Welcome to another exciting insight into the wonderful world of our Tinggly experience partners. In this article we feature an interview with George Barbour the owner and founder of the unique Ali Barbour’s cave restaurant that can be found just a few miles south of Mombasa in Kenya.
This awesome cave setting makes for the perfect marriage between romance and wonder with an amazing array of natural decoration providing a never-to-be-forgotten experience. If you’re tingling to find out more about Ali Barbour’s restaurant in Kenya then here’s where you “open sesame!”
Before we start, if you are interested in experiences in Kenya, check out our section dedicated to that!
1. Firstly, could you tell us some more about your background?
Hi everyone! I was one of five children born to Jessie and Richard Barbour of Galley Lane Farm in the UK. We moved to Kenya to run a farm in Kitale when I was young. This was a life changing experience and I went on to learn much about farming as well as the culture and people of Kenya. Some 35 years ago I moved to Diani to run the famous Ali Barbour’s cave restaurant which lies on one of Africa’s most beautiful beaches. I’ve never looked back!
2. What are your hobbies?
I started playing rugby in the UK at Bedford school. I was soon a regular member of the Kitale team and was selected to represent the following provincial teams: West Kenya, Kenya and East Africa. The following year I was called up to play in the Scorpions RFC invitational team then based in Dodoma-Tanganyika. I was a team member of the East African side that hosted Wales in a one off test in May 1964 at the RFUEA ground. I was on the 3rd Tuskers tour to England in 1966 and the 4th one in 1972 to Ireland where I also skippered the touring side. I went into motor racing when I retired. I’m still engaged in rugby development with a team in Ukunda on the south coast called the South Coast Pirates. The SCP are put together from under privileged people living in Ukunda. I also host the famous Diani Beach 5-a-side tournament every July.
3. What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Teaching rugby, farming and playing pool or snooker.
4. Why did you start your business? What attracted you to it? What’s the story behind it?
I converted the cave into a restaurant 35 years ago with my wife Jackie. It seemed appropriate to name it Ali Barbour’s! The cave is thought to be between 120,000 and 180,000 years old. All is exactly as discovered except for the chamber housing the kitchen and the lavatories, which had to be modified for functional reasons. The natural holes in the roof are open to the sky but protected in bad weather with sliding covers. I had to gave up farming when Jackie sadly passed away but I’ve now completed the successful transformation from farmer to restaurateur.
5. What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and what makes it all worthwhile?
Financial comfort, great staff and determination. The most rewarding part is seeing customers satisfied, and the staff making personal growth and seeing them succeed. Hard work, and listening and responding to our customers. You miss out if you don’t understand what the customer expects and wants.
6. What would you advise to keep a healthy work/life balance?
A good work/life balance is crucially important to your well-being. You must build down time into your schedule as well as learning to keep moving! It’s hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy levels and heightening your ability to concentrate. Never forget: a little relaxation goes a long way.
7. What are the greatest stresses in your life and how do you cope?
The current Kenyan economy and keeping our business alive. Keep a positive, realistic attitude and accept that although you can’t control certain things, you’re in charge of how you respond.
8. Anything else you’d like to add?
Come visit Kenya, it’s an amazing country with amazing people. We are lucky to live on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world which was recently voted Leading Beach in Africa at the World Tourism Awards 2015. Karibu Kenya!
Thanks for talking to us George. Your love of Kenya and your restaurant really shines through.
For more information about George or any other members of the Tinggly activity family please get in touch with us today or, alternatively, sign up to our newsletter and never miss a thing. Happy travels!
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