Thailand’s second richest family is set to put up a hotel in Kenya, highlighting the growing interest of foreign billionaire investors in the country.
The Chirathivat family, with a net worth of $12.3 billion, is already in talks with a Nairobi property developer to manage the planned hotel under their Centara Hotels & Resorts brand.
The company is also looking for a property at the Coast as it eyes to grow its portfolio in the region from the current four.
The Chirathivats are the latest dollar billionaires to seek investment opportunities in Kenya, after Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote and India’s Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata and the Sanghi brothers.
“We have signed some terms with a developer in Nairobi and are doing the feasibility study, but we cannot talk much about it,” said Suparat Chirathivat, a business development executive with the Thai-listed firm, who spoke to the Business Daily on the sidelines of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) that brought together major players in the hospitality industry.
The company recently signed a management contract in Ethiopia, having opened its first resort in Mauritius early this year.
A second one is expected in December. Most of the big-ticket investments in key sectors in Kenya have been made in the past three years of global economic turbulence, confirming the investors’ faith in the resilience of Kenya’s economy.
Investors have also expressed confidence in the country’s tourism sector despite the recent terrorist attacks at the Westgate mall.
“Things recover very quickly after such an incident,” said David Scowsill, the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
“There needs to be a focused message coming from the sector, and with the traveller knowing that this is an isolated case, there should be no impact on travel and tourism.”
Despite the attacks, more than 700 delegates in the tourism sector attended both the AHIF and the Ecotourism and Sustainability Tourism Conference in Nairobi this week.
Centara is following in the footsteps of Thai-listed Company Dusit International which signed a deal in January to operate the hotel at 14 Riverside, a mixed development owned by the proprietors of Tiles and Carpet. The hotel will be called dusitD2.