24 global hotel brands eye Kenya as Covid-19 subsides

Radisson Blu in Nairobi’s Upper Hill. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Twenty-four global hotel brands are considering opening new facilities in Kenya this year, as the industry recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, a new report shows.

The new hotels will bring to the market 3,155 new hotel rooms, according to the survey by hospitality advisory firm W Hospitality Group, making Kenya the top seven hotspot for new luxury hotels in the African continent.

About 2,450 rooms or over three-quarters of the planned hotel rooms were considered “onsite” meaning they are under construction.

The report says Egypt has the largest number of hotels under development in Africa, recording 85 hotels comprising over 21,000 rooms.

Global hotel chain Marriott International and Europe's biggest hotel group Accor are some the global brands that will build the newest hotels in Kenya, according to the survey detailing upcoming investments in the hospitality sector.

This accounts for more than 25 percent of all new planned hotels in Africa in the first quarter of 2022.

Following Egypt in terms of total hotel development in the pipeline is Morocco with 7,209 rooms in development, spread across 50 new hotels.

Nigeria comes in third at 5,619 rooms in 33 hotels.

Ethiopia on the other hand has 5,206 rooms spread across 29 hotels while Cape Verde has 4,639 rooms in 17 hotels.

The next five places are taken by Algeria, 3,202 rooms, Kenya, 3,155 rooms, South Africa, 3,133 rooms Tunisia, 2,918 rooms and Senegal 2,693 rooms.

The expansion plans come at a time hotel chains are increasingly facing pressure from ultra-affluent clients who demand special services.

Marriott International announced in March this year it had signed an agreement with Baraka Lodges Limited to open its first luxury safari lodge in Maasai Mara, Narok County.

The JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in Kenya is expected to open in 2023 and will be Marriott’s first luxury safari property in Africa.

The US hotel brand in a statement announced that the new facility to be opened next year at the Maasai Mara National Reserve will mark its entry into the Africa safari segment.

The Mara lodge will be the fourth property by the multinational brand in Kenya and plans to employ up to 50 locals once complete.

In 2018, Sankara and Marriott Group signed a franchise agreement that saw the Westlands hotel trade under its independently operated premium brand, Autograph Collection.

Marriott International also operates two other hotels in Nairobi, including the 172-room Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport which opened in October 2017 and the 96-room Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Hurlingham, which was a conversion.

The global hospitality group also announced in 2019 plans to establish another facility under its affiliate Protea Hotel brand as part of its Sh31 billion investment by its partners in Nairobi.

Other leading luxury hotels in Kenya that have announced an expansion in the last few years include Carlson Rezidor and Acacia Premier among others.

Kenya’s tourism industry has started to pull out of its deep Covid-19-induced slump as local travellers take advantage of lower prices, but foreign visitor numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Besides InterContinental Hotel, a number of top hotels, including Laico Regency and Radisson Blu in Nairobi’s Upper Hill, earlier stopped operations amid the coronavirus economic fallout. Radisson Blu has since reopened as the economy recovers.

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