From recent social media posts, we have two tales about how two award-winning hotels came to be built.
Angama: The story of Angama was published back in 2017 but was re-shared this week in a newsletter from the lodge. It was contained in a blog that was written by the founder on the putting together of finding the right partners and putting together a project team and how they managed to execute on a design and vision to build a 10,000 square meter lodge on a cliff in the Mara, in just ten months. This came after eight months of chasing funding.
Hemingways: The story of Hemingways, is from an interview of the Chairman of Hemingways Holdings, Dicky Evans by journalist Joy Doreen Biira.
— Joy Doreen BIIRA (@JoyDoreenBiira) February 4, 2019
He narrates how they operated a hotel in Watamu on the Kenyan coast for 30 years before deciding that there was an opportunity to do a hotel property in the capital city of Kenya. Then, on to the search for an ideal location, acquiring the land, growth by acquiring other companies, working with planners and neighbours, sourcing environmental permits, utilities etc. all to build and fit out what became Hemingways Nairobi at a total cost $22 million. To do this, they also got some funding from I&M Bank, and also invested in other properties in the Mara and in Naivasha and are doing renovations and expansion into new apartments at Watamu.
The importance of partnerships comes in both stories; Hemingways at Watamu partners with other hotels in Nairobi, which don’t have properties as the Coast, to host tourists who want a private luxury experience at the beach, while Angama, in another post, narrates how local airlines came together to reduce the flying time for their tourists moving between the Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania to just a few hours – eliminating an extremely long process of several flights through Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha and airports.
In the two posts, there are unique insights you rarely hear local investors talk about such as how much money they put have invested into their projects, the process of acquiring land, and how infrastructure developments lead to new investment opportunities and possibilities. Also, the day-to-day running and management, and the use of expatriate project managers is a theme that runs through the stories of the two properties that were built quite fast and which are now receiving global accolades for excellence.
Some of the recent awards the hotels have been feted for include the “Best Resort in the Middle East and Africa” by Conde Nast Traveller for Angama, while Hemingways was named the “Best Hotel in Kenya” in three categories (top 10 hotel, top luxury, top service) by Trip Advisor.
edit: In June 2022, Angama announced a 10-suite facility at Amboseli, in partnership with Kimana, a community wildlife sanctuary owned by 844 families, who will receive $11 million over 25 years.
edit: In December 2022, Hemingways Collection announced their takeover of Eden Hotel in Nairobi.