In an industry where leading hotels like Hilton, Norfolk and the Intercontinental Hotel have closed shop, Windsor’s General Manager Lemmy Mathenge says the lockdown period during the COVID-19 pandemic was the darkest period for the industry.
“We had to send almost all the staff home and retain only those operating in the core areas. The golf course which remained unused during that period had to be maintained and irrigated while the security too had to be in place, yet the hotel was not making any income,” says Mathenge.
“But we continued motivating our staff who were at the time on 20 percent salary.”
“When the restrictions were eased, we found that we had an advantage (over many hotels within the CBD) because most guests wanted to be where there is fresh air and outdoors. So, we started to do outdoor conferencing which won us new corporate clients.
Mathenge says combining conference facilities, a golf course has given the hotel an advantage over those that have operated within the CBD.
“We have focused on ensuring that the facility is in top condition by continuously investing in equipment and staff. We have also made it easy for no- members, especially those from outside Kenya, to enjoy a round of golf without the usual bureaucracy associated with member clubs. We offer a wide range of activities in addition to golf. These include a jogging and cycling track within the indigenous forest,” says the General Manager.
The general manager says what has kept them going is their commitment to first class delivery of services,
“Our vision, which is to ensure that every guest becomes a repeat client through the consistent delivery of true five star services in an environment of well maintained and managed facilities is what has kept us going. We focus on the guest and adapting to their ever changing needs has been key to our success. We have strived to keep up with the current trends while maintaining our environment in its natural state, respecting the local residents in our indigenous forest, the Sykes monkeys, the over 200 bird species and other animals who call Windsor their home. Most important is respect for people and their diverse cultures, be they staff, members, guests, neighbours or suppliers. In every success, the people are key
Mathenge says the expansion of Kiambu Road and Outering Road and the building of the Expressway have made the hotel more accessible than previously, winning them more clients.
“Years back, Windsor used to be considered too far but with the expansion of Kiambu Road, Outering Road and lately the building of the Expressway, we are a mere 15 minutes from CBD and 30 minutes from JKIA, trips that used to take hours and have now been reduced to minutes. We have also finally been connected to the government sewer system after 30 years.”
But he challenges the government to consolidate hospitality licences.
“Affordable financing for local businesses should be made available and substantial investment put into our local hospitality training institutions that were once the pride of the region but are now struggling to stay afloat.”
He says that investment in an international convention center would go a long way to build capacity for the big international conferences, greatly benefiting the hotels in Nairobi and its environs.
Windsor have lined up a series of activities to mark the 30th anniversary including golf events and cultural theme nights.