MEET N GREET
WITH HARRIET JAMES
How has your journey into the industry been?
It began in the Netherlands where I went to study at the Haagland Hotel School. After completing my internship in the United Kingdom, I moved back to Kenya. I got my start at the Hornbill restaurant and thereafter moved to the Windsor Golf and Country Club. I have never been one to shy away from a challenge and thus I tried my hand at business and entrepreneurship. I founded an early childhood education center and an events company. My passion for hospitality, however, still remained strong. So, when TSG Hospitality Company approached me to take up the GM position, it was a bespoke opportunity. Needless to say, my 26 years in the industry have been a joy.
Why did you opt to build and run apartment hotels?
TSG Hospitality (an affiliate of TSG Realty company) is a premier hospitality operator in Kenya renowned for operating excellently furnished and fully serviced apartment hotels. As a brand, we noted with keen interest the shift in global market trends within the hospitality industry over the past decade. The growth of extended stay hotels has reached a record high as more and more travelers look for a safe, comfortable, and well-versed “home away from home” experience when visiting a new destination compared to the traditional hotel stay model. We provide five-star hotel services and facilities to our esteemed guests.
What main thing would make a traveler choose apartment hotels over a normal hotel?
Value. On average, apartments offer 30 to 50 percent more space than a typical hotel room. They also allow huge savings in travel expenses as they can accommodate more guests per room compared to the traditional hotel room model, making it a perfect option for families and groups. The simple luxuries that include sitting in the living room and preparing yourself a meal in the fully fitted kitchen go a long way in enhancing a relaxing stay for a guest. A final key differentiator is that when staying in an apartment hotel, you are not governed by rigorous schedules, which are a custom feature of hotel stays.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
Covid-19 has been the major stumbling block. We have had to be innovative in our product offering and think quickly on our feet to tackle this challenge. A key selling point has been staycations for individuals who are tired of staying in their houses and who crave a getaway within the areas that they have been permitted to travel.