Shigar Fort Residence, Hunza Baltit Inn set to open
Monday, March 23, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Serena Hotels has announced the seasonal reopening of Shigar Fort Residence from March 22 and of Hunza Baltit Inn from April 1, 2009.
The Shigar Fort Residence, which is also the recipient of many international awards, is a 400 hundred-year old Fort Palace which has been restored by Aga Khan Cultural Services, Pakistan, says a press release.
This unique heritage project offers guests the opportunity to experience the restored, original architecture of a
17th century Raja Fort Palace while enjoying the modern amenities and services of a luxury guest house. It is located on the legendry route to the world’s second highest mountain K-2.
The Hunza Baltit Inn, located in the ancient town of Karimabad , stands in a magnificent setting of flower gardens with commanding views over the heavenly Hunza Valley and is a popular destination for leisure travellers.
Serena Hotels Pakistan awarded by ACCA
'Pakistan Times' Metro Desk
ISLAMABAD: ACCA Pakistan presented Approved Employer Certificate to Serena Hotels Pakistan, owned and managed by Tourism Promotion Services (Pakistan) Limited TPSP, today in a ceremony held in Islamabad.
TPSP is a subsidiary of The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) that owns and operates a network of seven hotels and office complex throughout Pakistan located at Islamabad, Faisalabad, Quetta, Swat, Gilgit, Hunza and Shigar Fort Residence in Skardu.
ACCA’s Approved Employer Scheme plays a pivotal role in the recruitment, development and retention of the ACCA members and trainees employed in the approved organisations. As an approved employer, Serena Hotels will reach global best practice in the provision of learning and development opportunities for ACCA trainees and members.
Head of ACCA Pakistan Mr Arif Masud Mirza, presented the award to Mr Aziz Boolani, Chief Pakistan presented the award to Mr Aziz Boolani, Chief Executive Officer for Serena Hotels South and Central Asia.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Boolani applauded the efforts of ACCA towards employer relationship building. He said, “We understand the need for consistent training and development and hope that this relationship with ACCA will go a long way in helping us attract and shape the brightest minds in the business.”
Mr Arif Masud Mirza said “Serena Hotels are playing an extremely important role in tourism development in Pakistan by depicting a positive image of this country globally. ACCA’s linkages with Serena Hotels will allow young talented ACCA trainees and members to work in an important and growing sector, build their knowledge and professional skills. We are very excited about working with Serena Hotels towards setting up a professional training scheme under this partnership.”
A press release says that ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. It has 362,000 students and 131,500 members in 170 countries worldwide.
ACCA has worked with governments, national organisations and development agencies in emerging economies - for over 20 years - promoting the accounting profession to create value for the communities, businesses and individuals it serves.
Interview with Mahmud Janmohamed, MD of Serena Hotels, Nairobi
Operating under the brand name Serena Hotels, Tourism Promotion Services (TPS Serena Hotels) is an international hotel group established in the mid 1970s, and currently owns and manages 29 hotels in nine countries. We spoke to the Managing Director Mahmud Janmohamed to give us an insight into the chain’s operations.
SerenaMahmoud What’s the core remit of the Serena Hotels group?
Serena Hotel’s main business is operating up-market hotels, lodges, camps and luxury resorts in some of the most exquisite and remote settings in Africa and Asia. The group is owned (majority shareholder) by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development [AKFED]—the only for-profit institution within the Aga Khan Development Network founded by the Aga Khan in 1984. Serena Hotels owns and manages a total of 29 up-market hotels, safari lodges and resorts—21 properties in Eastern Africa and eight properties in Central Asia.
How has your African performance been compared to the rest of the world?
It would be difficult to comment on the African tourism performance compared to the rest of the world, however according to various reports that I have read, travellers would rather sacrifice on other leisure activities before cancelling or delaying travel this year. Recent trends indicate a slowdown in global business travel as majority of companies have reduced travelling budgets for 2009.
Are you worried about the global economic slowdown eating into your operations?
As the global economic crisis deepens, combined with the uncertainty and decline in both customer and business confidence, demand for global tourism is expected to be a challenge for the next 12 to 18 months. Other challenges such as spiraling inflation, high cost of food and an unpredictable energy sector are expected to further slowdown the industry. Owing to our experience as a group (in operating under a wide range of economic scenarios), I believe that our tested and highly successful business model will enable us to perform well. It may not be great in the short run, but we are confident that the group’s fundamentals are healthy. It is also a learning opportunity for us. (To discover new ways to be more innovative and grow.)
What has been your biggest setback?
Government policy and actions that directly influence hospitality and tourism industries. We urge governments of various developing countries where we operate to create enabling conditions for the industry by committing adequate funds for destination marketing, for example. For developing countries to become a ‘built-to-last’ destination, governments should ensure that new developments in fragile game reserves and national parks are controlled. Additionally, improvement to infrastructure should be at a faster pace than what we see today. Locally, political wrangling should be minimized as it gives the country a poor image.
What guides your expansion process?
Among other factors, we consider the economic viability of the project, emerging opportunities within the Serena tourist safari circuit; for example opportunities to build, rehabilitate or manage hotels, resorts and lodges. We also consider AKFED’s policy of promoting tourism by investing in developing countries in order to expand their economies and create local employment.
Where do you see African hospitality in the next few years?
