By Maryanne Gicobi
Swiss hotel chain Movenpick has entered Kenya, joining a host of international hotels competing for space in the region’s hospitality sector.
Movenpick Hotel that opened in Nairobi’s Westlands on April 6 is the first in Kenya under the Movenpick Hotels and Resorts, and is owned by Kampala-based Gold Course Hotel.
It joins other global brands in East Africa such as Four Points by Sheraton in Nairobi and Kampala and Radisson Hotel Group which operates the Radisson Blu Hotels in Nairobi and Kigali, among others.
Competition for business travellers, conference participants and holidaymakers is expected to rise, with analysts forecasting more supply of rooms in regional market in the medium term.
Return on investment
Other global hotel brands angling to enter the region this year are Hilton Worldwide, which is upgrading the 153-room Ubumwe Grande Hotel in Kigali, under the Double Tree brand.
Hilton opened the Garden Inn near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in March, and Double Tree on the outskirts of the city centre as part of the global hospitality chain’s $50 million plan to establish 100 hotels in Africa over the next five years.
In Dar es Salaam, City Lodge is developing a 147-room facility that is expected to open this year. City Lodge already operates in Kenya at Two Rivers Mall, Nairobi.
In Kigali, some of the global hotel brands are having difficulty setting up shop because of lack of management contracts with local developers.
Movenpick, the Ascot Group, Protea which is in Tanzania and Uganda, and City Lodge which is in Kenya and Tanzania have been unsuccessful in securing local partnerships.
Kempinski pulled out of the Rwandan market in 2016 after it disagreed with the owners of Hôtel Des Mille Collines after it signed a management contract with Mickor Investment Holdings in 2014, but it was terminated just two years later.
Uganda lacks solid presence of global hotel brands despite having a number of sizeable properties. The country has less than five hotels managed by international brands.
Disagreement between developers and international brands has seen two brands — Carlson Rezidor and the Hilton, eschew the management of Uganda’s grandest property, the 296-room Pearl of Africa that opened doors this month under the One&Only brand.
America’s Marriott Hotel has, however, announced plans to set up shop in Kampala and Nairobi.
The firm is building a $98.8 million JW Marriott Hotel next to Villa Rosa Kempinksi in Nairobi. It is also acquiring two properties in Uganda, where it has operated the Protea Hotel for the past two years, after acquiring South Africa-based Protea Hospitality Holding. Marriott is already in Kigali.
According to analysts, mid-scale hotels are popular as they offer a return on investment because they give opportunity to the mass market segment.
In Nairobi, the supply of top-rated hotel rooms has been growing from 1.1 million room nights in 2011 to hit 1.9 million in 2017. This has been driven by a growing number of international arrivals which stood at 1.5 million in 2017.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers Hotel Outlook 2017 report estimates that 13 hotels plan to open in Kenya over the next five years, growing the bed space by over 2,400 rooms.
Hotel revenue in Tanzania is projected to hit $3.5 billion in 2018, up from $3.2 billion in 2017 and that of Kenya is expected to reach $8.3 billion up from $7.8 billion. In total, Africa has 301 hotel projects in the pipeline this year, accounting for 57,011 rooms.