Kristina Zanic Consultants has designed the interiors for what is to be Marriott’s first foray into luxury safari accommodation in Africa.

Situated on the banks of the Talek river and overlooking the stunning plains of the Masai Mara wildlife reserve, the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge aims to offer visitors an authentic experience of safari wildlife. The luxury camp is currently under construction and promises to become a new hotspot in adventure and eco-tourism when it opens in 2023. The design studio was appointed by the project’s developer Baraka Lodges Ltd.

The overall direction for the interiors is intended to immerse the visitor in the natural surroundings, while offering the ultimate experience of ease and luxury. The scope involved the design of 20 tented suites with a private terrace and view of the river, an arrival pavilion, restaurant, lounge and bar with fire-pit terrace, meeting room, teen club, gym, spa, and outdoor pool deck.

Working within the JW Marriott brand guidelines that promote serene and nature-inspired spaces, the design team drew inspiration from the natural environment and the clothing and crafts of the native tribes. Because the tents will be open to the environment, the interiors have been designed to blend in seamlessly with the outdoors, and incorporate natural references to the surrounding landscape and spectacular sunsets.

The aim is to create a peaceful space for guests to disconnect from the digital world, focus on their wellbeing and connect with their natural surroundings. The furniture and finishes have been carefully selected to maximise the guests’ comfort while staying true to the simple and natural design approach.

The design features warm textures, natural materials, and an uplifting ambiance. Materials used are authentic to the region and hard-wearing, able to withstand exposure to the elements. The design is brought to life through a rich layering of textures such as lime plaster wall finishes, nature-inspired paint textures, natural stone tile and wooden flooring, and sheer drapery. Accessories with native patterns add touches of cultural interest and bright colour.

“We saw a powerful story in the surrounding scenery and knew it had to drive the narrative for the design,” said Kristina Zanic, CEO and founder of Kristina Zanic Consultants. “As designers, we always aim to create something that feels that it is of the location, something that adds to it rather than clashes with it. Our approach was to complement the story already woven by nature and give guests a true taste of the savannah.”

“Tent resorts and lodges are great at offering an immersive experience of their surroundings but are rarely luxurious or comfortable,” she added. “We wanted to ensure that our design delivers on these aspects so that nothing gets in the way of the guests’ enjoyment of the environment and their ultimate relaxation.”

“We wish to create the nuance of being ‘one with nature’ for our clients and blend seamlessly with the wild, the flora and fauna and the tribal community,” said Shivan Patel, Director of JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge. “Being in the hospitality industry and having travelled worldwide, we have experienced a variety of design aspects, colours, and embodiment of the furnishing and artifacts that try to blend with their respective environment. Every designer has a unique eye and we chose Kristina Zanic Consultants, not only because of their experience and placement in the architectural designer world, but in the luxury brand hotel industry.”