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Trend setter in contemporary hotel design

By Mary Anne Zita

The field of luxury hotels is growing fast in the last two years as more and more high-end hotels spot Nairobi’s landscape. This phenomenon has been brought about by changing tastes and requirements where modern businessmen search for much more than the basics in the hotels they stay in.  Many are looking for creature comforts as well as convenience.  Sankara Nairobi is arguably the latest establishment to enter into the fray of luxury hotels having opened its doors to the public on August 2010. 

The 156-room hotel sets a new standard in the Kenyan hospitality design industry. Located in the heart of Westlands, Nairobi’s commercial, retail and entertainment suburb, and within easy reach of the city center and diplomatic districts.  As Moshi Perera, General Manager – Sankara Nairobi aptly put it “We are defined by our warm and vibrant personality.  We are inspired b by spirit of our location and passionately believe in offering a service that is effortless, personal and genuine.”

The hotel is hip and chic, with an emphasis on luxury and design elements – drawing from global inspirations with subtle influences of African art and antiquities.  Sankara Nairobi sets a new standard in contemporary luxury and personalized service.  The hotel incorporates all the facilities and functional technology that a world traveller would expect with clear reference to the culture and traditions of new Africa.  Sankara hosts Nairobi’s most authoritative collection of contemporary African art with particular emphasis of East African art.

Modern and tastefully decorated

The rooms are modern and tastefully decorated.  “We have created a place that provides the comforts of home supported by the latest technology.” Says Perera.  The rooms are very spacious, built purposely with that in mind to give guests a homely feeling not the cramped feel associated with regular hotel rooms.

Guest rooms offer ‘plug and play’ panels enabling seamless connectivity of audiovisual and technological devices to the LCD flat-screen TV, DVD player and surround sound, complimentary high speed internet access, wi-fi hot spots throughout the hotel, iPod docking stations, personal bar and in-room safety deposit box.  The bathrooms feature Villeroy&Boch and Grohe fittings, separate glass-walled rain showers and bathtubs specifically tailored to the needs of the ultra-luxury market; a growing niche previously unsatisfied by hotels in Nairobi.

“The market has responded well as we have seen a mix of expatriates as well as Kenyans from the Diaspora and out of town trooping in which is very encouraging.” Says Perera.  In this business we are striving for excellence as well as giving a very personalized service. “Our staff has gone through a vigorous training regimen in etiquette, customer service so as to give customers nothing but the best.” Says Perera.

As the new kid on the block Sankara is really striking for excellence with an above par service.  “We are just like home and maintain an open attitude, we will bend over to meet our guests’ needs, being new and all, we are not yet set in our ways thus we are quite open,” explains Perera.

Maximised usage of space

According to PereraSankara is built on a small space but the designersmaximised usage of space to create spectacular elements that guests can enjoy despite the absence of outdoor space.  “Though the hotel is entirely in-door, we have managed to set up an outdoor rooftop swimming pool.”

Sankara has something more; a club lounge, spa and meeting rooms where guests can entertain their visitors and hold meetings; they also offer a private outdoor terrace for break-out meetings and entertaining, private boardroom and business center.

Sankara’s innovative design has changed Nairobi’s hospitality landscape, developing the capital as a destination in its own right with a move complete offering.  The hotel has won several awards and certifications including Wallpaper and Fortune Magazine’s Best Business Hotels 2010, Conce Nast Traveller Hot List 2011, Wine Spectator Award Excellence 2011, Best New Hotel Construction and Design by Grenadier Limited at the International Property Awards 2011.  According to Perera among other things Sankara is feted for mainly unique and modern design and great service.

The hotel offers modern dining at its best with several restaurants under its roof .  Spread out over the first floor Artisan restaurant showcases the finest global cuisine complete with live show kitchen and outdoor terrace.  Adjoining, a smaller restaurant Muhibbah offers a contemporary mix of South East Asian cuisine,  While, The Gallery hosts a communal table and serves up gourmet food and wine, Sarabi, Pool and Supper Club located on the rooftop, offers healthy cuisine and fresh juices during the day, transforming into a spectacular bar and lounge by night overlooking the city skyline.