Africa’s potential has not been exploited to its maximum. The continent has all the natural resources and the finest weather conditions and most importantly very friendly people. Everything is available in Africa; it is just a matter of being a bit more creative to maximize its potential. To be competitive, I believe that all holiday destinations in Africa must offer combinations of eco-tourism programs, culture, wellness, adventure tourism and market the destination to special market segments (e.g. ornithologists, the golf market and special interest segments). In addition, Africa is no longer being marketed as a destination offering only the beach and the big five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) to tourists. This is a change that will make the continent more competitive as a destination in the next few years.
What is your cutting edge?
Our philosophy has always been to offer value-for-money by providing the highest standards of products and services at pocket-friendly prices. The Serena brand is also recognizable globally mainly due to our high standards in service provision and also our presence in main tourist destinations and cities. All these are a great boost to our operations in attracting new or repeat guests.
What are your future plans?
We have acquired two new properties in Southern Tanzania in the Selous Game Reserve, which now establishes Serena presence on both the Northern and Southern Circuits in Tanzania. We are also planning to develop new safari circuits in Uganda and Rwanda. We will also extend the Kenya safari circuit by establishing our presence in the lake region of Western Kenya.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Aga Khan Group interested in PTDC properties
ISLAMABAD: The Aga Khan group has shown interest in acquiring motels and restaurants of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), according to the Ministry of Tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism that during a high-level meeting held at the President House that the Aga Khan group has expressed its interest in acquiring 26 motels and restaurants owned by PTDC. They are to be privatised on public private partnership (PPP) mode of privatisation under which 26 per cent share along with management control is to be transferred to the investor.
On April 23, 2007, the Privatization Commission (PC) had invited expressions of interest (EoI) for these properties. They are located at Barseen, Besham, Chatter Plain, Khaplu, Satpara, Astak, Gupis, Phandar, Rama Lake,Gilgit, Hunza, Sust, Bamburet, Birmoglasht, Chitral, Bunni, Mastuj, Chakdara, Panakot, Saidu Sharif, Baffar, Khuzdar, Taftan, Ayubia, Katas and Hawkesbay.
For all the 12 groups of PTDC motels and restaurants, four parties filed EoIs. They included Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi and Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, while the details of all other parties, which filed EoI for each group is stated below:
Group 1 (Barseen, Besham, Chatter Plain): Eight parties had filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, Swat Continental Hotel, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, and Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd.
Group 2 (Khaplu, Satpara, Astak): Seven parties filed EoIs, namely, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, National Group of Industries, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, and Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd.
Group 3 (Gupis, Phandar, Rama Lake): Seven parties filed EoIs, namely, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, National Group of Industries, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd and Target Communications.
Group IV (Gilgit, Hunza, Sust): Eleven parties filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, Karakoram International University, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, National Group of Industries, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Sardar Builders (Pvt) Ltd, Hashoo Group Ittehad Steel Industries, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, and Petrosin Engineering Pvt Ltd.
Group V ( Bamburet, Birmoglasht, Chitral): Eleven parties filed EoIs, namely, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, Al-Khalil Enterprises, Sunfort Hotel, Aurangzeb Khan, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, Contech International, Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd and Peshawar Pipes.
Group VI ( Bunni, Mastuj): Seven parties filed EoIs, namely, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, Sunfort Hotel, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd and Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd.
Group VII (Chakdara, Panakot): Eight parties filed EoIs, namely, Serena Hotel, Ghulam Faruq, KASB Capital, Dr Hidayat Rehman & Ayub Khan, Nasir Hussain, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd and Petrosin Engineering Ltd. Group VIII ( Saidu Sharif, Baffar): Eleven parties filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, Swat Continental Hotel, Serena Hotel, Khalid Khan, Caravan Motors, KASB Capital, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Sardar Builders (Pvt) Ltd, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd and Petrosin Engineering Pvt Ltd. Group IX (Khuzdar, Taftan): Seven parties filed EoIs, namely, Saleem & Co, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital Ltd, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, Petrosin Engineering Pvt Ltd and Bezinjo Construction Company, Balochistan.
Group X (Ayubia): Twenty-one parties filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, BNP (Private) Limited, Sheikh Allaudin, Serena Hotel, Carvan Motors, KASB Capital, TASS Associates, Sunfort Hotel, National Group of Industries, Abdul Rehman K Abbasi & Associates, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Khyber International, ITHFZ Mills Ltd, Sardar Builders (Pvt) Ltd, Hashoo Group, Ittehad Steel Industries, Mian Ilyas Meraj, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, Gerry's Travels & Holidays and Nizam Din & Sons (Pvt) Ltd.
Group XI (Katas): Nine parties filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital Ltd, Sunfort Hotel, Jamil & Co, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Sardar Builders (Pvt) Ltd, Dhan Cement Industries (Pvt) Ltd and Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd. Group XII (Hawkesbay): Eleven parties filed EoIs, namely, PACE (Pakistan) Ltd, BNP (Pvt) Limited, Serena Hotel, KASB Capital, Syed Tasneem Hussain Naqvi, Hashoo Group, Pakistan Private Equity Management Ltd, Petrosin Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, Gerry's Travels & Holidays, Nizam Din & Sons (Pvt) Ltd and Saleh & Sons.
Serena announces new luxury camp for Soysambu, Kenya
18th March 2010 Print Email Share
Serena Hotels will commence construction of a new luxury tented camp in Kenya in April 2010, a move that will further strengthen the existing Serena safari circuit in East Africa.
