Saturday, 17 November 2018


By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 17 November 2018)

Celebrating a seventieth anniversary is definitely a major milestone, especially if your business has been running successfully for all that time.
So it’s understandable that Julie Dabaly-Scott, the Managing Director of Bunson Travel Service Ltd. felt compelled to celebrate her company’s 70th this past Saturday.
But there was no way Julie was going to do it alone! For one thing, Bunson has been in partnership with the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Global Network since 1999, so they had to be included to her fete. In fact, CWT staff helped her orchestrate a fabulous afternoon affair that not only included a great many of Bunson’s clients, both past and present. It also involved taking them all on a travelers’ trek by train (known that day as the ‘Bunson Express’) all the way from the Nairobi Railway Station (which has seriously gotten spruced up) to Mlolongo where they landed just outside the Nairobi National Park, at the African Heritage House.
Greeted by a line-up of Maasai morans, it was a climb up a stone-staired hill only to find coconuts being sliced open in our presence so everyone could have a fresh coconut drink of their own. Or if you preferred something stiffer, that was right there as well.
Then just ahead, there were exquisitely set tables, decked out for the sumptuous meal that was to come. They were all carefully nestled under high-flying tents which were charming to behold but ever-so functional. For in addition to offsetting the charming view of African Heritage House, they served to protect guests first from the sun that beat down at high noon, and later in the day, they saved us from the rains that arrived unexpectedly. Fortunately, they came long after Alan Donovan, the owner of African Heritage House, invited guests to come for a tour of his beautiful house. We also had a chance to line up for an exceptional and multi-menued buffet provided by ‘Chefs by Design’.
Personally, I am not a big eater, but I couldn’t help myself that day. It started with the stir-fry! Two chefs were on duty to take your order as you selected whatever assortment of colorful vegetables you wished cooked in the wok, (the frying pan shaped especially for stir-fry). My chef also asked if I wanted freshly-ground garlic, ginger and pepper mixed into my dish. Yes, indeed, all the above plus a bit of hot sauce and soy sauce as well.
That should have sufficed as a meal. But no, there was chicken tikka, baked tilapia, fried steak and of course, rice and chips (aka French fries). There were still more sauces, chutneys and fresh salads. And lest we forget, they also served yummy lentil soup which had just right measure of spicy kick.
I could have done without desert. But then the guests I was seated with came with their fruit-filled hot crepes drenched in chocolate sauce! How could I resist?
All the while there was wonderful live music that wasn’t so loud as to interfere with lively conversation among Bunson’s mainly corporate clients, including bankers, airline and UN reps, and all sorts of sweet people I didn’t have a chance to meet.
The rains waited for Julie to come onto the dance floor, officially welcome all her guests and give us a brief history of her life with Bunson Travel. She had been in the travel business before she joined Bunson in 1998, just in time to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.
Since then the business had gone from strength to strength, such that she decided to acquire sole ownership of the firm in 2009. It had already gone into partnership with CWT, becoming one of the first travel firms in Africa to join the CWT Global Partners Network. Now CWT Kenya is independently owned and operated by Bunson Travel.
So Julie has a lot to celebrate, including the fact that both her children work with her, as does her brother and sister. What’s more, they were all on hand that Saturday as was her mother and her spouse, Bruce Scott.
So by the time the rains finally came, guests were relaxing under the tents, pleased to be Julie’s clients and happy to see how this MD thinks large and clearly likes to treat her clients to the very best. No doubt they’ll be happy to return for Bunson’s 75th or even its centennial celebrations since there seems to be no stopping in sight for Julie and her fellow travelers.

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