Nairobi’s Central Location Makes it a Hub for High Class Hotels in Africa

18th May, 2016

Kenya is likely to sustain growing number of hotels in its capital even during low seasons.

Experts say the country is in a central position that enables top executives of multinational companies to access their businesses spread regionally.

“Normally when such things like travel advisories are issued it affects the high end visitors who like identifying with five star hotels but what we are seeing is an upsurge in the number of three to four star hotels coming in different parts of Nairobi,” says Estelle Verdier, the Jovago Managing Director.

“But the recent efforts by the government to encourage local tourism is likely to play a big role in driving business to the three and four star hotels coming up in the country,” she said in an interview.

She says government’s efforts in upgrading most roads in the country and improving the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will be a game changer in opening various parts of the country to visitors.

A study released by W Hospitality Group, a member of Hotel Partners Africa shows that there are 40,000 hotel rooms planned for construction on the African continent between now and 2017 with 1,437 to be put up in Nairobi.

Villa Rosa Kempinski, established in 1897 as a luxury hotel group, opened doors to guests on September 1 with 200 hotel rooms along Chiromo road in Nairobi. The hotel has a portfolio of 74 five-star hotels in 32 countries and continues to add new properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In May this year, Hemingways, a global hotel chain opened a Sh1.5 billion facility in Nairobi, targeting the growing luxury and travel business.

Marriot, another five star international hotel plans to open a hotel in Kenya by 2015 in a Sh127 billion ($1.5 billion) investment in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Benin, Gabon, Nigeria and Rwanda.

New York Stock Exchange-listed Company Hilton Worldwide during last year announced it has signed a franchise agreement with Reliance Hotels to open Hilton Garden Inn hotel at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

The hotel becomes the 12th Hilton Garden Inn property under development in Africa, and is expected to open in early this year.

The 171-room hotel will be located two kilometres from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the country’s largest airport and a busy hub for sub-Saharan travel.

Accor, a global chain intends to open 30 new hotels with nearly 5,000 new rooms in Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Algeria by 2016. Emaar Hospitality Group, a Dubai based hotel group also has its eyes set on the East African region.

Other hotel brands seeking to invest or have invested in Kenya include Radisson Blu, Park Inn Lonrho hotels and Louvre Hotels Group founded by Mitsumi Group.

Located in Nairobi’s Westlands area, the Sh2.5 billion Louvre Hotels Group has 94 rooms and now boasts of seven hotels in the East African region, including Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Reacting to media questions on why Louvre Hotels Group decided to set up hotel in Kenya, Jagat Shah, Mitsumi Group chairman and Chief Executive Office says “The country is experiencing a lot of growth and development in the tourism sector and we felt that it was the right time for a world’s renowned hotel chain to set footprint in Kenya.”

Kenya Tourism Board Acting chief executive officer Jacinta Mwatela calls on investors to exploit the hotel industry and fill up the huge gap particularly the economy category which has been ignored for a long time to boost domestic tourism.

“We need to diversify our mass markets while maintaining high standards that focus on customer satisfaction”, she added.  Ms Mwatela wants private sector in the hospitality industry to work closely with Kenya Tourism Board in creating an enabling environment that creates job opportunities for many young people across the country.

Louvres Hotel Group is now present in 8 sub-Saharan African countries, with 13 hotels comprising a total of 2,020 rooms under its Tulip Inn, Golden Tulip and Royal Tulip brands as it pursues more growth opportunities in the African region.

The country receives nearly two million visitors annually, but the bed capacity is still inadequate with industry players projecting that an additional 10,000–15,000 hotel rooms will be needed in the next five to 10 years to accommodate the expected rise in the number of tourists coming to Kenya.

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