President Paul Kagame and the First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame on Thursday presided over the opening of the exclusive, ultra multi-luxury One & Only Gorillas Nest eco-lodge in Kinigi, Musanze, Northern Province –the second facility the luxury hotel chain has opened in Rwanda.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Kagame’s emphasised Rwanda’s readiness to partner with investors to drive the country’s agenda to develop high end tourism products that add value to the country and the economy.
The Head of State thanked Mohammed Al Shaibani, the CEO of Investment Corporation of Dubai and Chairman of Kerzner International, the owners of One & Only luxury hotel chain, for choosing to invest in Rwanda, urging them to feel at home.
“We have here, One and Only property, in the one and only Rwanda. Thank you, we appreciate what you have invested in and with us. We have an obligation to make sure that we both benefit from this kind of investment,” President Kagame said.
“The specifics of what this contributes to our economy and things that matter to our people and having like-minds have converged on always aiming high and creating high-end products,” he added.
President Kagame described the investors in the property, who put in over $65m to create a unique product, as people who share a similar vision and ambition as Rwanda, calling them friends of Rwanda who significantly contribute to investment in the country.
One & Only Gorilla Nest is the second property the hotel chain has in Rwanda, after taking over Nyungwe Forest Lodge more than 3 years ago.
“Know that you are at home, away from home and this is how this investment is going to be treated, like our own and we will always keep trying to add value to it in many ways,” President Kagame said.
Referring to the planned visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, President Kagame said that going by what he had seen during the tour, the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and his entourage should stay a little longer to experience the 5-star facility.
Al Shabaini said that One & Only was excited to open another facility in Rwanda, describing it as a fantastic opportunity for anyone who want to do business in Africa.
“What a gateway, what a standard that should be an inspiration for anybody in this region. Rwanda is a fantastic country, safe, perfect for business and one of the cleanest countries,” he said, adding that he always tells people that Rwanda is the greenest country he has ever been to.
The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Clare Akamanzi said that Rwanda being only the second country the One & Only luxury chain has opened a second facility is a sign of investor confidence and a special moment for Rwanda.
“We recognise with pride what you have done and the confidence you have put in our investment destination. Rwanda is an open country. We are open for business and we are open for tourists,”
“We make it easy and convenient for visitors to come to our country. But that’s not all. While in our country, we continue to create an environment that ensures our visitors feel safe and enjoy their time in Rwanda,” Akamanzi said.
She said that Rwanda continues to see an increase in the number of travellers visiting the country. Since 2014, the number of visitors that have come to the country’s national parks including, including Volcanoes National Park has doubled reaching almost 110,000 every year.
“We believe the addition of One & Only Gorilla Nest as a second property in Rwanda is a significant add on to the infrastructure and experience that we guarantee our visitors,” she said.
The CEO of Kerzner, Michael P. Wale said that One & Only Gorilla Nest offers unique products targeting a niche market that can afford the rates and want to enjoy experiential travel. The rates which range from $3,600 to $10, 500.
He said that eco-lodge which is tucked between tall eucalyptus trees at the foothills of the volcanoes has already attracted a number of wealthy business tourists and oligarchs who want to experience something unique since it opened its doors in October 2019.
“We have been able to produce something different and unique. With a combination of Rwanda’s beauty and what it has to offer, we believe this product is going to be highly successful,” Wale said.
The facility sits on 35 hectares, is surrounded by over 36, 000 plant species and a golf course. He said during construction, which lasted over 2 years, they did not tamper with the natural environment.
The hotel employs 120 people at the moment, over 100 being Rwandans.