Beautifully located on one of the most sought-after avenues in the heart of the city, the Grand Dame of Maputo, as the Polana Serena Hotel is widely known as, is a majestic colonial building with a history stretching as far back as 1922. Presented in an inspirational fusion of international, African and authentically Portuguese style, the Polana Serena offers every modern convenience, complemented by its gracious service.

As you swish through the glass doors into the lobby of the Polana Serena Hotel, leaving the heat of the African sun behind you, you’re greeted with gleaming marble and stylish décor that epitomises a bygone era of old world elegance and modern world luxuries.

Following an extensive expansion and refurbishment programme in September 2010, the five-star Polana has managed to merge a combination of the past with modern day facilities and comforts to match.

The underlying success of this refurbishment however, is not in the luxury or the décor, carefully chosen to represent each era of the hotels history, but in its commitment to environmental best practice.

The Polana Serena Hotel has officially been certified ISO 14001 compliant by an external certification body.

The main objective of this system is to minimise the adverse impacts of certain activities on the environment and community and in doing so, create a more sustainable one. As the hotel industry sees no time limitations operating 24/7, environmental influences can be sizeable so the need to establish ‘green’ practices has become increasingly important.

Says Karim Merali, Executive Director of the hotel: ‘As a key player in the hospitality industry, we are responsible for paying attention to any impact our activities may have on the environment and making sure that our approach of sustainable development is in the interest of ourselves and the surrounding community.’

The hotel chose to adopt this new system to increase guest satisfaction, reduce harmful impacts on the environment, ensure long-term sustainability development, improve community relations and improve aesthetics and sanitation. All departments of the hotel are represented by the ‘green team’ which is tasked with coordinating programmes to monitor, measure, review and reduce environmental impacts.

Some of the areas being addressed include the reduction in utilities consumption and staff awareness. Electricity reduction measures include: key cards to operate lights in rooms, low energy lighting where possible and decorative lighting on timers and the sub-metering of specific load areas e.g. kitchen, laundry, air-conditioners. Guests are offered the choice to re-use linen and towels, water consumption in kitchen and laundry areas is carefully monitored to check usage, environmentally friendly cleaning products are used throughout and grey water is used to irrigate the gardens. In addition to this the monitoring of air emissions and ambient air quality, occupational health and safety as well as community health and safety is a priority.

Another honour which the hotel recently received is the ‘Made in Mozambique’ seal. This insignia recognises the Polana Serena Hotel’s commitment to revitalisation and empowerment in the provision of good service and quality products. Says Merali: ‘We are confident that this stamp will add value to our services and verify us in the market as a hotel which provides services that are truly Mozambican and of an international standard.’

When questioning their produce procurement policies, I was assured by Remy Cadiere, Director of Food & Beverage, that the Polana is committed to sourcing as locally as possible – Moçambique first, then South Africa and Africa and when all else fails Europe.

This is quite evident with the choice of fresh and obviously local choice of food on the buffet table at the Varanda Restaurant, one of a number of dining experiences available.

Saturday nights are extra special with their sumptuous ‘seafood buffet’ – a starter selection of prawns of all sizes prepared in almost as many ways, clams, oysters and  calamari; then there are the wonderfully large ‘LM’ prawns, crayfish and fresh line-fish all freshly prepared on the grill. This, complimented with a glass of fine South African wine and background music supplied by a local live band, is what memories are made of.

words – Tessa Buhrmann / pics – Tessa Buhrmann, Polana Serena Hotel