Boom Time

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The race is on to grab market share and a serious presence on the African continent, as the world’s top hotel groups all jostle for position, with an eye on the most prime sites, partners and deals. So, where is all this activity taking place and how is it going to play out? Richard Holmes does some digging and comes up with some interesting results.

“Africa is the next big thing.”

That was the bullish sentiment from Michael Wale, President for Europe, Africa and Middle East for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, when speaking to the influential Financial Times earlier this year. And while he was quick to temper the optimism with a caution that the hotel revolution coming to Africa won’t happen overnight, it’s clear that the hospitality industry across the continent is gearing up for a bright and busy future.

Perhaps the best overview of the sustained growth in the hotel industry on the continent comes in the annual Pipeline Report from the Lagos-based W Hospitality Group, which this year records 215 hotels in development across 54 African countries. While some developments are yet to break ground, or building may have stalled, the message is the same: African hotel development is booming.

Two key observations from the 2014 report are that development plans for hotels south of the Sahara have surged ahead of those in North Africa, and that it’s in the smaller destinations in Africa where much of the opportunity lies.

Sub-Saharan Africa is certainly the flavour of the month for most hotel companies, with booming investment from international companies in oil and gas industries spurring economic development. That has further downstream spin-offs for the economy, stimulating local manufacturing and infrastructure industries. Banking and business process industries are similarly given a boost by the economic injections.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is really proving to be the hotel growth story of the 21st century,” notes the report, adding that “the growth story for 2014 is shaping up to be less about the major sub-Saharan Africa markets, with the notable exception of Nigeria, and more about the smaller, less developed economies.”

For instance, South Sudan has two hotels in the pipeline – including a Sheraton (Starwood Hotels & Resorts) slated for 2017 opening – while Liberia will see a Mangalis hotel open in Monrovia. Radisson Blu leads the pack in the number of hotels under development (17), but is pipped to pole position by Hilton when it comes to the number of rooms in the pipeline (4,723).

“Equatorial Guinea and the DRC have also not seen any pipeline action in the past three years, but this has changed with a planned Noom hotel in Kinshasa (DRC), and two Kempinski hotels, in Oyala (Equatorial Guinea) and Kinshasa,” notes the Pipeline Report.

With only eight of the group’s 70-plus hotels on the continent, “Africa is now our priority for growth,” comments Ulrich T Eckhardt, President: India, Middle East, and Africa for Kempinski Hotels. “Economic growth across a variety of sectors continues to attract more and more investment in Africa, which will naturally increase the number of business travellers to the continent.”

Kempinski’s new focus on Africa includes four hotels due to open in the next 12 months, with a new offering in Ghana, and the brand’s third property in Egypt.

“As countries in Africa attract more and more investment, the demand for hospitality services will continue to increase. We have been extremely successful as a brand so far in Africa, by being pioneers in luxury and targeting business travellers to destinations such as Djibouti and Chad, as well as more recently offering true 5-star luxury in traditional business destinations such as Cairo and Nairobi,” says Eckhardt. “We expect the same success in Accra, Kinshasa, and Kigali, where the arrival of an international 5-star brand like Kempinski is a vote of confidence for the destination and an early indicator of economic growth.”

And it’s precisely those two words – ‘economic growth’ – that are driving the continent’s influx of new hotel developments.

“There are many countries across Africa that are showing encouraging economic growth, which in turn spurs the need for hotels of international quality. Africa’s average GDP growth is somewhere in the region of five percent, and many countries are substantially exceeding that,” adds Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director: Middle East & Africa for Marriott International. With its recent acquisition of the Protea Hospitality Group, Marriott currently operates 125 hotels in 10 African countries.

However, the group has plans for further expansion, with over 30 hotels in its development pipeline, stretching from Algeria to Uganda. Nigeria and Ghana are key destinations for Marriott’s expansion, thanks to booming energy industries, with agriculture and copper mining driving further growth in Ethiopia and Zambia respectively.

“We’re seeing a significant increase in inbound, cross-continent, cross-border and domestic business travel in these countries and others as these sectors grow and secondary, supportive processing industries arise,” notes Kyriakidis.

European hotel group Accor, with 91 hotels across Africa, is also expanding and is focused on around 30 cities on the continent, says Manoël Parrent, Operational Marketing Director for Accor in Africa and Indian Ocean: “Our priorities are in Morocco, Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa,” he says.

