Over the weekend, the people that matter in the travel industry met in Seychelles for the 22nd World Travel Awards to recognize and reward outstanding achievements within the global travel industry. At the awards that The Wall Street Journal dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry, Kigali Serena Hotel was named the Leading Hotel in Rwanda.
To the folks that came up with decision, allow me to inform you that did make me laugh a bit when I got the news. Let’s be honest guys, this must be the easiest job you have ever done for any amount of pay. I am sure anyone who doesn’t know that Serena Kigali is the leading hotel here also thinks Rwanda’s capital city is Lagos.
Established in 2007, Kigali Serena is just 10 minutes away from Kigali International Airport so you won’t have to witness those movie scenes where the film star is stuck in traffic with a cab driver who doesn’t speak his language but only steals looks through his rear view mirror. It is just a smooth ride from the airport to Kigali Serena.
Serena is not looked for, it is discovered. It is located in a very serene area that as you approach it the tone of your voice goes down unknowingly as though you are heading for confession at an old cathedral. You are welcomed by the soothing sound of a fountain that calms your nerves as you go through the security checks.
The reception area is an enigma in itself. It is built around a polished granite atrium so beautiful that you pray the receptionists delay to attend to you so you can spend time marveling at the deco with its obvious Rwandan cultural theme. The people who designed it clearly owe an apology to future designers for I can’t see what you can change to make it look better than it is.
Rwanda is written all over this place from the staff uniforms, to wall murals, to thepaintings as well as to the bed covers, not with the alphabet but with only breathtaking art. It is at moments like this that I wish I had gone back to school for a Masters degree in pretending you are not blown away by your awesome surroundings.
The executive lounge and bar is a nice place to relax at while you send that email you promised to send to your boss or partner after settling. Do you remember what I said about Rwanda being written all over the walls of this Serena? Well, while at this lounge, you will agree that the writing is even in the air. This place makes you forget the perfume you wore as the tantalizing aroma of Rwanda’s fine coffee cunningly teases your nostrils.
Not far from the lounge is the Milima restaurant whose Swahili name is a quick reminder that you are not just in Rwanda but East Africa. Still with the Swahili theme, the other magnificent restaurant in this hotel is called Sokoni Café and Bar, best known for its mouthwatering African buffet on Fridays. I am sucker for African food you know.
There is no need to worry about what you eat at these restaurants because Serena’s Maisha Health Club is just nearby. I am talking about a fully equipped gym, sauna, steam bath, Jacuzzi and aerobics with instructors that look like instructors and not club bouncers. Did I mention that there is a hair salon too? Well I just did.
The hotel rooms just show why the experience you get from Kigali Serena is top notch. The hotel has a total of 148 rooms but any of them will blow you away with the abundance of comfort therein. Don’t even ask me about the usual satellite TV, AC and Wifi.
At Kigali Serena each and every room has a shower and a bath tub? Let me rephrase. You can sit on one side or stand on the other side to do just the same thing. If that is not spoiling a guest then I need a new dictionary.
These guys really pay attention to detail for I honestly do not know many hotels whose rooms have a weighing scale in the bathroom and hairdryer on the dressing table. Once there your heart won’t skip over what you forgot to pack. It’s like they see through your mind before you make your booking. They have facilities for people with disabilities, baby sitters and a doctor on call. They got you!
As you walk to the rooms, the corridors have this thick wall to wall carpet whose sole purpose is to mute the sound of your shoes. You will need to wear those ankle bells that I see with traditional dancers, to make any noise as you walk to your room.
The superior rooms are quite the treat. Complete with a sitting area that has a sofa set for your guests, a dining table, work table and a flat screen TV. What I really mean is that while here you have two TV screens! So while other people are thinking of how to solve real world problems you will be struggling to decide which TV screen to look at.
Sitting by the poolside just feels like heaven (not that I have died and gone there) if you allow me to explain. It would be unfair to just say the hotel has a swimming pool. It doesn’t. It has a hypnotic pool experience. Apart from the shimmering sight of the pool as it negotiates how much sunlight it will take in, the waterfalls on one side offer the right soundtrack that holds time still.
While sipping my spiced African tea at this spot I even got my Lupita moment. Yes, my dream to eventually write a book become more valid for this is the very place where great writing inspiration happens. While here you get to see a bit of the different aspects of the hotel be it the exquisite rooms, Maisha Health Club, the swimming pool, open air shower by the pool and the restaurant terrace.
Kigali Serena is also the ultimate spot for conferences and social events. I have watched Anne Kansiime perform here and attended lots of conferences in the same venue. Oh and there is the gift shop that has all the Rwandan crafts to pick from so you can prove to others that you were here without showing them selfies on your phone.
I have been to four different Serena properties in Rwanda and Uganda so far and what I can assure you is that each of them offers a unique feeling and yet there is that Serena experience that cuts across thanks to the amiable staff and quality services you are sure to find at any Serena Hotel. Whatever magic you guys do, please don’t stop.