• Kahindo Karuga

Mawingo: A dream in the clouds.

Love affairs, though taboo, have done much to define the course of history. Such is the genesis of this haven, nestled in the dense forest of Mt. Kenya, a love child borne of Rhoda Lweisson, an American lady and Gabriel Prud'homme, a pilot, one year before the start of World War Two.Interesting to note, Lweisson and Prud'homme were members of the Happy Valley set.

Having purchased the land hosting the hotel from Mya Wheeler in 1938, they then built a home overlooking the majestic Mt. Kenya.

This set the ball rolling for what would become Mawingo Hotel and eventually Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club. A hotel synonymous with fame, luxury and decadence.

Some of the most influential people the world has ever seen have been known to frequent the halls of this club, her walls draped in game trophies and 100-year old elephant tusks.

The first star to visit the hotel was 1950s Hollywood star William Holden, famed for his movies The Bridge on the River Kwai and Sunset Boulevard. Not soon after, Mawingo would play host to Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin and Steve McQueen, just to name a few.

So, what sort of charm would be so drawing as to attract such famed individuals in to her halls?

Some would say the exclusivity and luxury set upon the most spectacular backdrop Kenya has to offer would be most probable. Maybe.

I say, it's the charm of a realized dream.

A fantasy that is not just a figment of an artist's mind but a creation of masonry stone and marble, opening up to a fantastic landscape of rolling lush highlands on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

As Ernest Hemingway put it, "All I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it, yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already."

Such was the allure that came with Mawingo. A dream built amongst the clouds.

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