Kenyan hotels are reworking their recipes to offer a rich menu in the face of stiff competition for those tying the knot.
Previously seen as a reserve for wedding planners, hoteliers are now going the whole hog from marketing to special packages targeting local and international takers. Most have aggressively been marketing wedding tourism as a segment that was once a preserve of commercial wedding planners.
Hoteliers are embracing innovation and diversification into a wide range of product offers to be the most attractive. To increase the figures annually on both local and international visitors, hotels are investing millions of shillings in unique honeymoon rooms to provide lasting and memorable life time moments to the newly wedded couples and honeymooners.
Kenya Hotel Keepers Association Coast Chairman Mr Titus Kangangi said there is a new dawn in the development of the industry after returns indicated that wedding tourism has great potential as parties are willing to spend money for quality service.
“It is the quality that people are sensitive to and the special things about weddings in hotels is that attention to detail is observed as per the requirement of the customer,” said Mr Kangangi.
He said high profile weddings are done at the beach by both domestic and international tourists who come as wedding groups from maids, grooms and brides allowing hotels an opportunity to design artificial islands and sceneries that leave long lasting impressions.
“We can create innovative, stunning and beautiful gardens on the beach front to our guests for photo sessions and video coverage,” said Mr Kangangi. He said wedding tourism was overlooked for many years adding that hotels have now started to invest fairly well to attract the clientele.
“We are creating special wedding venues and rooms to pamper couples,” he said. For honeymooners, rooms are decorated with special designed materials according to their tastes and preferences. Mr Kangangi said that due to good returns from the wedding market provider have to be innovative in the face of stiff competition.
“Depending on the couple and guest attending the costs range from Sh50,000 to Sh1 million to host a wedding,” he said. The Eden Roc managing director said some couples prefer to have weddings in the wild choosing game parks. “It is a possibility to have a wedding arranged in the bush in tented camps, remote safari lodges or wherever the imagination can think of,” he said.
The cost varies depending on venue, park fees, tour guide and the charges for the marriage counsel. General manager Baobab Resort and Spa Adam Sheikh said the most vital thing is the location unique features that are unforgettable. “For us, the indigenous forest overlooking the white sandy beaches and azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean are an attraction,” he said.
On the scenic view, Mr Sheikh said honeymooners enjoy the magnificent ocean view either indoors, on the beach or within tropical gardens made possible by the resort wedding planners. “We do not leave anything to chance; honeymooners experience sheer indulgence, every detail is considered to ensure their stay is exciting, relaxing and unforgettable,” he said.
Mr Sheikh said the hotel this year has lined up high profiled weddings with 700 guest capacity. Regional manager Sarova Hotels Mr Mohammed Hersi said the Sarova Whitesands holds two to three weddings a month. He said the hotel had entered a wedding contract with tour operators from the United Kingdom.
“We are set up for the weddings and honeymoon at the hotel from guests from the UK since their marriage laws are similar to ours,” he said. Mr Hersi said the hotel target was to venture into the German and French markets.
“The challenge has been that the two countries do not recognise weddings done in other countries and those that we have done, the burden is to translate the documents into the languages,” he said.
Mr Hersi said that what makes Kenya a favoured romantic destination is that the services offered to the wedded couples range from traditional dances and display of cultural artifacts.