The New Lake Elementaita Serena Camp, will be located along the shores of the flamingo and pelican fringed Lake Elementaita within the Soysambu Conservancy, which is approximately 120km from Nairobi and 30Km from Lake Nakuru National Park.
Offering a blend of exclusivity and adventure, the new camp will comprise 25 luxury tents, a dining and lounge area, spa and swimming pool enjoying magnificent views of the Lake.
During the construction contract signing, the Serena Hotels’ Managing Director, Mahmud Janmohamed said, “There is a very clear need for high quality accommodation options for both local and international travelers to this part of the country. We are excited about this development and we look forward to providing new opportunities for the local communities who must benefit from the tourism industry”.
The Lake Elementaita Serena camp is scheduled for opening on 15th December 2010.
Serena opens branch at Lake Victoria
Monday, 19th April, 2010 E-mail article Print article
The front view of the newly-launched Lake Victoria Serena Resort
By Anne Mugisa
THE Serena Group has set up a second hotel in the country, the Lake Victoria Serena Resort. The resort, which is part of the Aga Khan economic empire, lies on an expansive piece of land measuring 275 acres on the shores of Lake Victoria.
The land belonged to the Ranch on the Lake Hotel until about four years ago when Serena Group bought it and built a new hotel. The facility has so far cost $20m (about sh40b).
Another $30m (sh60b) is earmarked to complete the construction.
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday presided over the official opening.
He, however, left shortly after unveiling the plaque on the hotel for the launch of the country’s five-year development plan.
Museveni delegated the trade and tourism minister, Kahinda Otafiire, to represent him.
The resort has 124 rooms and conference facilities. But work is going on to build 54 houses and 90 apartments. Also under construction are a golf course and a marina.
The launch was attended by Cabinet ministers, diplomats, visiting Kenyan government officials, including tourism minister Najib Balala, and members of the Ugandan business community.
Otafiire said Uganda had also resolved to open up Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo and Murchison Falls parks for investment.
He said the country has had a shortage of hotels and tourism facilities due to lack of peace.
Otafiire cautioned Ugandans not take peace for granted, and called on those criticising the Government to acknowledge its contribution to peace and development.
“You may not like us. You may not like Museveni as a person or the way he looks but he symbolises peace and stability and so does the NRM. So vote for him,” he said.
He also commended the Aga Khan for the investment, saying Ugandan should take advantage of the large East African market to make money.
Otafiire argued that small profits per capita in a large East African market were more profitable than the bigger profit per capita in the single markets of the individual isolated countries.
He also criticised those opposed to the East African Community, saying they erroneously thought they were protecting their own interests.
“They opposed it saying it will bring competition. But these people are not even selfish enough. Why would they not want to sell in a bigger market and stick to their small one?” Otafiire asked.
Referring to the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya in which over 100 people died, Balala advised Ugandans not to take democracy for granted.
“We need to appreciate peace and preserve what is in Uganda. Do not repeat what happened in Kenya in 2008,” Balala advised
He also called on members of the East African Community to promote tourism in each other’s countries.
Balala said he and several of his colleagues in the Kenyan cabinet visit tourism sites in the other member countries.
Serena Hotels managing director Mahmud Janmohamed commended the Government for enabling the group to carry out investments in Uganda.
The Aga Khan has investments in banking, insurance, pharmaceutical companies, education institutions, media, housing, and a significant stake in power generation both at the Bujagali and Nyagak power dams.
By NATION Reporter
Posted Wednesday, May 19 2010 at 17:54
Tourism Promotion Services East Africa Ltd (TPS) plans to raise Sh1.2 billion through a rights issue to drive its regional expansion plans.
The issue is, however, subject to shareholder’s approval at an annual general meeting to be held on May 24 and the market regulators - the Capital Markets Authority and Nairobi Stock Exchange.
The only tourism firm listed at the bourse is due to issue 24,701,774 new shares at a rate of one for every five held.
TPS East Africa’s managing director Mr Mahmud Jan Mohamed said; “we have ambitious plans for the future growth of Serena Hotels buoyed by increasing optimism in the tourism sector in East Africa. We plan to use proceeds of the rights issue to expand capacity and upgrade our existing portfolio of properties in order to meet increased demand at the top end of the market.”
TPS, which owns and operates Serena Hotels, will use the proceeds to capitalise Jaja Ltd, a special purpose vehicle to be used by TPS (Kenya) for the development of a number of tourist properties in Kenya, acquire 51 per cent of Upekee Lodges Ltd by TPS (Tanzania) and buy assets of Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp and Mountain Village by TPS (Tanzania).
Part of the funds will go to the refurbishment of Kigali Serena Hotel and expand as well as refurbish Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The money will be complemented by long-term borrowing and other sources of funds that the board may deem appropriate.
Kestrel Capital and Standard Investment Bank have been appointed the lead transaction advisors and sponsoring stockbrokers while Kaplan & Stratton Advocates, legal advisors.
Diamond Trust Bank will be the receiving bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the reporting accountants, Image Registrars, the registrar and Hill & Knowlton will handle public relations.
The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development is a major shareholder of TPS Ltd, which has majority shares in TPS.
Serena Hotels launch relief campaign for people affected by flood disaster in Pakistan
Posted on August 17, 2010
by Pamir Times| 1 Comment
Gilgit, August 17 (PR): In view of the recent devastation in Pakistan caused by raging floodwater, hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed, crops washed away and livestock killed.
