The Concord Hotel: Nairobi’s Newest Five-Star Hotel

Maureene Danielle gives an overview of The Concord Hotel, a boutique establishment owned by Chatur Hospitality. The hotel opened its doors in April 2016 and is Nairobi’s newest five-star hotel.

Interview with Maureene Danielle, PR Coordinator at The Concord Hotel

Maureene Danielle, PR Coordinator at The Concord Hotel

What is your assessment of the hospitality sector in Kenya? What is your outlook for 2017 and onward?

The hospitality sector in Kenya has been thriving for many years. We are very lucky to live in a country with beaches, parks, and even the Maasai Mara, which is the site of the wildebeest migration and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A few years ago, we faced some challenges with post-election violence and terrorism, but we have fixed ourselves up. Now, everywhere you look there are new developments being built. We are ready to go and we are looking forward to hosting more visitors. Recently, Kenya received visits from Obama, Netanyahu, South African President Jacob Zuma, and the Pope. We have proved to the world that Kenya is safe, ready for business, and that there is potential, here. Last month, we held the TICAD Conference at KICC and there was not one empty room in Nairobi. The challenge in 2017 will be to ensure that we have more rooms and capacity for big conferences. As the Chatur Group, we are gearing up for that with another large project at Diamond Plaza, which will have a conference facility with a capacity for 3,000 people. Now, when the East Africa expos for flowers, farming, or business come to Nairobi, we are going to be prepared.

What is the history of the Concord Hotel?

When you walk into the Concord Hotel lobby, there is a colorful zebra. The zebra is colorful to show that the Concord Hotel is a melting pot of cultures. We are a multicultural hotel.

The hotel opened its doors in April 2016. It is Nairobi’s newest five-star hotel. We are a boutique establishment with 86 suites and a penthouse. It is owned by Chatur Hospitality, which is a part of the Chatur Group. This is their flagship five-star hotel built from the ground up. When we opened our doors, the aim was to change the face of Parklands. The community in Nairobi knows Parklands mainly as a shopping hub, but it did not expect a five-star hotel. We have three specialty restaurants. There is no need to climb on a plane, just come to the Concord and you can travel to Pan-Asia at our Umami restaurant, and India at Curry Flavors. We also have our continental restaurant downstairs, which was recently a part of the Nairobi Pizza Festival. You can get pizza and burgers 24 hours a day there. The restaurants are open not only to the hotel guests but to any walk-in client. So, if the night is still young and you want to impress someone, pop in to the Concord. We also have our in-house spa which offers three therapy rooms. Two are for single treatments. We have another special room for couples, for two friends who want to catch up during a spa treatment, or to treat your partner. We have a heated swimming pool on the seventh floor offering a scenic view of Nairobi. We have an air lounge with LED lighting on our tenth floor to host private parties and baby or bridal showers. We have conference facilities that allow us to cater dinner and events for 200 to 250 guests. We might be boutique, but we make up for it in personalized service and amenities.

The Concord Hotel lobby
The Concord Hotel lobby

What kind of events has the hotel hosted?

We have been lucky enough to host a number of indoor weddings at the hotel with over 100 people attending. We also hosted TICAD delegates and during that week, the hotel was at over 90 percent occupancy. We hosted a group of 160 students from the US for five days, which made us quite busy. We also hosted a number of VIPs from the South African delegation, ICRAF, AGRA, and the Japanese Embassy. When guests come to stay with us, we can assure that all their needs will be catered to.

What kind of clients do you target specifically?

We are located not far from the UN Embassy and the Gigiri Complex, which is the Headquarters for the UN in Africa. We largely target the expat community and business travelers. But if you are a family travelling to the Mara for example, you are also welcome to stay with us. The hotel has free Wi-Fi in every room, as well as the restaurants and public areas. This ensures that you can still communicate with your office and do business while in Nairobi and the hotel.

How would you define the philosophy on the Concord Hotel? Why should a guest stay here and not at another hotel in Nairobi?

Our décor is modern-contemporary with an African touch. When you walk into the Concord Hotel lobby, there is a colorful zebra. The zebra is colorful to show that the Concord Hotel is a melting pot of cultures. We are a multicultural hotel. We also have personalized service. You might opt for the bigger hotels just by number, but everything at those locations is standard. By hosting you or your event, we will ensure that your stay is tailor made to your needs. We recently hosted a vegan guest with special dietary needs and we were able to meet them. We had another guest who was a smoker and we were able to cater to his needs, as well. Our third floor is pink, and we are able to tailor it to women up on request. It has been done tastefully in more of a blush, so it is not so feminine that you cannot have anyone else stay there. Our rooms are very spacious, even the standard rooms. We ensure that whatever you find in the penthouse, from the robes to the fridge, is also present in the standard rooms. No guest is made to feel like they do not count simply because they are paying less for their stay. We have a little bit for everyone. That is one thing that makes us stand out. We have three specialty restaurants. That means that when you come to one of our restaurants, tomorrow you can come again, and again the next day and you will not be bored because each meal will be a different journey from a different part of the world. Our chefs have put so much work into the menu. Our executive chef has worked in UAE, Europe, and extensively in Kenya. He ensures that all the menus have been engineered to give guests a great culinary experience.

The Concord Hotel's décor is modern-contemporary with an African touch
The hotel’s décor is modern-contemporary with an African touch

What type of marketing strategies are you implementing at the moment to make yourself known?

We have just had our soft opening, and we are gearing up for our grand opening. We have done quite a bit of social media and online media marketing. We have also done some print adverts and radio depending on which restaurant or product we are promoting. We have just participated in the Nairobi Pizza Festival through our partnership with the publication EatOut. We have offers through them as well as a quite well known loyalty card program. We also plan to promote through billboards. We have hosted a number of celebrities. We are planning to host Nairobi Fashion Week. It does not matter if you are white, black, young, or old, fashion speaks to everyone. We have had several partnerships with media houses who have used the hotel as a filming location, as well. We have also had several bloggers visit, such as Susan Wong and This Is Ess.

As a group, do you have any plans for expansion?

Definitely. We are owned by Chatur Group though the arm of Chatur Hospitality. They recently acquired a property in Mara called Mara Wildebeest, which is right by the river. From the rooms, you have a view of the Mara River and you can see wildebeests and hippos. The advantage of that location is that it is in the conservancy so the guests can see more animals. We have also acquired a property called Bahari Dhow Villas in Diani on the south coast in Mombasa. This beachfront property is on one of the finest, cleanest beaches, and it is ideal for families. We are now in the final stages of plans to put up a new property with the Sheraton in Nairobi. Diamond Plaza II is a new shopping mall we are involved with that will be coming soon. It will be managed by Knight Frank. Nakumatt as the anchor tenant will offer a 24 hour shopping experience. The property will have luxury suites, a rooftop with a plunge pool and revolving restaurant, and an entire floor dedicated to children’s entertainment with three screens, 24 hours a day. We are also moving strongly into conferencing. We plan on having 30,000 square feet of space where we will be able to host expos and conferences of up to 3,000 people. The proximity to the UN and the expat and diplomatic communities will also make it ideal for those that want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the Nairobi CBD. It is near the Westlands, which a big business activity hub, and also easily accessible to the other business centers. It is an ideal spot for business travelers. The hotel also offers a panoramic view of the Karura Forest. As you dine and enjoy your stay, you are not only away from the noise, dust, and busy crowds, but you are able to be in a relaxing, luxurious atmosphere, all while still being in the city. It is the best of both worlds.

What has the hotel’s occupancy been? What reviews have you received?

So far, Curry Flavors has been our flagship restaurant. The reviews of Chef Rohan have been great. We have received accolades from many sources including DStv Online and Susan Wong. They come in here without planning and sample the food and they are quite happy. Chef Rohan has not duplicated menus from other Asian restaurants, he has actually created an experience and given it an African twist. He is passionate about his craft. Three weeks ago, we opened our Pan-Asian restaurant. We are the only location around with a sushi belt. For about 25 dollars, the chef will amaze you with his creations. We also have Bonhomie Restaurant which serves continental fare and is open 24 hours. It is very hard to find a fine dining restaurant in Nairobi that is open 24 hours and available to not only the hotel guests but also outside guests.

The Concord Hotel's Umami restaurant
Guests can travel to Pan-Asia at the Umami restaurant

What would you like to have achieved in the next two to three years?

We continue to stress to our team, “service, service, service.” That is our main strength and how we improve and get our customers to return. At the same time, we want to be the first hotel everyone thinks of when they travel to Nairobi and this area for businesses. We want the hotel to be a trendsetter. There will definitely be challenges. People fear what will happen when we have elections, but we are positive. The mood in the country is different compared to previously. It is not as explosive as it was during the last two elections. We have learned from our mistakes. People have seen how it has cost the country when we lose business as we did. It affects everybody from the lady selling her curios to the businessman trying to get investors. Obama, the Pope, and Netanyahu came here and they were all quite safe. What we have seen in recent months is that no country is safe from any issue. At any time people can riot. You must advise your clients when they arrive of where it is safe to go. Kenya is ready for business and the Concord Hotel is ready to host our guests. Watch this space. There are more investors now waking up to the fact that even Parklands can have such a property. They see that they need to be here and we have paved the way for that. People need to be open-minded. There has been a bit of resistance because of this area which has been associated with a certain type of community. We are really working to change this. We love it when people walk into our lobby because the minute they do, they see that it is a beautiful property and they are shocked to see how they are received by our staff. People should come visit Kenya. It is a beautiful place, and Kenyans love visitors.

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