ACQUISITION OF ‘NYALI SUN AFRICA HOTEL‘ DOUBLES SUN AFRICA’S INVENTORY
(Posted 12th October 2017)
Kenya’s hospitality industry sat up and took notice when a few weeks ago an announcement was made that Sun Africa Hotels, until this point a very fine but still relatively small boutique hotel management company, took over what once upon a time was the Nyali Beach Hotel.
In one fell swoop did the company more than double their keys and when the now 90 percent complete 5 star city hotel in Hurlingham with 120 rooms and suites comes on line, the boost will be even greater.
Previously known to own and/or manage such big name properties like Keekorok, Lake Naivasha Country Club, Sovereign Suites and the Sun Africa Beach Resort among others has the direction of the company taken an upswing and the acquisition of what is now the Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel & Spa will provide both challenges and opportunities.
Clearly believing in the future of Kenya’s tourism industry has Mohammed Hersi and his team at the hotel led by veteran hotelier Hilary Siele their plate full to not just spring clean and spruce up the grand ol’ dame of Mombasa’s hotel sector but also to inject capital for a progressive refurbishment exercise and modernization. Once that is accomplished will no doubt the Nyali as the resort has been known for generations – building started in the early 1940’s already – rise again and draw in both the old crowds but also penetrate new markets.
The hotel’s a la carte restaurant, once upon a time a serious rival to Mombasa’s leading restaurant, Tamarind, is due to be reopened in coming months as will progressively all facilities reopen ahead of the upcoming high season from mid December onwards.
Already has the Sun Africa Nyali seen a rapid rise in TripAdvisor rankings from way down the high 40’s before the takeover to now a surprising 22 out of 60 ranked hotels and resorts, as of today.
Persistent ‘Very Good’ rankings have been seen coming in, encouraging no doubt for the hotel team and the management company which in a short space of time has given clients a better feel and certainly better service levels including the food in the main restaurant and the Fountain Snack Bar. Things did not look appealing a year ago during a walkthrough of the property as did little else such as gardens, building walls and general upkeep.
The task ahead is going to be a hard road but training and motivation of staff – something Mohammed Hersi is a master of given his past service record at Heritage Hotels, Sarova and others – and added attention to food and the ‘optics’ of the place will swiftly turn public opinion and ratings / comments from guests around further still.
But it is not just the challenge to make the Nyali shine again, or having to complete a five star hotel in Nairobi able to withstand the competitive pressure of international brands, but other properties too need mentioning.
The Lake Baringo Club, in the old days a Mecca for bird watchers almost unrivalled in Kenya, literally drowned in the rising lake waters a few years ago as did all neighbouring camps and even residential homes.
That property will also be reconstructed at a higher site, not likely to be affected should the waters ever come up again, but will be a luxury tented safari camp similar to the Kiboko Luxury Camp at Lake Naivasha and only have at most half the capacity of the old lodge.
On the horizon is also a similar venture between Keekorok and Sand River / Bologonja border post to the Serengeti, a key migration route for the wildebeest and zebras. No timeline has been given for that project but given Mohammed’s zeal and drive, it will be launched sooner rather than later.
And if that were not enough has Mohammed set his sights on the acquisition of yet more properties through management deals, not just in Kenya but the entire region, including the East African sister states and notably Ethiopia, Somalia and Somaliland and as far as Mozambique. Said Mohammed tongue in cheek to this correspondent: ‘There is nothing international hotel management companies do which we cannot do ourselves. In fact we know the place better because it is our home so why should we not branch out too‘.
The deck of cards in the hotel management class of 2017 is clearly being reshuffled and Sun Africa, with Mohammed Hersi at the helm, will not rest until he has established the company in the top five of Kenya, named alongside the Serena and Sarova when it comes to reciting industry leaders.
Also watch the interview with Mr. Mohammed Hersi where he eloquently explains his vision for Sun Africa and also for Destination Kenya: