West Africa is very diverse and there are countless upscale hotels along the Atlantic Ocean between Dakar and the south of Senegal. However, numerous hotels are fighting over the few tourists that are currently drawn to Africa. The quality of life here is quite high for those who can afford it. For those friends of the Africa travel, which are powerful the French language, the Senegal could come into the closer choice. There the infrastructure is partly even European. However: until today not many people in Senegal speak English or even German.
For vacationers from UK, Ireland or the Scandinavian countries Gambia is the better choice
For all vacationers from the English-speaking countries the small country Gambia could offer itself. There English is spoken by the entire population and the country has become known for its extremely friendly people and the great beaches. In addition, the vacationers speak nevertheless very unanimously that they felt very well in Gambia. The pleasant summer bathing temperatures from January to December in French-speaking Senegal or also in English-speaking Gambia are considered by many Africa lovers to be particularly endearing and there is only the question for spoiled vacationers:
Which hotel is really the best in West Africa?
I followed the question and again and again the ‚Coco Ocean Resort and Spa‘ was named frequently. The politicians of all visiting regions stay here, also the musicians and artists and the A-celebrities are attracted to the great suites with private pool and private chef. The excellent location directly on the soft Atlantic Ocean is also a good reason to visit the leading hotel, as well as the cuisine of the excellent chefs. A good reason to have a look behind the scenes there and also to have an interview with Sir Ranga, the general manager of the ‚Coco Ocean Resort & Spa’…
The Gambia in a few words: ‚An Amazing Country‘:
Let’s first go to the basic information of this very nice and safe country. The smallest country in Africa is officially called ‚The Republic of Gambia‘ (slogan: „The Smiling Coast of Africa“) and it is located in West Africa. The flight distance from European hubs is a little bit more than that of the Canary Islands. From London it takes a little more than 6 hours to reach Banjul. With the exception of its west coast on the Atlantic Ocean, Gambia is completely surrounded by the much larger Senegal.
The Gambia is also an attractive safari destination
The Gambia lies on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the country’s namesake, which flows through the center of Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The country has an area of just under 10,700 square kilometers. There are just over two million inhabitants living in the country. The lively capital Banjul is the country’s largest metropolitan area, yet offers by far the ‚friendliest people in Africa‘ in addition to very many beautiful beaches and nature parks and the very nice River Cruises attractions on the Gambia River.
The Gambia is also an attractive safari destination. There are not the „Big Five“, but huge hippos, big wild cats, crocodiles and monkeys as well as a whole range of endemic animal and plant species. The Gambia also has a wonderful bird diversity, there are also many safari operators, but hardly anyone abroad knows this.
Many reasons why the little Gambia is a great destination for those vacationers, who want to relax at the attractive beaches or at the Gambia River region or discover the exciting wildlife of The Gambia. Biodiversity is another plus point of the smallest country on the African continent. More wild lions and other „Big Five“ wildlife can be found just a few kilometers from the border in Senegal, ideal as a day visit destination…
The Gambia’s assets are its people and the excellent security situation in the country, despite the pervasive effects of the world’s impediments to travel. The people of Africa’s smallest country are genuinely warm and friendly. Again and again a white person is asked „From where do you come from sir?“ and if you then answer that you come from UK or Eire or other European countries, you are sure to have the sympathies of the Africans. For us, it was very exciting to find out what makes the population of this friendly country tick in September 2021…
Thus also the Africa expert Frank Mueller from Rostock and working in Brighton speaks appreciatively: Gambia is certainly the country with the best development chance in tourism, because the security situation is very relaxed and a Gambian has a very friendly nature. Here you are still welcomed with open arms – and the people are happy about us vacationers…“
What do the people of The Gambia expect from the future?
All people in The Gambia naturally hope that tourism in the country will return to its old strength. In 2019, nearly 630,000 vacationers visited this attractive country in western Africa. Due to the global Corona pandemic, The Gambia’s main industry, tourism, collapsed as of March 2020 and everyone is suffering: cab drivers are selling fewer tours, the roadside fruit seller is selling less fruit and hotels are much less busy than before 2020. Restaurants are also selling only 20% of their food and have had to lay off many staff….
