2006, November 11 - Posted to the web November 10, 2006
The Monitor (Kampala)
News Article/speech
By Muhereza Kyamutetera

Serena Hotel World Class, Says Museveni

Kampala - His Highness the Aga Khan has said that the inauguration of the Kampala Serena Hotel marks a "great beginning" to the planned investment in a quality circuit of new resorts and safari lodges in Uganda.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 5-star Serena Hotel yesterday.

The Aga Khan, President Yoweri Museveni and Prince Amyn Aga Khan opened the Hotel at a colourful ceremony in Kampala. "Our intention is that the model we have adopted elsewhere in the region will also be applied here so that this major new hotel in the capital city can be followed as soon as necessary allocations are granted by a quality circuit of new resorts and safari lodges in the Ugandan country side," the Aga Khan said.

"When that happens, a new east African travel circuit will be completed featuring world class state of the art facilities, comprising a unique array of inspiring attractions and offering a holiday experience second to none." He said in all of these places, the Serena projects exemplify a larger strategy.

"In all these places, our goal is not merely to build an attractive building or to fill its rooms with visitors, but also to make strategic investments which many private investors might be reluctant to make, but which promises to produce magnificent multiplier effect as its impact ripples through the local communities," said the Aga Khan.

In his speech, the President praised the Aga Khan over his continued investment in the country and his being a reliable partner in the development of Uganda. Mr Museveni said the new Serena mirrored the economic recovery that Uganda had gone through.

"The story of Serena is the story of the recovery of Uganda. That we can have such a world class hotel in Uganda is proof that Uganda is recovering," he said.

"This facility is truly a world class facility...it is a magnificent piece of investment. I must salute His Highness the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community here. They have been good partners," the President said.

The Kampala Serena Hotel is the latest addition to the Serena Group of Hotels owned and operated by Tourism Promotion Services and arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (Akfed).

The new hotel is an addition to the 25 hotel properties spread across Africa and Asia including Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, Zanzibar and Tajikistan.

"Our intention has been that the Kampala Serena should become a flagship property second to none in this country and city. It must take its place with our other city centre serena hotels; Nairobi, Maputo, Arusha in the region, Islamabad, Faisalbad, Quetta and Kabul in Asia," Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Chairman of Serena Tourism Promotion Services said.

Prince Amyn said once the hotel breaks even it will be listed on the Uganda Stock Exchange so that Ugandans can have a stake in it.

Museveni, who said his first contact with Serena was during his bush days, said that TPS should be extended maximum cooperation so that it could complete its planned hotels and lodges circuit in the country.

"We must give him all that he needs so that he completes all he is talking about," he said of the Aga Khan's speech which he also said is a must read for all cabinet ministers. The President invited the Aga Khan to invest in the processing of natural resources like coffee, cotton, fruits and leather.

"I am interested in value addition. I am inviting the Aga Khan to come and participate with us in value addition," he said. Serena Hotel, formerly Nile Hotel has been expanded from an 85-room facility to a 152- five-star room complex at a cost of over $30.5 million.

The hotel has 108 hotel rooms, 32 executive rooms, 8 corner suites, 3 business suites and one presidential suite.

All rooms are fully air conditioned, have large bathrooms with separate bath, toilet & shower facilities, hair driers, in-room satellite television, internet access via data port and wireless internet connectivity, direct dialing telephone with multiple lines and voice mail, modem hook-ups for computers, a mini bar and private safes and tea/coffee making facilities.

Also available at the hotel is a gift shop, a beauty salon and boutiques. The hotel also has two bars, three restaurants, a fully equipped business centre and a variety of conference rooms, the biggest of which is the 1300-seater Victoria Room. The magnificent Maisha Health Club gives members and hotel guests, exclusive access to a large swimming pool, fully equipped gym, steam rooms, sauna, aerobics room and massage.

"The Kampala Serena Hotel like its many sister projects will be a place where the local and global intersect- enriching the lives of all who participate in this process," said the Aga Khan adding: "We are proud that our projects exemplify the highest standards of corporate governance and human resource development."

He said the Group would continue to invest in travel and leisure because it believes that the "sector stands out as one that offers enormous unrealised potential."

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