Sunday, 8 March 2015

The spaced out Ssese Island lodge proprietor.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Kalangala for work reasons and I must say it was such a pleasure to be back to the island which I visited briefly about 5 years ago for one night only. 

On my last trip, I used the ferry from the landing site in Entebbe, but this time I was fortunate to use the one in Masaka off Bukakata.

I was pleasantly surprised at how relatively punctual the ferries are that ply the route to and from the island 5 times a day at 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm. We were a little late but fortunate to catch the ferry which delayed loading motor vehicles on the island as it was on its way to Bukakata. As my team and I got onto the ferry, we were all extremely surprised that only our names and telephone numbers’ were jotted down for itinerary and no single coin was requested for fare. In addition, the journey to Ssese Island took only 20 minutes from Masaka on MV Ssese as opposed to the 3hours the last time I travelled on MV Kalangala via Entebbe. The ferry was very clean; the crew was smart, helpful and courteous even when my crew requested to take pictures the captain obliged with barely any fuss.

When we disembarked MV Ssese, I was taken aback at how much development had taken place since my last visit; with the extensive road works, the solar plant that powers the entire island completed and hectares of oil palm on the hills and slopes of the island. All this development was in stark comparison to the only 2 fuel station pumps on the main street of the island.

We arrived at sun down owing to our late departure of 5:00 pm from Bukakata and after getting our schedule for the following day sorted; we sought lodging as we decided to also experience the island by night. We visited hotels cottages, lodges and cabins that had either lodging or meals not both and when I asked about the food this is the response got.

Me: “Hello, how are you?”

Lodge proprietor: “I am fine.”

Me: “I am looking for accommodation for 5 people but would like to have that with full board.”

Lodge proprietor: “Full what!”She said.

Me: “Full board,” I responded politely.

Lodge proprietor: “wanji, hhhmm.”

Me: “Accommodation and breakfast.”

Lodge proprietor: “This is what we have,” she said as she took me to the front of her establishment to look at the quad bikes that were parked in a pen at the front of her establishment with a restaurant overhead.

Me: “Okay, I mean do you have accommodation and food – bed and breakfast for 5 people?”

Lodge proprietor: “I have only food.” She said as she walked back to her seat with a nonchalant look on her face.

Me:  “What kind of food?’

Lodge proprietor: “Continental menu!” she said in a cut way.

Me: “Okay, no local food at all?”

Lodge proprietor: “No!”

Me: “And what about accommodation?”

Lodge proprietor: “No accommodation, but there is accommodation down there. You can eat here and sleep there,” she said as she pointed across the main road to a little dingy looking establishment.

Me: “Okay, thank you,” I said in response as I walked away shaking my head on disbelief.

So then I thought to myself, she expects my team and I to wake up at the wee hours of the morning to cross over from our rooms to the breakfast area and then cross back to pick equipment before we could head out for the day’s activities. That was not going to happen.
The long story cut short we made 2 phone calls and got a recommendation of a good place right by the beach called Brovad Sands Lodge. 

The food was on point, the customer service was awesome and the manager was alert although it was pricy. That aside owing to my negotiation skills and the sizeable group I was travelling with, I managed to get a discount for our stay and every shilling was well worth it.

On the day of our departure, we intended to catch the 7:00 am ferry and so the manager of the lodge advised us to be at the dining at 5.30 am latest but when I got downstairs I did not expect his team to be ready or even awake. 

As I walked into the dining area, a lady seated in the corner shot out of her seat and headed straight to where I stood as she said;

Assistant Manager: “Good morning Mum, what will you be having for breakfast?”

People, great customer service exists within this beloved country of ours although I must add it I went all the way to Kalangala to find it but it was well worth the wait.

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