The saying that time flies once again proved right when the Kampala Serena Hotel last evening celebrated their 10th anniversary after completing the reconstruction of what in the old days was the Nile Hotel International.
Due to contractual obligations to host several key conferences for the government of Uganda at the adjoining International Conference Centre, did Serena Hotels, after taking over the property, continue to operate the hotel for more than a year. Only then was the former Nile Hotel closed down completely to allow for a near total reconstruction before re-opening as the Kampala Serena Hotel in 2006.
The phrase ‘Phoenix rising from the building rubble’ comes to mind when looking back at those days, which saw the Kampala Serena Hotel then swiftly top the rankings as best hotel in the city, reaffirmed when two years later becoming a member of ‘Leading Hotels of the World’, todate still the only such property in Uganda affiliated to this much sought after group.
Consistently high occupancy rates kept filling the 152 rooms and suites the Kampala Serena Hotel was operating with and after ten years was the time right to launch the first phase of an existing expansion plan which will see a further 38 rooms including a second Presidential Suite added, among other facilities as described in an earlier article.
Uganda’s Tourism Minister Hon. Dr. Maria Mutagamba was at hand, together with her cabinet colleague the Minister for Finance Hon. Matia Kasaija – who represented the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda – to celebrate the event, which launched with the signing of a financing agreement for a multi million US Dollar loan by France’s PROPARCO.
Dr. Mutagamba, who retired from elective politics prior to the last general election and who will leave the cabinet and her position as Minister for Tourism when President Museveni announces his new cabinet in a few weeks time, heaped praise on Serena’s management and corporate philosophy.
She was briefed by Serena’s CEO Mahmud Janmohamed about the work scope prior to the function kicking off when it was also revealed that, once the 12 months long construction period for the additional hotel facilities was completed by mid next year, Serena would turn its attention to the conference centre. Mr. Janmohamed explained that one of the world’s leading conference centre designers has been retained to draw up the plans for the modernization of the facility, which has hosted scores of international meetings since its original launch in the 1970’s.
‘The conference centre will be re-equipped with the latest technology including retractable seats in the main auditorium, and while the structure per se will not be touched, everything inside it will become state of the art, making this facility, when complete, the best in the region’ explained Mr. Janmohamed to the Minister prompting her to make mention in her speech when she said: ‘Other countries like Turkey earn a lot of money from MICE business, conferences. We in Uganda, when the conference centre has been modernized, will do the same’, clearly throwing the challenge to the Uganda Tourism Board to more vigorously and in particular more smartly market the country’s attractions, including bringing major MICE business to the Pearl of Africa.
For now however it was a ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Kampala Serena Hotel on its 10th anniversary and many thanks to the entire staff for the accomplishments over the past decade.