Serena hotels, a subsidiary of Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) has taken over the management of Nile Hotel international. The Minister for privatisation, Prof. Peter Kasenene announced last month that Serena Totels had signed a thirty-year lease with the government and promised to invest US $ 18 million in renovations.
The minister said that the hotel industry needed big players, ” like Serena who have a longer term vision for the sector and as such, the completion of the concession does achieve our broader objective of strengthening the tourism industry.”
Serena hotels which operates 22 hotels, resorts and safari lodges in East Africa, Mozambique and in the Middle East, had been operating in Kenya and Tanzania since the early 1970s.
AKFED chairman, Prince Amyn Aga Khan said, ” not only will the Kampala Serena Hotel help us expand the established Serena Safari and leisure circuit in East Africa, it will also, we hope, enable us to advance tourism development throughout Uganda and act as a spur to other investors in this sector.”
The company General Manager, Kilian Lugwe revealed in a press release (Februay 20, 2004) that with effect from February 15 th to September 30, 2004 when the hotel closes for a year to enable major renovations, the new management reduced hotel rates until when it re-opens.
Kilian also said that the renovation would also include increasing the existing rooms from 85 to 146, building two new restaurants, a new bar and a residents lounge. The existing conference, banqueting and outside catering facilities would be upgraded while a new health club and sports facilities would be constructed.
The new managers are also planning to redesign the hotel architecture to incorporate the local artisanal traditoions. ” Symbion International Limited archtects have presented a proposal that will draw on indigenous culttural elements, Uganda’s flora and fauna, distinctive topographic features and aspects of its history for design themes,” the press release further said.
The new developments have attracted alot of attention from the promoters and local operators in the tourism industry. The General Manager of Uganda Tourist Board, James Bahinguzi hailed Serena Hotels investing in Uganda and promised to promote their new rates both locally and abroad.