Simba Corporation — the owner of car dealer Simba Colt Motors — has hired international luxury hotel chain Kempinski to manage its new property in Kenya as it seeks to diversify from its mainstay new vehicle dealership.
Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels SA is a luxury chain specialising in conference, catering and hotel supplies.
It has 62 hotels globally, with additional 43 under development in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Kempinski has signed an agreement with Simba in which it will earn fees for its management services and strong reputation in the global hospitality sector, with Simba betting on these to help it grow market share in the hotel industry, according to an executive at Simba Colt.
“Kempinski Hotel President & CEO (Reto Wittwer) will be in Kenya to attend the handing over of the New Kempinski hotel in Nairobi, and a luxury camp in Mara by the developers of the properties Simbacorp,” said a statement from Kempinski.
Simba relies heavily on the new vehicle dealership market where it sells Mitsubishi commercial trucks and BMW luxury saloon cars.
Its entry into the hospitality sector is set to raise competition as Kenya continues to attract new major hotels.
The Swiss hotel chain will manage Simba’s 200-room five-star hotel located in Nairobi’s Westlands that will open its doors by the end of the year—which will be opened on June 12.
The hotel will feature a presidential suite on the 10th floor and three concept restaurants, including an all-day diner.
It will also have a bar and a cigar lounge, conference facilities targeting business travellers and a ballroom able to seat 500 people.
The brand will also manage Simba’s luxury-tented camp in the Maasai Mara, set to be opened on June 11.
Simba Corporation has also said it will develop a mixed-use property in Nairobi besides a three- star hotel as it deepens its footprint in the lucrative hospitality and real estate sectors.
The partnership with Simba marks Kempinski’s first venture into Kenya, with sources saying the firm is also interested in investing in its own property in the country.
Five years ago, it had announced it was looking to enter the local market, possibly through a buyout.
The firm’s expansion is set to heighten competition against established rivals like Hilton, InterContinental, and Sarova hotels.
The entry of Kempinski is set to raise competition in the country’s high-end hospitality market that has attracted more than five new major hotels in the past two years, a move that will also boost bed capacity.
Hemingways Collection, SAMCO Holdings, Rezidor Group of Hotels, and the Red Cross are some of the investors who are putting up property or expressed their intentions to set shop in Kenya in what would add at least 600 beds.
The new hotels, mainly based in Nairobi, are looking to cash in on the growth in tourism that has led to an increased demand for bed capacity in the city, mainly driven by conference and business.
Investors are targeting conference and business travellers as well as leisure tourists who come in through Nairobi on their way to other tourist destinations.
According to the 2012 Economic Survey, tourism earnings rose to Sh97.9 billion last year from Sh73.7 billion in 2010, with the number of bed-nights occupied increasing 5.3 per cent to seven million.
The key players in the city’s hotel industry include Intercontinental Hotel, Fairmont Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi Serena Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Safari Park Hotel, Windsor, Laico Regency, and Sarova Stanley.