Lifestyle

Nairobi’s hotels roll out five-star luxury rides

car

A Porsche Cayenne at the DusitD2 Hotel at 14 Riverside in Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Summary

  • High-end hotels lure visitors right from airport with sleek, cozy BMWs, Porsches and Range Rovers.

Hospitality is an economic service sector whose roots go back to the advent of transportation and trade. Over time, the hospitality industry has experienced an evolution to become one of the major economic activities globally.

This transformation of status has meant that hotels have had to position themselves as a marketing strategy in order to stand out and win customers over in the highly-competitive hospitality arena.

A few years ago, high-end travellers to Kenya had at their disposal yellow-line taxis or cars with company names plastered or painted on the sides.

This was the standard fare where even international CEOs would arrive at the airport, jump into one of these vehicles and head out to their hotels.

But this is no longer the case because today, high-end hotels are using the luxury-cars gimmick to pull customers in right from the airport apart from offering them superior accommodation and a fine dining experience.

With a growing middle-class ready to spend more money to fulfil their consumption needs, the marketing strategy by hotels to use luxury cars is now a lucrative endeavour and as more international brand hotels come, up, they are opting for more luxurious vehicles to pick their customers from airports, ferry them around and when it’s time to leave, take them back to their airports of choice.

By definition, a luxury vehicle has pleasant or desirable features that go beyond what your usual taxi cab would have. But all this come at an increased expense for the clients.

A spot-check at a number of high-end Nairobi hotels revealed that the trend to woo moneyed customers coming into the country and maintain them using luxury vehicles is actually on the increase. Here are their responses:

Villa Rosa Kempinski

The five-star hotel made its entry into the Kenyan market in 2012 with outlets in Westlands Nairobi and Olare Orok Conservancy in the Maasai Mara.

Villa Rosa Kempinski has a BMW X5 and 5 Series in red and black, which Ann Murungi, the hotel’s sales and marketing director says is a statement of elegance, luxury and coziness to the guests.

It costs between Sh40,000 and Sh100,000 a day for a customer to enjoy this prestige of ‘arriving at the hotel in glamour and style’.

“Some guests own similar cars back at home which they are used to and would rather not settle for anything less,” she divulges.

To stay ahead in the game, the hotel is affiliated to Simba Colt Motors meaning that it is at an advantage when it comes to acquiring the latest posh BMWs as they are released from the assembly line.

“We also have them serviced by the dealership who do not compromise on service and parts. We do not have short-cuts. Our vehicles will always remain as good as new so that our customers are always assured of first class service,” says Ms Murungi.

Tribe Hotel

The luxury boutique hotel earned a mention in international luxury magazines including the Conde Nast Traveller hot list (2010) and Robb Report 2013 top 100 hotels, owing to its superior services.

In keeping abreast with rivals in the industry, Tribe Hotel owns two Range Rover Sports and a Land Rover Discovery to offer guests that luxury shuttle around town.

Tonny Muiruri, the director of sales at Tribe says a six-hour ride for first time visitors to Kenya from the airport to the hotel costs around Sh11,000.

“We also offer half-day and full-day leases at Sh22,000 and Sh44,000 respectively; whereby our guests are chauffeured by our experienced drivers to give them the total vacation feel and VIP treatment,” he says.

Nairobi Serena Hotel

Located in the city’s Central Park, the hotel offers a range of dining options, with its Mandhari fine dining restaurant rated among Kenya’s best.

One of its conference rooms is symbolically named Amani. This is the room where Kofi Annan brokered the National Peace Accord following the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

As if its art-inspired interiors from across Africa don’t act as enough magnets for customers, the Hotel has contracted a motor dealer to offer its clients luxury shuttling services from and to the airport and around town.

Among the luxury vehicles on offer are the Range Rover Sports & HSE, Mercedes ‘S’ Class and ‘E’ Class, Royal Motor brands as well as BMWs.

Alex Nzivo, the supervisor at Limousine Transfers Limited (the contracted dealer) says most clients prefer black and silver as these are the colours that spell stature.

“In a day, we serve an average of four clients who pay Sh25,000 for a Mercedes and Sh40,000 for the Range for a period of 12 hours,” he says.

Hilton Hotel

Situated at an advantageous spot in the city centre, the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi boasts of three restaurants, two bars and a Hollywood-themed café. Aside from conference rooms, the hotel has exquisite suites, not to mention an executive room that comes with added advantages.

The hotel owns a luxury 4x4 Land Cruiser to shuttle customers who request for it to their stated destinations. Edwin Kijana, works at the hotel and divulges that the prestigious vehicle is available on hire at a cost of Sh20,000 for 12 hours.

The Sarova Stanley

This was among the first luxury hotels to open its doors in Nairobi and has to date hosted prominent world leaders, international celebrities and renowned authors.

Something unique about The Sarova Stanley is that all its suites and conference facilities are named after an important person or place in the hotel’s history.

As far as keeping up with the trends is concerned, the hotel has luxury vehicles from Toyota including Mark X and the Premio.

It costs Sh6,000 to hire any of the cars for four hours (considered as a half-day rate) and Sh10,000 for every eight hours.

“Our cars are clean, comfortable, maintained in good conditions and are driven by well-trained professional drivers who do not stop at anything less than excellence,” says Rebecca Njihia who works at the hotel’s marketing department.

DusitD2 Nairobi

This 5-star hotel made its entry in Nairobi at the beginning of this year and is nested in the leafy Riverside Drive suburb.

Apart from offering guests world class cuisine, excellent accommodation and an urban retreat for work and play, the hotel affords them luxury rides to the airport in its Porsche Cayenne vehicles.

“We charge Sh8,900 per person to the airport and Sh14,250 if two guests share the ride to the airport,” says James Scott, the director of sales and marketing at the hotel.

He notes that guests enjoy the luxury ride as it saves them discomfort while sitting through the city’s endless traffic jams.

Sankara Hotel

This 5-star hotel is situated at the heart of Westlands five kilometres away from the Nairobi city centre.

Among its luxury cars are two Mercedes E class, a Chrysler and a Mercedes Vito van all equipped with wireless Internet connection to entertain guests when they are stuck in traffic.

Charges for the Mercedes E class and Chrysler per trip to a given destination (such as the airport) are Sh5,300 per person while for the van its Sh 4,000 per person.

Frequent customers are given discounted rates in the Mercedes E class and Chrysler which could drastically drop to as low as Sh3,000.

A full day (12 hour) lease for the cars amounts to Sh35,000.