While already well-established in the north of the continent, sub-Saharan Africa is now top of the to-do list for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, and that is “where we are concentrating our development plans in the next five years,” says Stephen Banks, Director of Sales & Marketing – Africa for Mövenpick. “Africa represents the final frontier in hotel development.”

“North Africa, with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, is well-developed, although there are still opportunities in Libya and Algeria in the North. In the East, there’s Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, and in the West there are more opportunities with lack of inventory in Cote D’Ivoire, Congo and of course Nigeria,” adds Banks. “In South Africa where the market is more mature, opportunities still exist, however with relatively low average rates and many hotel companies being present for a number of years, the potential for development is less.”

Speaking of South Africa, what’s the take of those looking on from Africa’s most developed economy, in terms of what they are seeing from their international counterparts and their interest in Africa?

“Well, they’re all making their presence felt,” says Rob Collins, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Sun International. “I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s a vote of confidence. It’s a tick in the right direction and competition will assist and aid.”

However, Collins goes on to issue a caution.

“The only problem is, you take a place like Nigeria where you’re getting spectacular rand rates after you translate back from dollars and you’re coming off a hard dollar-based room night, but that’s because there’s lack of supply. Now you suddenly put three or four hotels in there, and I don’t know if you’re going to get the incremental number of visitors arriving. It’s not this utopia where everyone can come in. There are obstacles, and I sometimes wonder whether or not it’s the romance of developing an African strategy, because ‘everyone else is getting into Africa’. Africa is the flavour of the month, probably because it had been left alone for so many years, and it’s now suddenly seen as the continent of opportunity.”

Name Your Price?

Yet there’s clearly a hungry market across the continent. While supply is booming, it seems that in many destinations it is yet to keep up with demand – the Angolan capital Luanda, and N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, remain amongst the most expensive cities on the planet for business travellers. In either capital, a decent business-standard hotel room won’t leave you with much change from US$500.

With 18 hotels across the continent, Best Western is another brand seeking new opportunities in Africa. After enjoying “significant growth” and opening new properties in Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya over the past two years, the chain also has agreements in place for new hotels in Zanzibar, Addis Ababa and Kampala, says Karl de Lacy, International Development Manager for Best Western International.

“Our most recent growth has happened in East Africa, but the growth of the Nigerian economy continues to drive additional opportunities there,” he says. “The growth is happening as a result of increased economic activity and the volume of additional investment taking place. The key for keeping this growth will come from easy air connections and easier visa entry requirements.”

In the region, the Ghanaian capital Accra is another city ripe for development and “business over the past five years has been strong, with the top 12 hotels averaging 75% room occupancy in Accra,” says Bruce Potter, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Accra Airport.

With only 12 large international hotels in the capital, supply is limited to around 1,600 rooms per night, of which one-fifth are immediately taken by the international air crews flying into the city each day. As a result, “room rates are still high,” says Potter. “We average $210 as a Holiday Inn.”

Mövenpick operates one of Accra’s two 5-star hotels – the other is Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Labadi Beach Hotel – and it currently has a strong hold on the ‘downtown’ area, where there is currently little to no competition, whilst Kempinski continues finishing building its 5-star property in the same area.

“The demand is certainly growing,” says Banks. “We have seen our hotel in Accra achieve very high occupancy numbers over the last year which is driven largely from corporate business in the banking construction, FMCG and pharmaceutical industries. Nigeria, perhaps, is an example of consistent demand due to the oil industry, however with further oil discoveries and the huge mineral deposits in West Africa particularly, demand will be driven further by the corporate market.”

While the likes of Lagos and Luanda have long been key business travel destinations, Preferred Hotel Group is focusing its development efforts on new and emerging destinations such as Abuja, Kigali and Maputo, comments Caroline Daniel, Account Director for Africa. Preferred also plans to bolster their footprint “across Ghana and Tanzania, where we see great potential for growth. Over the next nine to 12 months, we expect to welcome up to eight new member properties from these areas.”

With eight hotels focused in sub-Saharan Africa, independent operator Extrabold Hotel Management is also looking to expand, with developments in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa on the cards. And after a few years of depressed inbound figures, it’s international visitors that are buoying the growth.

“Our hotels with exposure to international inbound travel have shown good growth in the past year, whilst the corporate and government segments in many regions have continued to be under pressure,” explains Xander Nijnens, Managing Director of South Africa-based Extrabold Hotel Management. “With the weakening of the Rand in recent years the international tourism offering has become more appealing, and this will continue to drive inbound tourism.”

