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Unique Boutique Lodge Tells Story of Falling in Love with Rwanda

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A new boutique lodge has opened on the shores of Lake Muhazi, adding to a list of similar facilities aimed at attracting more tourists visiting the country and in need for high-end accomodations.

The boutique lodge, located in Rwamagana district, and dubbed “UMVA Muhazi”, literally meaning “Feel Muhazi” was officially opened August 25, 2022 by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and local officials who hailed its unique features and investment in the province.

UMVA Muhazi was built by the UMVA Experiences Ltd, an investment company whose business is based on an encounter of two expatriates who lived and worked in Rwanda and later fell in love with the country thus staying and deciding to do business in Rwanda.

The owners are Nick Hu who came to Rwanda in 2016 from the United States of America and Iwona Bisaga, from Poland.

Hu was in Rwanda to help the US based drone delivery company Zipline to open operations in Rwanda while Bisaga came to study a master’s degree in energy and worked at BBOXX- one of the solar energy investments.

At one point after staying they were unable to find enough accommodation options when they were visiting Lake Muhazi, a moment that sparked the idea of opening a facility that would defy the odds.

“We did not find many places (at the time) where we could spend a night, which led to the idea of building a house in Muhazi,” Bisaga told journalists at the launch event.

The hotel includes garden-to-fork dining, rammed earth architecture, 14kWp installed capaity of solar energy, and electric vehicles.

The lodge consists of 9 units with three variations (Birdhouse, Pod, and Bungalow) which can accommodate up to 20 people.

It offers a studio – a conference room to accommodate corporate or interest-based retreats; a tennis court; a yoga deck; a massage room, and lakeside docks to facilitate boating, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding activities.

Made in Rwanda Valued

UMVA Muhazi broke ground in April 2021 and was completed in 9 months by all-Rwandan firms, designers, and contractors, using local materials, minimizing transport-related carbon footprint.

The lodge is made up of a collection of small buildings laid out along the natural contours of the ground, employing low-density design to reduce human-wildlife conflict and minimizing the effects on nature.

Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of RDB said that this kind of hotel is a win for Rwamagana District but also is something that has a great meaning in the tourism of Rwanda and particularly of interest to the tourism development agency for a number of reasons.

“First of all, we always say that tourists should have many places to visit in the country, we know that many go to visit the geese or other parks including Akagera and Nyungwe, but in Rwanda there are many things that tourists can visit, including Muhazi,” Akamanzi said.

Nick Hu and Iwona Bisaga say that they have many other projects underway that they plan to start working on in Rwanda because they love the country and it welcomed them.

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