With more heavy rain flooding predicted in the coming days, Serena Hotels through its Corporate Social Responsibility Program- SEED (Environmental and Educational Development) has embarked upon a comprehensive fund raising effort throughout Pakistan. This includes Cash Donations, Food & Clothing, and 25% Revenue Contributions from Restaurants & 50% Prestige Club Membership Fees, selling of Plants / Cakes etc till end of August. Also, Serena associates from all over Pakistan are contributing a part of their salary towards the relief effort.
On Thursday, August 19th, 2010 Serena Hotels across Pakistan have made special arrangements for Iftar / Buffet dinner, proceeds of which will be donated towards the flood relief effort.
In the recent past Serena Hotels had initiated a comprehensive drive through all their hotels in Pakistan to encourage their guest, visitors & staff to contribute towards landslides in the Attabad / Hunza area causing loss of life and property, there was a body of water that had cut-off the area from any relief in terms of food, medical and other emergency supplies. Serena accepted donations of linens, clothing, shoes, tents, canned food for the affected people.
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives in Mozambique for the inauguration of the Polana Serena Hotel
Mawlana Hazar Imam in conversation with Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Ali and AKDN Resident Representative Nazim Ahmed at the newly refurbished Polana Serena Hotel. Photo: Zahur Ramji
Maputo, Mozambique, 15 December 2010 — Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Maputo this evening on a two-day visit to Mozambique. During the visit, Hazar Imam will participate in the inauguration of the Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo, together with His Excellency President Armando Guebuza.
Upon his arrival, Mawlana Hazar Imam was received by senior government officials, including Mr Fernando Sumbana, Minister of Tourism, Mr Pedro Couto, Vice Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Government-AKDN Coordination Committee, as well as representatives of the AKDN and leaders from the Mozambique Jamat.
Mawlana Hazar Imam is accompanied by Prince Amyn, who will attend the inauguration ceremony in his capacity as Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and Chairman of its Executive Committee.
Upon his arrival in Mozambique, Mawlana Hazar Imam is welcomed by Amirali Bhanji, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal, as well as senior government ministers. Photo: Zahur Ramji
Maputo, Mozambique, 15 Dec – The Polana Serena Hotel, the most important and luxurious hotel in the Mozambican capital, is due to reopen Thursday, a hotel and restaurant sector source told Macauhub in Maputo.
The hotel, which is owned by the Aga Khan Foundation, is reopening after 22 months of refurbishment work carried out by a company owned by two Chinese businessmen and represents an investment of US$25 million.
The work included modernisation of several areas, and the hotel now has rooms in the Studio, Deluxe and Executive classes as well as executive suites and a presidential suite.
The Polana Serena Hotel, with 142 rooms, will price its rooms at between 14,000 meticals (US$412) and 24,000 meticals (US$705) per night. (macauhub)
Please also see: Press Release and Speech by Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Your Excellency the President
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me begin by saying what an honour and joy it is to receive His Excellency the President of the Republic of Mozambique on this occasion.
What a great day this is as we mark the opening of a new landmark for the African hospitality industry - a new flagship for the Serena Hotel Group - and a new benchmark in the economic progress of Mozambique.
We have been looking forward to this celebration for some time - it marks the culmination of a complex process. And it is good to celebrate this moment with those who have devoted so much talent and energy to this process - and have made the moment possible.
It is a pleasure to welcome all of you.
That special word, “welcome”, is at the center of my thoughts today. After all, the purpose of this rebuilt Polana Serena hotel is to receive people from across the country, the continent and the planet and to help them to feel “welcome” in Mozambique.
I remember well the day- a little over twelve years ago - when President Chissano welcomed me to Maputo, for the purpose of signing a Development Co-operation Agreement between the Mozambique government and the Aga Khan Development Network. Our celebration today grows out of that initiative - and I thought I might say a word about how our cooperation has unfolded since that time. It is the longer story of which the Polana story is the latest part.
That story begins with my own enormous respect for this country, its leaders and its peoples, and the progress you made in recovering from an extremely difficult period of post-colonial turmoil. One reason for this progress, in my view, was Mozambique’s growing respect for practical, professional expertise in making development choices, rather than getting carried away by theoretical dogmas or arbitrary formulas. Another factor, I felt, was the value this society places on inclusiveness - welcoming the cooperative inputs of many stakeholders - from public institutions and private companies, from civil society, and from the international community.
As you may know, the developing world in general - and Africa in particular - has been a central focus of my work for over half a century. The colonial period was just ending when I became the Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim Community, and a host of newly independent countries were suddenly facing opportunities and challenges of unprecedented complexity.
One lesson we quickly learned about the development process, was that familiar investment assumptions - that had worked in earlier periods and in western economies - were not going to work in the same way in the post-colonial world. Private capital that looked for rapid returns - at minimum risk - would not flow readily - and other sources of seed finance would have to be found or generated. That is why we created AKFED - the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development - which has been the principal investor in this Polana project.
The purpose of the Agreement President Chissano and I signed twelve years ago was to lay a framework for the fullest presence of all our Network’s capacities, economic but also social and cultural in Mozambique - and we have been building on that framework ever since.
Much of our work, as you may know, has involved the northern areas, principally in Cabo Delgado. It includes the Coastal Rural Support Programme that integrates health, education and rural development in almost 200 villages, reaching over 160,000 inhabitants. A parallel effort is our Bridges to the Future programme which helps provide scholarships, internships, English courses and management training. And a third major element is the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, which lends money to generate income for small-scale activities – some 7500 micro loans have already been made in this country.
At the same time, we have also tried to help with some larger projects such as Moztex, a new factory aimed at producing garments for export, a project which currently employs some 600 workers, a figure which is expected to double in the near future, with a focus on employment for women.
And, of course, I should also mention the new fiber optic cable company, SEACOM, which now links Southern and Eastern Africa with Europe and India.
Let me also mention a current project in Mozambique which is close to my heart - the Aga Khan Academy. The designs for that school have made excellent progress - and we expect construction to begin early next year. This means that the building of the Academy will mesh well with the early graduates of our new teaching facility at the Professional Development Centre at Matola. The School and the teaching facility are strategically partner projects – one supporting the other, and it is good that this academic construct will be operational by 2013.
Our efforts over the past decade have been quite diverse, and diversity must continue to be a watchword. It seems clear, for example, that improving agricultural productivity can only be one part of the long-range strategy - the growth potential in agriculture at some point will diminish - and we must encourage other activities that will propel continued growth.
One economic category that can have that sort of propelling impact, especially in Africa, is the travel and leisure sector. This is why our AKFED organization has made such significant investments in this field. And this is why the opening today of the Polana Serena Hotel is so important.
There is one other larger context I would like to mention today - the story of the Serena Hotel Group as a whole. Stretching back now over nearly four decades the Serena Group has contributed significantly to the economic progress of the places where it operates. And we intend that this same thing will happen in this country.
To begin with, attracting visitors to this country - business leaders and leisure travelers alike - one-time visitors and repeat customers - will itself produce foreign exchange at the time of such visits - as well as later foreign investment, often as a result of those stays. And in both cases, there will be important multiplier effects for other enterprises, as well as for government revenues.
As the Serena Group has learned in so many other places, world-class travel facilities can be crucial components of what we call “an enabling environment” - a setting in which additional development initiatives can take root and thrive.
Thus all of those who have contributed to the rebirth of the Polana deserve our heartfelt thanks, as do all of our valued partners in this work – the Government of Mozambique, our investment partners from Germany and France, the architects and designers, builders and decorators, and all those who are part of the Serena team. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my brother.
In conclusion, I would like to return to the word I used at the outset of these remarks, the word “welcome.” It is a word that most certainly sums up the spirit of today’s event, even as it expresses the essential mission of the entire Polana project. It is a word that signals the contribution this country and this facility will make to a widening world of exploration, engagement and cooperation.
It is with that same spirit that I greet you today, grateful for your participation in this project and your presence at this ceremony. I hope that wherever you live, in this city, or elsewhere in Mozambique, in Africa or elsewhere in the world, your path will bring you back often to the beauties of the Polana Serena.
Speech by Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the Inauguration of the Restoration of the Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique
Please also see: Press Release and Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and, more specifically, its subsidiary units Tourism Promotion Services (TPS) and the Serena Hotel group, which we created some forty years ago, it is with the greatest happiness and pleasure that I welcome you today to this official opening (or should I say re-opening?) of this magnificent Hotel Polana. It is, for me, an occasion both exciting and gratifying.
The Polana Hotel has the status of an icon, one of the few hotels on this continent that can claim to have that status and one of the very few in this part of Africa. Its location, in the heart of the capital city Maputo, on one of the most beautiful and sought-after avenues of the town, gives it a special aura, just as do the graciousness and elegance of its architecture and interiors, reminiscent of the splendours of this hotel's colonial past, for Polana's history stretches back nearly a century, to 1922. No wonder the Polana is affectionately known locally as the Grande Dame of Maputo!
I have insisted on the iconic nature of this hotel because we, in AKFED and SERENA, have been very conscious of that status and it has governed our approach to improving, upgrading and enhancing this property. When SERENA took over the Polana eight years ago, in February, the hotel was in a condition we felt unworthy. Almost immediately, therefore, in 2003 and 2004, we carried out improvements to the back of house facilities to bring them up to acceptable levels of hygiene, safety and efficiency. And on the 5th of January 2009 we commenced an extensive programme of refurbishment and expansion aimed at returning to this Grande Dame of Maputo, who had received visitors from all corners of the world, her inheritance of elegance and distinction. Eighteen months later, on September 1st of this year, a phased opening began and today we are gathered to inaugurate this very special place which we believe will bring a significant addition to Maputo's and to Mozambique's hospitality sector and which is ready to take its place once again in the worldwide company of great international hotels.
Of course, as in all complex projects, there have been hurdles to overcome along the way—and I am most grateful to those who have helped us to do that, and to do so without compromising either the credibility or the quality of the work through circumventions or shortcuts. For example, during the reconstruction process, major structural problems came to light that had not been apparent or even imagined earlier. It was of course essential to resolve them as a first priority since they affected the very safety of our future guests. And before that, we had to wait until the casino, which was part of the old hotel, could and would move out as not only is it a long-standing policy of the Serena Group not to offer gambling in any of our facilities but we believed that a proper ballroom was essential to reviving the hotel’s standing and to improving its operations. Addressing these problems may have meant temporary delays and it has considerably increased the cost of this rehabilitation, but it has ensured that the complete project we now have meets the specifications of a leading Serena hotel in every respect, and that the Polana has regained its position as Maputo’s leading hotel.
The total investment for this upgrade has been US$ 25 million. I would like here to thank most warmly our partners, the Société de Promotion et de Participation pour la Coopération Economique (PROPARCO), the French development agency, and the Deutsche Investitions and Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH (DEG), the German development agency. AKFED is happy indeed that PROPARCO and DEG agreed to join us, both as equity partners and as lenders. I should like to add that our collaboration has been a source of considerable satisfaction to me, personally.
