Chris Koney’s column : Commercialising your passion, the case of Kegali Hotel’s Denzel Kwesi Humphreys


Sometimes, starting your own business is like jumping on an emotional rollercoaster with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. While at it, you will be wondering if the ride will come to a screeching halt or lead to a somewhat desired destination.

Anyone can start a business but it’s substantially harder to grow and sustain it. When the company faces challenges and falls on hard times – which usually happens, it is your passion and commitment that ultimately get the business through to the other side.

If you don’t have a true passion for your business, everyone can sense it – your customers, team, advisors and investors. That is why focusing on your mission is of the utmost importance. This will enable you to make faster decisions and help you manage through the rollercoaster ride.

Denzel Kwesi Humphreys is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kegali Hotel, a leading boutique hotel with tailored services located in Accra. He is also the founder of the award-winning Artlyn Advertising Limited, which specialises in outdoor advertising and branding as well as architecture and building construction firm, Reno Architecture Construction Development Limited.

Over the weekend, I attended an all-white party at Kegali Hotel, which formed part of a series of activities to mark the fifth anniversary celebration of the hotel. During the party, I had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Humphreys. The highlight of our conversation was how he had transformed his passion into a viable business as he chronicled his motivation for establishing Kegali Hotel.

Revealing the business concept and how he arrived at the name for the hotel, he stated that: “I am into the business of architecture, construction and branding. I have dealt with several brands in Ghana and across the continent. I have also had some prominent designs done in Accra which I have constructed myself, from residential and commercial to retail outlets. I have always had the desire to name a business after a city. With the amazing story of Rwanda, I decided to name the business after its capital city”.

He added that: “When I bought the property, the initial plan was to use it as my office space, a workshop for our metal works, and a place to house some heavy equipment. However, I realised South Odorkor wasn’t for such industrial services so I needed to have another plan”.

He is a night-time person who often hangs out at sports bars and lounges with friends before going home. Knowing the boys will always want to be with him, he decided to refurbish the building to create a business to cater for their quest to hang out and have some fun.

That was what led him to set up a place for him and his boys to hangout, which was eventually developed into a hospitality unit to provide first rate and tailored services. Kegali Hotel was then birthed in 2017 after he managed to put the whole design together, consisting 10 rooms, a bar, a restaurant and sky bar.

“Interestingly, it started on a very good note and the feedback was very great, especially for people in South Odorkor and its environs who will usually have to travel to Labone or Osu to have fun. There is now an option which is closer to them, brand new with a very cool vibe. It wasn’t all-smooth though, but with the bigger picture in mind, I remained resolute amid all the challenges. And it has been great, I must admit,” he added.

Currently, Kegali Hotel has 15 rooms and the clients of the hotel remain the central focus of management in all its operations to ensure they are given a great experience to leave the hotel with a great and lasting impression. In spite of the challenging nature of the business, Mr. Humphreys indicated that per their business module and plan, they have made some great strides.

“We have managed to do some great things, and to describe our major milestones in the first five years as amazing will definitely be an understatement. We have had several celebrities patronising our services including Samini, Kelvyn Boy, Yaa Pono, Nana Tuffuor, Dada KD, Nat Brew, the Shatta Movement crew and others. We have hosted several events from listening sessions to album launches for musicians, happy hour for some of our corporate clients, birthday celebrations, wedding anniversary parties and others,” he stated.

Just like any business, the challenges are certain to come. It is no secret that the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit in the past years due to the coronavirus pandemic, with recovery process now underway. According to Mr. Humphreys, hospitality businesses are continually faced with many challenges regarding trends and customer expectations as the industry is rapidly growing, leaving several organisations struggling to keep up with the demands. He urged businesses to invest into research and development in order to overcome some of these challenges.

“We had the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which brought operations to a total halt, affecting businesses around the world. For us, we lost a lot of clients who used to patronise our spa services as well as some good staff in the process. To ensure business sustainability, we converted the spa section into rooms – beautiful suites. It is doing very well and I don’t regret making that decision. We have also found alternative ways of doing things in the aftermath of COVID, and we are relying heavily on technology at the moment,” he revealed.

After five years, what is next for Denzel Humphreys and his Kegali Hotel brand? “Going forward, we are looking at opening other branches in Accra, then replicate the Kegali Hotel brand across the country. The plan will be to rent properties or partner with property owners in the other regions to run Kegali Hotel in other regions as bed and breakfast. Considering how capital intensive this will be, we will prefer to have partnership with property owners in order to achieve this,” he concluded.

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