Mount Kenya Safari Club’s first heyday came with all the trappings of a Hollywood hideout: an invitation-only retreat with a who’s-who clientele (Steve McQueen, Ava Gardner, and Frank Sinatra included) and a nowhere-else-in-the-world setting, where giraffes and elephants roamed outside while Champagne-fueled parties raged inside. Built in 1959 by heartthrob William Holden (The Bridge on the River Kwai, Sunset Boulevard), the exclusive hunting club was as fabled as the Beverly Hills Hotel—
albeit 9,500 miles away. This year, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, the 120-room golf and safari resort (now a part of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts) is reviving its VIP glamour with a handful of luxurious additions, including two garden villas, a spa, an haute cuisine restaurant, and an open-air terrace overlooking the spectacular Mount Kenya Forest.
Of course, not everything is new. You can still stay in Holden’s original cottage, a stately colonial retreat with a roaring fireplace and a terrace that opens out onto the savanna. The resort’s main lounge—where Ernest Hemingway was on occasion known to have a few too many sundowners—still sits directly on the equator, its latitudinal line running straight down the middle of the bar. Most unchanged, however, are the landscapes just outside your door, where game drives and horseback rides sidling alongside lions, leopards, and zebras offer an unforgettable safari experience.