Arguments are often flying about my social network pages when the word luxurious is being used to describe often rather utilitarian accommodation on the Ugandan safari circuit or for the hotels in the city and in Entebbe.
Either misunderstood, or outright misused, this word should stand for some level of quality in location, fittings and furnishings, finishing and of course that all important level of service, not to forget the food in the equation.
A number of properties are in fact coming to that level besides the fact that a 5 star experience can be quite an individual choice, as I in the past rated for instance the RainForest Lodge in Mabira or the Chobe Safari Lodge in Murchisons Falls with a personal 5 rating.
Yet in the city, and Entebbe for that matter, things stand quite differently and it is therefore no surprise that Ugandas one and only winner as Ugandas Leading Hotel fell to the Kampala Serena Hotel, where indeed appearance go hand in hand with superior service and for certain excellent food.
The World Travel Awards for 2012 crowned the Kampala Serena Hotel, a Member of the Leading Hotels of the World as the one and only property seen fit to pass muster and congratulations are in order for the management and staff at the hotel, from the doormen and concierges over the front office to the bars and restaurants, ground keepers and security included as in particular the latter, on entry into the 17 acre compound, display professionalism and courteous manners.
The same applies incidentally to the Kigali Serena Hotel, which also turned out to be Rwandas one and only award winner, leaving a personal favourite, the Nyungwe Forest Lodge out of the rankings. There in Kigali as here in Kampala, the other competition has not yet made it to that level, and while on the way, only time will tell when Rwanda will have more than one award winners.
For all the others, those I mentioned before and a handful of additional properties well on the way for such recognition in coming years, it is a word of encouragement. Perform well, at all times, and no doubt those voting annually for the World Travel Awards, mainly travel agents and the hands on experience by their clients, who upon coming back render judgement, will surely take notice of persistently delivered quality and perhaps in 2013 or thereafter, Uganda will finally have a few more World Travel Award winners, similar to Tanzania with 4 this year, Zanzibar with two or Kenya with a whopping 8 winners in various categories, including the Swahili Beach Resort which only opened its doors in December last year but under the able guidance of Mike Round Turner, a veteran hotelier, catapulted itself into the top ranks already.
Burundi, the fifth of the EAC countries, left empty handed this year but the arrival in Bujumbura of Serena Hotels, due to take over the Hotel Source de Nil in the centre of the capital city, will very likely be rewarded in coming years by Burundi too earning a top ranking for one of their hotels. Watch this space.