Alissa Ruxin moved to Rwanda 15 years ago on her honeymoon and never left. Raised in San Francisco a natural “foodie”, and educated in public health with a focus on wellness, Alissa landed in Kigali ready to work with the community on improving health for all.
While volunteering with orphans, Alissa saw a great need for vocational training and job creation, so she shifted gears, and built Heaven-Rwanda’s leading restaurant and hospitality training facility. Since opening in 2008, Heaven has trained over 1,500 Rwandans in customer service, culinary and hospitality management skills.
Over the years, she expanded the business to include the top-ranked 28-room Heaven Boutique Hotel. In 2014, she was the feature of A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda – a book penned by her husband and co-owner, Josh. Keen to develop a new luxury property for discerning travelers to Kigali, Alissa began construction of The Retreat – Kigali’s most luxurious, eco-friendly and intimate high-end property. Alissa worked with a team of Italian architects and Rwandan builders and technicians to bring The Retreat to life. Since opening The Retreat in 2018 and her second restaurant, Fusion, Alissa has continued to expand its footprint and offerings. Today, The Retreat has a total of 20 rooms, with 8 new luxury pool villas, and her sister company, Heaven Tours, offers curated tours and cultural experiences, featuring off-the-beaten-path destinations throughout Rwanda.
Josh’s interest in great food and service have long been a passion, and he spends summers cooking massive multi-course dinners for his extended family and friends. During Heaven’s first years he was at various times a bartender, rear waiter, busboy, front waiter, maitre de, and executive chef.