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Nairobi's Hilton Hotel to shut down after 53 years

BUSINESS
By Winfrey Owino | Apr 28th 2022 | 3 min read
By Winfrey Owino | April 28th 2022
BUSINESS
Hilton Hotel started operating in Kenya in 1969. [File, Standard]

The iconic Hilton Hotel located in the Nairobi central business district (CBD) will shut down after 53 years of operation.

The Standard understands that several staff members will lose jobs following the decision, which has already been communicated to the Kenya Tourism Board.

The Five-Star hotel began operations in the capital city on December 7, 1969 after it was officially opened by the then-President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (now late).

A director of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) confirmed to The Standard that the agency had received a notice from the hotel, alerting it that it will cease operations on December 31, 2022.

“I can confirm that Hilton Hotel will shut down in December this year. We have received the notice from them. I’m not sure what has occasioned the decision, but I know business has not been looking up for the hotel, especially after Covid-19 struck,” the KTB director told The Standard in confidence.

We reached Hilton Hotel’s Marketing Manager Maureen Ogolla for comment, but our phone calls went unanswered.

Hilton’s other facilities in Hurlingham and Mombasa Road (Garden Inn), which is seven kilometres from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), will continue operating in the country, the company said in its notice to the KTB.

Some of the staff members, who would be laid off following Hilton CBD closure, will be absorbed by the two surviving Hilton Hotel facilities.

The Hilton Hotel in the central business district is a Five-Star facility that boasts of 287 rooms. Out of these, 45 are twin rooms, 185 are doubles, 22 are pool rooms, 27 are executive rooms and seven offer suite services.

Hilton Hotel has been popular among the high-end customers, including diplomats, government officials and the wealthy members of society.

After its launch in 1969, it became an instant hit with the customers who would travel to Nairobi for conferences.

Pundits, however, say its strategic location at the heart of the CBD, which was once upon a time its main advantage, has now turned into its disadvantage with the high-end clientele avoiding congestion and noise in the CBD.

The hotel is surrounded by a bus terminus near Kencom House, restaurants and nightclubs and the high foot-traffic area around the National Archives.

Some customers, who had on several occasions checked into Hilton, also lamented about lack of adequate parking.

On its profile, Hilton says it takes pride in being a luxurious hotel located near an internationally-recognised conference facility, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

“A central Nairobi stay near the KICC. We’re in Nairobi’s central business district, within blocks of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre and the Masai Market. Enjoy city views from our tower rooms and relax in our outdoor pool, spa, steam room, and sauna. Karura Forest and the wild animals of Nairobi National Park are less than 40 minutes away,” says Hilton on their Bio.

The amenities that Hilton list as its attractive features include free parking, concierge, executive lounge, on-site restaurant, outdoor pool, room service, Wi-Fi, business centre and meeting rooms.

The Kenyan Government has a 40.57 per cent stake in Hilton, whose parent company is the International Hotels Kenya. The Five-Star facility becomes the second that has government links to it to collapse after the Intercontinental Hotel closed business in August 2020. The Government had a 33.83 per cent stake in Intercontinental.

The facilities have decried lack of capital injection by the State amid tough times wrought by Covid-19 pandemic, among other factors.

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