NAIROBI, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- As the Christmas mood slowly sets in Kenya, many domestic and local tourists are scrambling to book for places they would stay during the festivities.
Topping the list of facilities where holidaymakers would stay over the Christmas holiday are serviced apartments scattered across the east African nation.
The apartments have overtaken hotels, resorts and guest houses as the places of choice of stay for local and foreign holidaymakers in the east African nation, prompting developers to increase their construction in the last few years.
From the capital Nairobi, to the coastal city of Mombasa and the lake side city of Kisumu, serviced apartments tick as demand rises.
The facilities are loved mainly become they offer home-away-from-home environment for people looking for an extended stay or travelling with families as many do over Christmas.
Usually, the apartments are fully furnished and they provide hotel-like resources such as housekeeping, room service, fitness centers, and restaurants.
They further have home comforts such as a personal kitchenette, a living room and a dining room.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, demand for serviced apartments has been on the rise over the years, with the facilities recording an average of 70 percent occupancy rates compared to hotels 35 percent.
"This time round I will not head to Kisumu but would be travelling to Mombasa with my family where I have booked an apartment for an eight-day stay. This will allow us to stay as a family over Christmas just the way we live at home," Cyrus Kutoi, a medical doctor, said on Tuesday, noting he has also secured train tickets for his wife and two children.
Kutoi paid 10,000 shillings (98 dollars) per day upfront for the apartment in which he would start staying in on December 22.
"I booked for the apartment early last month before prices started to go up and demand rose. Right now you cannot get such facilities because they are fully booked. Hotels have never been option for me because they are expensive. One pays the 98 dollars per person a day for the service, especially now that demand is high," he said.
Cytonn, a Nairobi-based investment firm, notes that three things make serviced apartments popular in Kenya. The first is bigger spaces offered by serviced apartments as compared to hotel rooms.
In Nairobi for instance, according to Cytonn, the standard hotel room size is 30-50 square meters, while the average size of serviced apartments is 75 square meters for one bedroom units, 110 square meters for two bedroom units, and 140 square meters for three bedroom units.
"Serviced apartments are considered more affordable given their relatively lower charges compared to hotels. A standard three-star hotel in Nairobi or Mombasa charges on average of 137 dollars per night for a suite, while a studio serviced apartments charges on average 78 dollars per night and a one bedroom apartment 107 dollars per night," said Cytonn.
Unlike a hotel, a serviced apartment can easily accommodate a family, in addition to allowing someone to cook creating the home away from home experience that is sought after by many long-term travelers, according to the investment firm.
"The concept of serviced apartments has continued to become increasingly popular in the market, with the Nairobi Metropolitan Area having approximately 3,414 serviced apartments as at 2015, and an additional 1,174 set to be complete by 2020," said Cytonn.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that many people are embracing serviced apartments because of the desire to save costs as they stay in a place as they would live at home.
"In upcountry Kenya, the love for serviced apartment has opened up businesses for people who have houses that they do not stay in for the better part of the year. They are renting them out to holidaymakers at a good fee, especially during Easter and December holidays," he said.
Data from the Kenya Tourism Board shows the number of international tourists visiting Kenya in the nine months to September rose 10 percent to 720,376 as compared to a similar period last year. In 2017, international tourist arrivals stood at 1.47 million, up from 1.34 million in 2016.