The Hilton hotel group has committed a total of $50 million over the next five years to the Hilton Africa Growth Initiative to further expand its Sub-Saharan African portfolio. Among the first hotels to be rebranded under a franchise agreement is Ubumwe Grande Hotel in Kigali.
The funds are intended to support the conversion of around 100 hotels (roughly 20,000 rooms) in African markets into Hilton branded properties, namely into its flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton and the recently launched Curio Collection by Hilton.
Hilton currently operates 19 hotels in the sub-Saharan Africa region with a further 29 in its pipeline.
“Hilton remains committed to growth in Africa having been present on the continent for more than 50 years,” said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice-president for Development in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Hilton. “The model of converting existing hotels into Hilton branded properties has proved highly successful in a variety of markets and we expect to see great opportunities to convert hotels to Hilton brands through this initiative.”
“It enables us to rapidly grow our portfolio and delivers returns for owners by increasing exposure of their business to more international, inter-regional and domestic travellers, and specifically to our 65 million-plus Hilton Honors members, who look to stay with us in our suite of industry-leading brands,” he added. “We see huge potential here in key cities and airports, as well as allowing us to develop our offering in resorts and safari lodges.”
The hotels will receive all the benefits associated with Hilton’s brand proposition and commercial platforms. Guests will also be able to take advantage of Hilton’s technology platforms such as online check-in and the ability to choose individual rooms when booking via the Hilton Honors App.
“The range of brands we have at our disposal allows owners the flexibility to pick the right fit for their property,” Fitzgibbon remarked. “We have already deployed this initiative in the signing of two hotels: our first DoubleTree by Hilton property in Kenya, and our first hotel in Rwanda, and expect to be able to announce further additions before the end of this year.”
The first hotel to benefit from the initiative is the 109-guest-room Amber Hotel on Nairobi’s Ngong Road, which will re-launch under the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand. The hotel, which opened in 2016, is currently undergoing a series of renovations and will join the brand by the end of the year.
Following the refurbishment, the hotel will be known as DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and will continue to be operated by the owner under a franchise agreement through the leadership of its current General Manager, Elisha Katam.
Another hotel to adopt the DoubleTree by Hilton brand is the 153-room Ubumwe Grande Hotel in Kigali, which will also trade under the upscale brand when it fully converts in 2018. The franchised property will undergo some changes in order to rebrand and will be Hilton’s first property in Rwanda. Once rebranded, the hotel will trade as the DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre.