift shop, nightclub, disco, and an interim spa. A private beach/marina and casino are scheduled to open by mid-year.
The Kempinski’s travel division—K Leisure—arranges city and shopping tours, watersports, swimming with whale sharks and excursions to Lake Assal (Africa’s lowest point and the world’s third-largest salt lake) or the nearby wildlife refuge.
Bugra believes the Kempinski will capitalize on Djibouti’s emergence as a world-class leisure/adventure destination. “From day one, we’re optimally positioned,” he notes. “Our second-phase development will cater to the needs of Djibouti’s growing popularity in terms of room capacity and resort facilities.”
Poolside at Djibouti Palace Kempinski.
The property’s $80 million second phase— expected to finish in early 2009— includes an Arabian-themed 133-room wing, tennis court, state-of-the art wellness spa/fitness center, beauty salon, kids club and retail arcade.
The weekly occupancy rate averages 60-70 percent. Pretax Deluxe Room rates begin at $336 per night, while Leisure Club Rooms start at $403. Junior Suites, Deluxe Suites and the Presidential Suite cost $537, $672 and $1,680 per night, respectively. These fully commissionable rates are seasonally adjusted and bookable via the GDS, and professional discounts are available. Agents may contact Albert Steinissen, sales and marketing director at 011-253-32555, 800-426-3135 or [email protected].