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Igongo named region’s most luxurious cultural resort of 2024

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Panoramic view of Igongo Country Hotel and Culture Centre. PHOTO/COURTESY

Igongo Country Hotel and Cultural Centre is a peculiar place. It arrived on the scene like a hit song.

Shortly after its launch, everyone seemed to know about it, probably because of its strategic location at the edge of Lake Mburo National Park. Now, tourists on trips to Bwindi or Queen Elizabeth national parks (or vice versa) had a place that understood them, a place where they could stop to refresh before proceeding. Igongo was a welcome addition to the tourism infrastructure in western Uganda.

Even before it became a hit with foreign tourists, Igongo was already a household name. First of all, it was promoted as a hotel with a museum that held the secrets to the history of the Banyankole. For this reason, Ugandans, especially Banyankole and Bakiga of all ages were drawn to it, curious to learn about their roots. 

Many people who would not ordinarily have any business visiting a hotel, like school children or peasants started thronging Igongo for the museum, only to be introduced to fine dining and luxury. As more and more people fell in love with it for varied reasons, Igongo expanded structurally and professionally, and became one of the best hotels (if not the best) in the region.  

The award
It, therefore, does not come as a surprise to many that last weekend, on Saturday, June 8, Igongo won this year’s Global Hospitality and Luxury Award as the most luxurious cultural resort in East and Central Africa. Igongo entered the competition with more than 100 hotels and tour operators from Uganda alone.

At the end of the voting, both by the judges and customers, Igongo won the coveted award. It is the only entity from Uganda that won an award.  

“This award goes to just show that what we are doing, is the right thing. And this is also pride not only to us, but to the country because while I was receiving this award in Tanzania, there was no other person from Uganda that received anything. Igongo represented the country,” George Ochiel, the Igongo general manager says.

“There were nine hotels in the luxury cultural resort category from all over Africa. The number was cut down to three, leaving Igongo with a Zimbabwean and an Egyptian hotel. We were pleased to be announced winners.” 

This year’s Global Hospitality and Luxury Awards, were held in Arusha, Tanzania on June 8. The organisers, who are tourism and hotel experts, recognise and celebrate excellence in the African tourism industry. They rate tour operations and hotels in Africa. Experts say the awards have been an integral part of the industry, celebrating achievements and setting benchmarks for excellence over the last decade. Igongo joins other Ugandan entities that have won in the past including Chobe Safari Lodge along the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.

The nomination and voting process is as transparent as the firmament. To avoid favouritism and cheating, judges can only contribute a maximum of 60 per cent of the marks and the rest is left to the customers to vouch for you.

That way, the most pleased customers raise the best hotel to the top. This is why tourism experts take this award seriously. 
Other awards for hotels at the event included: Best Beach Resort, Best Town Hotel and Best Boutique Hotel.