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American Recreation Association

By Tony Powell

Nestled in the sleepy Makindye district of Kampala, set in lovely grounds with beautiful gardens, the American Recreation Association (ARA) is a popular family-orientated club that lives up to its by-line: ‘Your home away from home’. A calm haven in which to seek sanctuary from the maelstrom that is sometimes Kampala, the ARA is like a well known setting, complete with familiar faces and welcoming smiles.

A primarily membership-based club – with annual fees ranging from US$400-$620, plus a one-off joining fee – the ARA was established in 1982. Since then, it has expanded its operations to offer not only competitively priced accommodation, an extensive food and drinks menu, and a diverse mix of sporting and leisure activities, but also a highly reputable corporate catering service.

Accommodation comprises 12 double rooms, available on a short or long-term basis, rental is inclusive of a continental breakfast and full access to the club’s facilities. Daily prices range from $60 (for a single occupancy) to $105 (for double occupancy, en-suite), with children accompanying their parents charged an extra fee dependent on age. The rooms are well presented and economical. My family and I stayed in one for a month after arriving in Uganda from a wintry England in January 2005 and found it delightful.

For those with pressing business needs, a dedicated business centre offers broadband connectivity as well as a wireless Infocom hotspot service. This facility is supplemented by conference facilities that can easily cater for organisational meetings (e.g. small workshops), offering a comfortable setting for business deliberations. My own organisation has held numerous meetings here over the years and found it a very productive setting within which to conduct discussions.

The menu currently caters to both carnivore and vegetarian. For the latter, options go far beyond the obligatory cheese sandwich to include, for example, cheese Waldorf and Greek salads, vegetable curries draped on a bed of fine rice, and Mexican fajitas (prices ranging between 15,000-19,000/=). On my recent visit, I opted for a fish balls starter (infused with ginger and coriander, sprayed with a squeeze of lemon, and served on a piquant tomato sauce; price 8,000/=), supplemented by a refreshing, freshly pressed passion juice, and followed by French fries, steamed vegetables and a pepper steak, the latter dressed with imported Madagascan green pepper corns (20,000/=). Service is provided with the reassuringly recognisable smile that can only be derived from membership that enables name-basis connections with staff.

The outdoor sports include a fenced-off wading pool (to ensure the well-being for the inexperienced young swimmer), a 25-metre swimming pool, volley- and basketball, horseshoe pits, a small children’s playground (which includes a climbing frame and a trampoline), and two floodlit clay tennis courts. On the latter, aspiring Roger Federers can receive personalised coaching lessons for a nominal fee and dream longingly of their Wimbledon appearance! Indoor sports activities include squash courts, pool table, darts, and a fully equipped multi-gym.

In recent years the ARA has been acquiring an enviable reputation for the provision of professional indoor and outdoor catering services – serving up to 500 customers with a wide range of menus, as well as providing the associated needs of tents, tables, chairs, glasses and serving staff. One of their specialist areas is cocktail parties, where they endeavour to work with clients to provide the culinary and beverage combinations that clients want rather than offering inflexible options.

Permeating all the club’s activities is the comforting sound of families having fun, especially at weekends when the high-pitch squeals of delight from the pools are matched by the giggling laughter from the TV room that shows Cartoon Network, amongst other child-friendly channels.

The ARA is indeed ‘Your home away from home’. Since my family’s arrival in the country, we have viewed it as our second home!

For more information, please contact:
American Recreation Association
Plot 59, Makindye Hill, Makindye
Tel: (041) 4510290 / (039) 2767033
Email: info@arakampala.com / ara@africaonline.co.ug. Website: www.arakampala.com