Almanara Luxury Villas was opened in December 2007 by the Giovando family. Nico Giovando - born in Nyeri, Kenya in 1954 - spent the early years of his life in Nairobi before moving to Europe in 1971. After visiting Diani Beach with his wife Bella for their honeymoon, Nico did not return to Kenya for 25 years. In 2004 he came to join his daughter Alexandra who was on her first trip to Kenya. Having fallen in love with Diani Beach, Alexandra had already picked out the stunning piece of land where Almanara sits today. Realising how much he missed Diani, Nico was easily talked into a possible project. In 2005 the creation of Almanara began.
The family set out from scratch with the aim to create an experience that is unique not only to Kenya, but to luxury properties around the world. Each of Villas was thoughtfully designed with local influences in mind, creating an almost contradictory fusion of modernity and traditional African decor. The end result is a collection of private houses that offer 6 star services whilst creating the feel of a home-away-from-home. A sentiment that is often echoed by our guests. The 6 Executive Villas opened in July 2007, while the Presidential Villa - originally built as the family home - was completed at the end of the same year.
In 2008 “Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant” was added to Almanara, launching in December that year. Luke Doig, joined Almanara in late 2009. After implementing training and systems, he took up the position of Executive Chef, and Sails has - in a little over 2 years - become one of the most exclusive, must-to-be-seen-in restaurants in Kenya. In early 2009, the family added a brand new Cessna Grand Caravan to collection. The plane is available for private air charters. Nico’s son Leo was involved with the project from the outset. He assisted with the development and helped implement the management team before establishing a UK Marketing and PR office in Surrey, UK.
A couple of couples are on site to ensure your experience at Almanara makes you feel right at home from the moment you arrive.
Leo & Gemma
Leo, born and raised in Surrey, UK - has helped oversee the development of Almanara from start to present. He was on site during the construction and returned at the end of 2007 after 3 years at Southampton University, and further year of travels. He now manages the project and divides his time between Almanara and the UK. After studying Fashion Promotion at Southampton, Gemma worked at Exposure PR in London for 4 years before moving to Kenya to join Leo at Almanara. She now handles all marketing and promotional activities, and works alongside Jackie to make up the hosting team.
Luke & Jackie
Luke, a third generation Kenyan comes from a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and has worked in top kitchens around the world including the Savoy Hotel in London and the Muthaiga Club in Nairobi. Jackie moved from London to Kenya in 2001 with Luke. While raising their two children and living in Nairobi, Jackie worked with Luke in Northern Kenya before moving to Pembroke House School to manage the catering department. In 2011 she joined Luke and the Almanara team. Luke is now GM of Almanara, and Executive Chef at Sails, with Jackie managing Food & Beverage operations and hosting of the Villas.