The hotel also hosts an elegant wine bar which is an extension of The Gallery that showcases the city’s widest selection of the finest wines from around the world.  “Our impressive wine collection is simply amazing. More culinary delights can be found at Sankara which serves an eclectic mix of global flavours through the creations of Executive Chef, Stefano.  All the restaurants at the hotel are trendy, sophisticated and unpretentious, paring the freshest ingredients with visually striking design and professional service.

“My dream is to see Sankara as the leading, contemporary luxury hotel in Nairobi and be able to set the standards for the rest of the industry.” Says Perera.  He feels that in any hospitality establishment, staff is key.  They need to buy your idea and understand what you want from them thus clear communication is imperative.  We work as a team with every member staff doing their best in their respective departments so as to create a seamless organization.  Clearly Sankara runs like a well-oiled engine with staff members well versed on what is expected of them.

Edition 07

Beating the budget



The process of investing on interiors calls for one to partner with a professional who can realistically execute and complete the project within given timelines and estimated amounts writes NYAMBURA KINUTHIA.

IN OUR EVERYDAY LANGUAGE, the word BUDGET surfaces. It is a household name in government circles, corporate world, business world and the Small Medium Enterprises. In several homes, the language is about apportioning money for school fees, domestic consumption, staff, house shopping, projects and the list is endless. Budgeting is thus the way of living.
Well, in some instances, budget will be used to mean “cheap”, to work “smart” or to have a “reality”. With the same breath, when a client engages an interior designer to work with them, the word “budget” means “let us work smart and on reality and where necessary cut down cost and not compromise quality”.
Realise and actualise

Therefore, budget in interior design is not about cutting down costs or going “cheap”. Budget is a reality-check, a must do exercise in order to realise and actualise envisioned purpose on the intended project.
It is therefore very essential that when you as a client start a project, it is paramount to engage and interior designer well in advance to come up with the realistic project budget before the interiors stage start.

Understanding requirements

The interior designer works closely with the client to understand the client requirements and the intended use of the space – office, home and hotel set-ups. They then develop a check list of works and suggest as well as guide the client on different materials suitable for particular areas. Among the items to consider are:-

  • The nature of interior finishing and furnishing materials to be used considering materials wear and tear and effect to the interior design.
  • What effect will time have on the new design.
  • How the colours will impact the design.
  • How each new interior design element will relate to the overall scheme.
  • What other product and finishing material options can be available.

The amount budgeted for a project is contingent upon project location, clientele, type of finish, quality of material used and the design details unique to the client environment and taste. Your designer will be able to help you with these details.
Consolidate project finances
As the designer will help the client determine the budget and a completion timeline, this gives you as the client space to consolidate project finances before work execution thus primarily saving you time and money.
Another area greatly affected by budget is the day-to-day project management that include:-

  • Site interpretation of the proposed designs.
  • Evaluation of quantity of materials required on each area before purchase to avoid wastage.
  • Your Interior Designer can take on all project management aspects or they
  • can consult with you as you act as general contractor/project manager
  • Will coordinate all trades as they have the expertise (electricians, carpenters, architects, engineers) from a scheduling and design stand point to ensure the project is completed per schedule.

Your Interior designer who has an understanding of the specialized needs of the client will work with the client to develop concepts that transform their spaces into an environment that has a unified look; and environment that is inviting to clientele and employees while Creating an image.
Below is an example (not exhaustive) of a broad check list based on hospitality outlet that your interior designer will come up with to help with the project budgeting:-

  • Flooring: ceramic tile, carpet, stained concrete slab, wood, linoleum, etc.
  • Wall covering: paint, wallpaper, faux finish, wall treatment and wall texture, wood panel.
  • Ceiling: paint, mouldings, gypsum ceiling, T&G etc.
  • Lighting: task, decorative, etc.
  • Window treatments: blinds, curtains, shades, etc.
  • Bars: size, style, equipment, finishes
  • Furniture: barstools, tables, chairs, lounge seating, etc.
  • Tabletop: centerpieces, tabletop accessories, etc.
  • Decorative accessories: artwork, mirrors, pictures, sculpture
  • Fixtures: display fixtures
  • New additions: new walls, conceptual architectural elements, etc.
  • Labour costs: The list above represents material costs. Don’t forget labour
  • Administration – Licence
  • Structural changes
  • Sound Systems
  • Accoustical considerations
  • Kitchen equipments and appliances.
  • Sanitary fittings and mixtures
  • Flexible Nightclub lighting
  • Design Consulting Fees
  • Soft furnishings: linen
  • Cutlery & crockery

