Easter brunch drives up hotel bookings

Travel

Easter brunch drives up hotel bookings


Radisson Blu at Upper Hill in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Luxury hoteliers are counting on a good season as vacationers prefer hotel rooms to independent Airbnbs this holiday.
  • Last year, many Kenyans preferred to book isolated Airbnbs in destinations where they were unlikely to come into contact with other humans except family members, chefs and butlers.

Luxury hoteliers are counting on a good season as vacationers prefer hotel rooms to independent Airbnbs this holiday.

Last year, many Kenyans preferred to book isolated Airbnbs in destinations where they were unlikely to come into contact with other humans except family members, chefs and butlers.

Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa General Manager Bobby Kamani said the hotel was fully booked for the Easter holiday and they were experiencing a shortage of rooms from April 13-19.

“80% of customers are national and from the region, while 20% are international. This is a welcome change from last year when we were also full at Easter but had some cancellations due to the inter-county lockdown put in place a few days before Easter 2021,” he said.

At the Radisson Blu Arboretum, the hotel apartments are nearly full.

“This Easter, we are doing 70% occupancy. Last Easter we were down to about 20%. There has been a major improvement,” says Randy Ngala, Marketing and Communications Manager.

“Then there are a lot of locals coming in for dinner and for Easter brunch,” he said, adding that they now receive guests from the UK, the Middle East, South Africa and East Africa region.

“The largest percentage of guests come from the United Arab Emirates,” he adds.

At Fairmont Hotels, Mehdi Morad, the national general manager of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, said Fairmont the Norfolk in Nairobi, which has just reopened, is considering staycations, as many holidaymakers have suspended their travel plans due to shortages of fuel.

“Easter is normally one of the seasons when people and families travel a lot, especially in the hinterland. As things stand now, given the shortage of fuel, many people won’t be able to travel by car and that’s why we opted for staycation,” says Morad.

“However, we are not expecting a large number, but the election season will be a very busy time for a hotel like Norfolk,” he adds.

At their Maasai Mara hotel, Fairmont Mara Safari Club, the general manager says it is fully booked.

“We did a three night, two day package and it sold like crazy. There are no more rooms. We released the Easter package at the end of March and last week we were sold out,” he said.

“One hotel that I miss is the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club because there are so many requests. It is one of the favorite destinations for Kenyans for Easter. ‘have not reopened yet,’ he said.

Four-course meal

David Wandamu, catering manager at Sarova Panafric in Nairobi, says that normally for hotels in the city, Easter is not a busy time as many residents travel, either to the hinterland or other hotels and resorts on the coast or the Maasai Mara.

“However, there are still many people who come on Good Friday for the special four-course meal with the Samawati band playing in the background. Then there is the big Easter brunch by the pool, with a live cooking that draws crowds,” he says, adding that partnerships with Jack Daniels Whiskey for brunch and a special kids’ menu enhance the dining experience.

“We’re pretty full for brunch, but Kenyans love last minute bookings and walk-ins, so we’re expecting even more guests that day. 90% of our customers are local while 10% are both regional and international,” he said.

Hotels say they will still adhere to Covid-19 restrictions, providing hand sanitizer, social distancing and staff wearing masks.

At Hemingways, Richard Kimenyi, the general manager, says the hotel is back to business as usual and is observing protocols like serving cloth-covered food and a buffet area protected by sneeze guards.

“All staff always wear masks although guests are not required to wear them,” he said, adding that the Karen-based hotel is also betting on staycations and the special Easter brunch that has more offerings than the usual Sunday brunch. “It’s because we have special dishes like crocodile and tandoori/Indian dishes and a special welcome drink and for the kids we have the chocolate and sweet corner,” Mr Kimenyi said.

In terms of occupancy they are at 60% but “we all know Kenyans are making last minute bookings”.

Safari Park’s Mercy Muhindi says the local market continues to be their biggest support group so far.

Buffet

As Kenyans look to enjoy the holidays, one thing they will be happy about is that the buffet is back. During the pandemic, hotels have had to remove favorite buffets that were bestsellers and tend to attract more diners. “During the depths of the pandemic, everything had to be done individually, but for now at least we’re back to buffet service, platters can be shared, and everything,” Ms Muhindi adds.

If you’re staying home, you can plan an elaborate dinner. According to Chef Emmanuel Aluda of Park Inn by Radisson, pork should be a staple on your menu.

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