Markets & Finance

InterCon to open second five-star hotel in Nairobi

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The Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi. Photo/FILE

The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) will on Monday morning announce its investments plans that will see it open a new five star hotel in a bid to capture the growing conference and business travellers market.

The new 182 room hotel, Crowne Plaza, will be opened next month in Nairobi’s growing Upper Hill and it comes at a time when the country is witnessing the recovery of the tourism industry.

This will be IHG second five starbrand in Kenya after the Inter Continental Hotel and it sets the stage for a control of conference and business travellers among city hotels, including Hilton, Serena and Sarova.

“We trust this market and we are here to stay because our Nairobi hotel has been doing well despite the economic downturn,” said Karl Hala, the group’s director of operations in Africa and the General Manger of the Nairobi hotel.

Boost presence

The five-star hotel is expected to help the group boost its presence in the country and tap into the Nairobi market that is first emerging as the regions hub for leisure, conference and business tourism.

Local tourism is showing strong signs of recovery after suffering from last years post-election violence and the financial crisis that pushed world travel to record lows.

Official data show that tourism earnings rose 10 per cent to Sh36.64 billion in the first half of the year and the sector is optimistic it could reach the 2007 highs of Sh65 billion with two million guests.

The 2007 boom was short-lived due to the post-election violence and the financial crisis that affected the world economy.

The change is attributed to increased marketing and efforts to reach out to new zones in the last eight months of the year— a campaign expected to continue in the industry’s recovery path.

As a result, players such as IHG are angling to get a larger piece of this market.

Globally, IHG owns Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, and InterContinental Hotels.

Crowne Plaza is part of the group’s expansion plans in the region where it has planned to open up to eight new units in coming months.

IHG has its sights set on moving to Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa.

Africa is currently the focus of many other hospitality groups who are looking at the potential of investing in the region.

For Fairmont group acquiring properties from Lonhro in 2005 was a step into moving into the region.

Since then it has refurbished three of the key properties - Norfolk, Mount Kenya Safari Club and Mara Safari - to Fairmont standards, it also acquired a property in Zanzibar.

IHG has had presence in the Kenyan market for 40 years, having celebrated its birthday over the weekend, under the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi, which the Kenyan government has a 33.8 per cent stake.

The group though had to struggle last year following the slump in the sector that saw room occupancy slightly impacted.

However, business travel sustained the unit during the rough patch.