When in only her early twenties, and having just finished a two year stint cutting her teeth at London’s Kettners as personal assistant to Peter Boizot, Julianna Silvester wrote a letter to Brian McNally of 44 At The Royalton, New York, in which she introduced herself as having a Masters in Philology, a speaker of 5 languages and being a master potato peeler. Needless to say, McNally made her The Royalton’s maitre d'.
A fantastic composite of the traditional, the excellent and the new, Julianna’s grounding in the world of high-end hospitality proved the perfect finishing school for a life steeped in the business of safari making. Born in Kenya, the daughter of a tea planter and wildlife lodge owner, educated locally and then, when her family moved abroad, in Switzerland, she spent nearly every weekend as a child, as well as subsequent summer holidays, helping her father build and then run the original and now legendary wildlife lodge, Governor’s Camp.
It was an experience that, together with that of helping run two of the world’s finest restaurants, prepared her perfectly for the multi-disciplined task of designing and helping lead east African safaris. Upon returning from New York, she ran the hospitality side of all three of the Governor’s camps, went on to work with Pete Silvester at Loisaba and is known throughout the industry for her remarkably fine mobile safaris. She joined RAS in 1998.
A champion of the large family mobile safari, Julianna delights in creating the sort of experience that allows for what she calls ‘a slow unfolding of the senses’, an experience curated to exactly the right degree of comfort, one that pairs the vicissitudes of canvas, a world with ‘the brick walls cut away’, to the finest of wines, the raw realities of the bush to the joys of beautifully presented food, fresh, organic and cooked in a Dutch oven. Like the greatest of stories, only one that is absolutely real, such an experience is filled with the highest levels of service and care, and with those moments of absolute surprise, the sight, for example, of the elusive leopardess, at dusk, in some far off and rarely visited corner of the Serengeti. A host cut from the cloth of the golden age of safari making.
Julianna Silvester lives in Nairobi with her husband, Peter.
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