Hotel Chains: Serena Hotels, ‘The Ritz-Carlton of Failed States’

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Foreign Policy Magazine profiles Serena Hotels this month, what they call ‘The Ritz-Carlton of Failed States.’

The article begins with what risks “Yes, memsahib” style colonial stereotype in a story related by a BBC reporter, that while a battle raged outside in Mingora, Pakistan, inside a noble worker proclaimed, “We are a five-star hotel, madam. We must maintain standards at all times.” But Serena, owned by the Aga Kahn Fund for Economic Development, is dedicated to the serious work of providing economic growth and meaningful job opportunities to communities that desperately need them. Lost in news coverage of troubled states and war zones is that people must still find ways to go about their daily lives and support themselves.

Serena does not have a points program, after all true luxury does not deign to that, but what an achievement for the luxury traveler it would be to stay at all.

Serena hotel at night

Zanzibar Serena Inn, photo by missy & the universe

Here they are, by country and number of properties, ranging from hotels to safari camps:

  • Afghanistan – 1
  • Kenya – 10
  • Mozambique – 1
  • Pakistan – 8
  • Rwanda  – 2
  • Tajikistan – 2
  • Tanzania – 10
  • Uganda – 2

Alluding to these as failed is hardly fair. Though The Rapid Traveler has only visited Tajikistan’s rugged beauty, other than Afghanistan and Pakistan which have very serious safety concerns, the African countries all are relatively stable and he would not hesitate to visit any of them.

Readers, have you been to any Serena Hotels? How many?

We had tea and pastries

A napkin to remember, photo by stepnout

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