High time to make holiday-makers from the English-speaking countries aware of the small but attractive The Gambia
Just in the winter 2021/22 is a vacation in my opinion in The Gambia particularly recommendable. The climatic and geographic peculiarities allow bathing and swimming in the sea even at Christmas and the beautiful river landscapes and mangrove forests let ornithologists and nature lovers here freeze with excitement. The partly endemic fauna and flora of The Gambia’s river landscapes is of a special kind, as this little video also proves:
An exclusive interview with Sir Ranga Weerakkody, the experienced hotel manager of the best hotel & resort in West Africa explains the attractiveness of the location
Now I speak exclusively with Sir Mr. Ranga Weerakkody, the General Manager of The Gambia’s finest hotel, the ‚Coco Ocean Resort & Spa‘. ‚Sir Ranga‘ was born in Sri Lanka, worked for years in Oman and Dubai in leading positions in the hotel industry and came to The Gambia in 2019 to take over the fantastically located Coco Ocean Resort & Spa. It is considered the best hotel in the country and shows not only by the location, but also the staff density and goodness of the cuisine. Prince Charles already visited for longer the Coco Ocean, also the German President Steinmeier resided here in the Coco Ocean, likewise also the Turkish President Mr Erdogan. The list of famous personalities who have stayed here is endless and proves once again the quality of this luxury hotel with the exotic charm, a unique location and the skillfully used design elements from Morocco, Africa and Europe…
Oliver Gaebe, www.bellacoola.de:
„Mr. Weerakkody, thank you very much for taking the time for our interview. What then is your recommendation for ‚getting to know perfectly‘ the smallest country in Africa, i.e. for all The Gambia novices?“
Ranga Weerakkody, http://cocoocean.com:
„You’re very welcome Oliver. It makes me happy to see travel journalists from Europe interested in our wonderful Gambia. Soon our main business period will start and when it gets cold in Norway, UK and other countries in Europe, Gambia is an ideal destination. We have peak season in October – March and perfect ’summer temperatures‘, the Atlantic is then with 27°C or 28°C optimal for swimming or snorkeling and the air temperature offers with about 30°C also the ideal vacation atmosphere of a winter destination with a summer feel.“
The Coronavirus does not like Gambia, C fails here
Ranga continues, „Thus I may reveal that the Corona topic led in UK for example violently does not play a role here. Here, the discerning vacationer can feel like 2019 or before. In addition, our differently designed 89 appealing and partly luxurious suites offer all the comforts to make even the most demanding guests from UK, Eire or other countries happy. We have also set up a sophisticated health management system in consultation with doctors and the Ministry of Tourism and the WHO.
Motto of Coco Ocean: ‚Everything possible for the health of our, everything for a relaxing vacation‘. Sir Ranga: „We are constantly interested in optimizing the highest standards of hygiene and health and attach great importance to the training of our dedicated staff and equipment. For example, if guests arrive by car, we offer cleanliness stations with sinks and soap already at the parking lot. The viruses probably don’t like that much effort…“, Ranga smiles.
