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Kenya's Spa Country

By: Denis Gathanju
Posted: October 26, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
woman getting hot stone massage

Hot stone massage, as performed at the Sunrise Resort Apartments and Spa in Nyali, is one of the most popular spa treatments in Kenya.

Picture this: An American couple on its first trip to Africa is mesmerized by the exotic beauty of the undulating bluffs of the Great Rift Valley and marvels at one of the world’s largest wildlife movements in the Maasai Mara park reserve.

And after a day out, the couple retreats to its bush lodge in the middle of the Maasai Mara wilderness to rejuvenate at the lodge’s spa and wellness center. It sure does feel good to be in Kenya.

While nothing is wrong with the setting, it is quite deceiving. Though many tourists visiting Kenya—and those from Britain andthe United States in particular—are requesting spa services, especially after the long haul flights into the country, the high demand for health and beauty services among the young Kenyan population can hardly go unnoticed, as well.

The right stuff

Today, Kenyans are big spenders when it comes to beauty, cosmetic and personal care products. This East African nation boasts not only one one of the largest manufacturing bases for such products, but has one of the leading markets in East and Central Africa, and a Euromonitor International market report from June 2008 noted that the country’s growing economy has spurred people to become more demanding and discerning in regard to their premium personal care products. So, thanks to a large youthful population that accounts for more than 70% of total Kenyans, a progressively rising middle-class society with disposable income and an image-conscious society, Kenya currently boasts some of the top spasin the region.

“People, especially the youth, are spending more on maintaining healthy bodies. And after a hard day in the office, many come to the spas for various treatments that will help them relax and rejuvenate their minds, bodies and souls to face the challenges of their daily lives,” says Zuri Zenate, spa manager of the Silver Spa at Nairobi’s Silver Springs Hotel. According to Zenate, spas were once considered an extravagance by many Kenyans because they were mostly available in luxury hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa. However, the rise in demand for affordable beauty and treatment solutions by young Kenyans has driven the mushrooming of quality spas, especially in Nairobi where there is a large pool of young business executives and businesspeople climbing the corporate ladder.