A Nairobi based luxury hotel Giraffe Manor came under heavy criticism from Kenyans during the weekend for allegedly discriminating against locals. Traditionally, the hotel receives more foreign tourists who visit the country and the few locals who try to find their way in suffer frustrations. It started with a poster published by an independent agent Ahnasa Destinations Ltd, communicating on the reopening of the hotel on 1st June 2020, which was closed due to COVID-19.
“Nairobi’s First Escape Opening 01 June 2020. Book now! They are opening just for Kenyans! Giraffe Manor one of the most unique and iconic properties in the world are opening for Kenyan’s from June!,” read a poster on Instagram from the agent.
The advert drew mixed reactions after Anyiko Awoko a PR practitioner shared her experience in the hotel. Anyiko seemed surprised at the management’s change of heart, yet for the longest time, they have had a pricing policy which discriminated on Kenyans. This sparked a debate online with Kenyans calling out the hotel for being discriminating and racist and threatening not to set foot there.
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Dear Giraffe Manor Management @thesafaricollection You are cancelled & we don’t need to be welcomed into Giraffe Manor, only now that you need KENYANS because all your white rich guests can’t travel into your establishment because of the Corona. My friend @smilesbeckwith [a travel consultant and owner of a travel company] tried to book a stay with you, last year between Sept and Oct, we called your establishment to inquire if we could stay a night – there was no space available because you were booked out, completely understandable. But when we requested to come have breakfast and just see the giraffes we were slapped with an exorbitant rate [over 600 USD] which included a driver, chauffeur, airport transfer and a vehicle BUT when we requested to pay only for the breakfast and to see giraffes and not have to pay for the car and airport transfer because we are Kenyans and commuting from the city, your bookings department refused and said that we had to pay the full amount because it is your policy. . For the longest time, your policy has been to have these type of pricing that only benefit non-Kenyans and tourists coming from outside Kenya. I wonder why all over sudden you are welcoming Kenyans into your establishment. Is it because you now need us for your business to survive? You would not have invited us had it not been for the fact that your business, just like all others, is suffering because of the Covid restrictions. No thanks, I don’t want to come to your establishment and urge all Kenyans to cancel and boycott your establishment that has made it terribly difficult for Kenyans to access. You obviously have the right to run your property the way you deem fit and even have policies that benefit your business structure, just don’t include Kenyans now only because you need us and you wouldn’t have had it that way earlier. YOUR OWN POST SHOWS THAT YOU WERE NOT OPEN TO ALL KENYANS BEFORE! WHY “NOW OPEN TO KENYANS.” . #BoycottgiraffeManor Instead Go to Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara and especially Samburu national reserve and all conservancies/parks in Kenya to see Giraffes and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it. After all, this is our heritage.
Afraid that their reputation will be tarnished, the management issued a statement distancing itself from the allegations. According to the hotel, the advert was misconstrued to indicate that it previously did not open its doors to Kenyans which was not the case.
“This is factually incorrect. Our mission since we bought Giraffe Manor eleven years ago has always been to provide an unparalleled and world-class experience for all our clients regardless of colour, tribe, religion, sex or nationality. We are incredibly proud to represent the best of Kenyan hospitality,” the statement read.
The hotel noted that due to due to the popularity of the property, it has many requests to visit Giraffe Manor at different times but unfortunately due to its admission policy, they are only able to offer an all-inclusive package which includes a night at the manor inclusive of breakfast. Its management acknowledges that they were saddened by any offence caused by the wording of the advert and had requested the agent to offer an apology to the public for this miscommunication.
The agency in its apology said the intention of the promotion was to inform the public that Giraffe Manor is open to those within Nairobi Metropolitan limits due to current restrictions.