Kampala — Global hotel brand, Hilton, will soon enter the Ugandan market, boosting the country's fast growing hospitality industry. The company's representatives on March 22 signed a hotel management agreement with TWED Property Development Company to manage a 23-storey property.
The construction of a 244-guest room property on 1200 sq metres in the upscale Nakasero suburb in central Kampala is already underway. The complex will comprise several high-end meeting and conferencing facilities including a ballroom for up to 500 guests, a 518-car park, spa and fitness centre and outdoor swimming pool.
It will also have multiple restaurants offering a wide range of dining outlets to include a destination sports bar and a sky bar with city, golf course and lake views. Guests will be able to choose between upscale guest rooms and a range of suites, including a Presidential Suite.
Founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton, the Hilton hotel brand is one of the biggest and most luxurious hotel chains in the world, operating over 4,000 hotel facilities in over 113 countries. However, many of these properties are franchised to independent operators and companies.
Its brand portfolio is said to be the highest performing and most-diverse in the industry with 12 brands, over 715,000 hotel rooms and a workforce of over 155,000 worldwide.
In Africa, the hotel chain operates 43 hotels and is embarking on an exciting period of growth, with plans to double its portfolio of hotels on the continent during the next five years, including entering new markets such as Botswana, Ghana, Swaziland, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda. So far, development of 53 properties is in the pipeline.
"Uganda is a country very close to my heart, so I am very proud to have been able to be personally present at the unveiling of this fantastic hotel," said Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton's Senior Vice President in charge of development for Europe, Middle East and Africa during the unveiling of the plan.
This development comes as the hotel chain managers plan to open its 96 guest room Hilton Garden Inn Kampala in the coming months.
"This is a landmark year for Hilton in Uganda as we prepare to welcome guests for the very first time at our upcoming Hilton Garden Inn Kampala, so no better time for us to be signaling our commitment to the market than by partnering with TWED to bring our flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand to the country."
"We couldn't be happier to be entering the field alongside Hilton, an operator with a strong commitment to the market and 100 years of industry expertise," said Dr Dan Twebaze, the managing director, TWED Property Development Company.
The Hilton Hotel brand could have entered the country's hotel industry much earlier through the management of AYA Property, now known as Pearl of Africa Hotel. Instead, the South African based Sovereign Hotels was granted the management contract.
Tourism industry executives told The Independent that Hilton's investment in Uganda is a plus for the tourism industry as it will attract a number of tourists who have been yearning for their services.
"Hilton opens Uganda to a different segment of clientele. It is a very positive development for Uganda in terms of international reputation and quality," said Lilly Ajarova, the executive director at the Uganda Tourism Board.
Amos Wekesa, the executive director of Great Lakes Safaris, one of the leading local tourist agencies told The Independent on April 19 that Hilton's entry into the country is good news for Uganda.
"When you have a brand like Hilton which has millions of people as its permanent clientele, it exposes the country to spenders who only prefer to stay in hotels like Hilton because of the standards it stands for," Wekesa said, "That shows that Uganda's hospitality market is maturing."
He said there is need for Uganda to encourage more international hotels to invest in the country because once they have a stake in the economy, they pick interest in protecting the country's image in case of bad publicity.
Meanwhile, Marriott International announced recently that Uganda is among several countries where it expects to add nearly 20 properties under its Middle East and Africa portfolio this year.
This follows the acquisition of two properties previously owned by the South Africa-based Protea Hospitality Holding, where it has been operating as Protea Hotel for the past five years. Marriott management said they plan to open up two more properties in Kampala - Hotel Naguru and Naguru Skyz.