Hotels thin in the City Centre as Thika road buzzes up
What you need to know:
Corporate events are now being held outside ‘town’, as the new middle-class corporate/ NGO worker wishes to conference elsewhere
There was a time when every big hotel was being built either in the city center or within its close proximity because they targeted business people and corporates who would mostly hold their functions within the Central Business District (CBD). But that era is almost over, with the closure of huge business traveler-centric hotel behemoths like the Intercontinental, and the Hilton.
This leaves only the Sarova Stanley, the iconic Ambassador, Nairobi Safari Club, reopened Norfolk hotel, Comfort Inn,and the (Sentrim) 680 hotels standing as the CBD-hotel colossi from the 1970s and 1980s.
Hotel owners and investors are now moving away from the CBD to venture into locations out of town, possibly because more people are now opting to go for holidays or vacations outside the big cities. Even corporate events are now being held outside ‘town’, because the new middle-class corporate/ NGO worker wishes to conference out of the centre.
The Thika Superhighway, which stretches 40km, and was before the Kibaki-era a miserable morass of dust and traffic jams, now has several hotels that cater for both conferences and accommodation, having moved the cheese from the town center.
Utalii Hotel, whose college is known as the crème de la crème for future caterers and hoteliers in Kenya, still enjoys a reputation as having sterling food for both the way-farer and the ‘stayer.’
La Mada hotel, which not too long ago was in the news, offers a level of service delivery that is literally on a ‘to die for’ list.
There is Sportsview Hotel, in the heart of Kasarani, which has a homely feel in the middle of a hectic surrounding, where one can conference during the week, watch sports on weekends, and still enjoy the nocturnal delights that Kasarani has to offer, without worrying about safety.
Blue Springs Hotel, which quite candidly has the feel of a Rubik’s Cube, except that all the blocks are blue, and one can wander and be lost in its multiplicities of spaces.
Further afield lies the Rainbow Ruiru Resort – a real tongue twister in this area – but with its green palms and blue pool and pink architecture, feels like the Coast.
Safari Park Hotel and Casino needs no introduction, being another iconic behemoth of an older modern hotel, with its casino and many gardens, and even once having produced dancing talents, the legendary ‘Safari Cats’ who toured the world, severally.
Then there is the Silk Oak Guest House, with ‘Club Silk’ just there, for those who would like to unwind from long conference days with a bit of partying.
Maple Inn, located off the Northern bypass, near Kenyatta University Teaching Hospital (although it can be accessed also from Thika Road) is a 3-Star boutique hotel that boasts of comfort, affordability and, convenience.
Against the background of conventional residential housing, the hotel, which is a burst of colours- pink, green and brown- sticks out, proud and daunting. The wooden finish is a great contrast to the green of the house plants, and it gives a fancy but warm feeling to the arriving visitor.
The hotel is maple themed, and derives its name from Maple Valley, in Quebec, Canada where the maple trees grow, and is also where both Canadian Ice hockey and Celine Dion were born; and the hotel owner, Mr. Muchiri, spent a part of his life pursuing higher education.
In each room, there are pictures of maple trees in different seasons of the year: green in spring; a burst of red and yellow during summer, and, bare and frozen in winter. This, the owner believes, is a representation of life’s cycles and hence the inspiration for the hotel’s name.
The other spaces are covered by pictures of the eight marvels of the world which are: the Taj Mahal (symbolic globally as an epitome of love); Christ the Redeemer(found in Brazil- Rio de Janiero- although there’s a replica outside a small, beautiful town in Italy called Maratea- where this writer stayed one summer night in 2019); Petra, an architectural marvel in Jordan; The Great Wall of China(runs from Beijing to other cities like Tianjin.
Fun fact: The Beijing site is more popular with tourists simply because of the capital proximity, but the Wall is still as breathtaking in Tianjin); Machu Picchu in Peru; Chichen Itza in Mexico; the Colosseum in Rome and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
In an era where Airbnb is gaining popularity across the globe and slowly suffocating the hotel and accommodation industry, hotels have to re-invent themselves to survive the wave. Maple Inn hotel has decided to invest more in boosting group and corporate activities.
“We have top-notch conferencing facilities for both corporate or board meetings to social events such as Chama meetings, birthday events, baby showers, or even family hangouts,” says Timothy Watune, the General Manager of the facility.
More impressive is that the hotel organises health events annually to support patients, survivors, and institutions that handle chronic diseases such as diabetes and sickle cell among others. Last year, they held a successful cancer event. This year, they plan to do a diabetes event.