It’s Jamhuri Day weekend and I had promised my wife that I would take her to Jinja in Uganda for the weekend but unfortunately I have to cancel my plans as I have just been diagnosed with something that requires me to be on medication for 10 days and that would make the road trip very uncomfortable.
So I spend my evening trying to figure out where I was going to spend the weekend without so much hustle. Then it hits me that I recently was treated to a tour of the new Pinecone Hotel and loved the place. I quickly log onto their website and make my reservation.
About 20 minutes later my phone rings and it’s Ruth Ombongi from Pinecone on the other end of the line confirming my reservation for Saturday – “that was fast,” I tell her but that would just be my first interaction with the top notch professionalism of Pinecone staff. I settle for a double deluxe room on full board accommodation and get back to my Friday routine.
I check into the hotel about half past noon, just a few minutes to lunch time – the timing was very intentional. I am paying for full board accommodation so I better make sure I am checked in for lunch. I get into my hotel suite and the phone rings with someone from reception waiting to take my order. There is fish, chicken and beef but they could as well make anything else for me if I am not interested in either of those. This is Kisumu, most people would be interested in the fish but I go for kuku kienyeji served with ugali and traditional veggies.
The past few years has seen Kisumu rise as a conference tourism destination with the biggest conference hosted here so far being the 2nd Annual Devolution Conference in April. That rise has seen a significant increase in demand for conference and accommodation facilities. Local investors are not letting that boom pass them and new establishments are coming up day and night, Pinecone Hotel located in the heart of Kisumu’s serene Tom Mboya estate is one of such establishments which does not just seek to add on to the bed capacity of Kisumu’s hospitality industry but completely change the game in terms of quality of hotel services in the lakeside city.
When people like me who breathe internet and not oxygen check into hotels, the most important thing you want to try out is their Wi-Fi. I get out my laptop but I notice that there is a very weak signal in my room – just two bars and I note it down so that when I get to have a sit down with the hotel’s marketing manager later in the afternoon I will bring it to her attention. I however decide to see how the weak signal performs all the same and to my bewilderment all my pages open okay – I try to test it with fire and open YouTube to play Dela’s rendition of Hello by Adele – streams perfectly!!
The hotel room has a medium sized nicely finished working desk with about four regular power sockets for your gadgets an Ethernet port if you are interested in using the cabled network instead of Wi-Fi. There is a 32 inch Sony LED TV hanging on the wall just above the desk with access to over 40 channels which include Aljazeera, CNN, Sports, Entertainment and local channels. A DVD player is also available on request. The desk also has a drawer that you can use for keeping the documents you are working on.
Kisumu can be hot so the rooms are all fitted with air conditioning. Each room has a plastic key card which apart from opening the doors also switches the power on – that means power goes off immediately you leave the room. I found that to be a very efficient way of conserving energy because it ensures you have power only when you need it. The hotel also has a standby generator and solar backup just in case power goes out.
As the geek in me notices the tech stuff, my wife is busy unpacking our stuff. We are only here for a day so we did not bring the whole world with us. The room has a nicely fitted closet on one side of the room directly opposite the bathroom with a life –size mirror on the door. It has a couple of plastic hangers for your clothes and a compartment that you can use for your folded clothes and space bellow for your shoes.
Unlike hotels of similar standards that I have been to in a couple of cities, this room does not have a safe but I am told there are safes at the reception that I can use to keep my valuables. I hope that is one thing they will consider adding to the rooms after reading my review.
The bathroom has a nice looking finish. A toilet on one end and shower on the other. The water is heated using solar energy so you have to let it run for a while before it gets hot but it’s totally worth the wait. Fresh towels hang on a rack next to a sink with a face mirror above it. There are tubes of shower gel, shampoo and lotion in the shower. The hotel does not however have a bath tub – most hotels are moving away from bath tubs as a means of conserving water but many people also cite hygiene reasons.
The bed is a 5×6 with a nicely done headboard with side drawers and a very comfortable mattress. The remote for the AC sits on top of the drawer on one side of the bed while the phone is on the other side. There are a couple of sockets just above the drawers for those who like to sleep with their phones charging next to them.
The phone rings again and I am informed that our lunch is ready. We walk downstairs from our first floor room past the lobby and into the terrace where our lunch is served. You can chose between having your meals at the restaurant or at this nicely done terrace adjacent to the poolside bar. It has beautiful shades with hexagon-shaped mahogany tables and seats all nicely finished. A couple of trees and green plants complete the serene picture that is very ideal for chilling out on a hot afternoon like this one.
The waiters serve us lunch from the adjacent kitchen. The chicken tastes so nice it reminds me of my mother’s cooking. It’s been a very long time since I had such nice tasting chicken.
At night we have ugali with fish at the restaurant because the weather was not all that good for a garden dinner. Just like the chicken at lunch the fish is very delicious and is served with traditional veggies. I skip the drinks and desert because I am attending a cocktail evening at a nearby hotel that is just opening its doors for the first time tonight and I don’t want to fill my stomach.
Next to the lobby is a Business Centre with three computers and high speed internet accessible to all guests staying at the hotel at no extra fee. If you are on holiday and did not carry your gadgets but need to work on a quick document then this space will be ideal for your needs.
The conference facilities are located on the third floor of the 66 bed capacity hotel. It boasts of three conference facilities of different sizes with the biggest being able to accommodate up to 300 people. The conference rooms have very fast internet accessed through Wi-Fi or internet cables and are fitted with modern conferencing equipment. They have very beautiful views of Kisumu International Airport and Lake Victoria which add a very relaxing feel to them.
The hotel is just seven minutes drive from the airport and about five minutes from the city centre.
If you want to sample Kisumu’s night life then you can check out Barcadia Lounge, Club Signature or Club Buccaneers – all located in the CBD if you are into the urban hits or sample Buddy’s Grill at United Mall for some soothing oldies and Rhumba.
The hotel also has a fully furnished apartment for those who want to be home away from home. You can make your own food or request for a personal chef.
If you are going to Kisumu then why not check out Pinecone Hotel. Make your reservations online at www.pineconehotel.com this holiday season or next time you are having a conference in town and you might just land yourself a discount. Rates are available on their website as well.
Let us know what you think of the hotel as well in the comments section.