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

Mar 23, 2022

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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.

rendering of tented hotel room with canopy bed, couch in front, draped white ceiling fabric and rug
(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).

Kenya's Masai Mara plains filled with zebras and wildabeests
(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.

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 courtesy of Marriott.

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
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