(Posted 28th April 2022)
Another one of Nairobi’s once iconic hotels announced its upcoming closure, due to take place in December this year, when the Nairobi Hilton would turn 53 years since it opened in 1969.
A major reason for the closure will go on the books as the Kenya government’s refusal to inject money over the past decades to refurbish the hotel – government holds a stake of over 40 percent – but also at the same time failed to sell the shares to the other shareholders at a reasonable mark down, given that almost instant major refurbishments worth tens of millions of Dollars would need to be undertaken.
While F&B operations continued reflecting Hilton’s requirements was it the rooms division which took a beating, after other international brands opened properties in Nairobi, offering state of the art rooms and not the sad resemblence of what in the early 1970’s was thought of classy.
Competitor InterContinental Hotel Nairobi suffered a similar fate at the onset of the pandemic, which hastened the demise of weak operations, and notably did the Kenya government also own a major share in that hotel of just under 34 percent with similar challenges and issues between the other shareholders and government.
The pandemic saw Kenya’s tourist arrivals plummet, affecting tens of thousands of hotel, resort and lodge staff and while a revival is presently underway have pre-pandemic arrival numbers not yet been matched.
Hilton operations in Kenya will continue however, represented by the Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport and the Double Tree by Hilton, Nairobi Hurlingham, two of the mid market brands of Hilton International.
It remains to be seen if the building will become home to another hotel or will be turned in to commercial real estate like offices or apartments.