Across the border in Mozambique, Lonrho’s Hotel Cardoso has also taken advantage of the surge in travel to the region and resultant spike in business bookings in Maputo.

“The number of flights coming into Maputo has increased, so there’s been much demand for doing business in the capital,” says Lonrho Hotels Chief Executive Brendan Gillespie. “Our property in Lubumbashi (DRC) is also doing well. We continue to invest in the property and it’s the market leader in that region with steady demand from corporates and government.”

Lonrho also operates a property in Gaborone – the Lansmore Masa Square – which has seen a surge in demand since De Beers moved their global headquarters to the Botswana capital. As a result, “there’s a lot of banking activity coming into Gaborone,” says Gillespie, adding “the Botswana government has a light touch, and is very supportive. It makes it very easy to do business there.”

Risk vs Reward

It’s a crucial observation – for while the hotel business is clearly booming, it’s not all plain sailing. A new hotel development in the Middle East will take three to four years from planning to welcoming the first guests, yet in Africa that figure is closer to seven. And amid the logistical challenges of running hotels – particularly in the luxury space – there’s no shortage of other hurdles facing companies and entrepreneurs looking for their share of the industry.

Supply chain issues, onerous restrictions on importation of goods, corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies can all increase both time and cost for developing and running hotels in Africa.

While many governments welcome and encourage hotel investment, regulations and red tape can seriously dent the investment appetite for a country or region.

Perhaps the worst recent example is July’s decision by the government of Togo to force European hotel group Accor to leave the country immediately, or be fined $1-million per day. The dispute arose over the renewal of Accor’s lease on the Sarakawa hotel in Lome, the country’s capital. It’s perhaps an extreme and isolated incident, but will no doubt deter future investors.

Having the right people on the ground is key to smoothing the path, it seems.

“We have been very fortunate in Africa to have great partners who help us mitigate major risks and ensure that our operations run smoothly. As hotel operators, finding the right owners is a key factor in our expansion strategy,” notes Eckhardt, who adds that, with the increase in new developments, staffing has also become a challenge. “In each new destination we employ hundreds of people to run our hotels. We can draw on our international talent base for some positions in the hotel, but it is important to have a core of local talent to ensure that we have a sustainable workforce.”

“Having development people who are familiar with the ways of working in Africa is an asset,” agrees Banks. “As is a local partner who can ensure the sometimes bureaucratic delays are shortened by knowing how things work.”

Space for Everyone

As such, there’s been a notable spike in hotels catering for the middle tier of the market, attracting both corporate and leisure travellers with a high-end product at an affordable rate, offering convenience and comfort over ‘blow-the-budget’ luxury.

Citing corporate travel as the main driver of bookings, “the mid-market segment is showing the best growth,” says Clifford Ross, Chief Executive of the City Lodge Hotel Group, which has 51 hotels in South Africa, two in Kenya and one in Botswana. “The budget sector is being affected by the poor economy, negative GDP in the first quarter and a lack of disposable income for travel.”

“In our opinion, mid-market is a great long-term positioning as you are less vulnerable during demand cycles,” says Nijnens from Extrabold. “There is less of an ability for your clients to ‘trade down’, and you benefit from the luxury market coming down a tier.”

However, high-end hotel groups are also citing strong demand for luxury properties.

“Most of our hotels fall into the mid-scale and upper mid-scale sectors, but the Best Western Premier brand is also enjoying success in Nairobi and Port Harcourt and will soon be added in Uganda,” adds De Lacy.

“We can’t add destinations fast enough. In fact, in many cases government leaders approach us, citing demand for luxury hotels to accommodate the increasing number of visitors or to meet future demand,” says Eckhardt from luxury brand Kempinski. “We also see an increase in intra-continental travel in Africa as the rising middle and upper classes choose to explore the riches of the continent. African travellers expect the same levels of luxury that they are accustomed to in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This will also bolster the demand for luxury hotels.”

Perhaps diplomatically, Marriott International believes “there’s significant room for development across both luxury and mid-market hotels,” says Kyriakidis. “Because in many countries we’re practically starting from a zero base in terms of properties of international standard. The same holds true for countries with more developed hospitality industries, because Africa’s economies are growing so rapidly.”

