May 11, 2016

Hospitality firm taps into counties with Juja hotel

Posted By : Mike Wilson/ 200 0

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Hospitality and tourism develop­ment and management firm Icon Hotels Group Africa (IHGA) is invest­ing in a prime hotel facility in Juja as it moves to tap into opportunities in counties.

The IHGA founder, Mr Fred Maina, said the construction of the flagship hotel in Juja was in line with the company’s plan to devolve mod­ern hospitality facilities in counties.

The development serves to show resilience by players in the multi-bil­lion shilling tourism industry who have had to overcome the dwindling fortunes as a result of low interna­tional visitor arrivals.

“We are keen to leverage on our vast experience in development of hospitality proper­ties as we seek to expand our foot­hold not only in Kenya and East Af­rica but the African continent as a whole,” Maina told Weekend Busi­ness.

The Juja hotel project located near Jomo Kenyatta University of Ag­riculture and Technology (JKUAT) will consist of 70 air conditioned rooms designed to attract high-end clients and corporates.

Maina, a veteran hotelier, said the hotel, which is expected to be completed by 2016, will have mod­ern conference, dining and facilities. It will also have cocktail and sports bars with large screens for sports lov­ers.

Other facilities in the hotel will include a fully equipped wellness centre and gymnasium, long stay hotel apartments / Penthouse on the top floor, targeting regional business, a banking hall and the shops on the ground floor and a service basement with a laundry.

Adding value

“We hope to attract niche clientele looking for upmarket facilities away from the traditional city hotels at pocket friendly rates. Our conferencing will boast over-the-top technologies, like video conferencing, wireless projectors, simultaneous translations facilities,” Maina said.

“This resonates well with the new political dispensation where accent is on taking all types of services closer to the people. We hope to play  our role in delivering top-tier hospitality services and conferencing to counties.

Maina explained that IHGA had launched an aggressive regional roll out plan targeting key properties across East Africa.

“We intend to enter into hotel management contracts so as to grow the Icon brand. We have a number of hotels in the pipeline that we are actively engaging with a view of getting them on board,” he said.

Already IHGA, through its hospitality consulting subsidiary GLHML, has been involved in the development of hotel projects across the such as The Palace Hotel and the Parrot Hotel both in Arusha and La-Pallise hotel and the Grand Leg­acy both in Kigali Rwanda.

“We are also working with King-Fisher Beach & Conferencing Resort in Pangani-Tanga and Magorrotto eco-lodge currently being developed in the lower Usambara Mountains in Tanzania,” he said.

He said IHGA is developing a management package for small mi­cro hospitality enterprises and bud­get hotels with the aim of adding val­ve to the hotels by creating centralised operational platforms particularly in their finance and marketing functions. IHGA, Maina added, was looking at working close­ly with tourism stakeholders in the region with a view to enhancing in­tra-regional tourism trade and local domestic tourism.

Kenyan hotel chain eyes Republic of Somalia peace dividends

Posted By : Mike Wilson/ 209 0

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One of the first Kenyan owned hotel management company, Icon Hotel Group Africa is set reap Somalia’s peace dividends by setting up a branch in the country.

Peace and normalcy has returned to the troubled Horn of Africa state after Kenya and the African Union defeated the Al-Shabaab.  Somalia had not known peace for more than two decades.

The latest move by Icon Hotel Group Africa comes amid heightened interest in Africa over the last decade that has seen infrastructure expanding  steadily and the building and upgrading of hotels.

The hospitality industry in Africa has got a boost from various multi-national hotel chains that have made commitments to expand their footprints on the African continent.

Expansion

The hotel will also use the country as a spring-board to other regions in Eastern Africa.  The new firm will be providing high-end solutions to the hospitality industry.

In an interview with The Standard on Saturday in Arusha recently, Icon Hotel Group founder and hotelier, Fred Maina said Somalia is their next frontier. “We shall start wholly by covering the larger East African Community (EAC) region before rolling out to the rest of Africa,’’ he said.

Mr Maina has 35 years experience as top manager in Kenya’s leading hotels said.

Maina said Kenya’s skilled manpower in the hospitality industry, remains unrivalled in the region. He explained that Icon Hotel Group Africa will apart from managing hotel and hospitality establishments seek to be involving in leasing, franchising hotels in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands bordering the East Coast of Africa.

Re-focus

“We shall target some top projects, aim to re-engineer the hospitality industry as well as look at the possibility of reviving hotels that went under and come up with strategic planning with leading financial institutions to provide the much needed financial muscles,’’ he said.

Icon Hotel Group Africa headquartered in Nairobi has already signed contracts to manage six hotels in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In one of its experimental phase in Tanzania, Icon Hotel Group Africa is overseeing the management of the Palace Hotel,  Arusha.

Maina said that in Kenya, three new hotels under construction near the shores of Lake Naivasha rated as four-star resorts will be under their stable.

“Our focus will be on small and budget hotels and as we grow, we shall venture into more bigger ones,’’ Maina said.

South African hotel group, City Lodge has ventured into the rest of Africa with its entry into Kenya and Botswana respectively.

Maina said in all the properties they are keen to venture into, they will target seminar and conference facilities as nearly 45 per cent of meetings and conferences in the African continent takes place in hotels

“This percentage is increasing thus new hotels and upgrades are vital,’’ he said.

By Philip Mwakio, The Standard