NAIROBI, October 25 – Serena Hotels and Ol Pejeta Conservancy signed a multimillion lease agreement on Saturday in which the hotel plans to build an 18-roomed luxury tented camp.
Serena Hotels Managing Director Mahmud Jan Mohammed told journalists the agreement was part of the hotel’s expansion plans estimated at about Sh160 million.
Mr Mohammed said the camp, that would cost Sh4 million, is expected to attract more visitors to the Ol Pejeta sanctuary in line with the hotel’s commitment to pioneer eco-friendly tourism.
“After signing this lease, we will continue to manage the exclusive Sweetwaters Tented Camp and in addition, will now lease the Ol Pejeta House, which has been under our management for the past three years,” said Mr Mohammed.
“In line with Ol Pejeta’s remarkable conservation projects, this will be an ideal partnership which will serve to further protect our endangered ecosystem,” he added.
Meanwhile, he called on the government to stop further developments in areas that have been overused such as the Maasai Mara, saying there was a real risk of depleting the already strained conservation areas.
Outgoing Ol Pejeta Chairman Giles Davis and Kenya Wildlife Service Foundation president Hellen Gichohi agreed that it was imperative to reduce pressure on game reserves and spread tourism benefits to other areas.
Mr Davis is to be replaced by the East African Wildlife Society Executive Director Ali Kaka.
On the Serena Hotels business, Mr Mohammed expressed confidence that the hotel would pick up from the slowed growth occasioned by the global financial crisis.
He said the rehabilitation of the Group’s chain of hotels within the next 12 months was expected to attract visitors.
The Managing Director also challenged the government to provide a level playing field for tourism stakeholders decrying frustration by county councils, which he accused of changing terms on leases for different investors.