- To increase number of hotels to 20 in five years
Haile Gebreselassie, renowned athlete turned businessman, is building a four-star resort hotel in Arba Minch town, Southern Regional State at a cost of 250 million birr.
Under his investment arm, Haile and Alem International, Haile has built Haile Resort Hotels in Hawassa, Ziway, and Shashemene towns in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. He has also built Yaya Village in Sululta town, Oromia Regional State.
Stretched on 41,313sqm plot of land with a panoramic view of lakes Chamo and Abaya, Haile Resort Arba Minch has three storeys. The resort has 108 guest rooms of different standards, swimming pool, spa and gym, conference hall, and a mini golf yard.
Haile told The Reporter that the site is the best location in Arba Minch commonly called “Ye Igzer Dildiy” situated by two large lakes that are separated by a land bridge. According to Haile, construction commenced in September 2016 and within a year 85 percent of the work is completed.
“It took us only a year to reach here. We are now doing the finishing work. It will be finalised and inaugurated in December 2017,” Haile told The Reporter. “We always talk about the Chinese construction firms’ efficiency. I want to show that we “Ethiopians” can also do things fast.”
The resort hotel is designed by Geretta Consult, a local consulting firm which is also doing the supervision work and the contractor is Haile and Alem International. The company has built an in-house capacity to undertake construction work.
Arba Minch is a growing resort town in Southern Ethiopia known for its rift valley lakes, crocodile farm and Nech Sar National Park.
Haile joined the hospitality industry when he opened Haile Resort in Hawassa eight years ago.
Haile and Alem International is building two more hotels in Addis Ababa and Adama. According to Haile, Haile and Alem International has started building a hotel in Addis Ababa on the Yeka hill. The hotel is being built on 10,000sqm plot formerly owned by “Korebtama Hotel.” The new hotel will have eight storey building consisting 120 rooms, spa, gym and a swimming pool.
Last month Haile and Alem International commenced the construction of a resort hotel in Adama town, a commercial town located 80km east of Addis Ababa. Haile Resort Adama will have 110 rooms, spa, gym, swimming pool and all other related amenities.
Haile anticipates increasing the number of hotels to 20 in five years’ time. One of the challenges Haile and Alem International facing is dearth of foreign currency. “We hardly get foreign currency to import construction materials and all other hotel amenities. To source them locally is a challenge because we do not find the required quality material and if we find some the price is exorbitant,” Haile said.
“The hotel business is the most challenging one. Because you provide service and you always strive to satisfy your customers’ demand. It always needs your attention. You always have to be there. If you are not there things do not get done properly and on time.”
Haile said that the bureaucratic work in government offices is another challenge. “You have to go back and forth for days to get something done. It takes a long time to get approval from a government office. Business is all about time.”
Operating with a company motto “Run to win, serve to impress” Haile and Alem International has employed more than 700 Ethiopians only in the hotel sector and is contributing significantly for the development of the tourism sector.
In addition to the chain of hotels Haile and Alem International investment group has ventured into real estate, agriculture, gold exploration, education and automotive businesses.
The company has developed coffee plantation and bee farm in Sheka Zone, Southern Regional State. Last year the company shipped its first organic coffee and earned USD 250,000 from the trial shipment. This year it plans to export four or five times more. “Our coffee plantation is maturing and we will boost our coffee export and this, I believe, will enable us to alleviate shortage of foreign currency that our company is facing,” Haile told The Reporter.
The company is also producing and exporting organic honey to European countries. In the education sector, Haile and Alem International has built schools in Bahir Dar and Assela, Haile’s hometown, where they have a total of 3,500 students.
His automotive company, Marathon Motors, is the sole dealer of Hyundai vehicles in Ethiopia. Haile is now working to build an assembly plant. “We have several investment projects in the pipeline. Today, I am happy and proud to be able to create job opportunities for 2,100 Ethiopians. Money is a secondary thing for me. I am a person who lost one million dollars award within a second and won one million dollars because of a two-second difference.”