30 Rwandan hotels reach for the stars
With the aim of improving services in the hospitality industry, the Rwanda Development Board in collaboration with the Private Sector Federation and the ministry of East African affairs have awarded a classification to various hotels.
According to Denis Kalera, the chairman of Rwanda Hotels and Restaurants Association and the managing director of Park View Apartments, the four-month exercise of classifying hotels was not easy, but it was necessary and even obligatory under EAC protocols and regulations concerning tourism facilities such as hotels, resorts and restaurants.
“We worked hard on the customer care issues which is the main focus in ranking hotels. Ten years ago the situation on the ground was pathetic, from the mentality to the engineering aspects of hospitality. Today, people appreciate of what we have achieved and we are confident it will even get better,” Kalera explained.
As John Gara, the CEO of RDB pointed out, the classification of hotels not only aims at raising the quality of services and facilities for visitors, but is also serves as a reference for people to identify facilities and services that meet their expectations. All this, he said, contributes to promoting the East African Community as a single tourist destination.
Among 130 hotels identified in the country, so far only 30 have managed to meet all the criteria for classification. Among them, only Serena Hotel Kigali and Nyungwe Forest Lodge obtained the top 5-star ranking, while Lake Kivu Serena, Mille Collines, Lemigo and The Manor have been classified 4-star. In addition, there are seven 3-star hotels, sixteen with 2 stars and a single 1-star establishment.
While it obviously requires investment and hard work to obtain a classification, hotel owners nevertheless expressed their appreciation of the system. Jean Luc Miravumba, the sales and marketing manager at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge, said it is a gratifying exercise which is encouraging for the establishments and assures comfort to visitors.
“Getting five stars involves meeting a lot of requirements including safety measures, service aspects and user-friendly facilities,” Miravumba said. “I think we have tried our best and responded well to the EAC hotel classification standards.”
He also pointed out that the system also encourages hotel managers to always improve, including those of already classified establishments. “The classifying exercise is continuous, it’s like a competition; if you don’t improve, you may lose stars,” Miravumba explained.
Of the five EAC member states, only Rwanda and Tanzania have so far carried out the classification. That may have to do with the criteria, which cover the entire spectrum of services and facilities offered by hotels; the system covers 16 sections covering different aspects of service delivery which are essential for customer satisfaction including safety and security, comfort and enjoyment.
“It also covers physical and tangible characteristics of accommodation such as location, dimension of the rooms, supplies in bathrooms and frequency of change of linen,” remarked Rica Rwigamba, head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB. “Other elements such as comfort, ambiance, elegance, style and luxury are also assessed alongside social contact in aspects such as staff grooming and communications skills.”