The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kempinski Joins Hotels Scramble for Kenya

KENYA's attractiveness to major global hotel brands is increasing after one of Europe's biggest and oldest brands Kempinski yesterday announced its debut into the country through management of a hotel and tented camp. Kempinski which was started in 1897 in Berlin and runs a total of 73 luxury hotels in 31 countries has entered into partnership with Kenya's Simba Corporation-which is launching its hospitality business line- to manage two facilities.

Simba Corporation comprises of Simba Colt Motors and Bavaria Auto limited who are the sole importers and franchise holders for Mitsubishi Fuso and BMW cars respectively. The two Simba Corps accomodation facilities to be managed by Kempinski will be a 200 room hotel on Waiyaki way and a tented camp in Maasai Mara. The two will be known as the Villa Rosa Kempinski and Olare Mara Kempinski. "The original plan for Villa Rosa was that we wanted to do a four star hotel but we realized that there is a big gap in the five star market," said Simba Corp's CEO Adil Popat.

President of the Kempinski Reto Wittwer said the company only focuses on luxury hotels. "We are not big on just chasing expansions, we enter into strategic partnerships because luxury is individualized and you see this in watches, jewellery and clothes. The more exclusive they are the more they are expensive," noted Wittwer. Assistant tourism minister Cecile Mbarire said the entry of Kempinski and planned opening of other big names in the international hotel industry was a big boost to Kenya's tourism marketing. "When people hear that you have a Kempinski, they know you are a serious destination," remarked Mbarire.

Radisson and Marriot are some of the major brands preparing to set up in Kenya among others. Recently South African hotel brands like Southern Sun and City Lodge hotels group also launched operations locally. Most of the global brands will do business in the four and five star segment that is facing a shortage of bed capacity locally. Kenya has been unable to bid for large international meets because of constraints in bed capacity and lack of ideal conference facilities locally. As at mid last year, total bed capacity in the country stood at an estimated 60,000 according to the Tourism Ministry

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