Investors jostle for a bite of Nakuru hotel industry

Monday June 19 2017

Ole-Ken Hotel in Nakuru. The facility is one of the latest entrants seeking a piece of the booming business. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION

Ole-Ken Hotel in Nakuru. The facility is one of the latest entrants seeking a piece of the booming business. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION 

By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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Nakuru town is increasingly catching the eye of hospitality investors who are pouring billions into the sector.

Modern high-end hotels are coming up even as old players expand and refurbish their facilities to keep abreast with the changing trends and stiff competition.

The influx of investment is good news for unemployed youth as it has created at least 300 direct and indirect jobs in the town.

Farmers will also get a slice of the cake of the rapidly growing sector as they will supply fresh produce consumed in the hotels.

Leading the pack is the Sh1.3 billion Sarova Woodlands and Spa Hotel in the upmarket Milimani Estate. The 147-room hotel whose owners are doing the final touches before it is opened to the public is set to be the biggest four-star hotel in the cosmopolitan county.

General manager Ken Korir says the hotel is meant to meet the rising demand for high-end clients seeking quality services.

“This hotel is a special concept and is going to be one of the best in Nakuru,” says Mr Korir.

“We want our guests holding meetings in our conference facilities to enjoy their deliberations in a conducive environment.”

Not to be left behind is the Midlands Hotel, one of the oldest facility in the region which is expanding and upgrading its facilities.

The Alps Hotel in Milimani is targeting a niche market as competition gets stiffer. Deputy general manager Edwin Maliatso says: “Our objective is to have our clients enjoy the value for their money by offering them first class services in a four-star hotel.”

The four-storey 40-room hotel has a birds’ eye view of the 188-square kilometre Lake Nakuru National Park from its rooftop balconies.

The latest entrant in the lucrative market is The Ole-Ken Hotel. The six-storey 40-room facility on West Road is set to give the established giants a run for their money. The hotel is targeting high-end clients.

“The facility offers our guests a picturesque view of Lake Nakuru National Park, the Aberdare Hills and Menengai Crater,” says general manager David Mwangi.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel in the industry, but The Ole-Ken Hotel is bringing home international standards that were missing in the industry.”

“The Ole-Ken is a boutique hotel and offers a 45 square metre single deluxe, which you cannot find with our competitors,” he says.

Nakuru Business Association chairman Mwangi Mucemi says the town is attracting such investments due to its central location with a high rate of transit population.

“The hospitality industry in Nairobi is saturated and investors are opting to invest in Nakuru, which they are seeing as an untapped market,” he says.

County chief officer in charge Trade, Industrialisation, Tourism and Wildlife Edith Wanjiku Kimani says Nakuru has maintained its position as a preferred tourist destination with attractive sites such as Menengai Crater and Hyrax pre-historic site.

“The relaxed trade licence regime, which has been simplified, has also attracted investors in Nakuru,” she says.