Fairmont Norfolk Hotel Shuts Down After 116 Years, Fires All Employees

  • The Fairmount Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi.
    The Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi.
    File
  • Fairmont has announced the indefinite closure of two of its luxurious hotels in the country, The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi and the luxurious Mara Safari Club citing the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry as the key reason.

    In a notice seen by Kenyans.co.ke, Fairmont's Country General Manager Mehdi Morad, detailed the reasoning behind the decision to close down the hotels including The Norfolk, that has been operating for the last 116 years, having opened its doors to the public back in 1904.

    "Due to the uncertainty of when and how the impact of the global pandemic will result in the business picking up in the near future, we are left with no option but to close down the business indefinitely.

    "We are compelled to close down the properties and halt all operatipns as per the directive from the Ministry of Health and the Government of Kenya," reads the statement in part.

    One of the luxury tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club that was hit by floods on April 2020.
    One of the luxury tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club that was hit by floods on April 2020.
    File

    The Country Manager further detailed that since they could no longer cover the operational costs associated with the luxurious hotels, they had no option but to terminate the contracts of all their employees.

    "It is regrettable that our Hotels, Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Safari Club have since ceased their operations as a spiral effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent flooding of the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. These unprecedented natural causes have resulted in disruption of business now and in the foreseeable future," the statement further reads.

    Employees with more than 5 years of service would receive their gratuity as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, while those with less than 5 years of experience would receive one month's pay in lieu of notice.

    The statement further highlighted that the letters of termination would be sent out on June 5, 2020.

    Kenya's first Covid-19 case on March 12, came on the very month a new set of investors had bought the Kenyan franchise.

    The tourism and hospitality industry has been hit hard with global and local markets having all shut down and governments around the world in dire strain trying to strike a balance between keeping their economies going, avoiding unemployment and deprivation of the poor while trying to respond to the public health crisis.

    Fairmont The Norfolk is one of several hotels that have resorted to shutting down and suspending operations due to a reduction in the number of guests at the facilities.

    Serena Hotels shut down a total of 10 lodges and camps in Kenya and Tanzania until June 15, 2020.

    “As we navigate this unprecedented crisis and build on the company's resilience and adaptability, whilst keeping destination Kenya and Tanzania in the minds of the business and leisure sources markets, it is with a 'heavy heart' that we advise that the Serena Lodges and Camps will temporarily cease operations until 15 June 2020,” reads an excerpt from a letter from the Serena Hotels.

    They went on to list the hotels in Kenya as Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, Mara Serena Safari Lodge, Serena Mountain Lodge and Lake Elementatita Serena Camp in Kenya.

    Other hotels that have closed their doors indefinitely are White Rhino Hotel, Sopa Lodges, Maiyan Hotel, DusitD2 Nairobi, Ole Sereni Hotels, Enashipai Resort and Spa and the Weston Hotel.

    Nairobi Serena Hotel swimming pool area. The hotel closed down some of its operations in Kenya following the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Nairobi Serena Hotel swimming pool area. The hotel closed down some of its operations in Kenya following the COVID-19 pandemic.
    File