Historical KICC hotel back to life

By Macharia Kamau

Back in the 70s, atop the Kenyatta International Conference Centre was a restaurant. Not just an ordinary one, but a revolving restaurant and popular among ‘who was who’ back then, especially the political honchos since the facility was run by the ruling party Kanu.

Mismanagement, however, saw it literally grind to a halt in the 1980s, with the mortar and the revolving plate left neglected.

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The Kenyatta International Conference Centre. KICC is shopping for a partner to run its historic restaurant. [PICTURE: HABIL EVANS/Standard]

Twenty-five years later, the KICC management has refurbished the spectacular circular restaurant that provides a 360 degree view of Nairobi at a cost of Sh15 million and expects it to feature prominently when hosting international meetings and conventions.

KICC is currently shopping for a partner to run the restaurant expected to open by June.

Early last year, KICC advertised tenders seeking a partner to manage the hotel, which attracted a lot of interest from local and international hospitality industry players.

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"We have fixed the parts that were faulty. We have invested in a new mortar and rebuilt the revolving plate. The place was run down and a lot of work has gone into the repairs," said Gaudencia Wasike, KICC communications manager.

Run the restaurant

"We are looking at probably next month when we will pick out who will run the restaurant from the applicants. From then it should be up and running by June," she added.

There are plans to install binoculars for guests view the city’s far off areas, including the Nairobi National Park.

With the capacity of 148 people seated and 250 standing during a cocktail, the restaurant’s revolving mortar has been programmed to make one revolution in 76 minutes, but can make 1,000 turns per minute.

Other than being an additional revenue stream for KICC, the restaurant is a unique feature when selling KICC to conference and exhibition organisers.

"The restaurant is important and more than being an income stream for KICC, it will help in pulling clients. It will be run as a five-star targeting the high-end market. We have been toying with the idea of making it a call-in reservation hotel where you cannot get in without a reservation," she said.

Other countries that have similar restaurants on the continent though not at convention centres and unique view of Nairobi like KICC include South Africa, which has three and Egypt, two. Libya and Uganda also have one each.

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Kanu KICC Hotel