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Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with Sunshine Business PLC for the construction of a Hilton resort in Hawassa. The Hilton Hawassa Resort & Spa is expected to be operational by 2020.
At a press conference held at the Hilton Hotel on September 30, it was announced that up to USD 42 million will be invested to develop the 30,000 square meter Hilton Hawassa Resort & Spa, with construction set to begin later this year.
According to Patrick Fitzgibbon, Senior Vice President of Development, Europe and Africa, Hawassa is already a tourist destination, especially for Ethiopians, and once the city gets its own airport, the inflow of tourists will increase significantly.
“With a further USD 55 million of government funding committed to delivering an airport for Hawassa by 2018, the future is bright for travelers to southern Ethiopia. We are delighted to be making this announcement here where we are also celebrating the milestone of 20,000 Hilton rooms open or under development across Africa,” Patrick said.
The resort, to be built in the banks of Lake Hawassa, will feature 169 guest rooms and villas, with an outdoor swimming pool and spa complex featuring as its centerpiece.
“We are aiming to make Hawassa the most attractive tourism destination in Ethiopia, therefore, I would like to express my gratitude for being able to sign the management contract with Hilton Worldwide,” Samuel Tafesse, owner and CEO of Sunshine Business PLC, said.
In addition to four dining options, including a specialty restaurant and pool bar and grill; the property will feature extensive meetings and events halls, with more than 1,000 square meters of ballroom and pre-function areas, as well as six additional meeting rooms.
“With new infrastructure, including a highway to Addis Ababa and an airport expected to begin operations in 2018, we certainly expect to see tourism and travel to Hawassa boosted. We are excited to add Hilton Hawassa Resort & Spa to our hotels portfolio. It will give us geographical diversity in our hotel developments – adding tremendous value as we team up with Hilton,” said Selamawit Samuel, Executive Vice President and co-owner of Sunshine Business PLC.
The new resort project will be Hilton’s second establishment in Ethiopia, to be established nearly 50 years after the first Hilton hotel in Addis was built.
“Travel and tourism is now growing and we are seeing real changes in the way people travel and how willing they are to travel. Hilton Addis has done a fantastic job over 50 years and people love the hotel. The fact that we are building another hotel is something our customers are excited about,” said Fitzgibbon on Hilton’s expansion in Ethiopia.
Hilton is also working on bringing its modular hotel model to Mekele but deals on the progress of such an establishment are yet to be confirmed. “That is very much on going, the Chinese group (CIMC) who have developed the technology are here again, we have multiple conversation underway across Africa looking into opportunities. Hotel opportunities take a while to put in place. We are hoping that later this year or next year, we will announce some modular construction we are doing in Africa, noting specific yet for Ethiopia but we are hoping to talk more about that as deals come through,” Fitzgibbon said.
Despite Hilton hotels’ frequent ratings as Five Star hotels, Hilton Addis was recently rated as a Four Star hotel by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“There are many organizations around the world that do different ratings. Our position is very simple; we make it clear what Hilton is and our guests know what Hilton is. There will be some parts of the world where Hilton is rated at Four Stars and in other parts it will be rated as a Five Star hotel. What we focus is on delivering what we think is important to our guests. There are different rating agencies that give different ratings across the world but people also understand what Hilton delivers,” Fitzgibbon said.
Hilton Hawassa Resort & Spa will join a portfolio of more than 70 properties by Hilton Worldwide.  With new Hilton additions to the portfolio in N’Djamena, Chad and Kampala, Uganda, expected in the coming 12 months, Hilton Worldwide is growing at a fast rate with 20,000 rooms either trading or under development across Africa.