By Mike Ssegawa
I woke up this Sunday morning not wanting to leave my bed. But a call from my wife wouldn’t allow me to continue with my sweet dreams.
It’s been two three days in Mbale, enjoying lodging at Mount Elgon hotel for two serene nights. As I pack my bags to check out, I cannot fail to think about this beautiful place, oh my, I am leaving behind the bed in Room 10.
There is something special about Number 10. Eh maybe I am being superstitious. But my pastor says – 10 is a perfect number. Thus I would be tempted to rank Mt Elgon hotel 10/10 for an upcountry hotel. Eh, its services are much better than inter continental hotels in Kampala. But in the spirit of meanness of a teacher, an 8/10 isn’t bad at all.
Whereas there are several mushrooming accommodations in Mbale, I can comfortably say there is no hotel like Mount Elgon hotel. Experience. Professionalism. Passion. All are written on their touch. This makes it the ultimate resting place for those spending a night or several days. It’s is not just for resting your body, but your mind and taste buds.
While in Eastern Uganda, it doesn’t take one long to realise Mbale is the best town to establish their centre of operations. It is also true that working in part of the country is really tiring and therefore one needs a place to give the body enough relaxation is undoubtedly key.
I came here to attend the famous Imbalu festival. It’s a reap year and August is the circumcision month of boys, crossing them into manhood. The festival is real fun, and it gathers over 100,000 people. The government of Uganda is already turning the cultural festival into a tourism package. Mount Elgon hotel is actually about 2.5km from the Mukhoto grounds where circumcision rites are done.
While at Mount Elgon hotel, the imposing view of Wanale peak cannot be ignored. Through my window, I wake up to this awesome view covered with green grasslands. Nothing makes me remember Mbale and the mighty Elgon, better than this view which I snap away in a selfie. I wonder if this location is part of the fresh air one enjoys while at this side of the town. For Mount Elgon hotel is situated about 2kms from the busy and noisy town centre. It’s also a similar distance to Mutoto Imbalu site.
Mount Elgon was originally one of the Uganda Hotels consortium run by the government of Uganda before the Uganda government privatised its businesses. The hotel was sold to Bugisu Cooperative Union, here known simply as BCU. BCU however would not maintain the standards, and it was sold to its current owners who have raised the bar so high.
There are superior, executive and junior rooms, each coming with satellite TV, and access to the swimming pool, gym, spa, mini golf and wifi.
There are also halls for hire, including the main hall that takes in as much as 500 people, and smaller ones such as the Wanale and big hut halls.
For those into spas, any services is at your beck and call including the back, neck and shoulder massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, around the world, facial etc.
This is also the place for private meetings for Mbale’s who is who. On my first night here, I crossed paths with the cultural leader of the Bamasaba, but also powerful lawyers in Kampala who hail from Mbale were at the bar catching a beer.
Mr Mwaka Lawrence, the acting general manager told me that the hotel also offers cake services which go for between sh50, 000 to sh70, 000 which come in flavours such as marble, fruit, chocolate, banana, banana name it. You also have a taste of it every morning at their sumptuous breakfast served between 6am and. 10am.
Before I check out of here, the service of staff at Mount Elgon Hotel sinks in, one gets an attachment for Elgon that you feel coming back. This young man at the reception last night told me about which places to go to for a lively night life on Saturday. His guidance was superb. The ladies at the dining hall will not disappoint with what you order for a meal. Anything you ask for is in their reach. They trust their chef’s kitchen team that much.
It’s stuff like that which make me long to return here. It’s my cozy bed that I want again on my next Mbale trip. It’s this calm, serene, welcoming feeling, delicious and healthy food and drinks that make visitors like me call this home. But also it’s like the staff here own the hotel: it shows in the guest reception, their we can fix the best service to your liking attitude, and attention to every guest in their hands. Nothing beats a hotel staff with such great attitude.
“That’s why our guests choose us, we don’t choose them,” says Lawrence. “Mount Elgon accommodates anybody who comes in.”
No wonder, a group from South Korea on a World Vision mission, were all wowing when they were invited by staff on their last day. They were treated to a jack fruit delicacy for a send off. You could not imagine the expression on their faces. Wide and infectious smiles filled the room. Photo clicks. They had never tasted that tropical fruit.
“This is what we do,” Lawrence said. “Our guests must leave as family. With that wow moment.”