Almanara Hotel in Diani is where the wealthy dine and wine while on vacation. Its presidential suite with five bedrooms known as Casa Bella has housed from presidents to very wealthy individuals who want to escape the Coast crowds and vacation in exclusion in the quiet Galu beach.
Inside the hotel, which has incredible views of the sea, one has the luxury of getting a personal chef, butler and maid services.
“A guest can book the whole boutique hotel,’’ says Lucy Obeya, in charge of reservations.
The crown jewel of the Almanara is Sails Restaurant, which serves brunch and dinner worth the splurge.
The beach front restaurant looks magnificent from outside. There are beautiful chairs in the large white sweeping canvas and curved beam structure that looks like a huge sail.
One of the attractions is that the food can be served at any time.
“We do not have timings on meals. Guests have the flexibility of getting what they want at whichever time they want. But we also do not just allow anybody in,’’ Lucy says. Anthony Huth, the executive chef, who cooks for the who’s who says he has fallen in love with fresh ingredients found at the Coast.
“I have a good 14 years in professional kitchens. It is my life and lifestyle. I am more about cooking fresh food, trying to make it very appealing on the plate without changing too much,’’ he says.
Mr Huth started cooking at the age of 16, working in various hotels in Nairobi, including Talisman in Karen.
“I have always been interested in food. After working at the Talisman for three months. I went to South Africa to a college which is based in a restaurant which is among the top 10 in Johannesburg,’’ he says.
He later left for UK where he worked in Jamie Oliver’s famed ‘Jamie’s Italian’ in Manchester.
When he returned to Kenya last year, he moved to Almanara.
“I am looking for all the local sea food that I can get down here and utilise the elements I have learnt throughout my career,’’ he says.
So how does he make his savoury sea food platter that is a favourite among many tourists?
“The secret to nice seafood is having good seafood at first. At the Coast, seafood is fantastic and fresh, secondly you need to know how to cook it and prep it properly,’’ he says.
“You want to keep it moist but still have it cooked for safety. Also understand which flavour works with different dishes,’’ he says.
He recommended a Zanzibar snapper, one of the restaurant’s top selling dish or a seafood platter for the main course.
The menu was fairly priced, the average cost being about Sh1,500. I settled on the crispy calamari for a starter. I preferred the traditional fish cooked with beer batter, mashy peas and tartare sauce served with mash potatoes.
After eating the main course, I was too full to order dessert, but the waiter suggested I take mint tea that warmed my body as I enjoyed the sounds of rolling waves crash onto the beach.
The small and intimate hotel accommodates very few guests.
“We generally require reservations as we are quite a small restaurant with 40 seats. We cannot also double book tables because we want people to relax and enjoy the evening,’’ chef Huth says.