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The Tycoons Of Laikipia: Meet The Billionaires Behind Iconic Resorts And Ranches In Laikipia

Laikipia County has become a magnet for wealthy individuals seeking unique investment opportunities.

With its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant wildlife, the county has attracted a diverse group of billionaires from both local and international backgrounds.

In this article, WoK unveils the magnates behind fascinating investments in Laikipia’s hospitality sector.

Adnan Khashoggi

Adnan Khashoggi, the late Saudi Arabian businessman, left an indelible mark on Laikipia as the former owner of the sprawling 90,000-acre Ol Pajeta Conservancy.

Before his death, Khashoggi was reputed to be one of the most extravagant people on earth, blowing at least sh 25 million daily. He made his billions as an arms deals middleman with various governments.

He was also a salesman and an international agent for luxury car brands like Rolls Royce, Marconi, and BAC, a business that raked him dollars at a faster rate than he could spend them.

On the Ol Pajeta ranch, he built a magnificent mansion valued at an astounding Ksh 721 million.

In one of the bedrooms, he owned a king-size bed that could comfortably accommodate 8 sleepers with room to spare.

At one time, the tycoon owned the Mt Kenya Safari Club, a luxury resort in Nanyuki. He also owned other multi-billion investments in Spain, Paris, London, Madrid, and other major cities across the globe.

Michael Spencer

Reported to be a member of the House of Lords in the UK, Michael Spencer is the billionaire owner of the iconic Sarai House Lodge in the scenic Borana Conservancy of Laikipia.

Spencer’s net worth lies in the estimates of sh 184 billion according to UK media, and not without reason.

The Sarai lodge is reportedly one of the most expensive destinations in Kenya, charging at least sh 1.5 million for a night’s sleep in one of its plush beds.

According to online sources, clients who book the lodge must commit to staying for at least 3 nights.

Aside from the Lodge, Lord Spencer owns another private home in Kilifi, where he enjoys breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean as he sips Chevals and Cabernets.

Manuel Gnana Muthu

Manuel Gnana Muthu is the man behind the renowned MGM Group of Hotels and Resorts, a European hospitality conglomerate with over 50 properties spread across four continents.

In a recent foray into the African hospitality industry, Muthu’s hotel chain acquired the Warwick Hotel in Nanyuki, a 78-room gem set against the backdrop of Mount Kenya and Ol Pejeta.

Previously, the hotel chain had acquired four hotel facilities which were under the umbrella of Sun Africa Hotel Group of companies.

Despite his success, there is little information available about Mr. Muthu, except that he died in 2018.

John Ngata Kariuki

A politician and seasoned business magnate, Ngata Kariuki co-owns the Sarova group of hotels, one of the most recognized hotel chains in Africa.

The former Kirinyaga Central legislator co-owns the hotel with the family of the late Gurcharan Singh Vohra.

Sarova’s recent acquisition of the Maiyan Luxury Resort in Laikipia further solidified their investment in the county’s flourishing hospitality sector.

Ngata’s business acumen has extended beyond the hotel industry, serving in notable leadership roles in companies such as Telkom Kenya, Kenya Airways, and Kenya National Assurance.

Kuki Gallman

The 73-year-old Italian Baroness owns the 100 000-acre Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch in Laikipia. She reportedly bought the ranch in 1974 alongside her second husband Paolo Gallman.

In 1984, they transformed the ranch into a wildlife sanctuary.

At one time, the ranch boasted the largest amount of Kenyan wildlife in a private ranch, including the endangered black rhino and the beautiful grevy zebra.

Kuki is also an author, having published 5 best seller books, one of which has been transformed into a movie.

Jochen Zeitz

Zeitz joins the growing list of foreign billionaires who own multibillion properties in Laikipia. He is a former CEO of German sportswear multinational Puma.

Aged 29, he became the youngest CEO in Germany’s history to head such a large company. When he exited in 2007, Puma’s net worth had bulged from $100 million to a whopping $ 4 billion.

Among his investments is the Segera Retreat, which sits on a 50,000-acre tract of land on the vast Laikipia plateau.

The retreat is a top luxury destination and was ranked among the top 10 luxury destinations in the world by the Los Angeles Times.

According to online sources, a night at the retreat costs between sh 70 000 and sh 280 000.