Marasa Africa gives Umubano Hotel face-lift

Sunday April 15 2018

Umubano Hotel

Umubano Hotel is currently being rehabilitated by new investors to reclaim its glory. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION 

By KABONA ESIARA
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Marasa Africa, a subsidiary of the Madhvani Group, has started rehabilitation of 100-room Marasa Umubano Hotel in Kigali.

The first phase of the project will cost over Rwf8.5 billion ($10 million), and is expected to be completed after six months.

“We plan to complete the entire façade renovation except the ground in the next six months. The refurbishment will happen sequentially and in a very systematic way, which will help us to operate the hotel and as well carry out the renovations,” said Parasuramn Eswar, director of corporate affairs at Madhivani Group.

Marasa Africa bought Umubano Hotel on April 1, 2017 from the government of at $20 million after it was reposed from Libyan government, which owned majority stake in the hotel but failed to renovate it for years.

Officials who closely followed the liquidation process of Umubano Hotel after the time Libyans were kicked out of the business say the value of the hotel was $49 million, but government settled for less.

TripAdvisor — the largest travel site — said besides the need to paint outside walls of the hotel, the façade and the curtains are greying behind old windows and soviet style concrete balconies.

Attracting clients

Tour operators are optimistic that the strategic location of Marasa Hotel—near Kigali Convention Centre its site in Kacyiru — will help the new investor attract clients.

“The ongoing major facelift will lift Marasa Umubano’s standing on the market,” said Gregg Bakunzi, chief executive of Amahoro Tours.

The Marasa Umubano rivals in the industry are Four Star Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Lemigo Hotel, Gorilla Golf, Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Lake Kivu Serena, Nyamata’s Hotel Golden Tulip La Palisse and Hotel des Mille Colline.

Increased numbers of quality hotels has seen Rwanda attract more international and regional conferences.

According to Rwanda Convention Bureau, a government arm promoting events and tourism, last year, over 169 conferences attended by 28,306 international delegates were hosted.

Officials at the bureau said the outlook of the conference tourism remains positive. This year, they bureau projects that at least 123 conferences will be hosted, each with 500 delegates who will generate at least Rwf63 billion ($74 million).

Price wars

Mr Bakunzi warned that the growing supply in hotel rooms in the country has resulted in price wars, especially by new entrants on the market to attract clients, a development he said is not sustainable.
Mr Eswar said during the first phase, the front façade — outer side of the hotel is to be refurbished.
“This is to address the element of elegance to the strong edifice with a new drop off canopy at entrance, vertical wooden fins in the balconies at all floors,” said Mr Eswar.
The basement, kitchen, plant room, ground floor andreception will be rehabilitated.
The conference rooms, meeting rooms, bar & restaurant, entrance Porche, guest rooms and Corridors from first to fifth floor shall also be refurbished.
Madhvani also plans to build a new health club abutting the Pool bar which will house gym, aerobic space, spa, steam, sauna and adequate wash & change rooms and Teppanyaki Restaurant.