Society

More Muslims to spend Idd-ul-Fitr holiday in hotels

ramadan

Muslims pray outside Jamia Mosque, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Summary

  • The last years saw most Muslims do the celebrations at home, due to the pandemic, but now more are booking Iftar dinners in five-star hotels.
  • Judy Matengo, the director of sales at Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi says business during the Idd holidays is coming from both the locals and international guests.
  • Mehdi Morad, the country general manager of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts says their Maasai Mara is fully booked, and since the reopening, the hotel has seen more locals booking.

More people will spend their Idd-ul-Fitr holiday in hotels compared to last year, hoteliers have said.

Hoteliers in Kenya have started recording an increase in bookings during this long Idd-ul-Fitr break as eased Covid-19 restricts attract diners. The last years saw most Muslims do the celebrations at home, due to the pandemic, but now more are booking Iftar dinners in five-star hotels.

Some of the luxury hotels say they are already booked out.

Judy Matengo, the director of sales at Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi says business during the Idd holidays is coming from both the locals and international guests.

“We are 100 percent booked. We prepared well for the season and have been offering Iftar dinners for embassies, corporates, and our clients who have been breaking the fast here. Also, because Kempinski has branches in Dubai, an Islam state, we emulated their dishes quite a bit, making them appealing to both locals and international guests,” Ms Matengo said.

This year has been big for most high-end hotels.

“There is no comparison whatsoever to last year, this year is much better. Last year, we did dinners for very few people, like one or two families. This Idd, we have gone back to numbers in 2018, in 2019, and are likely to do better,” she adds.

Mehdi Morad, the country general manager of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts says their Maasai Mara is fully booked, and since the reopening, the hotel has seen more locals booking.

“Fairmont Mara Safari Club is full through the long weekend. It was already busy before the extension of the weekend but after the extension was announced, it was full within the day,” Mr Morad said. CJ’s Restaurant in Nairobi’s Central Business District is also preparing for the Idd-ul-Fitr holiday.

Omar Shariff, the hotel manager says “this year things are really good compared to last year.”

“We are anticipating many families coming in for Idd dinners because we have been having Iftar packages. We are also planning to launch a new menu on Idd,” Mr Shariff said.

Coast hotels had expected a low season, considering that a majority of Kenyans travelled during Easter, which coincided with school holidays.

Some expected occupancy to be about 50 percent but have been pleasantly surprised with 90 percent-plus occupancy rates.

Travellers Beach Hotel, Bamburi Beach Hotel, and Tamarind in Mombasa, an area dominated by Muslims, say there are expecting brisk business.

Hillary Siele, the general manager at Travellers Beach Hotel says they expect even non-Muslims because of the five-day holiday.

People want to eat biryani, chicken tikka, Swahili chapati, and coconut beans and bitings such as mitai, vitumbua, and tende, away from home and prepared by professional chefs.

“We have 80 percent locals and 20 percent international guests who plan to stay here so far,” he said, adding that despite the eased restrictions, hotels are still following the protocols.

Margaret Masha, the sales and marketing manager at Bamburi Beach Hotel says, going by the trends, they are preparing for a fully-booked hotel.

“We have seen the increase in numbers and looking to make good revenue out of this holiday,” she said.

Bilha Mucuha, the General Manager at The Tamarind Group says Idd will be one of the busiest holidays this year.

“We have planned to serve French, Asian and African cuisines. Our specialty is seafood. We anticipate a good turnout as the Covid restrictions have been eased, in comparison to last year,” she said.

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