The Criteria we use to pick lodges for our clients on Safari in Uganda – Rwanda
How we choose the lodges for your Safari in Rwanda or Uganda
Lodging accommodations abound in and around Uganda’s and Rwanda’s parks and in cities such as Kampala, Entebbe, the Adventure Capital of Jinja, in Kigali, near Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe Forest National Park – Rwanda with many quality accommodations at the better budget, moderate and luxury – high-end hotels and lodges in and near Game Parks. Most them have a consistent level of service and are places of quality at their respective level.
The reality is that there is no lodging, hotel standard grading system in place in Uganda today – there is an East African Standard howe however it has not been implemented in Uganda.
Presently visitors of Uganda can only rely on TripAdvisor which has comments for various hotels, lodges, guest houses including those in or near game parks and though it is a good service the results can be manipulated and are at times as they are across the world.
Rwanda has been somewhat more busy raising the standards of lodges, hotel, tented camps, guest houses and other establishments where you can stay overnight, but one still has to some research about the places where you might lay down your head for the night
We as a Safari Tour Operator do not own or manage Lodging Accommodations and have no direct control in the training of staff in customer service, hygiene, room décor, quality of bedding, hot water, water pressure, food served, and most importantly the consistent quality and standard of food and service.
The lodging business in Uganda or Rwanda can be quite profitable and people have gotten into the business without any background in the hotel and lodging business and at times such investors, individuals that are more interested in their bottom line instead of customer satisfaction resulting over time in substandard quality and service and if we use and recommend such lodgings as a tour operator it puts us into a bad light.
The majority of safari complaints come down to lodging facilities and our roads in Uganda and at times in Rwanda which need a lot of improvement since they extend the time needed in between parks and it can be a bumpy and dusty ride.
Owners of Lodges in the budget and moderate variety often offer stark looking rooms with one naked light bulb, no bed side tables, no lamps on tables, no décor on the walls. There is simply nothing welcoming about such a room, cottage, Banda, tent. At the high-end you have less complaints, rooms are tastefully done but then there are the pretend luxury lodges that charge up-market prices but deliver a lesser quality.
We continuously review the lodgings that we recommend and use. Just recently we dropped three of them after client negative feedback and owners and management response was rather dismal, at times simply a shrug of the shoulder and no proactive response. L
Lodges and Hotels are picked by us based on the following criteria:
- Rooms: We primarily use rooms with en-suite bath even in budget facilities since we choose not to offer a shoestring stripped down safari to our clients and we expect beds where the mattresses are up to standard, mosquito nets without holes, clean bathrooms, if a bush shower is used – enough hot water, water pressure, cleanliness of rooms and attractiveness of room.
- Restaurant: We expect a variety of choices for our clients including the ability to cater to those with special dietary needs such as vegetarians or vegans. Tasty food with a reasonable presentation – excellent presentation at the luxury hotel – lodge level. Serving of food and drinks in a reasonable time frame. We expect high hygienic and cleanliness standards in the handling of food. We also expect the food to be served hot. We expect a menu if one is used that is not a menu of possibilities but the items are actually available. We also look for real coffee instead of instant, real ketchup versus tomato sauce, using butter for toast instead of Blue Band Margarine.
- Customer Service: We expect our clients needs to be met in a satisfactory way to clients satisfaction. We expect the staff to be trained to a high quality standard where they can adequately serve an International Clientel. Lodges, hotels are in the service industry and the emphasis we stress is a high level of service and attentiveness to our clients needs. We expect English fluency and proficiency from lodging staff and that they are proactive in their responses to clients wishes. We also look at an overall friendliness – at times Ugandan staff tend to be shy as we say and do not like to ask how things are – how the room is, how the food was, culturally Ugandan staff tend to be quiet with International Visitors. Flexibility of staff to meet clients needs. Whether clients leave a tip depends on the level of service they have received.
- Client Feedback: We base our decision to pick a lodge or hotel on the client feedback as one of the major factors in retaining a lodge on our recommended list. We pass on any complaints to the lodges and hotels and take their response into consideration. We communicate the response of a lodge or hotel to our clients. We have even switched lodging on a safari if client did not like the facility or service.
- TripAdvisor: We take the ratings, rankings, reviews on TripAdvisor quite seriously and use them as a criteria for keeping a lodge or hotel on our recommended list.
- Inspection of Lodge or Hotel by our Staff: Our staff – driver-guides will go with you to your room and see if everything is to your satisfaction, if not he will go to the Management and handle it on your behalf. Our staff also check for the above standards and give a feedback to our office.
We feel a personal responsibilities to our clients to give them consistent quality while on a safari with us in Uganda or Rwana – we will do our utmost to recommend quality lodging for you – you are best off if you can do a high-end safari where the standard is normally excellent. We cannot guarantee a perfect lodging experience at every location but we will continue our best to give you the best budget, moderate or luxury lodging on your safari – lodging accommodations are one of the most important factors in a successful safari.
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.” John Hemingway, African Journeys
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