This kind of list helps the client to get started. Your Interior Designers will work with the client to come up with the options, quality and quantity which will help work out the budget after selection and zeroing of preferred materials. This must do exercise helps the client save money by taking advantage of the designer planning, design and construction experience.
Entering into an interior finishing or renovation project without adequate knowledge can be very costly as experience has shown over the time.
Consulting with an interior designer is a wise way of saying “I will work and partner with a professional to realistically execute and complete project that has been professionally managed smartly and within budget to create that envisioned unique and functional space”.
Nyambura is the Head Designer at the Nairobi based, Zidaka Interiors

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Edition 07




Electrical and General Appliances

EGA’s main focus is to supply, install and service high quality equipment sourced from world-renowned manufacturers in USA and Europe.  The company offers a wide variety of equipment to choose from which is unmatchable, and a lot of inventory to insure faster delivery times, and on-demand availability.

Despite success over the years, EGA has faced challenges with counterfeit products or lower quality products from the Far East. These products appear to be cheaper based on their price tag attracting many price conscious consumers. “However,   many customers do not realize that the specification of the cheaper equipment are not as powerful, less cost effective, have significantly worse performance and have a shorter life, costing you significantly more money in the long run when it comes to servicing, parts, and opportunity cost lost due to under-performing or non-functioning equipment.” says Shiraz Ramji, Managing Director, EGA.

EGA focuses on supplying the best quality equipments, installation, service, and advice for all their customers’ laundry needs; while practicing business ethically and professionally.



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Edition 07

Saffarini exacts new architectural standards



A new concept in architectural design has landed in East Africa courtesy of Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office (Africa branch), by KelaiWanjiru.  With a strong heritage and history in the United Arab Emirates, the architectural and design consultancy is surely changing the design of urban cities in the region. Already strategically initiating projects in various parts of the city, Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office has set foot with the aim to establish new property models that are sustainable as well as architecturally unique.

Being the brains behind most of the world famous towers in Dubai like the Princess Tower  (the tallest residential tower in the world) The Elite tower in Marsa Dubai, and  the Mohammed Ishmael Tower.  Some of the Office landmarks include Universities, Shopping Malls, Skyscrapers, Embassies, Warehouses, Schools, Mosques, Villas, Commercial and Residential Buildings.Adding glory to the firms many credits is the AI-Zaher Palace, which belongs to His Highness Sheik Rashed AI Noeimi, which was a distinguished project designed by EAS, and is printed on the first Currency of UAE, a fifty Dirham Bank note.  A building of notability is the Falcon city of wonders in the heart of Dubai, built to resemble a falcon, is another world famous project designed and supervised by the Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office in Dubai.

Eng. Adnan Saffarini Africa is set to change the way real estate developers and architects in East Africa view projects.  The engineers, architects and technical staff at the esteemed firm not only look at projects from a profit making perspective, but they go deeper to create aesthetic appeal, incorporate unique value adding aspects of every development, and give each one an exclusive architectural dimension that will leave an impression not to be matched over the ages.

Saffarini Africa has also endeavoured to change the city of Nairobi with new developments set to begin.  Already identified is a shopping mall in the heart of Eastleigh that’s set to beat any other complex in the region.

Built to accommodate the whole family, the complex will have a unique in-house all inclusive value added services.  The engineers behind this concept are convinced that the complex will be so welcoming and inviting that average time spent in the mall will be 4 hours.  Other developments are a 4 star hotel in the heart of Nairobi city and a city in the wilderness of OngataRongai.  The city resort will be 100 per cent eco-friendly with dams around the complex and residents having a panoramic view of the Nairobi National Park.

According to the regional director, Africa MahadMohamudKarani the firm aims to create design concepts that when actualised, are simple, realistic and sustainable. Small features like setting areas aside for taking walks, riding bikes, playgrounds for the children and security are what Saffarini Africa has taken into consideration.  In the various developments handled by the firm, one will notice that attention to detail is imperative and

With a vision to change architectural concepts to attain international standards, Saffarini Africa is a firm with a vision for Africa.


Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office

Engineering Consultants

International house 10th Floor

Mama Ngina Street

P. o. Box 22173 – 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Website :

Tel: +254 20 2225355 / +254 20 2225551

Fax:+254 20 2224999


SaffariniAfrica .. A vision for Africa

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