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Hemingways to build boutique hotel and luxury apartments

By Peter Muiruri | June 16th 2016

In an effort to diversify its hospitality brand, Hemingways Collection plans to put up a 39-room boutique hotel on the same site where the present 74-room hotel stands.

The new development will entail the tearing down of part of the current wings of the hotel.

In addition to the new hotel, the redesign will also see the erection of 15 luxury apartments.

The project will cost $9 million (Sh900 million) and will be completed by July 2017, with a soft opening of the hotel slated for February 2018.

According to the group’s chairman Richard Evans, the construction of the boutique hotel is meant to bring the standards of the coastal development closer to those of the group’s flagship project in the city, Hemingways Nairobi.

“This is one of the largest projects along the Coast in recent times. We must continue to cast a positive image of Watamu in view of recent decline in the tourism industry,” said Evans.

According to Evans, the 30-year-old hotel needed a facelift in order to be competitive in an environment where quality is key.

“We have been losing tourists to Zanzibar. It is a pity that after our guests visited Nairobi Hemingways and Ol Seki Mara, we did not have a similar five-star facility and they opted for something outside the country,” he said.

Although the new high-end apartments are for sale, owners have the options of renting them out to holidaymakers and complement the new hotel. Already, five units have been sold off-plan.

Watamu is one of the beaches that continue to enjoy good ratings by international travellers.

However, the Coast has suffered from Western-instigated travel advisories as a result of recent terror attacks, especially in Lamu County.

There has been heightened activity in the hotel and tourism sector in what is seen as a sign of changing trends. Two weeks ago, a French resort chain has launched a marketing drive to woo Kenyans to its facilities spread across five continents, including Africa.

Club Méditerranée — or Club Med — last month announced it had partnered with Maniago Executive Travel Designers in an efforts to attract visitors from Kenya. Maniago Executive Travel Designers will be the hotel chain’s sales agents for Kenya.

About a month before that, Swiss International Hotels and Resorts signed a Sh7b billion deal with Mt Kenya Holiday Homes to co-develop Swiss International Resort Mount Kenya in Naromoru.

Another deal saw Governors’ Camp entered into a partnership with Wilderness Safaris of Botswana. The deal, Wilderness Safaris will inject an initial capital of $6.2 million (Sh626 million) into Governors’ Camp.

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