This hotel was jinxed right from the beginning. The hotel hardly has any customers. The place is mostly deserted, hardly do you see any patrons visiting. Located right at the top of Nakasero Hill, Pearl of Africa Hotel is one of the largest hotels in Uganda but it hardly does any business currently. Right from inception, when construction begun, the hotel has been shrouded in mystery as it has faced hurdle after hurdle in it’s journey.
Construction of the hotel started in 2006 when the owners, Aya Brothers promised to complete it in one year’s time ready to host CHOGM delegates the coming year 2007. This was too ambitious and many doubted the possibility of such speed in construction. To put up a building of 23 floors in a record period of one year is next to impossible. Indeed the given date of completion came and passed, CHOGM delegates were hosted in other hotels.
The hotel took not one year but over ten years to complete. It was finally completed in 2017. In between during construction, the owners faced too many challenges that observers thought the project would never be completed at all. At first, the hotel was to be known as AYA hotel, then changed name to Hilton Hotel and finally the current name of Pearl of Africa Hotel. Knowledgeable sources say Hilton International rejected the hotel request to use their franchise. That’s when they decided to rename it Pearl of Africa Hotel. A visit to the hotel shows that their room occupancy is less than 10% with very few guests during the day. The hotel with 296 rooms is a sleeping giant. It is the second largest hotel in Uganda by number of rooms after Speke Resort Munyonyo which has 335 rooms The hotel classifies itself as 4-star standard.
The place where the hotel stands formerly belonged to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), the national broadcaster. The process by which the hotel acquired this land has also never been well understood. It’s not clear about who were the financiers of this hotel and whether the owners will be able to repay their loan obligations. The total cost of putting up this hotel up to completion was $300 million. Whether this hotel will finally become feasible and profitable, only time will tell. As of today, it’s a gigantic investment whose feasibility study seems to have been wrongly done. Does it mean that when a project is jinxed from inception, it will be so all through or time may come when it disproves skeptics. It’s been a long journey for Pearl of Africa Hotel and it seems like the long arduous journey has just begun.