The family of former President Moi plans to deepen its hospitality industry investments by rebuilding Lord Erroll Restaurant in Nairobi’s Runda suburb to include a multi-million-shilling four-star hotel.
Because of its location near the United Nations Office at Nairobi headquarters in Gigiri, the new restaurant would conveniently tap into UN-credentialled guests and diplomats as the rush to cash in on the country's bed deficit grows.
Industry statistics show that the country requires an additional bed capacity of between 10,000 and 15,000 to satisfy the demand.
Large international hotel chains have recently moved into the country to invest in both accommodation and conferencing facilities. Among these entrants are American chains Radisson Hotels, Best Western, and Kempinski. Others are Dubai’s Emaar Group, Thai-listed Dusit International and Accor, a global hotel chain.
Lord Erroll, an exclusive restaurant named after a British aristocrat executed in 1941, is to be demolished early next year and in its place a 43-room hotel, and a replica of the current restaurant, built under the same name.
The former President’s family bought the restaurant in February 2013 from its three proprietors for just under Sh300 million, a purchase made through Koita International Kenya Limited following approval by the Competition Authority of Kenya.
Koita International, the investment vehicle, also owns and manages Lake Baringo Spa and Resort, a scenic 100-room getaway on the Nairobi-Nakuru-Baringo highway and which was in 2012 elevated to a world heritage site by Unesco.
The modification of the Lord Erroll restaurant will mark the first major works on the 17-year-old pristine property named after Josslyn Victor Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll, who was murdered on Nairobi's Ngong Road 73 years ago — and focus of various “Happy Valley” books and films.
“The plan is to build a four-star, two-floored boutique hotel which will have a maximum of 43 rooms, a restaurant on the ground floor and other facilities like a gymnasium, which we are currently lacking,” said a source familiar with the proposed development.
“We wanted to close off the business early next year and begin the construction but this is subject to consultations and agreements with officials of the Runda Residents Association. We have a meeting with them in two weeks.”
The Lord Erroll restaurant was built in May 1997 by Hans Stoecklin, Michael Craig and Felix Huwler, whose nationalities Business Daily did not manage to ascertain by the time of going to press.
In March last year, the property exchanged hands after Koita International Kenya bought it from the three proprietors.
The restaurant, known for hosting exclusive events, is frequented by Kenya’s elite. It was here that Lands secretary Charity Ngilu held her graduation party in 2012 in an event attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In the last few years, Lord Erroll’s well-manicured and picturesque lawns made it ideal for corporate functions and garden weddings.
It has also attracted revellers due to its tag association with the late aristocrat who was murdered in cold-blood after he was involved in a love-triangle with Lady Diana Broughton, the wife of British aristocrat Sir Jock Broughton after a meeting at the Muthaiga Country Club in 1940.
The owners of the popular Runda restaurant named it after the slain man who was buried in the graveyard of St Paul’s Church, Kiambu and now, the Moi family wants to invest more into the name.
The planned boutique hotel will add to the growing list of hotels being put up in the affluent neighbourhood targeting business tourists and diplomats.
“The owners of Lord Erroll have promised to cooperate with the association in all their plans and stick to what we agree upon. We are not opposed to their makeover plans.”
Runda is synonymous with plush real estate developments and the entry of commercial centres will disrupt the status quo given that developers have preferred to build offices in areas like Westlands and Upper Hill.
As Nairobi continues to witness the mushrooming of luxury hotels, as well as multi-billion-shilling office blocks, the battle to decrease the bed deficit is still far from despite the entry of global hotel brands.