22 April 2014

Rwanda: Global Luxury Hotel Chain Takes Over Mille Collines Management

Kempinski Hotels, Europe's oldest luxury hotel group, is taking over the management of one of Rwanda's top hotels, Hotel des Mille Collines, the global brand has confirmed.

The development is not a surprise to sector watchers as Kempinski had announced in September last year it would open a high-end hotel in Rwanda by the end of this year.

According to officials at Rwanda Development Board, the deal is a marketing and branding strategy aimed at attracting more international clients thus boosting the sector.

"It is not a sale or a takeover, what is changing is the management and brand of the hotel. The objective is to professionalise service delivery and align the hotel with international brands," an official in the service department at RDB said.

The move means Hotel DesMille Collines becomes Hotel Mille Collines Kempinski beginning this month with its management fully under Kempinski.

Sacha Hahuma, the hotel's marketing manager, confirmed the development when contacted yesterday, explaining that the move aims at making the hotel more profitable.

The hotel's new general manager, Christoph Strahm, is already in town and several other Kempinski team members will join him over the coming weeks.

Strahm told The New Times that under the arrangement, after Kempinski has invested more in the hotel, the name will change to Kampinski des Mille Collines thus raising its profile.

"We decided to maintain the name Des Mille Collines even after rebranding because we believe it's also a strong brand," Strahm said.

"We are currently putting together information about the whole deal and will let the public know once everything has been concluded," he added.

The move will see the 112-room and suites hotel undergo a major refurbishment for 18 months, during which major changes to the food and beverages services will be implemented to reflect Kempinski's global reputation as one of the oldest and finest global hotel chains.

Kempinski manages the Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi, and the Kempinski Olare Mara Luxury Tented Camp in the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, both in Kenya, regarded by some as one of the top 10 luxury hotels in the world.

The company's presence in Rwanda, one of the region's fast-growing economies, confirms Kempinski's intent to widen their footprint across the African continent.

The chief executive officer, Reto Wittwer, recently said: "Africa is the future market for us, both from a strategic and financial point of view. Important key destinations which play a vital role for the economic development of the continent are our target there. As we pioneered industrial growth in Russia and China, we also want to be pioneers in Africa and set new standards in quality, service and luxury. We are focusing particularly on sub-Saharan Africa, which has registered exceptional economic growth in the recent past."

Kempinski already operates seven hotels in Africa, five of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The other global brand set to open shop in Rwanda is Marriot, which is in the final stages of establishing a top end 250-room hotel in Kigali.

The country received up to 700,000 visitors in 2012.

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