AFTER 23 YEARS of counting millions of money as an accountant, Domina Kayiraba decided she had had enough: perhaps she felt there was something even better than counting someone else’s money – that is, making her own.
With that resolution in mind, and armed with the little savings she had managed to put aside, she went shopping for business ideas. “I didn’t have anything particular in mind. All I knew is that I didn’t want a business for which I would have to rent space or commute to. I wanted something I could manage and run at my home, at my pace” she explains, adding that “my accounting job was too demanding, even though the money was good.”
Her home, down Minagri Road in Kacyiru proved to be the perfect location for her plans. It is just a gravel road that separates it from the lush greens of the Nyarutarama Golf lawns. Sitting on the terrace, one enjoys a bird’s eye view of the golfers taking turns to tee off.
The idea of a sauna/massage parlor came to her first. “I thought of sauna because of the outdoors, because that’s the beauty about this place. After sauna, you would come and relax under the trees and listen to the trees.”
Another idea she had was that of a guest house. “I’ve always liked travelling and finding these nice little places with beautiful gardens. I did some research and found out what it took to get started, and that was it.”
She chose to name it the Golf Eden Guest House, little wonder. It only took knocking down a few walls, a bit of landscaping and interior décor, and Domina’s home slowly mutated to a guest accommodation facility. Golf Eden is the typical family-run business. Warm and homely. It is nested behind such a dense canopy of trees that sitting in the lawns gives one the feeling one gets while under a huge, well-aerated marquee by the lakeside.
On Saturdays, the golfers like to come around in troops after a fine game. When they come here, they want to do what golfers do after a good game, that is, knock down several bottles of chilled beers. To their disappointment, however, they will be told that Golf Eden does not do alcoholic beverages as a matter of policy. Apparently the policy has got something to do with the owner’s religious beliefs, and the fact that “there are many people out there that don’t drink alcohol.” The golfers then walk away dejectedly, having failed to quench their thirst. Or they simply melt onto the terrace and partake of the other amenities that come with visiting a guest house.
That is what we did on checking in and being greeted with the no-beer policy. We decided to lounge about and enjoy the fresh flower scents and cool breeze on the terrace. Rather, we simply decided to take advantage of the fact that this is a family-run arrangement. The proprietor and her staff stay in an apartment adjacent to the main guest house, which could only translate to personalised service.
We asked what was on the menu, and discovered it’s an open-kitchen arrangement. Open kitchen in that you say what you want, and it will be found for you. The homely feel started to creep up on us when we were asked where we wanted our table set. Of course we opted for the lawns, from where we enjoyed our brochettes and tones of cucumber plus banana chips.
We were informed that we could “import” our own alcohol if we so wished, but we decided to keep the peace. We didn’t want anything that would threaten the serenity we were beginning to experience.
Eden Guest House is geared for crowds. It’s a ceremonial place, to put it another way. People come here in groups either for short stay, for a large homely meal or an event. Usually, it is private events taking place in one corner of the extensive gardens. They will host and cater to your wedding reception, honeymoon (kurura), seminar, retreat, photo shoot or wedding meeting, or that exotic garden dinner. Or, like Domina noted cheekily, it is “for people who like quiet places, like pastors.”