Hotels to pay up if they fail to ‘protect’ guests

Building a hotel next to a river, lake or game park can prove disastrous if the management fails to design safety measures.

Two hotels frequented by tourists are to compensate families Sh62.5 million after the High Court found that they failed to perform their duties, leading to injuries and deaths of some tourists who were staying at their facilities. Accidents that have cost the hotels painted a picture of either human encroaching on wildlife habitat or the other way round, without any security officers employed by the hotels to protect the tourists.

In a recently-concluded case, Sun Africa Hotels Limited t/a Lake Naivasha Country Club, was ordered to compensate a Chinese couple Sh25 million for negligence. Ms Luo Yi, 28, in the company of five colleagues, arrived at the hotel from China on April 21, 2013 and later went for dinner within the hotel’s premises.

They finished their dinner at 9pm and decided drop by the hotel shop then follow a couple that was using a pathway back to the rooms. Yi and her friend Huang Yue saw shadows but due to the poorly-lit area, were not sure if they were animals. Yue managed to escape when the “shadow” advanced towards them. It was a hippo that had sneaked into the hotel from Lake Naivasha through the fence. It managed to access the hotel because one part of the fence had been submerged in water that had also flooded the hotel’s garden.

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“I was five to 10 metres away and ahead of Yi and Yue when I heard a strange sound. I turned around and realised that a hippo had attacked Yi,” said Shujie Jiang. Yi was killed by the wild animal and her parents, Mr Luo Jiyao and Wang Yiqing, sued the hotel for compensation, on the grounds that she was their only child due to the Chinese Government Policy of one child per family.

In another case, a family from US on vacationing on the densely-forested slopes of Mt Kenya in Kirinyaga County, ended their holiday in a tragic note. Jeffery Brown, his wife Sharon, their daughter MCB, his brother Richard Levert and his wife Elizabeth Carton, checked into Castle Forest Lodge on January 3, 2010, a facility frequented by guests due to its nature walks and bird-watching adventures.

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