After independence, when the Kenya Government announced plans for tourist development around the country, African Ponderosa Limited decided that they had the ideal site – complete with plenty of game – for tourist lodges. African Ponderosa are the owners of the ranch on which the lodges are situated. Under an agreement signed in New York in October, 1969, Hilton International will manage the lodges when they are completed in 1970. The two lodges, just ten miles apart, are south-east of Tsavo West National Park, African Ponderosa owned 27,500 acres of ranch land in this area many years ago and its president – Mr Leo Roethe, the American Industrialist and conservationist, and his friends used to stay there during their many visit to Kenya.

Mr Kenneth Baker, APL’s vice-president, who also acted as the project manager for the luxury lodges commissioned Kenya architects Messrs Chudha + Pawa (CP) to prepare schemes for the lodges. CP were asked to design ‘something unique’ – and they just did that.The site for the Taita Hills Lodge proved quite a problem to the architects – there were so many good sites available on high ground that they had difficulty in choosing one. Then the architect, J S Chudha, much to the chagrin of the assistant manager, chose the exact site of the existing farmhouse which was built on the foundations of an old German, World War One fortress. The builder of the original farmhouse chose his site for the great panoramic view it offered. There is a commanding view of the surrounding plains and on a clear day, of Kilimanjaro. 

The architect, J S Chudha, also suggested forming a dam across a nearby river. This will be stocked with hippo, crocodile and fish and will prove a further attraction to visitors. There has always been plenty of game on the ranch, since African Ponderosa stopped all game hunting on the land.