Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Meet Chris Musau, businessman who bought Sh. 1.2 billion 680 Hotel

A few years ago, it was rumoured that Dr William Ruto who served as deputy president between 2013 and 2022 was interested in acquiring the 680 Hotel.

The hotel that is located in Nairobi’s Central Business District was on sale at over Sh. 1 billion.

It however turned out that Dr Ruto was neither interest nor bidding for the hotel. This prestigious hotel had sparked the interest of a little known businessman, Chris Musau.

The businessman eventually closed this deal at a cost of Sh. 1.2 billion in July 2022.

This acquisition added to Musau’s existing hospitality business under the Maanzoni Lodges brand.

This deal has left many people wondering who Musau is. For a start, it is not very easy to pick Musau from the crowd. When you first meet him, you wouldn’t really tell that he is monied.

His Maanzoni Lodges sit on some 28 acres off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. But besides this, he also owns the 10,000 acre Maanzoni Ranch which he used as his entry venture into the real estate sector in Kenya.

Musau was born in Tawa, Machakos County in 1954. During school holidays, Musau worked at his father’s businesses in Ukambani that included several shops and a transport company.

After completing his secondary education at Nairobi School (then Prince of Wales), he got a job with local hides and skins companies, rising to a managerial position that earned him Sh. 28,000 – a tidy sum in the 1970s.

At 22 Musau learned that a white landowner wanted to sell 10,000 acres in order to pursue other interests.

The farm had 1,800 cows besides sheep and goats. Despite his meagre savings, Musau put up a bid for the land that was then selling for Sh. 280 per acre.

“My friends thought I was going mad by trying to buy land in an area where it hardly rains. Others from affluent backgrounds were buying land in Ruiru, Limuru and other high-end neighbourhoods. Few saw any business sense in buying land in Ukambani. In any case, I did not even have money for the “barren” land,” says Musau.

He raised the Sh. 3.8 million needed to purchase the land through local lenders, personal savings and family resources, and years later, sold it off at huge profits.

While he is a large landowner, Musau’s dive into the hospitality world was more accidental rather than by design.

Around 2007, Musau wanted to build what he terms as a small place where his grown up children could relax when they came visiting.

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With the help of an architect friend, he designed what was initially a 10-room outfit. However, friends urged him to expand the facility to attract business travelers and others who needed to relax during weekends.

“The 10 rooms had increased to 64 by the time we opened it in 2011. The friends told me that people did not just spend money on weekends but throughout the week, hence the need for a bigger hotel and conferencing facility. Maanzoni was born,” says Musau.

The lodge now boasts 360 rooms built in separate clusters. Musau plans to construct a high-end, 300-room hotel in Machakos town and later roll out the Maanzoni brand in other counties.

– Additional reporting adapted from The Standard .

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