RWANDA NOW ABLE TO HOST MAJOR CONFERENCES AS HOTEL CAPACITY EXPANDS ACROSS THE BOARD
(Posted 08th June 2018)
Rwanda, not just in the capital Kigali, has in recent years seen a major expansion in hotel capacity and not just in the five star market segment.
The opening of the new convention centre and adjoining Radisson Blu Hotel two years ago and the subsequent opening of the Marriott Kigali Hotel have certainly injected added capacity in the top end of the market, though few if any would dispute that the Kigali Serena Hotel remains the top dog and will for some time remain hard to beat, regardless what ranking TripAdvisor attaches to them.
The new hotels are fine specimen no doubt and do their chain operators proud but have some way to go to move beyond the shining glass, marble and steel and give their properties both soul and character, something the Kigali Serena Hotel has in abundance.
Later this year is a new Ramada Hotel and Residences, almost opposite from both the Marriott Kigali Hotel and the Kigali Serena Hotel, expected to open its doors, adding yet more capacity into the top bracket of the market, supporting the aggressive marketing of the country across the region, the continent and internationally as one of Africa’s top MICE destinations, able to host large and very large conferences and conventions without running short of rooms.
But hotel developments did not stop at the five star level. Another Radisson Hotels brand, Park Inn By Radisson, has taken the lead in the four star segment of the market in Kigali, a segment hard fought over by a number of other locally owned and managed hotels which however often struggle with service delivery and food quality, ambience, decor and equipment – the use of appliances which are meant for domestic purposes such as bathroom fittings is strictly not advisable and reveals shortcuts not helpful to a hotel’s reputation.
Leaders in the three star market segment are City Blue Hotels, now with two hotels in Kigali – the City Blue Embassy Row Hotel and Suites and the Urban by City Blue. The regional hotel group, the company also manages hotels in Uganda and Kenya, is however also expanding into the countryside and the opening a few months ago of the City Blue Epic Hotel and Suites in Nyagatare – located between Akagera National Park and the border with Uganda at Mirama Hills – will be followed later this year or early next year by a similar venture in Cyangugu.
Add newcomer Onomo Hotels to the scene, a hotel which is still in the soft opening phase but has already made inroads in the three star market as a result of a convincing concept, a great location, very good food and, a major factor, rates starting below 80 US Dollars a night for bed and breakfast.
My TripAdvisor review says it all and leaves no doubt that I was impressed, to say the least. Onomo Hotels presently operates already 11 hotels in South, West, North and now East Africa and is expanding with plans to launch hotels in Kampala, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, among other key cities across the continent offering quality accommodation and services at affordable rates.
News have also emerged that the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, located right at the sandy shores of Lake Kivu, will see some major refurbishments and modernization go underway later this year to offer clients yet better comfort, standards and services. The hotel has notably established itself as a base for gorilla tracking, where leisure tourists can leave for Musanze / Kinigi / Volcanoes National Park in the early hours – the drive to the park entrance is less than two hours – and be back late afternoon to enjoy a soothing massage in the hotel’s Spa or sit in a sunchair on the beach taking in the grand scenery the location is famous for. Besides leisure business is the hotel of course also the top address for business travelers in Gisenyi, catering in particular for cross border traffic from nearby Congo.
Elsewhere in the country have news emerged that a new tented camp in Akagera National Park will open later this year, meeting growing demand for Rwanda’s only Big Five national park. This follows the opening of several smaller properties around the Volcanoes National Park where accommodation in the one, two and three star market bracket is also available in Musanze itself.
Pre- and post conference tours are therefore equally finding enough space, be it in Akagera, around the Volcanoes National Park or even in more distant Nyungwe.