By CAROLINE WAMBUI
(kenya) Along Mtwapa Creek, floating on the edges of a lush mangrove forest is Jambo Cruise, a restaurant that is serving a unique experience in the crowded coast region hospitality sector.
Dinners check in at the land-based reception and take a boat ride to the restaurant where they are served sumptuous meals.
After eating to their fill, they can change from their dinner wear to swimsuits to enjoy water sports activities like snorkelling, surfing, and kayaking.
“We offer a unique experience. Once you arrive at our reception, you are given a life jacket and the boat will still carry one back to the jetty,” Calu Odhiambo the founder of Jambo Cruise explains.
It is a concept that has proved a success, so much so that Mr Odhiambo plans to open more floating restaurants along the East African coast.
A marine engineer who has lived in Sweden for over 15 years, Mr Odhiambo was trying to bring back home what he had learned.
“I was looking forward to giving Kenyan tourism a unique venture, something that would be so different from what people are used to when they visit the coast, and at the same time something that would work well with the current generation,” he says.
In picking the hotel industry as the venture he would pursue, he was quite optimistic that the venture would pick as he was determined to offer out-of-this-world creativity to his clients.
Though a brilliant idea, its implementation cost him a fortune.
“The project cost millions of shillings because the most important items like floaters had to be shipped. The figure went up due to paperwork and the complex nature of the project. The other most expensive project to do is the one done on water, and not just water, salty water with high corrosion ability, and so all the materials must be of high quality and rusty free,” Mr Odhiambo who shipped most of the material from Europe explains.
To attract dinners, he had to invest in online marketing as well as capitalise on word-of-mouth that brings in many walk-ins as references.
With the hotel accommodating all age groups, different activities are designed to fit the different age groups.
In the future, the facility plans to install accommodation services.
To ensure that the restaurant attracts and retains as many clients as possible, the facility has kept its charges average, from as low as Sh500 to cater to both local and international clients.
In constructing such a venture, Odhiambo advises that one must understand marine and only qualified individuals should handle the project as constructing a floating restaurant, especially on a large water body, is quite risky.
Working with a highly trained team of ten, Odhiambo says that the safety of their customers is key.
“We have all the safety measures in place having been cleared by the Maritime Authority. We have life jackets that one must have while boarding the transfer boat. In addition, we have life rings in case of an emergency, and have security guards who double up as divers on board at all times.”
To ensure the success of the business, Odhiambo cites hardworking commitment and determination.
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