The Kampala Serena Hotel – The New Normal Of Service


(Posted 04th of July 2020)

There is a so-called ‘New Normal‘ which has made its round through the hospitality industry, not just in Uganda or East Africa but the rest of the world.
It is a new phrase, which no doubt will be a contender for the 2020 New Phrase of the Year award but in essence it has brought about major changes in how hotels and restaurants now do business.
The Kampala Serena Hotel, now open again for the past few days, had prior to opening spent a lot of time and resources acquiring new equipment and training their staff how to use it effectively and safely.
The main hotel operation, both the rooms division and the F&B division, show significant changes since my last visit some four months ago, on almost the last day before Uganda went into lockdown and the hotel had to close its doors following government directives. Previous articles in this series have made reference to it and the links will be shared at the bottom of the post.
Today though we take a look at Conferencing, Events and finally the new way of delivering room service orders – as in room dining is for many of the guests a preferred option as they seek to stay out of public places.

Attached to the Kampala Serena Hotel is the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, the largest of its kind in the city and a location which prior to the lockdown was in constant demand.
While there are several conference and meeting rooms at the main hotel too, is it the conference centre which in the past saw large events and meetings take place – something on which the global pandemic has now enforced major changes.

Conference and event room set ups now show the kind of physical distancing required to keep safe spaces between attendees and the rooms are of course sanitized on a daily basis to meet the exacting standards now introduced and practiced by Serena Hotels throughout their units. While this reduces the capacity of venues available does it reflect that ominous ‘new normal‘ hotels and restaurants across the world now face and have to adjust to.

Staff attached to both indoor and outdoor events, besides their face masks also have to wear face shields to give them maximum protection and food on offer is now served by a member of staff as guests are no longer allowed to use utensils like spoon or tongs and, as was the case in past, serve themselves.
On a side note has the hotel already confirmed that when regular buffets are being restored as a dining feature, all food will be served by staff attached to a buffet set up to keep conditions hygienic and safe.
At the Ssese Cake Shop but also other locations, are physical distancing reminders displayed on the floor and across the hotel are sanitizers available for both staff and guests.

Later today will the hotel host their first post reopening wedding, which in the Ugandan context is now being referred to as a ‘scientific wedding‘, to be understood as one with very few guests at the main registrar’s ceremony or in church and the same applies then for the reception. The Ugandan government has set maximum numbers which for now apply, resulting in very much trimmed invitation lists – and those in attendance do know that they are the most important people in the lives of the newly weds and not just there to make up numbers or to please someone.

Meanwhile has the meal service and in particular room service at the hotel also undergone the changes required to meet health and safety standards required by the licencing authorities in Kampala but also the even more exacting standards Serena Hotels as a group have adopted.

Room service is now delivered only to the outside of the door, no longer into the room itself, and a guest will have to pull the delivery trolley inside after the server has given the necessary explanations, like some food may have been stored in the hot compartment.

ATCNews followed the delivery exercise from kitchen to room and readers have the opportunity to watch the YouTube clip taken – of course with permission of both hotel and the guest involved.

ATCNews also had the opportunity to look behind the scenes and see areas of the hotel which are normally hidden from the eyes of guests. Questions had been asked following recent articles, what health and safety measures are applied across the back of house, from the point where staff enter the hotel, to the delivery of goods and the kitchen operation.
Pictures, it is said, say more than a thousand words and therefore is a pictorial included here to show exactly what happens in areas of the hotel normally off limits to guests and other visitors.
Again, many thanks to the hotel’s General Manager Anthony Chege and the Director of F&B Mr. James Odenyo, who made this possible.

Links for easy access to previous articles: