By Mike Ssegawa
We all have perceptions about different places. There are some places many of us are seduced to visit but feel mental resistance owing to unfounded fears that they are meant for another class of people to enjoy. Similar fears might be holding you back if you ever desired to spend a weekend at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The trip to the lakeside resort off Ggaba road last Sunday broke the jinx for me. And this is why I am sharing my experience with you. I realized what I have been missing all along.
Here, you realise the slogan “Don’t settle for less than world class”. Family and friends catch up, enjoy a cool breeze, and eat special grills as they take part in themed activities. I think this is the owner’s idea of allowing the Ugandan community share in the joy of life at a five star hotel. This was my weekend discovery.
Speke Resort Munyonyo, the first among the first hospitality facilities he runs in Uganda, is not an exclusive club of the ‘who is who’. Sundays is the best day to enjoy what the rest of people have at dollar rates.
Whereas to a great extent the rest of the hotel remains the ultimate paradise for the high class that has made its money and want to give themselves well-deserved pampering, the space given to the community to share what the princesses and princes of this world have tickled me.
On the Sunday of October27, I realized there is a performance of afro soul artists at the Lakeside grounds served by the grill restaurant. Entrance is billed 3k; that is less than a dollar which is at Sh3600. Equally, it costs one less than a litre of petrol which also rotates around Sh3500.
My friend Joseph Masembe, the chief executive of Little Hands Go Green joined me for the evening. The place opens at 3pm. Children were playing at the bouncing castles and JC Muyonjo was on stage with his guitar in hand, backed up with drummers. He was performing to the adoring crowd who freely moved near the stage to click away photographs on their smartphone for sharing on their social media.
This is an interesting crowd. You can bump into someone you know. A celebrity. Neighbor. But also the wealthy come from the hotel side and come to enjoy the themed activities which include music performances, acrobats, market week, among others. Some people with private boats join in as darkness beckons, families share tables or mats and eat or drink while listening to soothing music.
The crowd is also mixed; Ugandans and expatiates mingle. You can meet the visiting Chinese, European or Indian investors in town. But as you mingle, you cannot tell the class differences, everyone is enjoying themselves. If you are keen on networking and meeting new people – I cannot recommend a better place.
The food, drinks
What would you expect from a beach? I will start with the obvious. Fish comes in all sizes, so is chicken and pork. Every group is offered a special waiter to take care of them; in our case, an attentive young man, Gabriel, would check on us if our jumbo fish and Four-friends bottle of wine needed any refilling. Gins, wine, sodas, beers, energy drinks in plenty.
The picture is worth a thousand words. See these menu prices.
Don’t complain now that your favourite bar has been cheating you. And yes, those are prices at the five star hotel.
Nothing in Uganda beats an evening at the lakeside of Lake Victoria, with such an investment in landscaping as one done at Speke Resort. The cool breeze, the green lawn, the stone walk-way along the beach, the blue waters and the sound of waves, the natural island across the lake, the lighting of the place and their trees in right places – make Lake Grill Restaurant experience stand out.
What to do here
I have this bad habit which anyway works wonders for me. When I go to a new place or office, I need to know more about it and this usually you can get from whoever is in charge. Well, here I met Akhilesh and Navin Kunder to tell me more about what one can get from Speke Resort.
“Some people think this place is high end, which is true when it comes to service. But out costs are very pocket friendly like you have witnessed yourself. This is why those who discover this secret keep coming back and enjoy themselves with their friends and family,” said Navin. He added that every Sunday, there is a special activity which the hotel opens to the general public. He said, Week 1 is for a Zanzibar island experience in terms of music and food; Week 2 for Acrobats; Week 3 is Market Day for all kinds of merchandise and Week 4 – is not fixed. “It could be a DJ night or a performance by an artiste such as today,” Navin said.
How to get there
Munyonyo is on the skirts of Kampala off Ggaba road. It is about 8km from the city centre and on a normal day, it could take you about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the traffic. Whether you drive (you are guaranteed a secure parking space), use commuter taxis, boda boda or walking, Speke Resort is accessible to all.
Ours was a weekend well spent. Masembe and I, spent just UGX100,000 for our bottle of wine, plus two big fish served with fries. What else could I ask for! Money’s worth. Life well lived.