escape to the embrace of a gentler era...
Four° Twenty’ South is named for the latitude – it is almost exactly 4 degrees and 20 minutes south of the equator – as there were no landmarks in the forest which covered the area in the 1960s when the property was bought by Ken & Margaret Martin. Now, still owned and run by the Martin family, Ken & Margaret’s daughter Hilary lives on the property with John Lockhart Mure. Some members of the staff are the third generation of their family to work here.
Originally known as May’s Cottages, the first entry in its Guest Book is 13th October 1958 by Dr OHD Portsmouth and Mr and Mrs AJ Sinclair from Nairobi. The first guest book runs until 1970 and the second from 1971 - 1984. In the early days families would arrive covered in dust after a day or more on the road and stayed two weeks or three weeks to relax and enjoy the beach. They came from all over Kenya and also from Uganda and Tanzania. We still have a loyal local following, especially for breaks from Nairobi, but now also have guests from places as diverse as Rwanda, Nigeria, Europe and America. Some guests have returned after 30 odd years to re-live their memories of holidays spent at Four Twenty South which is particularly thrilling for us.
The blocks to build the houses were quarried from the coral in the rag forest behind and our fresh water still comes from a well in the same forest. At the time the plots were all 20 acres. When the road was built in the 1970s the plots became divided into two parts. The original access to Four Twenty South was from the road to Lunga Lunga on a track through the bush and five men were employed on a full time basis to keep it open. The staff all left at 4pm so they could get home before the animals began to prowl (in fact, the staff still do but sadly the animals do not!). The forest was full of bush pig and there were lions and leopards drawn by the lure of tasty pork morsels. Occasionally you saw pug marks on the beach.
According to an old fisherman, the first building to go up was a store (now an office and store) in which the cement was locked and the first house to be built was Kualuka. After that came Bwaa and Dzumbe and then Chikore, Tsulini and KoKare which were built as ‘guest houses’ to circumvent the planning regulations of those days which specified 4 acres as the minimum amount of land per house. These were the original beach cottages for rental on the South Coast which then had three small hotels: Jadini and Sandy Bay (later Trade Winds) owned by the Trench family and Two Fishes, owned by Mr and Mrs Fish.
Four Twenty South still tries to live by its original ethos. We are resourceful and recycle wherever possible. Many of the windows and doors come from demolished buildings and furniture is all either old or made with old wood. We compost and are planning an organic vegetable garden and a permaculture project. We live within nature’s cycles and do not water the lawns during the dry season. The buildings are designed to utilise the breeze for natural cooling. We believe the lagoon is nature’s spa and superior in every way to a swimming pool.