Tucked away at the foot of the scenic Oloololo Escarpment at the rim of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya's iconic Masai Mara Reserve, &Beyond Bateleur Camp has recently reopened following a complete rebuild. Twenty years after its first opening, this much loved classic in &Beyond's portfolio of lodges has received a brand new look.
The rebuilt camp incorporates fresh ideas inspired by guest feedback and changing trends in hospitality. Stylish, yet understated, African design touches update and refresh the camp, while maintaining its much-loved classical and romantic safari feel. The camp's original designers, Fox Browne Creative, were charged with creating its brand new look. To create a sense of continuity, they refreshed and upcycled a number of the camp's original artefacts, antiques and furniture pieces. High quality local artisans and suppliers were used wherever possible to maintain a sense of authenticity and ensure that economic and skills development opportunities continue to flow to the surrounding communities.
The new design retains the vintage silver, soft worn leather, antique trunks and crystal decanters of the old camp, while incorporating new design touches such as old world maps and elegant dark brass fitting that contrast with white marble surfaces. Usable floor space in the elegant guest tents has almost doubled and the interiors appear more spacious through the use of a lighter colour palette and cleverly incorporated natural light. Ensuite bathrooms are flanked by private stone courtyards with spacious bathtubs, as well as indoor and al fresco showers. Sunken daybeds on the private verandas encourage idle afternoons without spoiling the breath-taking Mara views from everywhere inside the tent.
Early morning wake-up calls to enjoy the Mara's diverse game viewing are accompanied by freshly brewed tea or coffee delivered through the conveniently placed butler hatches. While keeping guest safety a priority, fences have been repositioned so that wildlife can come closer to the camp.
In addition to two new swimming pools with generous decks and unbeatable views, the camp also boasts a spa that provides a selection of treatment and massage options for both single guests and couples looking to indulge in a shared experience. A well-equipped fitness centre with floor to ceiling roll-back glass walls looks out onto the Mara so guests feel as though they are working out in the midst of the game-filled plains. The camp's brand new Safari Shop offers some of the region's best known designer and luxury products, taking the retail experience to a whole new level.
An additional feature due to open in June is the interactive bar that serves coffee by day and speciality gin cocktails by night. Not only does this highlight the best of Kenyan coffee but it also makes the most of the current trend towards authentic speciality drinks and gin in particular. With gin and tonic the quintessential safari drink, there is no better place to enjoy it than the birthplace of traditional safari, the Masai Mara. After cocktails, guests can also enjoy a multitude of new dining venues created during the camp's rebuild, from the pool deck to in-room or veranda dining.
In keeping with the remainder of &Beyond's East Africa circuit, &Beyond Bateleur Camp now has a family unit that consists of two guest tents with a shared sitting area. Along with the three family rooms at nearby &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, this makes &Beyond one of the most family friendly lodge operators in the Masai Mara.
Situated in the midst of the reserve's astounding year-round concentration of animals, including the Great Wildebeest Migration, guests can enjoy an unsurpassed wildlife experience in terms of both the density and variety of species. &Beyond Bateleur Camp's location on the plains of the Mara triangle means that the camp is a short drive from important access points, such as the Oloololo gate to the Mara Reserve, the airstrip where most guests enter the Mara and the departure point for hot air ballooning safaris. The 2 000 acre (1 214 hectare) private concession that the camp is situated on also allows for night drives, game walks and outside dining in a much more flexible fashion than many other lodges in the area, thus ensuring the ultimate safari experience for all guests.