If you belong to the school of thought that believes that African hospitality has come of age, then you should maintain you stand because some indigenous hotel brands are truly changing the negative narratives of the African hospitality industry today.
Obviously, hospitality business in Africa is becoming more impressive everyday with improvements, exciting innovations, sustained service culture and even corresponding facility offerings, which combine to point to the fact that African hospitality has come of age.
Now, some international brands are finding it difficult to compete with some indigenous brands, which have turned the tables in their areas of specialties like safari and are even expanding outside the country.
There are a few of these innovative indigenous hotel brands with outstanding success stories. One of them is Tsogo Sun, a South African based hotel chain and management company.
With over 100 hotels and 13 casinos across Africa and now in the Middle East, Tsogo Sun is one of the largest indigenous hotel groups in Africa.
The success story is evident with its many brands that appeal to a wide range of guests. From Maia, Beverly Hills, 54 on Bath, Sandton Sun, Suncoast Towers, Palazzo, Southern Sun Hotels and Resorts, SunSquare, Garden Court, StayEasy and SUN1 (formerly Formula1 Hotels), Tsogo Sun has a bouquet of exciting accommodation options.
As well, it also manages InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport, InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers, among other brands outside its portfolio.
Of course, the group, which is one of the largest listed companies in Johannesburg Stock Exchange in the hotel and tourism sector, with a market capitalisation of R30.8 billion and an operating income of R5.4 billion, is truly as Africa giant in the hotel business.
A visit to Southern Sun Ikoyi in Lagos, where Tsogo Sun has majority shares, tells of commitment to quality assurance. It would be recalled that Southern Sun Ikoyi, took the Lagos hotel business by storm when it crashed room rates some years ago, forcing major international brands to crash rates within that period as well.
Some of the masterpiece properties of the brand across architecture, quality of service, facility offerings and innovations are; 54 on Bath, Sandton Sun, Southern Sun Elengani and SunSquare, all based in South Africa and Southern Sun Al Manzil Hotel Dubai, UAE.
It is of note that Southern Sun Al Manzil Hotel Dubai, UAE, keeps claiming top spot on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index for hotels in Dubai because of the well-grown African hospitality culture that is exported to the Middle East and the world.
Yet, Sun International is another indigenous brand to be proud of. The success story is good to hear and retell.
With over 20 resorts, luxury hotels and casinos across Africa and in Latin America, Sun International is one of Africa’s largest tourism, leisure and gaming groups.
The group’s approach has been to differentiate its hotels, resorts and casinos in architecture, service, experience, location and the mix of entertainment and activities, while creating lasting memories for its guests and customers is a core part of its DNA.
This is evident in some of the world’s most iconic hotels it has created. From Sun City, The Palace of The Lost City at Sun City to The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, The Maslow in Sandton, and Federal Place Hotel and Casino Lagos, the creative architecture of these properties and the blending of their designs with their local environment make each property unique.
The intrigue for many is the group’s ability to export African brand to the Americas.
“Our entry into Latin America began in Chile in 2008 and has been a success story for the group, giving us the track record and confidence to look for more opportunities that offer gaming opportunities in the region”, the group said. Sun International’s Latin American profile include; Monticello Grand Casino in Chile and the Ocean Club Casino in Panama.
Also from Kenya, the Icon Hotel Group (IHG) is kicking across major destinations in Africa, and changing the hospitality narrative as well.
Obviously, the group is a fast-growing end-to-end African-grown hospitality hub that serves as a resource base for diverse core hospitality competencies across Africa and beyond. ICON is also spreading its reach beyond its Kenyan base.
From Mount Meru Hotel or Palace Hotel both in Arusha, Tanzania, Osotua Luxury Resort Naivasha, among other hotels in East Africa, IHG’s presence is now felt in West Africa starting with Nigeria. The turnaround at Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, and quality service at the Royal Spring Palm Hotel in Owerri, the Imo State capital, are strides ICON is committed to replicate across other destinations in Nigeria and West Africa.
However, another group is also rising from Nigeria. Since opening its doors to the public at Goshen Estate, along Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, the Citilodge Group is committed to a nationwide expansion.
From the Lagos hotel, it opened Citilodge Abuja and recently Citiheight Ikeja, Lagos, targeting high-end travellers with its world-class facilities at the Ikeja hotel, which is close the airport and along the Ikeja hotel corridor, where Sheraton and Radisson Blu brands are located.
At the opening of the Ikeja hotel, Olufemi Talabi, the chairman of the hotel, noted that the group is carving a niche for itself and is not following after any brand. For him, the brand, from its Nigerian base, is committed to establishing impeccable service culture, standard and quality that are at par with global standards.
Surprisingly, Mangalis, a new indigenous African hotel group, has joined the race to close the gap in quality offerings. Yerim Sow, a Senegalese entrepreneur, and founder of Mangalis Group, is investing €315m to build 15 hotels across four new brands in West and Central Africa.
Already, Managlis’ three brands are out there; Noom (upscale), Seen (midscale) and Yaas Hotels (economy).
Noom Hotel Conkary, Noom Hotel Naimey Niger, and Seen Hotel Abidjan Plateau are opened to the public, while Yaas Hotel Dakar, Noom Abidjan, Noom Hotel Cotnou, Seen Ivory Coast and Seen Sierra Leone are either under construction or due to open later this year.
Fahrenheit Hospitality Group seems to be the new entrant in the Nigerian hospitality industry that is pushing strongly for indigenous branding. With two brands in less than five years, Maison Fahrenheit and Fahrenheit Loft, Fahrenheit Hospitality Group is eyeing brand expansion across the country. Going by the quality of the offerings, the premium locations, facilities and target market, Fahrenheit Hospitality is already changing the narrative with some hotel investors desiring to get its franchise.
As expected, more indigenous brands are hoping to join the scramble for market share within the continent, but many will also fall by the wayside if quality and standards are in doubt.