Regional hospitality leader does not rest on its laurels


(Posted 08th August 2016)

Regional hospitality market leader Serena Hotels are clearly keeping an eye on the competition and as a host of international hotel brands are now pushing into East Africa are steps being taken across Serena’s city properties to upgrade, modernize and add capacity to stay ahead in the game of hotel snakes and ladders where leadership if often challenged and rankings change from year to year.

A few weeks ago Serena’s CEO Mahmud Janmohammed announced the signing of an 8 million US Dollars loan from French lender PROPARCO in Kampala for the expansion of Uganda’s best city hotel, which at the same time also celebrated its 10th anniversary of the launch as a Serena property.
Among the media present there were some who doubted that adding some 36 more suites and rooms, creating a champagne bar and a new dedicated Residents Executive Lounge, would be completed in the timeframe Mr. Janmohammed suggested.
However, a recent site inspection revealed that the project is not just well underway but actually ahead of schedule already, inspite of the self imposed restrictions vis a vis building noise to avoid inconveniencing guests staying at the hotel.

Serena’s top management and board members at the end of July were in Kampala to witness the construction progress at their Ugandan flagship hotel before then also having a look at the ongoing work of the second 9 holes of the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa, which should be complete in 2017. At that stage will Uganda then have a second, but far superior 18 hole championship course after the one owned by the Uganda Golf Union in the centre of the city.

The addition of rooms at the Kampala Serena, from previously 152 to 188 when this project phase is complete, is a sign of market confidence by Serena, as is the ongoing investment in upgrading soft furnishings in the existing rooms.

It is no doubt however also being cognizant of the fact that new competition is emerging on the Ugandan horizon as the construction of a new Radisson Blu has now commenced while reportedly new suitors have emerged for the problem riddled so called Kampala Hilton, from which that hotel group reportedly pulled out some time ago.

A similar but rather more extensive exercise is underway in Dar es Salaam, where the Serena Hotel is undergoing a major transformation.
While no new rooms will be added in Dar is the entire hotel lobby undergoing a change in appearance with a new Swahili wooden ceiling giving the impression that one enters into a mansion rather than a hotel.

In addition will all the ground floor restaurants also be modernized and refurbished, as will the ball room across several distinct phases to keep the interruptions for guests to a bare minimum. State of the art security features are being incorporated in the lobby rebuild, with baggage scanning moved to a more remote and therefore more secure location away from the main entrance of the hotel. The Maisha Spa too is undergoing a major transformation, providing more space, more facilities and direct access from inside of the hotel for guests.

Once the present work phases have been completed will according to information received all the rooms be refurbished and modernized, including of state of the art energy and water saving features.

In Nairobi is the Nairobi Serena set for a major expansion and refurbishment, again to keep this Leading Hotel of the World at the cutting edge of both technology as well as guest comfort and when more information about the time frame and scope has been made available will this be shared here for the benefit of my readers.