2020 to be a challenging year for Nairobi’s hotels


(Posted 08th January 2020)

While rumours are abound over yet more layoffs and hotel closures in Nairobi, have news been confirmed that the Windsor Golf and Country Club Hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi has sent 87 employees home, citing tough economic times.
From a regular source was information added that even more staff of the hotel might face the same fate, should business not improve rapidly over the coming weeks.
Nairobi has seen a boom of additional hotels either already open or else due to open in 2020, 2021 and 2022, such as the new Marriott, the Accor Group’s Pullman in Westlands and a new luxury Hilton Hotel on Upper Hill.
Recently open did the Best Western Plus in Westlands and three months ago the Radisson Blu Arboretum Hotel & Residences while at the same time the Boma Hotel Group, owned by the Red Cross, has gone into voluntary administration seeking to cut costs and restructure payments in order to survive bleak market conditions.
One of Nairobi’s landmark hotels, the Jacaranda, is reportedly also coming up for auction, largely due to management being severely impacted by the impasse between the trustees of the estate of the late Njenga Karume and his children, who have been in court for several years now.
But most disturbing are the news that the Tsogo Sun Mayfair Hotel in Nairobi will be closed down and their staff will be sent on leave, pending redundancies.
The 171 bedroom hotel, long overdue for a major refurbishment, was on lease to the South African hotel group which by the look of it is no longer prepared to invest at this time into the hotel and rather pulled out of the lease, leaving the fate of their staff hanging by a thread.
Other hotels are reportedly in merger or take over talks, with the bigger fish aiming to eating the smaller ones.
All this asks questions of where Kenya’s hospitality industry is heading, with this year alone nearly 1200 more rooms expected to come on line through new hotels, while hospitality businesses already in operation are facing such existential challenges.
Sources in Kenya had some weeks ago challenged data as a one off blip, when one of the leading daily newspapers published a fall in arrivals, but now may have to rethink their position after layoffs in the hotel industry are becoming a reality.