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Catholic Church ventures into hospitality business with Sh500m modern resort

By James Wanzala | August 19th 2018
The Elysian Resort, valued at Sh500 million.

The Catholic Diocese of Murang’a has ventured into the hospitality industry by investing in a conference facility.

Elysian Resort, valued at Sh500 million, is located off the Northern bypass in Kiambu, about 15km from Nairobi.

The church toyed with the idea of building a standard retreat centre for the church or rental apartments but settled on a commercial retreat and conference centre.

Elysian Resort seats on a five-acre property with an additional undeveloped 2.5 acres adjacent to it at the boundary of Nairobi’s Runda Estate and Kiambu County.

“Because of our location and size, the original idea morphed to what is a modern conference and convention facility with a distinctive blend of comfort, style and hospitality,” says Rev. Fr. Elias Kabutu, the Diocese Finance Administrator who has worked with the project consultants since groundbreaking in 2015.

The first phase comprises conference rooms that can accommodate 350 people. The facility also boasts 42 rooms, a contemporary restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop, a poolside restaurant, a gym and kid’s park. Its vast grounds are ideal for events like graduation celebrations, weddings and birthday parties that can be said to be exciting.

May 1, 2018, marked a milestone for Elysian Resort as it opened doors to the public, with the first guests checking in on April 30. “The response for walk-ins, conferences, meetings and events has been extremely encouraging,” says Fr Kabutu.

The resort targets church retreats, events, children recreation, capacity and team building exercises, personal recreation in the gym, conferences and meetings for corporates, NGOs, government; as well as individual events and accommodation.

“There are no restrictions as this is a purely commercial facility,” he said. “We serve all guests without discrimination and walking around you will feel the Church in our culture of service to humanity. And of course, the presence of Chapel for prayers for our Christian clients is a worthwhile addition.”

Growing demand

He noted that the Resort, which will employ over 400 people when complete, has opened at a time when tourism and business travel sector is picking after a two-year slowdown. 

Elysian management is also betting on the growth of the hospitality sector where the last five years have seen over 10 other establishments open in Kenya. Research by PriceWaterhouseCoopers says Nairobi needs an additional 2,400 beds to meet growing demand. 

To tap this potential, Elysian Resort management says it will kick off phase two next year to double its room capacity and eventually the third phase to push the number of rooms to 120 as it aspires for four-star rating.

“The project’s proceeds will contribute towards the Diocese’ overall objective of evangelisation, and supporting of over the 50 socio-economic projects the Diocese is currently running,” he said.

The construction of Elysian Resort has been funded mainly through the benevolence of the parishioners of the Catholic Diocese of Murang’a friends and well-wishers.

The Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina, the Bishop of Murang’a Catholic Diocese, said the resort will provide proportionate financial resources towards the work of God.

He said it has been built on the tenets of a “peaceful and heavenly” garden - right from its architectural design to its décor of nature.

“Sustainability is a word that is not commonly used in the Church but, in reality, Christianity offers a moral foundation for resource stewardship leading to sustainability,” he said.

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