OUR PEOPLE ARE THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND OUR SUCCESS
“There is no limit to what a man/woman can do or where he/she can go if he/she doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
This quote by Robert Woodruff, former President of The Coca-Cola Company best describes Jimi Kariuki’s credo as he leads a vibrant team that has keeps the flame burning for the seven properties under Sarova Hotels and Resort across the country. Despite the debilitating effects of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, this has not dampened the mood along the corridors and across the lawns, vast grasslands and beaches of Sarova Hotels, the leading home-grown hospitality brand in the East African region.
Since taking the reins as the group’s Managing Director in January 2018, Jimi strived to ensure that all staff members felt that they contributed towards the success and growth of the brand, no matter the position they hold. Teamwork, as had been described by Woodruff, has been Jimi’s guiding principle at Sarova Hotels in not only ensuring that guests experience true African hospitality, but also in continually encouraging the team to remain focused and engaged in everything that they do.
“My role, as delegated to me by the Board of Directors, is to ensure that our activities and culture are aligned to the vision and strategy and that everyone understands how their individual roles contribute to these. Everyone, regardless of what job they do, plays an important role in the success of the business.”Jimi Kariuki
“Success does not always come in ‘large portions.’ Every little success leads to larger successes. We have a great team who are loyal and committed to the company and who share a common desire to provide our customers with a memorable experience at all touch points across the business. My key highlight is seeing everyone understanding how their individual roles contribute to the success and further growth of the brand.”
The pandemic has without doubt disrupted numerous facets of the economy, with the hospitality industry, and Sarova Hotels being no exception. This has however not stopped the hospitality brand to press on with development projects initiated before the pandemic, albeit at a more calculated pace. The journey of a major upgrade at Sarova Panafric that kicked-off in 2018 has already seen the opening of a new poolside dining and relaxation area, complete with a remodelled heated swimming pool. The refurbishment of the hotel’s 87 guest rooms – including the themed suites together with the addition of new guest rooms is firmly on course.
“Customers are looking for different and positively memorable experiences when they stay in hotels or go out dining, and the pandemic has made this ever more important. As a business we must up our game to remain competitive. It can no longer be business as usual. So, we must adopt new strategies and tactics to reach, continually engage and serve this dynamic market. The renovation of Sarova Panafric and the completion of the renovations at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa that culminated with the opening of our re-modelled conference centre, are some of the measures we are putting in place to ensure that Sarova Hotels & Resorts is ready for a very changed hospitality industry after the pandemic.”
Domestic tourism is primed to propel the recovery of hospitality industry. The renovations by the collection of hotels, including the revamped 52 deluxe tents out of the 75 luxury tents at Sarova Mara Game Camp, are set to place the chain of hotels at a good position for a strong upturn, according to Jimi.
As Kenyans grow keener to appreciate the feeling of open space, Sarova Hotels is not taking its foot off the pedal in upholding the health of its staff and guests at any of the properties. As the country opens to more domestic tourism, the firm is following strict adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols that include but not limited to frequently cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected surface, including after every guest use, cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected glassware after every use, and arriving guests offered safety kits that include sanitisers.
“We have a brand that can give guests a tour of the country thanks to the location of our properties. We constantly improve on our standards and consistency in delivering on them where we focus on attention to detail and get things right the first time. Our commitment to exquisite service has been evidenced by the positive reviews we receive from our guests as well as our recognition in the industry through the awards we win,” he adds.
With an efficient customer-centric approach in service delivery, the guests will keep coming back. Once again, Sarova Hotels & Resorts played a critical role in the hosting of Kenya’s second major world athletics championship. At the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships, Sarova Hotels provided catering services, catering for the participants, officials, and guests at both the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani and at the Athletes Village at Kenyatta University, and in the process serving over 64,000 meals. During this year’s World Athletics U20 Championships, Sarova Panafric and Sarova Stanley were the official accommodation partners.
As Sarova Hotels & Resorts approaches 50 years of refreshing African hospitality, Jimi Kariuki believes that the next stage of the brand’s growth is in how best they quickly and accurately capture the change in customer demand, how they will design a corresponding customer experience and subsequently turn the global crisis into opportunity. Some of these include taking advantage of global trends such as sustainable tourism or green travel as travellers plan to make more environmentally sound choices over the coming years, an area that Sarova Hotels continues excelling with several Energy Management Awards already in the bag.