“Our experience in Accra shows there is room for both ends of the market,” agrees Banks. “Rates in the 5-star hotel market in Ghana approach $300, however 4-star hotels in the same marketplace can achieve $200 to $250 per night in peak seasons, driven by demand and relative lack of supply. There is certainly room for expansion in both ends of the market. As the market matures, the need for three and 4-star hotels will increase in emerging markets, however at present there is certainly a need for more 5-star hotels.”

“International travellers still prefer 5-star hotels, irrespective of price,” suggests Ross. “Local corporate travel is very much company policy-driven as to where they can stay and at what price point. This is resulting in some trading down as a result of rate.”

Rather than evaluating the health of differing ends of the market, perhaps the better discussion is around value. It’s a notion that’s forever subjective, but as with so many areas of corporate travel, the hospitality industry is working harder than ever to ensure guests feel their money is – or, at least, feels – well spent.

“With the proliferation of hotel brands and concepts, I think the best value offering –price versus experience – will be one of the deciding factors for corporate buyers,” says Nijnens. “There will always be a space for the luxury segment, but the majority of corporate demand will be more value-oriented.”

A key part of the discussion around value – and what room rate constitutes good value – comes down to a common concern for corporate travellers in Africa: security.

“Comfort, safety and security are needed when travelling in Africa and these are prioritised over the rate by group travel managers and corporate travellers when selecting a hotel,” notes Daniel from Preferred Hotel Group.

A sense of security is an intangible benefit that’s top of mind for many travellers to Africa, and yet there’s another ethereal concept that’s perhaps even more valuable.

In the new economic rush for Africa, time has become something in short supply for many corporate travellers on the continent. As a result, corporate guests expect facilities and services to be available round the clock, with time saving innovations and world class connectivity becoming a prerequisite for opening the doors, not merely a nice-to-have.

“In many of our hotels we offer Wi-Fi and room service menus in the hotel cars, increased Internet bandwidth in the rooms and public areas, and we offer 24-hour access to check-in and check-out services, in-room dining, spa services, a fitness centre, and the executive lounge,” notes Eckhardt from Kempinski.

The Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg has also, perhaps fittingly, paid plenty of attention to a business traveller’s hierarchy of needs and placed special emphasis on connectivity and services.

It’s an interesting departure for South African hotel group Sun International, which is an operator of 24 hotel and gaming properties, with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho, Nigeria and more recently, Chile. Sun International has traditionally focused on properties more closely suited to luxury leisure travel, with entertainment and gaming as the add-ons, but the opening of the Maslow around the start of 2013 signalled a step towards a more business travel-focused approach. There was some talk about Sun International rolling out the Maslow brand in other African countries, but that has not transpired.

For now, the Maslow remains a link and an important one in Sun International’s new Sunlux Collection chain, which covers the group’s Table Bay, Lost City and Royal Livingstone properties, with Maslow as the overnight stay in Johannesburg. On its own, though, and separate from leisure travel, the Maslow remains a business travel hotel in the all-important Sandton business node, and its offering reflects that.

The hotel offers a “24-hour Wayfarer transit lounge, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and public areas, custom services for long-stay guests, free scheduled shuttles in and around Sandton and the Sandton Gautrain station, a dedicated business meeting hub with all-day dining, free parking for our guests, and tailor-made spa treatments for corporate travellers at the Africology Spa,” says Alison McKie, Group Manager: Marketing at Sun International.

Highlighting connectivity, transfers, fast check-in and reliable laundry service as key touch points for corporate travellers, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has committed to offering free Wi-Fi in all of its hotels by 2015. It’s also catering for time-poor business travellers with innovative products like its ‘Business Bundle’, which offers an attractive rate along with complimentary pressing service, late check-out and breakfast.

In a further bid to help travellers save time, Marriott International recently rolled out its mobile check-in and checkout service to 16 Marriott Hotels properties in North Africa and the Middle East, and “the plan is to expand this southward across the continent,” says Kyriakidis.

Many hotels are also gearing up for the ever-growing numbers of Asian visitors, as Chinese companies in particular pour investment into the continent.

“At Crowne Plaza Johannesburg and Holiday Inn Sandton we are launching our ‘China Ready’ programme in September,” adds Nijnens. “This programme has been developed in China and creates an optimal guest journey for our Chinese guests, which is a growing inbound market.”

Preferred Hotel Group has also launched an Asia-focused initiative, to “make the travel planning process more streamlined, personalised, and inviting for Chinese travellers,” explains Daniel. “Participating hotels have to meet dozens of certification standards, ranging from on-property programming such as offering Chinese tea and kettles in guestrooms, to having Mandarin-speaking reservations and front desk staff.”

It’s a forward-looking approach that is sure to pay off handsomely, as China’s investment in minerals and energy becomes ever-more entrenched on the continent. And yet, for once, it’s a case of China looking West, not the world looking East.

For years, perhaps too long, the focus of almost all global hotel corporations has been on China, on the country’s vast domestic market and the untapped potential of corporate and leisure travel. Now, to steal a phrase from the 2010 World Cup anthem, it’s time for Africa.

“Africa is a sleeping giant,” says Eckhardt from Kempinski emphatically. “And when it wakes up, the growth will be staggering. That is why were are here, and we will continue to expand our presence in Africa over the next five to 10 years.”

Expert View – Trevor Ward

With international brands rushing to grab a piece of Africa’s accommodation pie, it seems the hospitality industry on the continent is in rude health. Business Traveller Africa asked Trevor Ward, Managing Director of respected industry consultancy W Hospitality Group, for his view on what the sector holds…

What is the state-of-play for the African hotel industry – are we seeing strong growth?

There is strong growth in a few countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. But equally there are other countries where there is nothing happening, at least as far as the international hotel chains are concerned. Note that the main international chains don’t develop hotels – they need owners and investors to build hotels for them to manage.  And with Africa being 54 countries, it is very difficult to find developers who are working pan-Africa.  The exception is Mangalis, with their Noon and Seen brands, and on a smaller scale Azalaï and Onomo.

With all these brands entering the market, is there sufficient demand to meet the boom in supply?

Don’t over-estimate what is actually happening on the ground.  Africa is massively ‘under-hoteled’ and many of the existing hotels, including some branded by international operators, are of a poor quality and have not been upgraded since they were built several decades ago. Some would say that the African hotel industry is ‘under-demolished’! The majority of hotel demand in most African cities is business and Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) travel, and that is driven by economic growth.  We all know the statistics for economic growth in African countries, but look more closely at GDP growth data for African cities, which show that cities such as Lagos have consistent double-digit GDP growth – and that drives hotel demand.  I think it is time we started talking more about African cities, and less about African countries, as the latter is misleading.

From a global perspective, is Africa being viewed as ‘hot property’?

Yes and no. There are some who do understand the potential and how to exploit it, but there are many who can see only the bad things [see Ward’s opinion piece in BTA July 2014] and the challenges, and say Africa is too difficult.  Again, there is the problem of generalisation: Africa is 54 countries, with many infrastructure problems and little harmonisation, unlike territories like China, and to a lesser extent India, which are vast but have one legal system, mostly one language etc.  What we have seen in recent years is the development of equity funds that are focusing exclusively on African hotel development and acquisition. These funds, from Europe mostly but also from within Africa, are a drop in the ocean in terms of meeting the needs of Africa, but it’s a start and are to be applauded.

Which are the most exciting regions when it comes to potential growth? 

Everyone will have their own view, but looking at it from a reasonably objective standpoint, I identify those countries where it is possible to do multiple deals because of scale, and therefore where it pays to devote substantial resources. On the A-list I would put Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Possibly also Mozambique. On the B-list I would put Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, perhaps Mozambique and Zambia.  However, each country can also be debated at length regarding whether or not the opportunities are realisable. Angola and Cameroon are both perceived to be quite difficult countries in which to do business, for example. Then there are many other countries where there are opportunities for ‘single deals’ – a branded hotel in the capital city –including several countries in West Africa such as Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. I don’t want to ignore the major leisure destinations, but many investment funds are not interested in leisure resorts, because of the volatility of the markets they work in.

Which sectors of the market are showing the best potential? 

The biggest opportunity in my opinion is the mid-market, as well as the quality budget market. In terms of brands, think Novotel, Hilton Garden Inn, and Park Inn for the former; and Ibis, Onomo and City Lodge for the latter.  The biggest growth in the future will be domestic and intra-regional business and MICE travel, and these are the products that these markets want.

What are the challenges hindering hospitality growth on the continent? 

There are many! Land prices and title, the cost of imported building materials, lack of qualified professionals such as project managers, lack of long-term finance at affordable rates, as well as a lack of understanding of the industry from the banking community. Then there’s corruption and the lack of infrastructure that drives up development costs with the need for generators, water treatment plants etc.

A Minute with Marriott

With its R2-billion price tag, the Marriott International buyout of South Africa’s home-grown Protea Hospitality Group has been the talk of the hotel industry this year. Business Traveller Africa asked Alex Kyriakidis, Marriott International’s Middle East & Africa President and Managing Director:

The buyout has now been signed, sealed and delivered. Has it all been bedded down operationally?

Integrating the systems of two large companies takes time and a methodical approach. We anticipate spending the remainder of the year on a full integration process. The cultural integration has been much swifter, because the two companies share very similar values, ethics and outlooks on matters such as hospitality, relationships with stakeholders, greening and corporate social investment (CSI). It’s this shared value system that makes for a strong partnership. All Protea Hotels properties are now on the Marriott.com platform, and they are available through Marriott International’s Global Reservations Offices, which means the Protea portfolio of hotels is being sold by more than 3,200 reservation agents, answering calls from guests in more than 50 countries in 13 languages.

What has the response been like from guests… has there been any confusion about which hotel brand they’re actually staying in?

There’s no confusion whatsoever because the brands remain the same, as have the staff, service culture and prime directives.

So, on the ground we will continue to see Protea, African Pride and Fire&Ice hotel branding on the street?

One of the overarching reasons for the purchase of the Protea Hospitality Group – and which made it such an attractive acquisition proposition – was the brand strength in sub-Saharan Africa. While we are working on eventually introducing other Marriott International brands to the market, the company has every intention of capitalising on the Protea brand traction that has grown over 30 years.

What are the immediate benefits to travellers of the Marriott buy-out?

Global reach and centralised booking across more than 4,000 hotels in the world through one channel. Further tangible benefits associated to technology, distribution and loyalty programme rewards will materialise in the not too distant future.

Are the Marriott and Protea loyalty programmes integrated yet?

The Marriott Rewards and Prokard loyalty programmes have not yet been integrated, because the overall process of integrating general operating systems of two such large and complex companies takes time. Our first target was to get Protea’s portfolio of hotels live on Marriott.com and Global Reservations, which we achieved in an astonishingly short space of time considering the logistics. At this stage, Marriott Rewards points cannot be earned or redeemed at Protea Hotels, and the reverse holds true for Prokard members. An announcement will be made when this phase has been completed.

What changes can we expect to see going forward, as a result of the buy-out?

Innovation is a constant in the hospitality industry, especially in the current age of technological advancement moving at light speed. We’re at the leading curve of technology innovation with services such as mobile check-in, and we intend to stay there. There will be few changes as far as service standards are concerned, because both Protea Hotels and Marriott International have always prided themselves on best guest service and the continuous search for excellence.

With its April acquisition of the Protea Hospitality group, Marriott International became the largest hotel company in Africa. The company now operates over than 4,000 hotels in 79 countries.

Word On The Street

Tired of staying at the same old hotel on your travels? Try these new kids on the block on your next trip…

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra, Ghana

Due to open in 2015, this hotel has a prime location in the heart of the city as part of the ‘Gold Coast City’ development. The convenient location offers easy access to the Accra International Conference Centre and nearby government ministries.

The hotel is promising its rooms will be the largest in Accra, with a minimum 50m² for each of the 269 rooms, 22 suites and two presidential suites. The hotel will also offer two restaurants, a lobby lounge with outside seating, a cocktail bar and pool lounge, spacious health spa and assorted sports facilities. Conference facilities include 1700m² of meeting and banqueting facilities including the largest ballroom in the capital.

Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Freetown, Sierra Leone

This beachfront hotel in the capital city has been completely refurbished and is already ranked as the top hotel in Freetown by TripAdvisor. The 172 guest rooms and suites are decorated in a fresh contemporary style that wouldn’t look out of place in Europe or the USA, and there is free high-speed wireless Internet access available. Dedicated hotel generators ensure you won’t be left without power while finishing up that crucial presentation. The Deck restaurant offers a spacious terrace, while leisure facilities include a terraced swimming pool, private beach, tennis courts and fitness centre. An assortment of meeting rooms can accommodate up to 260 delegates.

Four Points by Sheraton, Tripoli, Libya

Set to re-open on 1 October, this beachfront hotel is conveniently situated close to the colonial downtown area, a 30-minute drive from the international airport. The hotel is part of the Hi Elandalous Village that boasts its own marina, souk and shopping centre. The 204 guest rooms – including 18 suites – will offer the signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort Bed and free high-speed Internet access. The hotel will offer two restaurants, a bar, fitness centre and meeting facilities.