One last Christmas: Hilton to stay open until the end of the year

Hilton Hotel, Nairobi.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Nairobi’s iconic Hilton Hotel will offer patrons one last opportunity to dine and wine this Christmas before finally shutting its doors for good.

A Hilton spokesperson told The Standard in an interview that the historic hotel in the central business district will now close on December 31 and not before Christmas as earlier planned.

“Following extensive discussions with the hotel ownership, Hilton Nairobi will cease operations on December 31, 2022,” the spokesperson said.

“The hotel has welcomed guests for more than 50 years, and we are proud of the legacy of hospitality delivered, and would like to thank all those who have contributed.”

The hotel chain said it will redeploy all affected staff from the CBD hotel. Staff who spoke to Standard said they had been given a hefty sendoff package in line with the law.

“We are assisting all team members locally and internationally within our portfolio to find employment, and are unable to share specific numbers at this time,” said Hilton.

Workers said they were satisfied with the exit pay ahead of the closure.

“They told us the redeployment starts from January 5 next year but our salaries have been paid up to December 31,” one worker told The Standard.

“We have been told some of us will be redeployed to the USA while others will find slots in Dubai.”

The future of the towering landmark building housing the exiting Hilton, however, remains in the hands of the government, with owners yet to find strategic alternatives for its use, Hilton revealed.

“The hotel ownership is reviewing options regarding the future of the site, and related questions on the future of the hotel can be directed to the owners,” said the spokesperson.

Hilton’s remaining portfolio in Kenya includes a planned new hotel set for opening next year and two others already operating in Nairobi.

“Hilton remains committed to Nairobi as a destination and we continue to welcome guests at DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport – as well as growing our portfolio with new hotel development opportunities, such as Kwetu Nairobi, Curio Collection by Hilton which is expected to open in 2023."

The government holds its stake in the Hilton CBD through the Kenya Development Corporation.

At inception, the hotel was the tallest building in Nairobi and a popular base for international tourists.

It promised visitors unique city views from its high-rise tower rooms and was a popular hangout for wealthy businessmen and tourists.

It has 287 rooms - 45 twins, 185 doubles, seven suites, 22 pool rooms and 27 executive rooms.

The government has in the past decade struggled to offload its ownership in three luxury hotels, including Hilton.

The State has a 40.57 per cent shareholding in International Hotels Kenya Ltd, which owns the Hilton.

It also held a 33.83 per cent stake in Kenya Hotel Properties Ltd, the operator of the InterContinental Hotel, which shut down in August 2020.

The government has been hesitant to pump money into the two luxury hotels, which has seen other shareholders hold back.

Besides InterContinental, several top hotels including Laico Regency stopped operations owing to the coronavirus economic fallout.

By Brian Otieno 54 mins ago
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