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Big names eye Kenyan hotel bed space

Eastland Hotel along Kilimani Ring Road, Nairobi.

Eastland Hotel along Kilimani Ring Road, Nairobi.

Increasing interest by international hotel chains to cash in on the present accommodation and conferencing facilities demand by travellers to Africa will this year see Nairobi welcome more hotels.

American chain Radisson Hotels is among the two hotels that will begin operations before the end of this year.

The shell of the building which will house the upscale hotel is already complete. Developers are now starting on finishes which will take a couple of months.

Radisson Blu will feature a health club and a 600-square-metre ballroom for conferences. The hotel will also have an all-day restaurant, and a grill. The 276 room hotel will open in August this year.  The chain first announced its plan to enter the market in 2012.

The presence of Radisson in Nairobi raises Kenya’s profile in hospitality investment. In the past three years, the country has welcomed several international hotel brands.

Among them is American chain Best Western, Kempinski, Emaar Group from Dubai in Maasai Mara, Thai-listed Dusit International and Accor, a global hotel chain. Accor plans to add 5,000 new rooms in Kenya. This plan is part of their 30 new hotels vision for Africa by 2017.

It’s projected that Nairobi will, in four years, have 1,437 additional bed capacity. Currently, the country needs between 10,000 -15,000 more bed capacity.

Already, Dusit International is in the process of recruiting staff. In January, the hotel advertised for chefs, bartenders, accountants, house keepers and security officers.

The Bangkok-based company will operate a 100-bed luxury hotel called dusitD2 at 14 Riverside in Nairobi. The property is owned by administrators of Tile and Carpet company.

The hotel is set to begin operations in June. Its main client target is the business and leisure traveller. It also has conference facilities, a gym and spa.

DusitD2 hotels and resorts is a lifestyle collection by Dusit International. The brand was unveiled in 2006 and is highlights boutique hotels in business districts that is ideal for business travellers.  It has a total of five brands.

Radisson will also launch Park Inn Nairobi – a business and leisure facility in late 2015. Construction for this is about to start. This establishment will come after Park Inn Rwanda and Cape Town which are set to open mid this year. The new hotel will be located in Westlands.

Other hotels looking to open in two years are Marriot, easyHotels by Lonrho and Hilton Garden Inn, a budget accommodation by Hilton International.

Marriot, a five-star international hotel brand intends to open a hotel in the country by 2015.

Angola, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria are among major African cities that will host international brands by 2017.

Most of the companies trooping to Kenya have either already opened hotels in these cities or are completing construction.  In total, the continent is looking at 40,000 new rooms.

Marriot will spend Sh127 billion ($1.5 billion) for investments in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Benin, Gabon, Nigeria and Rwanda.

Centara Hotels & Resorts brand by The Chirathivat family from Thailand, which has a net worth of $12.3 billion also make up the list of investors eyeing a piece of Kenya’s hospitality industry. The billionaire will invest at the coast.

Lonrho is yet to reveal whether they have signed any leasing or management agreement with developers. The Group, which had established itself in the hospitality market with several iconic hotels, made a comeback in the market last year after a long absence.

Lonrho is keen on offering Kenyans budget accommodation. Its hotel portfolio include: easyHotel in Johannesburg, Grand Hotel Karavia, DRC, Hotel Cardoso in Maputo and Hotel Lansmore in Botswana.

The Johannesburg property is the first in Africa since Lonrho and easyGroup signed a 20-year franchise agreement.

Apart from international brands, local investors will also play a central role in the sector this year. Companies like Alliance Capital are among investors ensuring there is an increase in bed capacity.

The firm operates hotels under Mvuli brand. Alliance Capital has two properties in the city targeting business travellers. Their recent development is Mvuli Suites on Kipande road, in Nairobi. They are currently building another hotel in Kisumu.

 Business daily

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