It probably would have made commercial sense to close the Polana entirely during the 18 months of construction that have been necessary; but, after much soul searching, we decided to keep the Polana Serena operational during all that time with the 55 rooms of the Polana Mar available to our clients and with Management making every effort to ensure that the inevitable disruption was managed as efficiently as possible and that acceptable standards of service and comfort continued to be offered to our guests during those long months.
A major consideration in the decision to keep the hotel open, despite the inevitable low occupancies and financial losses that resulted from this decision, was that virtually a full complement of staff could thus be maintained and working during that time. We had taken a similar position back in 2002, when we took over the Polana and when we had retained all the Mozambican staff then employed in the hotel, a majority of whom in fact continue to work here to this day. Today 97% of the staff of the Polana are Mozambican nationals, 2% are East African nationals and only 1% are expatriates. I should perhaps add that since Serena took over the total staff compliment of 360 persons have been retrained to Serena standards and have responded well and enthusiastically to that training.
We are what we come from; and as I have said, the Polana Serena has the benefit of an extraordinary and essential inheritance, both cultural and natural. I am proud that this extraordinary inheritance will henceforth be an intrinsic part of this hotel's future. We have sought to respect the past, that the future should be more truly rewarding. Our brief to the architects and designers was that future guests of the Polana should feel themselves surrounded by the arts and aesthetic of the hotel's colonial history, while enjoying state-of-the-art facilities; that the Polana should reflect and embody local art and culture; that the hotel should continue to have a clear and unique personality and ambiance while being of recognisably international standing. In this endeavour, much research and creative work was contributed by everyone. We have worked as a team and it has been both fun and educational. My thanks and admiration go to our architects Jon Cavanagh and Mike Lord of Symbion International, to Walter Reid, our architect of record, to our contractors Sogecoa and Mesch Arquitectos who have produced work of excellent quality and have observed challenging deadlines and to our horticultural and landscape specialist Andrew Greathead (Santa Verde - Gardens). And last, but far from least, my warm, personal thanks go to Mahmud JanMohamed and his TPS Management teams, in Nairobi and here, who have overseen, steered and guided this complex project. If I may be permitted, in many ways I think our team effort has been exemplary.
Today, the Grande Dame of Maputo boasts 142 guest rooms of all types, including studios, deluxe rooms, executive rooms and suites and a magnificent Presidential suite. Clients have the option of a sea view or a city view. There is an all-day restaurant, the Veranda, offering either buffets or à la carte meals ; a gastronomic restaurant, the Delgoa, inspired and supervised by French chef Edouard Loubet, here with us today, whose restaurant in France has been awarded 2 stars by Michelin and who has just been voted Chef of the Year 2010 by Gault et Millaut (and I think this is the first time that Maputo will boast a restaurant created by such a well-known and admired chef); a casual restaurant and bar, the Aquarius, serving light menu options ; a sumptuous and truly magnificent ballroom, which had been turned into a casino and that we have now returned to its original splendour; meeting rooms and facilities of different sizes, fully equipped, waiting to receive meetings and conference delegates; and the Maisha Health Club and Spa, which we immodestly believe will be the best in Maputo and which also contains a beautiful secret garden and bar able to cater to private parties as well. And of course, there are the glorious and romantic Polana gardens and the remodelled swimming pool. I hope you will agree that the reconstruction and expansion of the Polana before you has dignified, embellished and modernised this elegant landmark ; that the Polana will now take its rightful place, an icon combining a most beautiful setting with the highest quality of service, making a unique contribution to this country's leisure industry and to the Serena group's proud reputation, a flagship property second to none in Mozambique standing proudly beside Serena's other city-centre hotels in Nairobi, Arusha, Kampala, Kigali, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Quetta and Kabul, with more to come Insh'Allah, in Burundi, Mali, Syria, Tajikistan and Egypt.
I have mentioned earlier the extended gardens of the Polana. They have been revitalized by the installation of what is known as a grey water recycling system which produces quality water for the gardens from the hotel’s waste water. This system is one of the reasons that the Polana has recently been certified ISO 14001 compliant, which means that the hotel has received the most prestigious compliance certification from the International Environment Management System, and is recognised as being in the forefront, in its standards and practices, where environmental impacts and performance are concerned. Here too, I believe the Polana Serena is currently the only hotel in Mozambique to have received this certification.
Our goals in this project have been set very high. This ceremony should be seen, I think, not only as a moment of celebration, but also as one of rededication: I would like to think that what has been accomplished so far is only a beginning. What is needed now, going forward, is a continuation of the spirit in which this work has been accomplished: an uncompromising commitment to quality and the determination of Government and ourselves, the private sector, to work together, in harmony and understanding, to realize, in further careful, appropriate developments, the full touristic potential which is represented by this country's unique combination of exceptional natural assets and cultural points of international quality and interest; without undue haste, avoiding the pitfalls of over-development and speculation, and ensuring that the essential infrastructure is in place to underwrite such development and the continuing quality of that development. We in Serena hope to be part of such a future development in this country and, indeed, to play a lead role in it.
