Umubano Hotel was acquired in January 2017, by Marasa Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Madhvani Group.
With over 25 hotels and a hundred years of experience, the Madhvani Group is one of the largest diversified private-sector groups which has developed into a widely-diversified conglomerate and a wide geographical spread into the East-African region, the Middle East, India, and North America.
At the time, Marasa Umubano Hotel, which was built in 1979, was given two years for renovation but technicians realized that it required a lot of work compared to statistics gathered before.
Technicians established that $14 million was needed to complete renovations other than the $ 2.2 million that was proposed before.
As the renovation activities began, the management closed the left side of the hotel which has over 50 rooms.
Joel Uwizeye, Director Corporate Affairs at Marasa Holdings Ltd told IGIHE that RDB informed the hotel that it cannot receive clients while construction activities are ongoing.
On May 06th, 2019, the hotel received an official letter communicating that clients were given a period of 14 days until 20th May 2019, where they would no longer be received in the establishment.
The notification followed RDB inspection at the hotel, held on April 17th, 2019.
“RDB established that we should not host clients because we are still under construction. With regards to the request, we held an internal meeting on May 19th, 2019 and informed the staff that we were closing temporally,” said Uwizeye.
Marasa Umubano Hotel has over 140 employees with 20 conducting professional internships.
Kigali city halted construction activities
Though RDB asked the hotel to halt services while waiting to complete construction activities, Kigali City halted the renovation and construction activities and requested the hotel to first meet construction requirements, following an inspection held on April 19th, 2019.
These include signposts to be erected at the construction site and the presence of an engineer on site.
“We wrote to Kigali city communicating that all requirements have been made available. We hope they will visit us soon to witness how we implemented regulations. We assure clients that we shall re-open because the contractor and engineers are available while necessary equipment was ordered,” said Uwizeye.
“We communicated to RDB of our wish to fix everything by April 2020 because we are aware of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Rwanda in June next year. We want to be among members of the hospitality sector accommodating the CHOGM guests,” he added.
Employees to keep getting payments
Uwizeye says that the hotel had originally intended to renovate one part of the hotel and keep the other part operational, hence having the hotel’s staff working in shifts. After RDB’s decision, the hotel’s management decided to keep paying the staff, since the establishment believes in maintaining the staff and their families’ financial stability.
Uwizeye added that the hotel looks forward to the city’s go-ahead towards construction activities so to reduce the loss for the hotel, clients, and employees.
“Employees are not to be held accountable for this issue. It is rather a concern of the investor. Madhvani Group acknowledges that its employee’s welfare has to be maintained, thus why they were not stopped from work. We have agreed on providing their salary for specific months as we follow up on the issue,” he revealed.
If things go well, Marasa Umubano Hotel is expected to be officially launched at the beginning of 2020. Kim Kardashian, an American media personality, businesswoman, socialite, and model is among guests expected to grace the re-opening of the hotel.