Cornel Osano is a Kenyan businessman who is the owner of one of the most luxurious hospitality establishments in the country, the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu County. For over 21 years, he made a name for himself in the construction industry and the idea of building and owning one of the top hotels in the country came to him by chance.
The Royal Swiss sits on one of the iconic Riat Hills, 8 kilometres from the Kisumu City Central Business District. In a town that many investors shied away from, especially due to the aftermath of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, the investment by Osano restores hope to the Lakeside city.
“And for me it also represents the fact that we, as Kisumu residents, can stand proud and tell the world that whatever they can do, we can do too,” he says during an interview with KCB Venture Magazine.
Here is Osano’s business journey as narrated by WoK.
The businessman’s entrepreneurial journey goes back to when he was 19 years old. At one time, he visited a man who was a powerful politician in Western Kenya together with his friend. While they waited, Osano overheard a conversation between the old man and his properties manager.
From their conversation, Osano figured that the manager was being dishonest to the politician and that is when he thought to himself of what it would be like if he tried a hand in real estate management.
“From the conversation, I knew that the old man was not getting value for his money. The contractor who was managing the old man’s properties was giving him hell. I could tell there were a lot of things he was keeping from the house owner,” he recounted.
“I imagined how far I could go if I were to get into the real estate management business
and thrive on honesty,” he added.
The Kenya Polytechnic-trained architect began doing freelance work until he realised that he could make much more money from one of his clients.
“I told him I would let him keep his money in exchange for a tiny corner of his office. Luckily, he agreed,” Osano narrated.
A month later, he had got his first property to manage. Word of mouth went around and before the year was over he had close to a dozen properties under his name.
“In a few years, I had an office of my own with my own employees,” he says.
By the time he turned 22, he had become a landlord.
“That is when I bought my first property in Nairobi’s Kayole Estate,” he stated.
Soon, buying and selling properties became his cup of tea and he couldn’t stop. In 2010, he heard that there was a prime property for sale in Kisumu and he moved to buy it. Today, one of his four hotels sits on it.
The Grand Royal Swiss Hotel
It is located in a serene environment with a splendid view overlooking the Nandi Hills. The hotel boasts of a total of 125 spacious rooms under 4 categories offering a unique blend of comfort and relaxation. The hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers.
The Standard Room category at The Grand Royal Swiss Hotel is an expansive 20.5 sq.m of elegantly furnished space with all the stately comforts and amenities for the value-conscious business traveller.
The Deluxe Room is 27.5 square metres and includes a plush king-size bed with premium linens, a comfortable sitting area, a glass-enclosed shower with a rain shower head, and a marble-covered bathroom. The seamless fusion of Oriental & European furnishings and decor’ adds a refreshing appeal to our Deluxe Room interiors.
The Royal Suite at The Grand Royal Swiss Royal is incredibly spacious at 39.6 sq.m. It makes comfort king-size, with amenities and comfort designed for that royal experience. The Royal Suite comes either with a king-size bed or twin beds, with the larger space accommodating a living room and an exquisitely marbled washroom with a walk-in rain shower.
There are 17 Executive Suites for luxury stay & dine at The Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, tastefully furnished, with a view of the majestic Nandi Hills. The Executive Suites come with a separate, spacious living area, featuring the best of amenities and extra ‘space’. They have an enhanced luxury bathing experience with an oversized, marbled bathroom, walk-in rain shower and premium bath amenities.
The rooms cost between $170 and $285 depending on the boarding.
The Grand Royal Swiss Hotel has one of the largest conference centres in the western circuit, the Rambara Eves Conference Center hosts up to 1400 guests. The hotel has 6 ballrooms and meeting rooms, all laid out across a private and dedicated area of the hotel. Two have a capacity of 200, while the other 4 are boardrooms with a capacity of 15.
They are equipped with audio-visual amenities including, LED screens, projectors, sound and WIFI. Alongside this, is a team that helps clients put together menus and themes to fit the occasion.
For informal gatherings and social occasions, the hotel has beautifully landscaped gardens against the backdrop of the Nandi Hills which make for an exceptional setting.
Amenities at the hotel range from a fully equipped gym setting, a tranquil spa and wellness centre that provides a sauna, steam, massage, manicure, pedicure as well as an aromatherapy body scrub and facial services. The gym trainer and spa masseuses take care of clients in a home-away-from-home experience.
The dining facilities include an all-day dining restaurant with buffet meals. The lobby bar cum café – BOND offers patrons beverages on order while relaxing in the ambient lobby or sitting at the lounge which is fitted with screens one can watch a game of football.
The Medoc is a great experience for the hotel’s signature cuisines as well as the choice to dine under the stars on the Medoc terrace area. The VIP Glamorous Lounge offers a private rendezvous area. The Aquarius Pool Bar serves a wide range of drinks – cocktails and mocktails with a specially crafted quick bite option.
Patrons of the hotel are also treated to nature tours which include a boat ride on Lake Victoria, Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Kisumu Museum, Dunga Bay, the rocks of Kit Mikayi, Kakamega Forest and the Kericho tea plantations.