Mozambique’s Historic Polana Serena Hotel Restored
President Guebuza and Aga Khan Inaugurate “Grande Dame” After Multi-Year Refurbishment
Please also see: Speech by High Highness the Aga Khan and Speech by Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Maputo, Mozambique, 16 December 2010 — Mozambique’s president, His Excellency Armando Guebuza, today officially inaugurated the refurbished Polana Serena Hotel, a historic water-front landmark in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and one of Africa’s grandest colonial era hotels. His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which restored the hotel to its former glory, was also present, as was his younger brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan.
AKFED’s investment is part of the work of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Other AKDN agencies have been present in Cabo Delgado province for over ten years, working in the fields of agriculture, microfinance, tourism developments, education, health, entrepreneurship, civil society, environment, and water and sanitation.
Situated in the heart of Maputo on four hectares of lush grounds, the 142-room Polana has long been regarded as one of Africa’s leading hotels. Built in 1922, it was conceived as a luxury venue that would be a national landmark in the city. It was then called the Lourenço Marques, after the Portuguese trader and explorer who founded the settlement in the 16th century. The hotel quickly became a historic and cultural haven and a meeting place that offered unique elegance and grandeur.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Aga Khan explained the rationale for creating the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which has been the principal investor in the Polana hotel. “One lesson we quickly learned about the development process was that familiar investment assumptions that had worked in earlier periods in western economies were not going to work in the same way in the post-colonial world. Private capital that looked for rapid returns – at minimum risk – would not flow readily, and other sources of seed finance would have to be found or generated,” he said.
He went on to explain that development efforts of the network over the past decade have been diverse, and that diversity must continue to be a watchword. “It seems clear, for example, that improving agricultural productivity can only be one part of the long-term strategy – the growth potential in agriculture at some point will diminish – and we must encourage other activities that will propel continued growth.”
When it acquired the hotel in 2002, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)—recognised the need to restore the property to its once iconic status. The Polana underwent a multi-year programme of improvements, upgrades and enhancements that consciously sought to restore it to its former splendour.
The Aga Khan noted that the Serena Group everywhere contributes to the economic progress of all the countries in which it operates, and that the intention is the same for Mozambique. “World-class travel facilities can be crucial components of what we call ‘an enabling environment,’ a setting in which additional development initiatives can take root and thrive,” he said.
Prince Amyn Aga Khan, who is the Aga Khan’s brother, and Chairman of AKFED’s Executive Committee, said the new hotel was meant to be one of Africa’s finest.
“The Polana Hotel has the status of an icon — one of the few hotels on this continent that can claim to have that status and one of the very few in this part of Africa,” he said.
During the opening ceremony, Prince Amyn was presented with the ISO 14001 certificate for the Polana Serena Hotel by Mozambique’s renowned biologist and writer Mr. Mia Couto, in recognition of the hotel’s grey water recycling system, which produces quality water for the gardens from the hotel’s waste water. The hotel is the first hotel in Mozambique to receive this certification.
The hotel also received the “Made in Mozambique” seal, which recognises its commitment to ensuring that everything it does, reflects the best of Mozambique’s values of hospitality, service and quality products, and that it continues to contribute towards the strengthening of the country’s culture and economy.
For more information please contact:
Polana Serena Hotel
P.O Box 1151, Maputo, Moçambique
Av. Julius Nyerere 1380
J +258 21 241700 / 800 | 6 +258 21 491480
Aga Khan Development Network
Avenida Julius Nyerere 1187 Mozambique
Telephone: +258 21 49 05 15
Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Tel: +33 3 44 58 40 00
Fax: +33 3 44 58 42 79
Aga Khan Development Network: www.akdn.org
88 anos depois da sua inauguração
Príncipe Amyn Aga Khan reinaugura Hotel Polana
Maputo (Canalmoz) – O príncipe Amyn Aga Khan e o presidente da República, Armando Guebuza, reinauguraram ontem o Hotel Polana Serena. A unidade hoteleira esteve em obras cerca de dois anos. Existem desde há 88 anos.
O Hotel Polana Serena é detido pelo Fundo Aga Khan para o Desenvolvimento Económico (AKFED, sigla em inglês).
Na sua reabilitação é referido que foram investidos 18 milhões de euros.
Amyn Aga Khan está de visita a Moçambique para a
participar na reabertura do hotel e outros negócios.
O hotel foi reabilitado e as figuras mais antigas de Maputo têm estado a tecer críticas muito severas contra o que classificam como “descaracterização” do hotel de referência em Maputo.
A traça do alçado principal do edifício foi mantida.
A qualidade de alguns materiais usados na reconstrução também está a merecer reparos pouco abonatórios de vários velhos residentes e de arquitectos da urbe .
Foi reduzido o número de quartos. Tem agora 142, menos 30. O casino saiu do Hotel. A política de Aga Khan não admite jogos de azar ou sorte.
“Tivemos que aguardar que o casino, que integrava o hotel, pudesse ser efectivamente retirado, não só por existir uma política de longa data do Grupo Serena no âmbito do qual não oferecemos actividades relacionadas com o jogo nas nossas unidades, mas também porque acreditávamos que a existência de um verdadeiro salão de baile é essencial no renascimento do hotel e na melhoria dos seus serviços”, justificou o príncipe Amyn Aga Khan.
O presidente do comité executivo do AKFED descreveu o Hotel Polana como um “ícone” em África, afirmando que o empreendimento “goza do benefício de uma herança extraordinária e essencial, tanto cultural como natural”.
“As nossas metas para este projecto são extremamente elevadas”, disse o príncipe Amyn Aga Khan citado pela Lusa.
