Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club reopens its doors after two years

Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki. [Peter Muiruri, Standard]

Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, a high-end luxury destination, has reopened its doors after closing down for over two years.

The reopening of the Nanyuki-based establishment, which is a subsidiary of Fairmont Hotels in Kenya, comes two months after its counterpart, Fairmont The Norfolk was reopened.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Country General Manager Mehdi Morad attributed the hotel’s closure to Covid-19 which has devastated the tourism industry.

“Covid-19 meant cessation of movement and tourists could not come to the hotel. We closed down in April 2020 and released some employees but maintained some until October 2020 after which we had to let them go because we did not know when we would reopen. It was just losses and no revenue,” he said.

The hotel has since recalled most of its previous employees that it had laid off. “We took back about 50 per cent of our previous employees as others already had stable jobs,” said Morad. The hotel initially had 138 employees, but now has about 125 staff.

During the period when the hotel was closed, Mehdi said they took that time to invest in renovation, and they are still renovating the place.

“The renovation was costly and the shutdown period has allowed the facility to reinvent itself.”

Morad said their challenge is not attracting new local patrons, but maintaining them for a longer time. He added that locals contribute 50 per cent of their clients.

The hotel through its non-profit Mount Kenya Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the various species found with the conservancy such as the endangered mountain bongos and also protecting the forest ecosystem.

Also, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, the Conservancy is keen on its afforestation programme that has seen tree planting activities increase.

In a previous interview, Morad had projected that Fairmont Mount Kenya would open in June, as the period between June and October is the big season for the destination. Morad said the reopening is a sign of confidence in the recovery of the tourism industry.

According to the 2022 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, (KNBS), the tourism sector recovered in 2021 with international visitor arrival expanding by 50.3 per cent during the review period.

The relaxation of travel restrictions and rising rates of Covid vaccination supported the recovery.

In 2020, Kenya earned Sh91.7 billion from tourism as compared to 2019, where it earned Sh163.6 billion, said KNBS.