Saturday, April 13, 2024

Chamastar: Inside multimillion hotel business owned by world champion Mary Keitany

Retired Kenyan athlete Mary Keitany who left the track in 2021 is also a business owner. During her prime years, Mary Keitany won 4 New York race titles, 3 London Marathon titles and set a standing world record.

With the prize money she earned from these races, totalling millions, Mary Keitany chose to invest in her hometown, Kabarnet.

She is the entrepreneur behind a prominent hotel in the area that competes with Moi’s hospitality business.

Difficult Upbringing

In an interview with The New York Times, Keitany shared that she had a tough childhood. Raised in Baringo County, her home lacked basic amenities like electricity, and she didn’t have shoes during her upbringing.

The family’s financial hardships set her back in school. She recalled having to walk long distances as a child to fetch water for cooking and cleaning from a nearby river.

With their financial situation seemingly not giving any glimmer of hope, Keitany’s parents who were farmers stopped paying for her school fees beyond her mid-teens

At 15, Mary Keitany began working to help the dire situation back home. Her job was as a live-in maid nearly 20km away from her home. She would stay away from her family for months before seeing them again.

“It was not an easy job. But I was earning money to support my parents. I kept thinking, ‘If I don’t do this, then what?'” she said.

Following a 2-year hiatus, Mary Keitany went back to complete her studies with financial support from a relative. She schooled at the National Hidden Talents Academy in Nairobi.

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Here, her innate athletic talents flourished and were well nurtured at the school that upholds physical education and sports.

After completing high school education, she competed in local races, subsequently catching the attention of local scouts.

One of them was Lenah Cheruiyot, a former international athlete, who offered her assistance, mentorship and coaching to Keitany.

In 2006, Mary Keitany took a leap of faith and transitioned into a full-time athlete. Since then, she has never looked back and it has changed her life. She is now a 7 times World Athletics champion.

She is also a 1-time world half-marathon winner and a half-marathon silver medalist. She also set a record as the only woman, other than Grete Waitz, to win the New York Marathon more than 3 times.

Chamastar Hotel

At the heart of the Rift Valley, Moi-owned Rift Valley Hills Resort and Keitany’s Chamastar Hotel seem to be in a never-ending competition. 

This competition came into the spotlight when famous YouTuber Kino Yves visited Rift Valley Hills Resort and declined to book a room, stating that it was very expensive.

He took an issue with the hotel giving different prices for Kenyans and foreigners, with the latter paying Sh. 10,200 ($64) for a standard room. 

“That’s too much for me. It’s way too much. So I don’t think it’s gonna be possible for me. It’s just too expensive,” he said. 

Kino Yves opted instead for Chamastar Hotel, owned by the 7X World Champion, where he parted with Sh. 2,500 for a standard room which had almost similar amenities. 

Keitany’s Hotel Chamastar Kabarnet was officially opened on 6th August 2021 by former Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis. She built the hotel alongside her husband Charles Koech. 

The couple are also the owners of Winstar Hotel located in Eldoret. 

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