The Hemingways Nairobi is a boutique hotel which the Ol Seki General Manager Jeff Mukolwe says will give their guests the opportunity to take a one-stop all-round, “beach, bush and boutique holiday.”
The Collection’s Chief Executive Officer Alastair Addison is optimistic their Sh1.5 billion investment in the 10 acre Karen property is sound given the interest multi-national corporations have shown in Nairobi as a gateway to Africa’s emerging market: “Look at how many international hotel chains are looking to invest in Nairobi. It’s great news because if you talk to hotel keepers you’ll find out Nairobi can easily sustain another 3,000 to 5,000 beds.”
The Hemingways Nairobi will target the high end consumer with the introductory price for the standard bed and breakfast being Sh24,700.
“Europe is still in the middle of a very deep recession and yes it’s affected tourism but funnily enough the people who fly Kenya Airways Premier or travel in private planes are unaffected. So there only two areas to invest in, one is the luxury end of the market or the one-stop hotels that go for Sh6,700. Those are the two markets that continue to be strong,” Addison explained.
The group which has employed about 200 Kenyans in its Mara and Nairobi properties is looking to make more investments in Kenya’s tourism sector but says the government needs to make investment lucrative.
“During his inauguration the Deputy President (William Ruto) talked about increasing tourism to the lesser frequented areas like Turkana but for that to happen the government needs to heavily invest in the infrastructure and security of the area,” Addison said.
Tax exemptions targeted at the tourism sector and the aggressive marketing of Kenya as a top tourist destination by the government, Addison said, would also aid in boosting tourist numbers and creating employment.
County governments, Addison added, also have their work cut out for them in the drive to grow tourist numbers.
“We have been in Watamu for the last 23 years and when we go for fairs we hear the same complaints on the garbage that greats tourists when they land in Mombasa. You don’t see that in competing destinations like the Caribbean. There’s only so much money to go around in the tourism business and it’s not our God given right, we have to work for it.”
In the bid to give Hemingways Nairobi an edge in the increasingly competitive hotel industry, all 45 rooms will have an attendant butler and the kitchen is managed by Michelin Star Chef Barry Tongs.