Picturesque: The place commands one of the best views in Kampala, writes Douglas D. Sebamala
Tasting their honey ginger pork cutlets served with fries and garnished with bits of salad left my taste buds craving for more of this delicacy. The slices are large, fleshy and thick with creamy dark brown stew, which pinches a taste of ginger for a salivating mouth experience.
But it is not just about the fine dishes, Cassia Lodge has one among the best views of Lake Victoria in Kampala, atop their terrace; where a fine breeze blows from across the lake.
Cassia is a combination of a hotel, bars, restaurant, swimming pool, spacious parking and gardens to match; “a unique scenery, an oasis of tranquility away from the chaos of Kampala,” a jovial Johan Van Hecke (pictured), manager of the picturesque location.
An outdoor experience at Cassia will cast from every corner a magnificent view of the lake. Freshen your day with crisp revitalising winds as you walk through the gardens, gaze at the lake from the comfort of your balcony or share a drink with friends at the terrace.
Garlanded with wood (boarding the stair ways, balconies, even as burglar proof), and bamboo roofing, this spot at the hill in Buziga resonates with a Ugandan heritage. Hecke reveals that except for a few interior finishing, all the materials used to construct Cassia are local. The bamboo is from Kisoro.
This priceless landmark was secured in 2000, rather rocky, bushy and at an affordable price but developed into a get away for familes and hideout for romantics.
The 20 room compartmentalised block has 10 twin rooms at the bottom floor and single (king size) bedrooms at the top. Furnished with shades of brown, wooden toilet seats, roller blade mosquito nets, mahogany wardrobe, shower, mini fridge, television set and magnificent lake view at the balcony, these rooms are a comfortable stay for anyone craving a peaceful getaway. Rates are at $160 (about Shs570,000) for a double room and $140 (about Shs504,000) for a single room.
The rates differ for long or half seasonal stay, and are categorised for foreign and local residents. It is Saturday and hordes of white people are checking in at the reception. A set of luggage/travel bags has filed the foyer, children are running about the gardens in their swimming costumes while their multi-cultural clientele dine and wine at the nearly 50 persons seater terrace.
When Hecke set out to build Cassia, he envisioned a niche of sorts of customers mixing from Australia, US, Europe, Eritrea, India, Uganda … a place where people can interact freely, a meeting place.
He humorously reminisces the peace talks between DR Congo and M23 rebels. “Both groups were here; the government in the restaurant and rebels in the gardens, but none knew they were here. In a way that was our contribution to the peace talks,” he concludes with laughter.
Originally from Belgium, he argues that doing business is the same anywhere in the world, and that no different from here, hospitality works best having one big family as staff. Among 42 employees, 41 are Ugandan and annually to motivate staff, the best employee is flown to Belgium.
Food and Beverages
Daniel Sentongo at the restaurant says they work mostly on weekends, stressing that their customer base is shared. “It is 50/50. While the whites mostly take up accomodation, Africans enjoy the bar and restaurant,” he says.
Meals range between Shs23,000 and Shs40,000 but there are burgers, desserts and fast foods from Shs18,000. Alcohol costs between Shs6000 and Shs100,000 depending on whether its beer, wine or whisky and soft drinks go for between Shs3,000 and Shs7,000.
“We try to be fair with our prices to build honesty with our customer,” Van Hecke says amid a smile that they do not charge VAT like other places do, yet they offer food at the price of Shs15,000 for children.
In recommending delicacies, he says steak and fish freshly
picked from Ggaba beach every morning are a favourite.
They have an assortment of Vegetarian and Asian being that a trace of Indians visit on Sundays. Weekends are also popular for families and on special occasions they treat guests to artistic sound with a guitar, piano to achieve a different musical experience (never too loud for neighbours).