The hotel industry is set for fierce competition and heavy investments after Kenya released classification of all facilities in the seven tourism circuits.
Most of the hotels rated five-star have a blend of Victoria-style ambience while a few luxurious tented lodges in Maasai Mara, Laikipia and Samburu ranked four-star.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said he expects changes to the ratings since some hotels opted out to undergo multi-billion shilling refurbishments and expansions.
“It is no longer business as usual but a closely contested race towards making Kenyan facilities attractive to tourists. It is about destination competitiveness and improving the hospitality experience. Woo tourists to make them ambassadors and make repeat visits,” he said.
Hospitality standards were being harmonised across East Africa to excite competition that forces investors to spruce up their facilities and ensure high-quality services.
Kenya continues to attract international hotel brands like the upcoming 40-floor Hilton Nairobi Upperhill and JW Marriott Hotel.
The new ratings from two to five-stars help tourists determine their choice of hotel or lodge and what luxuries they offer.
In Coast, three hotels were classified as five-star, Kwale-based Leopard Beach Resort and Spa, Swahili Beach and Medina Palms Suites. English Point Marina is four-star.
Laikipia’s Segera Retreat owned by Puma chief executive and German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz is the only five-star rated facility in the wildlife-rich northern circuit.
However, Laikipia and Samburu are known to host a number of exclusive and highly sought-after rustic log cabins.
There is Sirai House owned by billionaire Michael Spencer, the Nay Palad Bird Nest which is one of Africa most quirkiest and luxurious safari lodge where tourists ‘nest and sleep like birds. It is built with interwoven tree branches.
The newest luxurious lodge is Arijiju, located in Samburu Conservancy where tourists pay from Sh750,000 per night for about six guests.
Interestingly, there is a window of opportunity in Western Kenya as no hotel got a five or four star rating. But operators such as PrideInn Group of Hotels are currently putting final touches to new facilities.
Most hotels in Mount Kenya region were classified as four-star or three-star.
While Nairobi has 13 facilities rated as four-star, Nakuru and Narok have two each while Coast region has 12 resorts classified as four-star.