Dr. Bonnie Dunbar of Houston, Texas (Dr. Dunbar’s curriculum vitae) was given the rare opportunity to buy the property previously known as the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden in Karen, Kenya (about 30 minutes from Jomo Kenyatta International airport and downtown Nairobi). The property was purchased from Mr. Frank Sutton, a former Safari Guide and long time friend of Bonnie’s before he passed away in December 2000.
It is the site of the original farmhouse of the property, which now is near the Karen Blixen Museum (of “Out of Africa”) and about half a mile from the Karen Golf and Country Club where guest can enjoy golfing, tennis, squash as well as other activities.
During Dr. Dunbar’s years of working and traveling in Africa, she has made special friends with numerous Kenyan ranchers, farmers, wildlife scientists and safari guides. She would like to share her experiences and her passion for Africa through this special project.
A stay over at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden provides many special opportunities including:
- A visit to one of the most romantic pieces of property in the history of the Africa during the 20th century.
- A place to call “home” on your way to paradise in the Kenyan “bush”.
- A refreshing alternative for business accommodations if you are not doing business in downtown Nairobi, with all the services of a large hotel.
- The Coffee Garden sits only 5 ½ acres of land with large hundred year old trees and a beautiful garden with hundreds of different varieties of blooming flowers, and a large population of birds.
- The old historic house has been renovated as a lounge where you can come enjoy breakfast or lunch, afternoon tea and cocktails and candlelight dinner or after dinner cocktails. Enjoy the historic, copper plated fire place and music playing on the old Gramophone while you listen to talks by “safari guides of golden days in Africa” and internationally known wildlife experts. Formal group “Out of Africa” dinners or receptions can be arranged by reservation.
- The indoor L’amour restaurant and bar were designed by Danish Architect, Thomas Gronlyke. (All buildings have been constructed to match the façade of the historical Swedo House). The restaurant has two large fireplaces and opens onto a covered verandah for outdoor dining on rainy days. The indoor restaurant and verandah will seat over 100 diners. The garden will seat 100+ diners and can also be expanded with garden tents for special functions.
- The mahogany bar opens to its own verandah and has an indoor/outdoor fireplace. The bar is a popular place for mingling with locals and has a large screen TV for major news and sporting events, dart board, other game boards.
- The Grand Marquee Sultan style tent is available for ‘royal style’ wedding functions, dinners and conferences. We now host regular performing art events including ‘Dinner Theatre’ in the grand tent.
- These buildings are located in the midst of one of the largest and oldest formal gardens in Kenya and include huge jacaranda, candelabra cactus and bottle brush and other trees and over 200 species of blooming flower varieties.
- Office facilities include a reception area and small business center. The Swedo house is available as a lounge for cottage guests, but can also be used as a small business conference center that can facilitate meetings of up to 17 people.
- The Kifaru Gift Shop has art from local artists as well as a wide range of local artifacts. Artists can be viewed carving glass and Federal Express shipment is available. A full service beauty shop is also open next to the gift shop.
- Renovation of the property has included rainwater capture systems, water filtration systems, renovated sewage systems, a large back-up generator and a sound proof generator house, resurfacing and landscaping of the and a substantial perimeter wall with hundreds of bougainvillea and bamboo plants for extra seclusion and security.
- “Cottage” facilities have now been completed to house as many as 30 guests. The cottages have also been designed after the historic Swedo House. All elegantly appointed cottages have hi-beam ceilings with fireplaces, wood and mazeras stone floors. Each bedroom has a large bathroom with its own shower and bath and also contain robes, slippers and hairdryers. Satellite televison, internet connections and telephones are available in all rooms.
- All cottages have a verandah for relaxing while enjoying the birds, butterflies and flowers of the garden. Four of the cottages have two bedrooms with a common sitting room and large fireplace and dining table. Four cottages have two private suites with a separate dressing room. A large “honeymoon” cottage with two fireplaces and a sitting room are available for special events.
- A swimming pool and private garden bar is available for a relaxing afternoon or small group get-togethers.
Location of Karen Blixen Coffee Garden
The Karen Blixen Coffee Garden is located in Karen, a beautiful, peaceful suburb approximately 20 miles from downtown Nairobi. Its numerous advantages as a commercial tourist property include the following:
- The Coffee Garden is about a half mile of the famous Karen Blixen Museum, which is one of principal tourist attractions in Kenya. The museum property does not have facilities for meals or lodging and the Coffee Gardens have historically been major draw for the tourists visiting the museum.
- The restaurant and cottages are near the Wilson airport, which is used for all local safari flights in Kenya.
- The Karen Blixen Coffee Garden is located outside of Nairobi so guests coming on safari do not have to deal with the traffic and other problems of large city life.
- The cottages and restaurant are within a few minutes drive to the Nairobi National Wildlife Park. In route to the Coffee Gardens guests can be taken from the international airport and within 10 minutes be on their first safari game drive through Nairobi National Park (see photo of Maasai Giraffe on the road back to Karen). They will exit on the Langata side of the park to arrive at the Coffee Gardens and Cottages within 10 minutes.
- The cottages and restaurant is located within 15 minutes of the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters and zoo and within 10 minutes of the Sheldrick elephant and rhino orphanage.
- The Karen Blixen Coffee Garden is five minutes from the small town of Karen and the new Karen Connection shopping centre that have banks, pharmacies, local restaurants, medical facilities, etc.
- The cottages are about a half mile from the Karen Country and Golf Club. Arrangements can be made for guests staying at the cottages to use the country club facilities which include, golf, tennis and pool facilities.
- The cottages are only two miles from sanctuary managed by the National Museums of Kenya. Guided nature walks for clients on those grounds and horse riding trips can also be arranged through this wildlife reserve.
- A new multiple screen movie theatre in a major shopping center, ” The Junction” is only ten minutes away.