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September 17, 2008

Kenya: Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

The Masai community has joined forces with conservation tourism organizations and private investors to convert 6,500 acres of arid cattle range into a wildlife sanctuary and resort. The property's four luxury villas, designed with tribal, Lamu coast, colonial, or retro sixties decor, straddle a boulder-strewn ridge and come equipped with fireplaces, outdoor decks, and spectacular views from sun loungers, beds, even bathtubs. The conservancy's acacia-forested hills and wide, sand riverbeds shelter dik-diks, klipspringers, rare wild dogs, and spotted and striped hyenas; the planned addition this year of a water hole should increase sightings of larger game, such as elephants, kudu, and Grevy's zebras. Meanwhile, the land rejuvenates from overgrazing, as do guests who go exploring on mountain bikes, on horseback, or by scaling Ol Lentille, a 6,486-foot granite peak. (Your villa's enviably fit Masai guide also escorts you on four-by-four night drives and cultural trips to Masai markets and homesteads and on camping expeditions with local Yaku honey gatherers.) A library stocked with a GPS telescope and a well-edited list of Africa-themed DVDs tempts some guests to simply stay put. And why not? The villa fee includes butler service, a private cook, and unlimited massages.

Tel: 888-588-4590

When to go: January and February for warm, sunny weather.
Which room to book: Couples will prefer the Eyrie, with stupendous daytime views from an outdoor sunken tub and a round bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and faux-fur covers. The Sultan's House, a romance of sprawling Lamu-style carved wood furniture, arabesque lanterns, floor cushions, and a four-poster bed, has the most atmosphere at night.

Further reading:
* Ol Lentille's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Kenya guide
* Read all DT Hot List posts

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