Positive growth: More major hotel brands expanding business in Africa


According to data, online searches for safaris in Africa have more than doubled in the first three months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Major hotel chains, including Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide, are on track to more than double their footprint across Africa in the coming years as the continent sees a boom in tourism.

Marriott, which last year opened the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in Kenya with rooms averaging more than US$3,000 (RM14,185) a night, has more than 138 hotels under development in Africa, while Hilton has 72 properties in the pipeline, according to a report by W Hospitality Group.

Hyatt Hotels is planning to add another 11 locations across the continent, the report shows.

In all, the Lagos, Nigeria-based travel specialist found that the total number of hotel rooms operated by major chains on the continent is expected to soar 75% to 175,346 in the coming years. More than three-quarters of the properties are expected to be upscale, upper upscale or luxury locations.

“There is an enormous concentration of new hotels and resorts in the luxury and upper upscale level and hardly anything at the economy and midscale,” Trevor Ward, managing director of W Hospitality Group, said in an interview. “I hope that will come.”

Recent additions to the hotel scene in Africa include Nobu Hotels, which made its debut on the continent last year with an outpost in Marrakech. Melia Hotels also opened Ngorongoro Lodge in Tanzania, where a stay can typically be booked for more than US$1,100 (RM5,201) per day.

Major hotel groups are looking to expand their portfolio in the African continent, especially when it comes to their luxury and premium brands. — Photos: PixabayMajor hotel groups are looking to expand their portfolio in the African continent, especially when it comes to their luxury and premium brands. — Photos: PixabayCountries across Africa are poised to benefit as tourism in the continent surges in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Google searches for African safaris, for instance, more than doubled in the first three months of 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the travel specialist Go2Africa.

Still, the continent makes up a very small share of the global hotel industry. Hilton, for instance, last year opened almost 400 properties. Just two of those were in Africa.

And out of the 560 new locations that Marriott opened in 2023, only four were on the continent, W Hospitality Group’s report found.

Of the 524 properties that hoteliers are currently planning to open across Africa, more than one-quarter are expected to begin taking visitors this year, Ward said. The remaining locations are expected to debut in the next six years, he said.

“It has been very difficult to raise finance for hotels globally, and then when you put in the Africa factor, it gets more difficult,” Ward said.

“The costs are just ballooning and when the price goes up while you are under construction, it gets very difficult to bridge that financing gap.” – Bloomberg

How other brands fare

Radisson, said to be the fastest-growing hotel group on the African continent, has plans to ramp up its presence in Morocco by the year 2030, which is when the country will play host to the Fifa World Cup event. The group currently has 29 hotels in Africa that are either already in operation, under development or included in its expansion plan.

According to press releases, most of these new developments – which will range from hotels to resorts and even service apartments – will be opened in Casablanca and Marrakech, with Rabat, Tangier, Agadir and Fez also in consideration.

Radisson also broke ground for five properties in Gambia and Nigeria in the past year, including the Radisson Blu Beach Resort & Spa in Banjul (Gambia) and Radisson Hotel Benin City (Nigeria).

In February, the group opened its first safari hotel in South Africa – the Radisson Safari Hotel Hoedspruit, which is set between the famous Kruger National Park and Blyde River Canyon.

As for Accor, it recently launched its first MGallery hotel in Kenya, the Gigiri Gem Forest Hotel Nairobi. This hotel is located on the edge of the Karura Forest and features a luxury spa, four restaurants and bars and the Troy, a rooftop space in which you can get a beautiful view of Nairobi.

The French hotelier’s Fairmont brand is also planning to open a property in Cape Grace in South Africa within the next few years, while its luxury Sofitel brand has plans to open a hotel and spa in Benin.

Meanwhile, Minor Hotels also looks set to expand its portfolio in Africa with a new resort in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The new-build property, Anantara Zanzibar Resort, will be launched in 2027 in collaboration with Infinity Group.

The resort will have 37 luxury suites, a presidential villa, 73 villas, 57 apartments, eight penthouse apartments and five penthouses. In total, the property boasts 181 keys; it is located on the northern coast of Zanzibar Island. Minor hotels already has more than 540 hotels in 56 countries around the world. – Melody L. Goh

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