Serena Hotels was delighted to welcome back into the fold Mr Mugo Maringa, who took over the role of Serena’s Country Director Tanzania on 1 October 2015. Claire caught up with him at World Travel Market for a quick Q&A.
Hi Mugo. Good to have you back!
Lets kick off this mini interview with an unusual fact about yourself?
I actually find work very relaxing.
What made you want to work in the hospitality industry?
I thought it would be fun meeting and serving people – and it sure has been!
We know you have previously worked for Serena for 22 years. Sue and I remember enjoying a wonderful dinner at Serena’s Beach’s Jahazi Grill with you back in May 2005. Can you tell us a bit more about your career path?
It has been a very interesting journey for me. After studying Hotel Management at the Kenya Utalii College, I joined the Serena Group in 1989 as Assistant Manager at Amboseli Serena and, over the next 22 years, worked my way up through the ranks to Country Manager before I side stepped.
During that time I got to know the properties well across the Serena portfolio – working in General Manager roles in Kenya and Tanzania as well as Country Manager in Rwanda and Uganda. Some of my career highlights include launching Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge back in 1996 (which I also managed for over 2 years) – as well as spending nearly 6 years in Stone Town managing the Zanzibar Serena Inn (now Zanzibar Serena Hotel). I then moved to Rwanda to look after Kigali and Kivu Serena Hotels and Uganda for Kampala and Lake Victoria Serena Hotels for a few years which were great experiences.
I finally left Serena Hotels in August 2011 after 22 years for another exciting experience as Managing Director of The Boma Hotels where I stewarded the opening of two hotels – The Boma Nairobi and two years later Boma Inn Eldoret. After nearly four years with Boma Hotels, we set up and opened the Boma International Hospitality College where I also served as a director before heading back “home” (to Serena Hotels). In between this journey, I undertook a number of international exposures and further studies. And now I am back as part of the Serena family!
How do you plan to make your mark in your new position?
New ideas are certainly on the table. A fresh way of looking at things and certainly happier results.
Are there any exciting things going on at any of Serena’s Tanzanian properties for 2016?
Plenty – renovations, facility upgrades, new activities, and market repositioning for some units.
What three words would your friends use to describe you?
An interesting, calm, workaholic.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Hearing very funny stories from repeat clients.
An interesting fact about Tanzania that is not very well known?
The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest in the world (54,600 km2) and it is a World Heritage Site.
When is your favourite time of the year in the area?
June to October
Which is your favourite hotel/lodge in the Serena portfolio and why?
That’s a difficult question as they all have different flavours. If I HAD to pick it would be Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge as it was the one I launched and I spent more than 3 years there as General Manager.
If you could change three things in the travel industry, what would they be?
I would do only one thing actually – to make travelling easier. The rest can follow.
What is the best advice you recall?
“Make yourself happy, and it will be easier for others to keep you happy”.
My boss told me so many years ago, and I have never forgotten it.
What’s your favourite town in Africa and why?
I like warm weather and a relaxed lifestyle, so, Mombasa!
What is your motto in life?
“The easiest thing to do is the right thing”.
What is your favourite mode of travel?
I enjoy travelling by road as I enjoy the scenery.
If you had a super power what would it be and why?
To make the world borderless.
What are your hobbies?
What’s your favourite movie of all time?
“The Gods Must Be Crazy”. Its an old South African comedy from 1980’s set in Botswana’s Kalahari desert about the San Bushmen and their discovery of a Coke bottle – apparently the most commercially successful release in the history of South Africa’s film industry.
What’s your favourite programme on the TV right now?
I’m a big fan of National Geographic documentaries
Thanks Mugo – It has been great to reconnect with you and we look forward to seeing what 2016 holds for you!
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