– Local developer wins big at Property Awards
– Estimated investment cost is over 4 billion birr
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, will soon welcome another global hospitality brand to its thriving hospitality sector. BKMY IMPEX Plc is gearing up to unveil a 22-storey hotel property, operating under the Double Tree brand within two years, at an estimated investment cost of over USD 75 million (over four billion birr).
The company signed an agreement with Hilton Hotels Corporation for the full management of the hotel – Double Tree by Hilton Addis Ababa Hayahulet Hotel & Spa – in December 2022.
Developer BKMY, a subsidiary of HMY Holdings, is turning heads in the industry with the innovative design of their latest project thanks to its exceptional architecture and cutting-edge design. The 159-key hotel has garnered industry recognition even before its grand opening.
BKMY brought home a top honor at the International Property Awards, specifically in the regional ceremony of the African Property Awards.
The awards, which celebrate exceptional achievements in all sectors of the property and real estate industry worldwide, recognized BKMY’s latest project with the “Best New Hotel Construction and Design Africa” award.
Judged against submissions from across the continent, the win at the highly competitive awards program is a major boon for the company as it continues to grow its portfolio.
The 5-star accolade awarded to the company sets a new benchmark for innovation and design in the Ethiopian hospitality landscape.
“The world-renowned mark of excellence,” according to the awarding body, is reserved for the select few who demonstrate “the highest levels of achievement by companies operating in the property and real estate industry.”
The ceremony, held in the vibrant city of Dubai, unfolded on October 19, 2023, amidst a gathering of distinguished industry professionals.
Not content with just one accolade, the design of the building has also earned a nomination for the upcoming International Property Awards, scheduled to take place in 2024. This pits the project in competition with winning projects from other continental regions, cementing the hotel’s architectural brilliance and innovation.
BKMY initially commissioned the construction of the building as a mixed-use project in the coveted Hayahulet area, in line with HMY’s vision to diversify its portfolio.
With its roots dating back to the 1980s, HMY Holdings has flourished from its initial beginnings in construction and building materials distribution. Founded by Hailemichael Yihdego and Mebrat Alemayehu, the family owned conglomerate has ventured into various industries, with investments in real estate, retail, banking, insurance, manufacturing, import/export, and hospitality. This diversification has propelled the company’s growth and success over the years.
After an arduous four-year process of detailed negotiations on the agreement and design, BKMY solidified its plans with Hilton to fully manage the property.
Yonatan Hailemichael, the CEO of HMY Holdings, says that despite the challenges posed by the need to demolish existing rooms and redesign virtually everything, the recent industry recognition serves as a testament to the extensive design negotiations undertaken by the entire team over the span of four years.
“Securing a management agreement with Hilton elevates the company’s previous plan,” Yonatan said.
To bring the company’s vision to life, BKMY enlisted the expertise of Bentel Associates International, a reputable design firm based in South Africa.
Tasked with the responsibility of transforming the building into a modern hotel befitting the brand, Bentel faced the intricate challenge of maintaining certain complex parameters inherent to the original mixed-use structure.
Simultaneously, the design firm says, it had to “alter the facade to reflect the essence of a hotel while incorporating the brand standards of the operator.”
The vision, according to Bentel, was to transform an existing high-rise structure into a luxurious 5-star hotel, set to open its doors in March 2026.
The design of the hotel aims to create a contemporary business-oriented environment while also catering to families within a setting of urban luxury. Bentel emphasized that operational considerations were crucial in the design process and the 5-star recognition only affirms the project’s high standard within the African region. The nomination for the international awards puts the design and the project in direct competition with winning projects from other continental regions.
“This recognition provides valuable exposure to the Ethiopian market, reaching an international audience and opening doors to potential future opportunities and investments in the Ethiopian economy,” Bentel said.
The project’s design, according to Bentel, showcases the immense potential Africa has to offer, with the entire professional team based in Africa and possessing extensive expertise, representing a remarkable display of talent.
“It sets a benchmark for the future of hotel design within Ethiopia,” it said, adding that the “undeniable transfer of technology and knowledge that occurs through the development of such a project between continental African and local Ethiopian consultants, further contributes to the growth and development of the region.”
The recognition acknowledges the investment made by BKMY and underscores Bentel’s skills through the award. Bentel sees this accolade as a testament to the fact that “Ethiopian designs can compete with and hold their own against other projects within Africa and on the international stage.”
Yonatan emphasized that this particular project was conceived with a long-term vision in place.
“The aim is for everyone to benefit from this development. The project offers not only ample room for growth, but also generates job opportunities, particularly in the hospitality sector, that will contribute to the overall prosperity of the community,” Yonatan explained.
The government has initiated major investment projects that have the potential to attract visitors from around the globe. “Led by the Prime Minister, beautification initiatives like Dine for Sheger, Chaka project, Chart for Generations (Gebeta le tewled), multiple parks and other regional endeavors have laid a solid foundation for the growth of the tourism sector,” Yonatan says.
The PM initiated the projects in August 2020, to develop three potential tourist attraction sites in Oromia, Southern and Amhara regions.
The three locations that were originally envisaged for development were Wonchi Lake and its environs within the Oromia Region, Koysha in the Southern Region, and Gorgora in the Amhara Region. The locations were selected due to the touristic potential understood to be inherent within their natural features.
The company says investments of this nature are integral for a nation renowned for its natural bounty. “For decades these areas lay underutilized and evolving little. But through such initiatives, a positive transformation has begun.”
The CEO is confident these attractions will undoubtedly draw visitors from far and wide, thereby creating a demand for such accommodations.
The development of the three locations, according to the PM, would also serve as an entry point for private investors who want to develop tourist facilities at the said locations.
“When we witness not merely the inception but the materialization of such ventures in practice, as investors and beneficiaries, one feels encouraged to partake further,” Yonatan said.
The company believes that the tourism and hospitality sector holds vast potential for growth and significantly contribute to the country’s economy. “And adding a reputable brand operating on a large-scale property is something that the country and its capital deserve,” he emphasized.
Drawing from their experience in the hospitality industry, especially from HMY Holdings ownership of the Abyssinia Renaissance Hotel, the CEO anticipates a bright future for the sector.
Ethiopia’s hospitality sector has been growing strongly in recent years as Addis Ababa has established itself as a major destination for international conferences and events, Yonatan says.
The city hosts the headquarters of the African Union and has regularly held high-level summits that drive tourism and visitation. “The city is also becoming a key aviation hub for Africa, connecting the continent through its new international airport,” the CEO says, adding, this rise in transit passengers and business travelers has boosted demand for more premium hotel brands.
It is expected that more international hotel brands will enter the Ethiopian market in the coming years, boosting the availability of world-class accommodation options.
With the chance to become a gathering place for the city’s inhabitants and visitors from across the globe, the Associate says this is an exciting prospect that will drastically revolutionize the city skyline.
“We eagerly anticipate sharing Addis Ababa’s skyline with this remarkable project,” Yonatan concluded.