The sun is setting on Kisumu’s Sunset Hotel

Posted on August 27, 2013


ImageThe sun is fast setting on Kisumu’s Sunset Hotel. A pale shadow of its former self, the hotel is in dire need for renovation.  It is high time the state let go of this establishment. Give it to an investor who can better run it. Sunset is losing the sun in its name.

Having grown up in Nyanza, the mention of Sunset hotel back in the day was closely associated with opulence. Tales, newspapers photos and once in a while television footage cemented the hotels place as a regional tourism big boy. That is not the case today.

Recently on a study tour in Nyanza, we (a team of editors) were hosted at the hotel sitting at the shores of Lake Victoria. Our two day stay at the hotel to say the least was not enjoyable.  In fact, one of the post workshop talks centred on how the hotel had lost its glamour.

“Back in the day, this hotel was the place to be. All senior politicians and government officials visiting Kisumu or Nyanza would be hosted here,” Caleb Atemi of Internews Kenya noted. Caleb was a onetime Nation Media Group bureau chief in Kisumu.

Striking as soon as I got to the hotel’s lobby on day one was the croaking of frogs on a water fall that has since stopped working. Having arrived at some minutes past seven in the evening the frogs were already on for their night ritual. The next day one of the hotel staff told me dealing with the frogs had become an issue since the water too acted as a fish pond.

Taking the lifts to my third floor room was another confirmation that the 35 year old facility had seen the best of its days. The lift is an old ‘Otis’ lift that you must press and hold on the button to the floor you are heading too. It was not a smooth ride.

On the floor, the sight of three other guests in our entourage struggling with the doors further confirmed my fears that the hotel was either run down or starved of funds to improve.

The rooms still boast of old and near antique facilities. The bathrooms though relatively clean have a heavy smell of old age and the hot shower remained elusive to some of the guests.


The motivation of the hotel staff was also evident on their pace of service especially during meal times. Many a times one had to reach out for what they needed without bothering the seemingly bored staff.Image

Established in 1978, the Sunset Hotel is under the chagrin of the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC). However over the years, the hotel has succumbed to competition from new establishments that have sprouted out in the lake city.

Just 100 metres away from the Sunset three establishments have brought competition to its doors. The Sovereign Hotel opened its doors two months ago, then there is the Nyanza Club as well the Lake View Hotel that opened in October 2012.

In addition Kisumu has over the last seven years witnessed an increase in hotels that firmly put the 3-start Sunset hotel to shame. Source tell me its main stay today is bargain hunters in the conference and tourism industry. Its almost an eyesore.




Perhaps this is the reason why KTDC and the privatization Commission must speed the sale of this institution to save it from total collapse.


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