Friday, 10th November, 2006
By Anne Mugisa
Aga Khan to open Kampala Serena Hotel
THE leader of the Ismailia Muslim sect, His Highness the Aga Khan, arrived yesterday for the opening of his newly-completed hotel, the Kampala Serena Hotel.
He and President Yoweri Museveni were scheduled to open the exquisite hotel yesterday evening. Earlier yesterday, the Aga Khan met government officials, his staff said.
Kampala Serena Hotel will be the venue for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in November 2007.
The Aga Khan, who arrived in his personal plane, number LX-PAK, to waiting members of his sect and hotel staff, was met at Entebbe International Airport by investment state minister Ssemakula Kiwanuka.
Looking jovial, the Aga Khan in a blue suit, cream shirt and blue-and-cream checked tie, disembarked from his craft at exactly 7:55pm, accompanied by his entourage.
He and Ssemakula hugged and then shook hands before he was led to a waiting Benz, adorned with a flag. He did not address the media on arrival.
A motorcade of 14 vehicles with Police escort accompanied the Aga Khan from the airport to Serena Hotel. Activity on Entebbe Road was paralysed as the motorcade passed.
People came to the roadside hoping to catch a glimpse of the Aga Khan, although it was dark. Vehicles gave way and parked on the roadside to allow the motorcade pass. The motorcade, however, got held up at the Clock Tower when other vehicles rushed through Katwe in a bid to go past the point before the motorcade.
The vehicles ended up blocking the road and the Police had to disembark and create way before the Aga Khan’s motorcade proceeded.
The hotel, which was formerly Nile Hotel, cost over $30.5m (about sh60b) to reconstruct.
The reconstruction, which included a complete make-over of both the interior and exterior, was completed in a record 17 months. The number of rooms shot from 80 to 152.
The ground floor and the first floor were rebuilt. An additional floor was built. A new lobby and business centres were installed and the lifts replaced.
Additional restaurants and bars, water falls and swimming pool, and a state-of-the-art health club and other recreation facilities were also added.
Serena Hotels chief Mahmud Jan Mohammed told journalists recently that the Serena Group also intended to carry out new developments on the International Conference Centre. They will include shopping complexes.
He said the group was considering construction of another facility in the Queen Elizabeth National Park or Murchison Falls National Park. He declined to say what the facility would be.
Mahmud said the hotel was receiving recognition in East Africa as the finest.
He said Kampala Serena Hotel had a 30-year lease, with an extension of another 25 years.
HIS HIGHNESS: The Aga Khan is received by Ssemakula at Entebbe
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