Segundo a administração, 97 por cento dos trabalhadores do Hotel Polana são moçambicanos.
Restored to its former glory, the “Grande Dame of Maputo” is re-opened in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam
Mawlana Hazar Imam and President Armando Guebuza enjoy a light moment at the inaugural ceremony of the Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo: Zahur Ramji
Maputo, Mozambique, 16 December 2010 — In the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, Mozambique’s president, His Excellency Armando Guebuza, officially inaugurated the refurbished Polana Serena Hotel, a historic water-front landmark in the capital city of Maputo, and one of Africa’s grandest colonial-era hotels.
» AKDN: Mozambique’s Historic Polana Serena Hotel Restored
» Speeches by Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn at the inaugural ceremony.
Situated in the heart of Maputo on four hectares of lush grounds, the 142-room Polana has long been regarded as one of Africa’s leading hotels. Built in 1922, it was conceived as a luxury venue that would be a national landmark in the city — then called the Lourenço Marques, after the Portuguese trader and explorer who founded the settlement in the 16th century. The hotel quickly became a historic and cultural haven and a meeting place that offered unique elegance and grandeur.
After AKFED acquired the hotel in 2002, it underwent a multi-year programme of improvements, upgrades and enhancements. The hotel’s grand ballroom has been restored to its former splendour, with painted wall mouldings and cut glass chandeliers hanging from its tall ceiling. Mahogany furniture and soft fabrics adorn the guest rooms. Three restaurants offer a choice between all-day dining, French-style fine cuisine and more casual fare. Hotel amenities also include a health club and spa, an outdoor swimming pool, extensive gardens, a business centre, and three gift shops.
Prince Amyn Aga Khan receives a certificate of ISO 14001 compliance from Mozambique’s renowned biologist and writer Mia Couto. The Polana Serena is the only hotel in Mozambique to have received this prestigious environmental certification. Photo: Zahur Ramji
Prince Amyn Aga Khan receives a certificate of ISO 14001 compliance from Mozambique’s renowned biologist and writer Mia Couto. The Polana Serena is the only hotel in Mozambique to have received this prestigious environmental certification. Photo: Zahur Ramji
“The Polana Hotel has the status of an icon — one of the few hotels on this continent that can claim to have that status and one of the very few in this part of Africa,” said Prince Amyn, who was present at the ceremony and spoke in his capacity as Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and Chairman of its Executive Committee. He noted that the hotel’s “history stretches back nearly a century, to 1922.”
“No wonder the Polana is affectionately known locally as the Grande Dame of Maputo!”
AKFED’s investment in the Polana dovetails with the wider work of the Aga Khan Development Network in Mozambique.
“World-class travel facilities can be crucial components of what we call ‘an enabling environment’ — a setting in which additional development initiatives can take root and thrive,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam to the gathering.
Other AKDN agencies have been present in Cabo Delgado province for over ten years, working in the fields of agriculture, microfinance, tourism developments, education, health, entrepreneurship, civil society, environment, and water and sanitation.
The front facade of the newly refurbished Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo: Courtesy of AKDN
Maputo, 17 Dec (AIM) – Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday invited national and foreign businesses to invest in tourism, given the enormous tourism potential that Mozambique possesses.
He was speaking during the re-inauguration of Maputo’s best-known luxury hotel, the Polana, which has just completed a 22 month period of renovation. The hotel is now owned by the Aga Khan Foundation, and forms part of its Serena Hotel Group. The Serena Group is one of 96 companies that form the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).
”We would like to invite the Serena Group and other national and foreign businesses to invest in the Zones of Tourist Interest, that is in the areas that have been earmarked for the development of tourism”, said Guebuza. “So far seven Zones of Tourist Interest have been declared in Inhambane, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces. I would like to invite you to set up more hotels and other tourist establishments there, to multiply still further the world tourism references that the Polana Hotel gives us”.
Guebuza praised the Aga Khan Foundation for respecting the original design and architecture of the hotel, generally regarded as an impressive landmark in the built environment of Maputo. The President declared that the Polana “deservedly and proudly claims an outstanding place among the best hotels of Africa, and of the elite class of the most famous hotels of the world”.
The rehabilitation cost around 25 million euros (about 33.3 million US dollars). The hotel, originally built in 1922, now has 142 rooms, including deluxe and executive suites, and one presidential suite.
Commenting on the economic importance of tourism in Mozambique, Guebuza spoke of communities who have organised themselves to manage community tourist undertakings, and of citizens who once had no regular income, but are now permanent or seasonal workers in tourist resorts – as cooks, gardeners, plumbers or in other positions needed for the smooth running of the resorts.
The Aga Khan (or, to give him his full name, Shat Karim Al-Hussayni, the Aga Khan IV) described the Polana as “a new flagship for the Serena Hotel Group - and a new benchmark in the economic progress of Mozambique”.
He said that he felt “enormous respect for this country, its leaders and its peoples, and the progress you made in recovering from an extremely difficult period of post-colonial turmoil”.
Prince Amyn Aga Khan, the Aga Khan’s brother, and Chairman of AKFED’s Executive Committee, received the ISO 14001 certificate for the Polana Serena Hotel from Mozambique’s best-known writer, Mia Couto, who is also a prominent biologist and environmentalist. The certificate was awarded in recognition of the hotel’s grey water recycling system, which produces quality water for the gardens from the hotel’s waste water. The Polana is the first hotel in Mozambique to receive this certification.
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