„89 top equipped suites offer a feel-good guarantee through very good beds and design elements from Africa and Europe. Our many repeat and permanent guests impressively prove that we are also very well positioned for 2020 and 2021. We did have to adjust staffing levels, but currently have just under 130 employees, and the trend is rising again.“
„That sounds promising, Ranga. You’ve come up with a treat. How do you think an optimal Gambia winter trip 2021/22 could be designed?“
„I recommend after arriving in The Gambia a few days of rest and with very good food with us at Coco Ocean. Unlike UK or other countries in Europe, we have in West Africa fruits and vegetables in organic quality all year round. With us also (almost) always the sun shines. In the meantime, we can provide a driver and a suitable vehicle and recommend to the tourists to experience the beauty of the Gambian river landscapes. We can then also arrange a traditional residential vessel with cabins for a family or even a tour group. The pampered travelers will experience extraordinary beauties of Gambia’s river landscapes. This is where our enthusiastic vacationers will experience long forgotten natural phenomena. Birds and monkeys create their own concerts and I think it is the African Highlights No 1, a ‚must seen‘.“Sir Ranga explains his ‚Relax & Discover tour packages‘:
„For example, if the vacationers have two weeks to spend in Gambia, we recommend one of our Relax & Discover packages, we call it ‚Relax & meet Crocs, Monkeys and Birds in a 3 – 14 days adventures‘. Our guests stay the three first nights at our hotel for deep relaxation with massages and healthy organic food. After that, it’s off to the natural landscapes of The Gambia for excursions. Flooded with impressions for 3 up to 14 days in the nature to see as much of the country’s biodiversity as possible, we recommend discerning vacationers return to us at Coco Ocean, and then add another week or two of beach and relaxation vacation. If the very relaxed visitors of The Gambia then nicely vitamin D strengthened and ggfls even tanned The Gambia have left, these have recovered visibly well, eaten healthy and can afterwards also the winter adverse weather in UK, Eire or other countries in the north better survive…“
„That sounds great and reads excellently. I’m sure many readers can relate to that. A few words on the subject of health: I have repeatedly experienced and seen that the very good cuisine of the Coco Ocean Resort is also committed to healthy living. After all, you even harvest your own fruits and vegetables in your beautiful gardens, don’t you Ranga?“
Ranga (nodding briskly):
„For us, health is actually a very important aspect that fits and contributes to the holistic lifestyle. We have a great garden that contributes to the feeling of well-being with a good microclimate, excellent beds that ensure that our vacationers get a healthy and deep sleep and at the same time we have also trained our kitchen staff and harvest our own fruits and vegetables from our own gardens whenever possible and buy organic quality food whenever else possible. I assume that you have already been informed by our kitchen staff, haven’t you? How do you like our food Oliver?“
„Yes, that’s true, and it also led me to give your cuisine top marks. The food is indeed excellent and I can compare it quite well with the hotels and restaurants where I have dined for almost four months in The Gambia. You indeed occupy a top spot there, Sir Ranga!“
„Thank you Oliver. I am very happy about that, so our trainings and our experienced senior hotel trainee program are finally appreciated.“
„Yes, I am really thrilled. It all reads really exciting, but what does the fun cost at the highest Coco Ocean level? Let’s talk turkey. I think one or the other reader would like to know at what price he could be there Sir Ranga. For example, what is the minimum cost of a 14-day stay at Coco Ocean described above, including the three-day trip for a mini-group of at least four people to Georgetown with the great river cruise, half board, massages and flight from / to e.g. London?“
„Everything depends on the airfares, of course. At the moment there is very low competition and there alone the airfare in economy class e.g. from London – Brussels – Banjul – Brussels – London is around 700₤. If we calculate very tightly, we can offer this exclusive adventure for 2499₤ in one of our executive suites. If vacationers want to book the river cruise on the spot first, we offer the two-week exlusive recreation trip to the Coco Ocean from 1990₤. For this our guests stay and dine very exclusively, we throw the best that Gambia’s cuisine has to offer. The entire program is designed to offer a feast for the palate. It is a guarantee of the highest quality of relaxation that can otherwise only be offered on much more expensive trips.
„That sounds really very good Ranga. I am an example of the effect. After a few days at the Coco Ocean Resort, I can indeed confirm that the hotel meets the demands of guests from Europe and since arrival I feel much more relaxed here. Add to that the exclusive location on the Atlantic Ocean and the breathtaking sunsets, all in all a guarantee for excellent vacation experiences in Africa. Thank you very much for your time and this insightful interview. Toi toi toi for your beautiful hotel and your very friendly staff Sir Ranga and ‚The Smiling Coast of Africa ’… “
„It gives me and my staff great pleasure. I repeat again welcome to The Gambia. Finally, take a look at this still current video. All the best to Europe and come by, it’s worth it:“
Press & media:
The article was written by
BellaCoola Film Production UG (limited liability)
Mr Oliver Gaebe
email: bellacoola-liefert (@) die-besten-bilder.de
BellaCoola Film Production UG (limited liability)
Bellacoola Film Production UG from Cologne in Germany has become known as an experienced film production company with excellent references. Focus: Travel and science. Since a few years a department „Economy“ has been added and deals with the reasons for the significantly decreased competitiveness of the German industry. Even future technologies, such as the aerospace industry, are not sufficiently supported, and politicians obviously lack the will to act.
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