UGANDA AIRLINES FARES TO ENTEBBE MAKE FOR GREAT GOLFING PACKAGES
(Posted 16th February 2020)
Golf is a popular sport across Eastern Africa and in particular in Kenya have new high quality championship courses sprang up over the past two decades while the rest of the region lagged considerably behind. Kigali for instance has only one course to play, not much for a capital city by any standards. Nairobi and its environs in stark contrast offers golfers a dozen courses to play on including some of Kenya’s most acclaimed like Muthaiga or Karen, to name but two.
Developments of new courses range from the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort to the Leisure Lodge Golf Club in Diani and of course Kenya’s highest ranked, the Vipingo Ridge Golf Resort, which meets the exacting standards of the USPGA. Several other courses are under development and are integrated into gated estates – where golfers, from both Kenya and further abroad – had the opportunity to enjoy their game on new facilities purpose built to attract a high spending clientele.
Zanzibar opened a new course some years ago at the Sea Cliff Resort & Spa but that literally ends the list, until the Lake Victoria Golf Resort & Spa in Uganda on the shores of Lake Victoria opened up, first with nine and then more recently with a full 18 holes.
(The layout of the first 9 holes show all the water hazards so novices need to bring a box of balls, or two)
Serena Hotels, regional market leader by some distance in terms of both quality and the sheer number of properties in the wider region, has ventured into new territory with their Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort, the first such sports oriented property the group manages but probably not the last one.
The course itself was planned in conjunction with ‘Mark Wiltshire Golf’, a Mauritius based company specialized in developing courses and then managing them but was designed by Golf Plan with Kevin Ramsey named as principal architect. Sitting on some 83.5 hectares of prime lakeshore land does the par 72 course have a length of 6.725 metres and comprises four par five, ten par four and four par three holes.
The 18 holes – the second nine were completed last year – pose major challenges to golfers as the tight fairways, aligned along ponds and lake inlets, are demanding and the slightest mishit will feed the balls to the fish or frogs.
(This correspondent on the 18th hole with the clubhouse and marina in the background)
The resort itself is also home to a small marina which adjoins the main club house, itself extensive enough to cater for the influx of guests for tournaments during the day and the prize giving functions in the evening, and then some more. Boat excursions are on offer for those who either prefer to watch the play from offshore or rather ‘hunt’ for the extensive variety of birds which make the reed grass and wetlands along many stretches of the Lake Victoria shores their habitat.
The buildings, architecture and colours alike, resemble a Mediterranean village with the master’s mansion in the centre of it, giving guests that unique feeling to be somewhere else, while of course the lake, and a few islands dotted between shore and horizon, could just as well – especially on a blue skied sunny day – be at an ocean or another lake, though of course it is Lake Victoria.
(The clubhouse and marina at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and a pair of Casqued Hornbills on a nearby tree)
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city is the resort located off the main highway from Kampala to Entebbe. From the Central Business District it is but 20 kilometres while the distance from the international airport is about 30 kilometres. The Entebbe to Kampala highway has a section branching off at Kajjansi and two exits to the Lake Victoria Serena have cut the drive time, once leaving the airport, to just half an hour.
Set in extensive gardens, which provide a tranquil atmosphere, is the resort also home to dozens of bird species, a bonus for ornithologists who come to play golf when not watching birds of the feathered kind. Fish eagles, flocks of Ibis and Hamerkop but also Casqued Hornbills are among those more vocal, especially at dawn.
It was in fact these hornbills, fish eagle and plenty of ibis which calls’ echoed across the resort in the morning, giving notice to the guests that day had broken and for those on a 7 a.m. tee-off time it would be now or else lose the slot, as demand for play on weekends in particular has seen a stellar rise. After all, this is THE golf course in Uganda, and the members’ register, corporate and individual, has filled up fast. In comparison to the rather aged Uganda Golf Union’s course in the centre of Kampala has a serious rival risen to prominence and major national and regional tournaments have already been held here while continental tournaments will no doubt follow.
(Mediterranean villas, residences and rooms make this resort the arguably best along the Lake Victoria shores)
The resort however offers more than ‘just golf’ and guests can enjoy a game of tennis, laze around the swimming pool or else take advantage of the presence of Serena’s Maisha Spa brand in the resort, where a full range of treatments and massages is available for guests. After all it is the purpose of a resort to offer guests literally any activity and pampering option without them having to venture out in search of other locations.
With only 114 rooms, 8 Executive and 2 Presidential Suites, which includes Uganda’s most highly rated Presidential Suite, is the resort still intimate enough to find some solitude, more so as the two storied accommodation units are generously spaced to allow those who seek it the privacy they require to remain private. Ranked 5star by the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism it is a match to its sister operation in the city, the Kampala Serena Hotel.
(The ‘regular buffet’ at the resort’s main restaurant, the ‘Citadel’ – plenty of choices prepared by friendly chefs)
Three restaurants, including the one at the club house, offer culinary delights which leave few questions asked by one’s palate unanswered. A wide range of dishes is available, ranging from Vegetarian over poultry to pork, beef and of course lake fish but also a range of seafood offerings.
(Bedrooms at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort)
The resort, which has major outdoor function areas including a replica coliseum large enough to have a massive function tent on the inner green and still have plenty of space for large crowds to mingle outdoors, have already made it a favourite for weddings and large corporate events, product launches and even a much in demand spot for TV commercials. General Manager Frankline Nyakundi and his team will be more than happy to respond to enquiries, besides looking after their guests whom they welcome as strangers and bid farewell to as friends.
With Uganda Airlines now flying to Entebbe from Mombasa and Nairobi can golfers from Kenya – and other parts of the region of course too – enjoy Ugandan hospitality from the moment they board their flight, and then get some more when after a mere half an hour after leaving Entebbe they reach the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa.
Uganda Airlines allows economy class passengers one piece of checked baggage of 23 kgs AND a golf bag, unlike some other airlines where this attracts extra charges.
Business class passengers’ baggage allowance is 32 kgs for one checked piece of luggage AND in addition the golf bag as a second checked item.
An excellent time keeping record and superior catering on board are added reasons why more and more passengers have in recent months shifted to flying with Uganda Airlines – www.ugandairlines.com.
Golf package options provide Uganda Airlines passengers with yet more reasons why they should visit Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and of course fly with the country’s new national airline, which offers convenient departure times from both Mombasa and Nairobi. Arriving in the evening for instance allows for a good night’s rest before then teeing off at 7 a.m. for a full 18 holes play while up to three flights a day from Entebbe to Nairobi give golfers ample choices to select their traveling time when heading back home.
For sure, this new resort is a pearl in its own right and a perfect addition to Uganda’s other leisure offerings.
Time to pay Uganda a visit, for golf, adventures and so much more and of course experienced best when flying with Uganda Airlines.
(www.Ugandairlines.com – Ready to take you golfing)