Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Malindi, a Kenyan seaside town by the Indian Ocean known as “Little Italy”, is where the late Silvio Berlusconi liked to go for a health boot camp.

The former Italian prime minister, whose death at the age of 86 was announced earlier this month, used to unwind at The Lion in the Sun, a billionaire retreat hotel.

Former manager of the hotel, Philip Chai, told the BBC Focus on Africa podcast that his bills were always covered by Flavio Briatore, an Italian businessman who owns the hotel.

With his team of security with him, it was not easy to get access and talk one-to-one with the Italian politician.

But Mr Chai remembers that he did speak to him every morning, in English, before he headed into the spa – as he says Berlusconi liked to stick to his health regime during his stay.

“He spent a lot of his time in the spa,” said Mr Chai, who retired from the Lion in the Sun last year.

Silvio Berlusconi survived many a scandalImage caption: Silvio Berlusconi survived many a scandal

Berlusconi did not tend to try local dishes, such as ugali, preferring pasta, and a lot of vegetables – as requested by the spa.

“He ate what was being produced from the kitchen – once it had been inspected by his team.

“He ate things like prawns in garlic butter on a bed of rice with lots of vegetables… part of the requirement from the spa, so he was able to detox – and so that by the time he gets back he’s prepared for that major operation – fighting for being a prime minister.”

Over a five decade career, Berlusconi always managed to bounce back from sex scandals and corruption cases – so perhaps Malindi was one of the keys to his success as the place where he could recharge.

By Joy

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