Nairobi’s Hilton Hotel to cease operation in December after 53 years

KENYA – Hilton Hotel, a five star hotel in the centre of Nairobi city, has announced that it will close its doors indefinitely in December and lay off an unspecified number of workers, underlining the troubles of hotels in the wake of Covid-19 travel slump.

The hotel, which is owned 40.57 percent by the government, has pointed to other factors beyond Covid-19 for the planned closure after more than 50 years of operation from its location at the heart of the central business district.

The hotel said it will redeploy some staff to hotels within its Hilton portfolio in Nairobi.

Hilton clarified that it will not quit Kenya and will continue to operate its other brands in the country.

“Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport are growing our portfolio with new hotel development opportunities in the city and beyond,” it said.

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

It has a 40.57 percent shareholding in International Hotels Kenya Limited, which owns the Hilton. It also held a 33.83 percent stake in Kenya Hotel Properties Limited, the operator of the InterContinental Hotel, which also shut down in August 2020.

The State has been hesitant to pump money in the two luxury hotels, angering other shareholders. Besides InterContinental Hotel, a number of top hotels, including Laico Regency and Radisson Blu in Nairobi’s Upper Hill, stopped operations amid the coronavirus economic fallout.

Kenya’s tourism industry has started to pull out of its deep Covid-19-induced slump as local travellers take advantage of lower prices, but foreign visitor numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

The Hilton CBD began operations in Nairobi on December 17, 1969 and was officially opened by Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta.

At inception, the hotel was the tallest building in Nairobi and a popular base for tourists to Kenya seeking adventures in the country’s famed game parks and reserves.

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

According to the Business Daily, the ownership of the Hilton property is reviewing options regarding the future of the site.

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