The Sheraton Kampala Hotel – a landmark for generations of Ugandans


(Posted 15th July 2020)

(Some of the Sheraton Kampala Hotel’s staff seen in a well distanced group photograph extending a warm welcome to guests)

The so-called ‘New Normal‘ has taken the hospitality industry in Uganda by storm, though more through orders, directives and new regulations than being an overwhelmingly voluntary move.

In fact one local hotel owner, while complaining about not getting coverage on ATCNews, said what no doubt is on the minds of many of his colleagues: ‘… how can we afford all these new measures. Everything costs a lot of money and our reserves are exhausted after government locked us down. Now they demand we spend a lot of money but they are not giving any financial assistance. This is an existential challenge now. Big hotels are a different thing but small local hotels like us, I am not sure how we can survive this. We made a lot of income from after work patrons coming for drinks and snacks but the continued curfew has wiped this market out completely. International visitors are not allowed into the country so far so income opportunities are very limited. Our small conference rooms which were busy before now can only accommodate a handful of people because of the space separation we must observe, so that business is also gone down the drain‘.

Global hotel groups like the Sheraton, now in the Marriott stable after their acquisition of Starwood Hotels, have in some contrast taken to the new regime as part of their world wide move to give their loyal clientele the peace of mind and confidence, that indeed everything humanly possible is done to ensure health and safety of guests and staff at any location around the world, and of course also in Kampala. Health and safety standards of international hotel groups often exceed local regulations and requirements as they simply must incorporate best international practice and use the latest technologies and gadgets to retain the trust of their clients.

Since the hotel was opened more than 53 years ago has it become a beacon of hospitality excellence for Ugandans, and even yours truly has been a regular customer since the early 90’s. This was all the more a reason to have a close up look at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel and share the experience and impressions with the ATCNews readers.

(Signs of the ‘New Normal‘ can be seen everywhere across the hotel)

From the arrival at the main perimeter gate of the Sheraton Kampala Hotel to the security checkpoint at the hotel lobby, from the reception, the main lobby and the coffee shop to the restaurants, are the new health and safety measures present everywhere. Physical distancing signs as well as strategically placed sanitizers have become the new norm and guests are using them. Even inside the elevators have signs been affixed on the floor, indicating where guests have to stand to keep their distance from each other.
The sitting arrangements in the main lobby of the hotel show compliance with physical distancing requirements

(Conference room setup, before and after …)

ATCNews will over the next two days take a look behind the scenes of the hotel as all departments are now starting to move from limited operations to full scale operations again. There will be interviews with key individuals about the challenges they face. Local demand is still at lower than usual levels while at the same time international visitors cannot return to Uganda for the time being due to the continued airport closure – and no date set as yet for the reopening in sharp contrast to neighbouring countries. These challenges include having to cope with reduced capacity in restaurants, conference and meeting rooms which had to be more than halved to meet government regulations, all of it impacting on the earning capacity of the hotel. We will also explore supply chain challenges and how management has become creative to stay supplied and meet the expectation customers have on a global brand hotel.

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