JW Marriott, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s global portfolio of 30 hotel brands, made its debut in the luxury safari segment with the opening of JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in southwestern Kenya, and has revealed that the surrounding community has been at the heart of the lodge’s development.
“JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge is an elegant retreat for guests to practise mindfulness and connect with the locale. We are proud to be supporting the community and to contribute towards the conservation of the Masai Mara’s wildlife and environment, which we are so grateful to call home, and look forward to sharing meaningful moments with our guests,” said Barnabas Wamoto, General Manager of the lodge.
Partnership with the community began during the early development of the lodge. Developed on land committed to a tourism project so that it would not unduly disturb the surrounding environment, much of the construction was undertaken by local experts overseen by technical specialists with materials sourced from sustainable suppliers.
The lodge has rehabilitated access roads to the property, installed power to the area, and provided access to clean drinking water for locals through a water treatment plant.
For the opening, 60% of the lodge’s team are from the local area, and plans are to reach 70% employment for locals, ensuring its contribution to the region's socio-economic development.
Furthermore, as an ongoing initiative, JW Marriott Masai Mara’s Apprenticeship Programme invites young women from the community to diversify their skills and broaden their experience to kick-start their careers in the hospitality industry.
As part of JW Marriott’s ethos of fulfilment, community programmes intertwine with the guest experience to provide authentic insight into meaningful local projects and partnerships, including The Maa Trust.
Working with community-owned wildlife conservancies in the Masai Mara, The Maa Trust works to increase the benefits that go back to the local community, specifically focusing on women, youth and children.
The lodge supports the trust by donating a percentage of the nightly rate per person and provides a space at the lodge for craftspeople to retail Maa beadwork and produce.
Guests can visit The Maa Trust to meet local artisans and forge a deeper connection to the people in the area. The lodge also donates stationery and sanitary pads to a local school, and has long-term plans to support other organisations.
The lodge’s water treatment plant provides recycled and sanitised water; food waste is placed at the lodge’s compost site, and water wells are dotted around the lodge for animals to drink from throughout the day.