Kenya Tourism Authority has released the official star ranking of hotels and accommodation properties in the Coast and upcountry regions of the South Rift, Central and Eastern regions. This follows an earlier ranking which covered Nyanza, Western and South Rift regions.
While rankings among the three and two star properties remain fairly stable, only four properties made it to the luxurious five star cluster.
A much feted Leopard Spa and Beach Resort took the lead under the Vacation Hotels category, followed by Swahili Beach Resort. Segera Retreat Lodge, located in the scenic Laikipia County played lone ranger under the Lodges category, with Medina Palms Suites and Villas making an unrivaled entry to the list of Five Star Villas, Cottages and Furnished Apartments. Unfortunately, no Town Hotel was deemed fit for the top league; with popular brands such as Fairmont Mt. Kenya, and White Rhino both in Nyeri County making the front line to four star properties under this category.
According to the notice published in the Kenya Gazette, this classification is done in line with laws and regulations stipulated by the East African Community (EAC) Classification Criteria, thus ensuring a standard procedure for properties in the region.
Commenting on the recent classification, Estelle Verdier, the Managing Director for Jumia Travel, a leading online hotel booking platform, cited “whether, looking for a downtown bed only service or checking into a five star chain, hotels plays a vital and catalytic role in the tourism industry, accommodation is key for any traveler and tourist. This ranking comes at a time when Kenya is rallying stakeholders in the sector to put their best foot forward and champion for the industry” Verdier explains that each hotel is classified according to the amenities, facilities and service expected of its peers in the (same) range, thus urged hotel owners to ensure that their properties make the best and most of available resources.
The process of standardization and classification is however not as straightforward as it sounds; the involved bodies must weight specific properties against outlined metrics ranging from obvious features such as a working phone and Internet connection to non-obvious traits such as staff dining space and the condition of their uniform. The location of a property under Vacation Hotels for instance plays a key role in its ranking; all properties in this category must be in a suitable location as is defined for such. Other key aspects such as accessibility, proximity to the main attraction, safety, comfort and tranquility come into play as one goes higher up the rank. To qualify for five star ranking in lieu of this aspect, the property must conform to internationally recognizable standards set by member states.
Availability of communication services in the various categories is also a pivotal aspect, with the categorization for both Lodges and Vacation Hotels requiring properties rated three, four and five stars to have internal telephones which are connected to external network, computer data points and hotspots. Internet services is a vital element for any three star entry across all categories.
In a survey done by Jumia Travel, three star hotels seemed most popular at 40%, with travelers looking to match comfort and affordability. The survey indicated one star and five star properties as the least favored, perhaps due minimal amenities on one end, and budget constraints on the other. However, it’s worth of note that most travelers opted to search for their accommodation using amenities such as swimming pool, air conditioning and wifi as opposed to star ranking.
Here is an overview of the new ranking:
Five star: Segera Lodge, Leopard Beach & Spa, Swahili Beach Resort, Medina Palms Suites & Villas
Four Stars: Fairmont Mt. Kenya Hotel, Sarova Whitesands, Marina English Point, Naivasha Kongoni Lodge
Three Stars: Sportsman’s Arms, Ashnil Aruba Lodge, Mantis Mutara Tented Camp
Two Stars: Nkubu Heritage Hotel, The Ark, Elephant Bedroom, Flamingo Villas
Source: Jumia Travel