ON ITS FEET

Norfolk hotel back to business after Covid-19 hit

The establishment which has been in operation for 116 years closed indefinitely, citing the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

In Summary

•The business run by French hospitality giant Accor announced it is now ready to offer services and welcome back customers after a revamp.

•The notable landmark dating back to 1904 has often played a pivotal role in Kenya’s historical legacy, notably as the town and the modern city of Nairobi grew around the property.

County General Manager Mehdi Morad during reopening of Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi on April 4, 2022.
County General Manager Mehdi Morad during reopening of Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi on April 4, 2022.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

The Fairmont Norfolk Hotel is back in business after a 21-month closure and has taken in at least 140 of its employees, 70 percent of its previous workforce.

The business run by French hospitality giant Accor announced it is now ready to offer services and welcome back customers after a revamp.

Michael Macharia, CEO Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) said the reopening is a welcome move that will create employment.

“It’s great when they reopen [as] it portends a recovery of the sector as people get back to work,” he said.

With Covid-19 epidemic numbers steadily dropping, Kenya expects the tourism sector, one of its top foreign exchange earners to bring in Sh173 billion this year.

This is up 18.5 per cent compared to Sh 146 billion from last year, as the number of hotel nights occupied by Kenyan travellers doubled during the period.

Norfolk which has been in operation for 116 years closed indefinitely, citing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business after the first case was announced in Kenya on March 13, 2020.

The notable landmark dating back to 1904 has often played a pivotal role in Kenya’s historical legacy, notably as the town and the modern city of Nairobi grew around the property.

It terminated employees’ contracts offering a month’s pay in lieu of notice.

The employees had declined a proposal to remain on unpaid leave during the coronavirus period and demanded a 50 per cent pay, triggering the closure.

Accor Kenya's county general manager Mehdi Morad said they are ready to welcome both local and global guests. 

Most five-star hotels rely on tourism, events and conferences which are slowly picking up.

“Looking forward to making Fairmont The Norfolk the place-to-be for social moments, business meetings and intimate events. We remain the most historical venue with its unique lush garden with a flair of creativity and modernity," said Morad.

Fairmont the Norfolk is the second property under the Fairmont Kenya umbrella to reopen and paves way for the Fairmont Mount Kenya reopening that is set to take place in June.