The teacher turned proprietor of the tallest hotel in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Tiliksew Gedamu is one of Ethiopian women entrepreneurs for the several years now. Starting her career as a primary school teacher in the 1980s, she has turned out to be a businesswoman who went and strove through the transport sector and finally landed as a hotelier, now completing the construction of what will soon become the tallest hotel in Ethiopia.

Tiliksew spoke to the Reporter’s Hayal Alemayehu about her business story, and, particularly, about the iconic hotel she is building on the shores of Lake Tana, in Bahir Dar. Excerpts:

Can you tell me in detail about your hotel project?

We received land in late 2008. We were a bit late when we started the project because of the delaying of the design work. But from then on we were working on it on 24/7 basis. If all goes according to schedule, the hotel will be inaugurated by next Ethiopian Christmas. It will be the tallest hotel in Ethiopia, being a 19-storey building. The hotel, and every facility and service it will provide, will be of an international five-star hotel, standard. It will have 150 rooms and suites, three large and three executive meeting halls, five restaurants, a night club, a number of terraces, three elevators, two of them with a panoramic view of Lake Tana, a swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi and the rest of the amenities that a five-star hotel should possess. The hotel rests on 2540 sq.m. of land. It is adjacent to Kuriftu Lodge in Bahir Dar.

Does the hotel have any different or unique features than what is customary to see around with such rare star hotels here?

It has different features. The swimming pool is being built in alignment with the level of the lake to create the impression of actually swimming inside the lake. The hotel has a restaurant and a meeting hall hanging over the lake. It will have its own man-made beach to maximize the comfort of customers. And one thing I would like to tell you is the fact that the hotel being a tall tower will allow customers to experience the best view of Lake Tana and the number of islands in it. It is very difficult to see especially those marvelous islands from any spot around Bahir Dar now. The hotel has an inbuilt air conditioning system, a penthouse and a number of terraces from where customers will have the best view of the graceful lake and the islands in it. The hotel, by the way, will be managed by one of the foreign companies known in managing a big-name hotel.

Can you tell me the cost of the project?

Initially, the hotel was projected to cost around 198 million birr. However, with the devaluation of the birr over a year ago and the subsequent price hike in construction materials the price has nearly doubled. The project now is expected to consume an investment outlay of 270 million birr when fully completed. This is exclusively the cost of the building and does not include the expense for furnishing the hotel. The project involves boats and related facilities of tour package for customers.

Can you tell me how you entered into the hotel sector? 

I had been a teacher. But I quit the job altogether with my friends and families pushing me to strive in the business world instead. Before long, I joined the transport sector and ran the business for several years before I finally turned out to be a hotelier. Now with the promised finance from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) coming in shortly, I had to use my assets in the transport sector to finance the grand hotel project in Bahir Dar.

By the way, this is not our first hotel venture. We have already built a three-star hotel in Debre Markos named after me. The investment outlay for this hotel is 26 million birr. I started to venture in the hotel sector after viewing attractive packages provided by the government and the potential the sector has especially in Bahir Dar and other tourist destination. And as we set in to invest in the hotel sector, we were provided with full support from the government. We were able to easily obtain land from the Amhara Regional Government in Bahir Dar to build the hotel. It has been fifteen years since I started to engage in the business world.

What about the demand for such a hotel in Bahir Dar? Do you think there is a market for such services you are to provide as tourists might prefer traditionally made lodges or the likes?

To begin with, the country is on fast development track for the last several years. The airport in Bahir Dar has been revamped to become of international standard. The regional government is building a big meeting hall for continental and regional meetings and so on. And the flow of tourists is increasing by the day. Even the number of local tourists is increasing unlike never before. Private jets from all over the world are landing at the Bahir Dar International Airport. And with all that and more, the future is simply very promising. As for the style of the building, it will have its own unique purposes which I mentioned and which will attract tourists in its own unique way.

Source: The Reporter