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Marriott will open a luxury safari lodge in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve

March 23, 2022
4 min read
rendering of tented hotel lobby with fireplace, seating and coffee bar
Marriott will open a luxury safari lodge in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve
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Want to take a luxury safari with your points and miles? For Marriott Bonvoy loyalists that's about to be easier than ever thanks to a high-end new safari option coming to Kenya: the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge.

Set within the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya, this new lodge will be on the edge of the reserve, overlooking the Talek River, so keep your eyes open for hippos lounging in the water. The elevated camp will have sweeping views of the plains and wildlife, along with 20 private tents that are incredibly modern and chic.

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For families looking to safari together, consider the two interconnecting canopied suites with private terraces looking out at the river. Or, for the most luxe experience at the lodge, there's also a single presidential canvas-topped suite.

(Image courtesy of Marriott)

As for the rest of the lodge, guests can expect a restaurant, bar and spa alongside a large outdoor terrace with fire pits that will host live entertainment such as traditional Masai dance performances in the evening.

The lodge interiors are being designed by Dubai-based Kristina Zanic, whose firm has worked on projects including The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert and the Al Mahara Restaurant in one of the world's most famous hotels, the Burj Al Arab.

"The location and surrounding landscape will be reflected at every turn ... drawing inspiration from the elements: earth, wind, fire and water," Marriott said in a statement about the new camp. "Warm touches of neutrals and natural materials will lend to a warm ambiance, while an earth tone color palette promises to sit in harmony with the landscape."

Of course, the main reason most people travel to the Masai Mara is to go on a safari in hopes of seeing the "Big Five" (lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos and elephants).

(Photo by James Warwick/Getty Images)

“JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge will offer guests a luxurious backdrop to make once-in-a-lifetime memories as they connect with nature and wildlife as never before," said Bruce Rohr, vice president and brand leader at JW Marriott, in the statement.

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Marriott also plans to hire up to 50 people from the Masai community and offer guests "robust learning opportunities" that allow people to immerse themselves in the destination and its culture.

The JW Marriott Masai Mara is expected to open in 2023, though the property's pricing and Marriott Bonvoy Category aren't yet available.

While this is Marriott's first official foray into luxury safaris thanks to an agreement with Baraka Lodges Ltd, it's not entirely new territory for the hotel brand.

Marriott's Protea brand currently offers outsourced safaris at select locations including the Category 2 Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, which can be booked for between 10,000 and 15,000 points per night. (We have a feeling you'll need quite a few more points to reserve a stay at the forthcoming JW.)

Of course, there are plenty of ways you can take a safari on points and miles before this new JW Marriott welcomes guests. In fact, we even have a handy guide to help you figure it all out. Or, if you're just looking for tips from an expert, The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, spoke to renowned expert Marlon du Toit about everything you need to know to go on safari in Africa.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees