Q&A: HGI Lusaka – New Player

Hilton opened the Hilton Garden Inn Lusaka Society Business Park in Zambia in August. It’s the latest select services offering from Hilton and this property has 148 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, a bar and lounge, outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness centre, and 150m2 of banqueting space and pre-function areas. Post-opening, General Manager Kudzayi Nheweyembwa joined Business Traveller Africa for a chat.

Q: What’s the fit between Lusaka and the Hilton Garden Inn brand?

A: The Hilton Garden Inn brand is not just about bringing world-class, bright hearted hospitality to guests, but is also dedicated to supporting the wider tourism and travel sectors in different regions across the globe. The debut of Hilton Garden Inn Lusaka has contributed to Zambia’s tourism sector by increasing the supply of world-class accommodation in the capital city. As part of empowering communities that we operate in, we are currently involved in three community projects. We have so far created over 100 employment opportunities for Zambians, with 30% of the positions going to the youth.

Q: What are your thoughts on the overall African mid-market/select services space?

A: The mid-market segment is earmarked to drive growth in Africa in the foreseeable future mainly due to affordability and meeting the expectations of the mushrooming young, middle class on the continent. According to JLL, investment returns in the budget to mid-market segments are the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the more stable local and regional demand base, as well as more sensible development and operating costs.

Q: What is your opinion on the state of the Lusaka Hotel market?

A: Lusaka, and Zambia as a whole, is currently experiencing a surge of rapid development as more investors are beginning to see potential in the country. In the space of a year, we have witnessed three large global hotel chains launch in the Zambian market – including ourselves. The hotel industry in the country is growing, as evidenced by the government’s prioritisation of the sector as a key contributor to the country’s economic growth, employment creation and rural development.

Q: What are the key features of the HGI brand?

A: The Hilton Garden Inn brand provides business and leisure guests with upscale, yet affordable accommodations and modern amenities for a comfortable stay. As a recognised food and beverage leader, Hilton Garden Inn serves locally-sourced food and beverage at its full-service restaurants and bars, featuring everything from cooked-to-order breakfasts to handcrafted cocktails, and on-trend small plates.

Q: How does HGI Lusaka Society Business Park meet the needs of the modern business traveller?

A: We offer flexibility. The hotel is located in a multi-use facility which houses a shopping mall and office block. We have a pavilion pantry which allows guests to have access to groceries which are priced competitively like retail chain stores. The hotel also offers a microwave facility which gives additional convenience to guests as they can easily warm their food at their convenience within the hotel. HGI Lusaka also offers a 24-hour modern fitness centre and a guest laundry facility. The hotel has unique features that meet the ever-growing demands of the busy business and leisure guest, which include complimentary printing in the business centre, adjoining rooms and complimentary wi-fi on the shuttle bus. Business travellers can also take advantage of the hotel’s meeting spaces, with state-of-the-art 12-seater boardrooms with built-in flat screen TVs. Guests can unwind at the outdoor pool, whilst soaking in sunset views of the city’s skyline.

Q: What has been the response from the market since the hotel’s opening in August?

A: The response has been very positive and welcoming. The hotel has received encouraging online reviews from guests who have visited the property since it officially opened its doors to the public four months ago.

Q: What’s the Lusaka conferencing market like, and is this a focus area for your hotel?

A: The conferencing market is growing, as evidenced by the opening of new conference centres. This will enable the city to participate in the bidding and hosting of regional and international conferences. HGI Lusaka currently has five conference, meeting and boardrooms, with the largest room having a seating capacity of 60 people. Our conference rooms are equipped with modern, state-of-the-art facilities including built-in flat screen TVs that meet the needs of any business traveller wanting a convenient meeting room within the central business district of Lusaka.

Q: Are there any international hotel trends you’ve picked up on and have applied to your hotel property?

A: Hotel loyalty programmes are key. HGI Lusaka is part of Hilton Honors – the guest loyalty programme for Hilton’s 14 brands comprising more than 5,400 properties with nearly 880,000 rooms, in 106 countries and territories. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, and free standard wi-fi.