Quick Brief: Paradise Beach Hotel in Kenya never got over terror attack; now for sale

Jun Wed, 2021 Insurance

(The Muir Analytics Quick Brief is based on the Pentagon EXSUM briefing method – no more than 17 lines to explain a subject – and then Muir has added a quick analysis of the issue that can help hotels mitigate certain risks).

Chain of events

  1. At 8:00 am on 28 November 2002, al Qaeda suicide bombers attacked the Israeli-owned Paradise Beach Hotel in coastal Kikambala, Kenya, says the BBC,
  2. three terrorists drove up to the hotel’s outer gate in an explosives-laden SUV,
  3. one bomber exited the vehicle and detonated, clearing out gate security,
  4. the other two bombers drove into the hotel, smashing into the lobby, and detonated the main device,
  5. the two explosions killed 15 and wounded 80,
  6. photos from CBS show incredible bomb destruction of the hotel complex, indicating the main device might have weighed over a hundred pounds if it was a commercial explosive, or over a thousand pounds if it was a homemade explosive,
  7. at the time, counter-terror security in Kenya was lighter than it should have been, especially after the 1998 bombings against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,
  8. charter flights from Europe ceased, cutting off the flow of 270 guests per flight to the hotel, which equated to 100,000 guests a year,
  9. All Africa says the resort’s manager, Mr. Yehuda Sulami, said this attack kicked off a “gradual decline in the facility’s appeal to the international tourists,”
  10. business decline began in earnest in 2005 and never recovered,
  11. a Sh300 million ($2,780,352.15 USD) property improvement program (PIP) designed to bring more tourists in failed,
  12. the hotel stopped operating in 2010,
  13. the hotel’s owner told The Standard he “faced an avalanche of litigation on compensation,” which he had no money for, and also “there was no insurance cover on terrorism,”
  14. the property, now called the Paradise Beach Resort, is currently for sale for Sh800 Million ($7,414,272.40 USD).

Analysis

First, while this case study is nearly 19 years old, it signaled a trend that began shortly after al Qaeda’s 11 September 2001 attacks that never changed: Islamist jihadist groups such as al Qaeda (and ISIS) target hotels as a matter of standard operating procedure. They have regularly carried out large and small hotel attacks on nearly every continent since September 11th.

Second, Islamist jihadist terrorists also consider Jewish and Israeli targets a priority. If a prospective target hotel is a Jewish-owned hotel/resort, or Jewish tourists can be assailed at a venue, so much the better, say Islamist jihadists. This was true in 2002, and it is true in 2021.

Third, hotels in countries where governments exhibit mediocre CT security are at higher risk than those where governments exhibit genuinely effective CT security. On the surface, this is an obvious takeaway, but after the 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi, the government of Kenya reportedly made sweeping CT security upgrades. Those upgrades, however, failed to protect the Paradise Beach Hotel. Figuring out which countries have adequate and proper CT security requires closer study than simply relying on proclamations of improved security.

Fourth, hotels in countries/regions where Islamist jihadist terrorists are highly active are at higher risk than those with lower Islamist jihadist activity. This is certainly the case with Kenya that has been pressured by al Qaeda and al Shabaab for at least 23 years. And again, while this is an obvious takeaway, this easy-to-grasp lesson is not often applied by hotel security worldwide, such as with the January 2019 Dusit hotel and business complex attack in Nairobi (and others, such as the 2019 Easter church and hotel attacks in Sri Lanka, for example). Since “not everyone gets it,” it is a lesson worth repeating.

Fifth, the highly effective weaponry used in the Paradise Beach Hotel attack – the human suicide bomber and the vehicle suicide bomber – set a global hotel attack standard that has continued to the present day.

Sixth, contrary to the Paradise Beach Hotel owner’s lack of terrorism insurance in 2002, scores of 3-5-star international hotels these days have terrorism insurance, either by stand-alone commercial insurance policies, or via government insurance programs, or both.

Seventh, lawsuits over hotel violence can help ruin a hotel’s ability to operate and make money. That was the case with the Paradise Beach Hotel, and it is a current trend many hotels try to keep hidden from the public eye. And it is getting easier to sue hotels over security negligence issues.

Eighth, while some hoteliers overcome spectacular hotel attacks with increased security, rebranding, excellent PR, opulent PIP programs, and government support – the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai, for example – others do not. The Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, Tunisia (attacked 26 June 2015) and the Paradise Beach Hotel are prime examples of the latter.

Muir Analytics runs the world’s largest, most sophisticated hotel violence database (over 1,700 cases and growing) – the SecureHotel Threat Portal. We can provide the hospitality sector with intelligence that facilitates full-spectrum risk reduction, which helps hotels protect guests, staff, buildings, brands, and revenues. Contact us for a consultation: 1-833-DATA-444.

Sources and further reading:

Kenya: Ruined by terror attack, paradise hotel on sale for Sh800 million,” All Africa, 8 June 2021.

“‘Kikambala hotel bombing in 2002 changed our lives’,” The Standard, 28 November 2020.

Death In Kenya,” CBS, 3 December 2002.

Israel evacuates tourists from Kenya,” BBC, 29 November 2002.

Copyright © Muir Analytics 2021