Hilton Hotel closes operations in Kenya after 53 years

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Hilton Hotel closes operations in Kenya after 53 years


Hilton Hotel, Nairobi. PICTURES | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG

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Summary

  • The hotel, which is 40.57% government-owned, pointed to other factors beyond Covid-19 for the planned closure after more than 50 years of operation.
  • The hotel has announced that it will redeploy staff to hotels in its Hilton portfolio in Nairobi.
  • Hilton said on Wednesday it would not leave Kenya and would continue to operate its other brands in the country.

Nairobi’s iconic Hilton hotel will close indefinitely in December and lay off an undetermined number of workers, underscoring the hotels’ problems following the Covid-19 travel crisis.

The hotel, which is 40.57% government-owned, pointed to other factors beyond Covid-19 for the planned closure after more than 50 years of operating from its location in the heart of the central business district.

“After extensive discussions with the hotel owner, Hilton Nairobi will be closing for the last time on December 31, 2022 and will cease operations,” a Hilton spokesperson said. business daily in an interview.

“Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges for our industry. However, the decision to cease operations is not directly related to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the closure of the hotel will lead to a retrenchment process. However, we will work with those affected to help them find alternative employment,” Hilton said Wednesday.

The hotel has announced that it will redeploy staff to hotels in its Hilton portfolio in Nairobi.

Hilton said on Wednesday it would not leave Kenya and would continue to operate its other brands in the country.

“Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport expand our portfolio with new hotel development opportunities in the city and beyond,” he said.

Over the past decade, the government has struggled to offload its ownership of three luxury hotels, including Hilton.

He has a 40.57% stake in International Hotels Kenya Limited, which owns the Hilton. He also held a 33.83% stake in Kenya Hotel Properties Limited, the operator of the InterContinental hotel, which also closed in August 2020.

The state hesitated to inject money into the two luxury hotels, angering other shareholders. Besides the InterContinental Hotel, a number of top hotels, including Laico Regency and Radisson Blu at Nairobi’s Upper Hill, have shut down operations amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

Kenya’s tourism industry has started to emerge from its deep Covid-19-induced recession as local travelers take advantage of lower prices, but the number of foreign visitors is still well below pre-COVID-19 levels. pandemic.

The country expects the sector, usually one of its biggest foreign exchange earners, to earn 173 billion shillings this year, up 18.5% from last year, the government said.

Revenue fell to 88.6 billion shillings as governments around the world restricted the movement of people, including closing airspace, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

They rebounded to 146 billion shillings last year as the number of hotel nights occupied by Kenyan travelers doubled over the period.

Local resorts, which normally focus their marketing efforts on overseas tourists, have been forced to look to the domestic market by the pandemic, offering cut fares to lure vacationers.

The number of foreign visitors was still significantly below pre-pandemic levels, at just under 870,500 last year compared to two million in 2019. They are expected to reach 1.03 million this year.

The sector’s decline in revenue from foreign tourists has contributed to a sharp drop in the local currency, which is trading at historically low levels against the dollar.

From safaris in the Masai Mara and other wildlife reserves to holidays on the beaches of the Indian Ocean, Kenya’s tourism industry contributes about 10% of economic output and employs over two million people.

The sector lost nearly 1.2 million jobs after the start of the pandemic, the tourism ministry said, but started hiring on the back of the tepid recovery.

The Hilton CBD began operations in Nairobi on December 17, 1969 and was officially opened by the founding President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta.

In its early days, the hotel was the tallest building in Nairobi and a popular base for tourists to Kenya seeking adventures in the country’s famous parks and game reserves.

The hotel promised tourists a unique view of the city from its rooms in a high-rise tower and was a popular meeting place for wealthy businessmen and tourists.

It has 287 rooms – 45 twins, 185 doubles, seven suites, 22 pool rooms and 27 executive rooms.

“The hotel has been welcoming guests for over 50 years. We are proud of the legacy of hospitality provided and would like to thank everyone who has contributed,” the Hilton said.

the business daily learned that the owner of the Hilton property is reviewing options regarding the future of the site.

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About Bradley J. Bridges

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