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About 20 major international hotel brands are lined up set shop in Kenya over the next five years. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Nairobi’s five star hotel, Sankara, will from early next year trade as a Marriott brand, following a recent signing of a franchise agreement with America’s luxury hospitality group, Marriott International.

Marriott said the property, which is located in Nairobi’s upmarket Westlands area, will trade under its premium or upper upscale category dubbed Autograph Collection, intensifying ongoing battle by global brands to dominate Nairobi’s hospitality space.

“We believe this hotel is a perfect fit for the brand and the rebranding is in lockstep with growing demand from consumers and their desire for unique and differentiated experiences wherever they travel,” Alex Kyriakidis, President and managing director of Marriott for Middle East and Africa said.

Mr Kyriakidis said the rebranding promises Sankara Hotel access to Marriott International’s powerful and world-class reservation systems and loyalty programs.

He described the deal as a franchise agreement with Westlands Hotels that retains Sankara Hotel Group as the facility’s managers.

The Sh3.2 billion Sankara, which is owned by Westlands Hotels Limited, opened in late 2010 riding on the then resurgent tourism sector that had caused a huge shortfall in Nairobi’s bed capacity.

Marriott made the announcement during the Africa Hotel Investment Forum where it also announced plans to establish another facility under the Protea Hotel brand in Nairobi as part of the Sh31 billion ($310 million) investment by Marriott International’s partners in Nairobi.

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Protea Hotel by Marriott Nairobi will be located approximately five km from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Mombasa Road and is expected to open its doors in 2021. The 250-room facility will include a restaurant, a bar, a fitness centre, a pool and 600 square meters of meeting space.

Marriott International currently operates two hotels in Nairobi, including the 172-room Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport that opened in October 2017 and the 96-room Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Hurlingham, which was a conversion.

The group is currently developing a 365-room JW Marriott in Nairobi slated to open in 2020, a move that is expected to substantially enhance the brand’s presence in Kenya.

Meanwhile, US-based global hospitality chain Hyatt Hotels Corporation has entered into a management agreement with Kenyan real estate and construction company Kanha for construction of the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Nairobi.

The group is also planning to launch three new brands in Kenya, namely RED Radisson, Radisson and Radisson Collection. Kenya has 68 global hotel brands, topping Nigeria and Tanzania, according to the Knight Frank 2018 Hotels report.

About 20 major international hotel brands are lined up set shop in Kenya over the next five years.

Most of the properties in the pipeline are concentrated in Nairobi to cash in on business travellers and conference tourism. Wyndham, CityBlue, Hilton, Marriot, Radisson, Accor, Dusit, Swiss International and Sarovar are also set to grow their portfolios and rooms in the country, with the bulk of them located in Nairobi.

In July, PricewaterhouseCoopers Hotels Outlook: 2018-2022 showed that Kenya will have the second fastest growing hotel room revenues after Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years.

The domestic tourism industry recovered in 2016 when earnings rose to Sh99.69 billion from Sh84.6 billion in the previous year. The performance was even better in 2017 when the total earnings hit Sh119.9 billion with hotels alone earning Sh39.8 billion of the amount. In 2015, the total industry earnings had fallen compared to 2014 when they stood at Sh87.1 billion.



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