It has been a year since Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria was named by the Akwa Ibom State Government to be the new management company for Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, a profitable hospitality resort and world-class leisure center
In October 2020 the hotel management was formally taken over by Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria, the Nigerian subsidiary of the Kenyan Icon Hotel Group Africa (IHGA) to manage the 5-star Ibom Icon Hotels and Resorts.
The aim was to reposition the hotel, grow its fortune and project the tourism and hospitality potential of the state.
The hotel began operations in September 2007 under the name Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort and is managed by Starwood, an international hotel brand.
However, the state government’s relationship with Starwood ended in September 2017 and with Starwood’s departure that same year, the hotel’s name was changed to Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort to reflect its full government ownership.
After the unsatisfactory performance of the hotel managers over the years, the state government felt that it was necessary to employ the services of reputable and professional hotel managers who not only have a proven track record but are also respected in the international hospitality industry.
The need to have such a manager with these qualifications arose from the fact that the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel established Akwa Ibom State as an industrial, economic and tourism center in southern Guinea, and not just in Nigeria.
IBOM ICON Hotel and Golf Resort’s status as a symbol and flagship of Akwa Ibom hospitality means that the state needed a manager with the capacity and expertise to turn the hotel brand inside out without losing its cultural essence and making it the pride of the hotel To make people as well as the state.
It is important to mention that when looking for suitable managers, the state government has given priority to an indigenous brand with deep knowledge and experience in traditional African hospitality, which in the form of local culture in service delivery while maintaining international attractiveness.
The lot fell on ICON Hotels and Resorts Nigeria, a subsidiary of a hotel group that has carved out a niche for itself as the most sought-after hospitality brand of African origin on the continent, gradually refurbishing its existing hospitality facilities or building new ones.
The ICON Hotel Group is a fast growing end-to-end hotel with African growth that serves as a resource base for various core competencies in the hospitality industry in Africa and beyond.
ICON Hotel Group provides high level consulting and hospitality management solutions to multiple clients across Africa and is recognized as the industry leader in designing, updating and managing successful hospitality projects across Africa.
Since taking over the hotel and resorts, developments related to the Ibom Icon Hotel and Golf Resort have, within a year, confirmed the government’s decision to hand over management of the hospitality facility to the third manager.
ICON Hotel and Resorts Nigeria has applied its well-known expertise in merging local cultures into service delivery across the African continent to launch new initiatives within a year that have impacted revenue generation and the quality of service for new and existing guests.
One year later
First, the current management has reshaped the hotel’s service and provided employees with new knowledge and skills in the hospitality industry to set quality standards that others are trying to emulate.
There is some consensus that if ICON Hotel and Resort Nigeria could achieve the same level of success in one year running the Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort as it did in one year, further years on the saddle would greatly enhance the hotel’s fortunes could change and also help to stimulate the economy of Akwa Ibom State.
An extension of the one-year contract by the government to allow the current managers more years of leadership would certainly be a step in the right direction.
The chairman of the board of directors of IBOM ICON Hotel & Golf Resort, Mr. Udeme Ufot, gave an account of his responsibility and stated that the IBOM ICON Hotel and Golf Resort had been a reference point in terms of service and customer satisfaction over the past year.
He claimed that the current transformation of the hotel has further enhanced Akwa Ibom’s hospitality industry, making the hotel a model for others.
Ufot claimed that the one year was a very difficult time for the global tourism industry, including Nigeria, after the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the industry, literally grounding activities, and causing unquantifiable losses throughout the various lockouts World.
He noted that during the troubled period of the pandemic, the IBOM ICON Hotel and Golf Resort demonstrated its resilience and ability not only to withstand the storm, but also adapted well to what is now known as the new normal for its operations .
He says, “The hotel has been able to strike the delicate balance between running optimally and ensuring public safety.
“We have specially trained our employees to be able to provide the usual services in the midst of a pandemic of the scale and extent of COVID-19, which has so far remained a mystery even to experts. The hotel introduced contactless services that enabled staff to serve guests without physical contact. This innovation has earned the hotel the recognition of our guests. “
He stated that the current hotel management is satisfied with the progress made in one year and is currently negotiating a contract extension with the state government.
He went on to say, “I can’t be specific about the renewal terms, but it will definitely take more than five years to run the hotel.”
He was optimistic about a new IBOM ICON Hotel and Golf Resorts and stated that every effort has been made to ensure a five-star experience for new and existing guests visiting year-round.
Similarly, Ufot praised Udom state governor Emmanuel for his tireless efforts to bring peace to the state. He pointed out that peace in Akwa Ibom is a factor that has made a state an important destination for business and leisure travelers.
“Let us honor who it is due. People want to visit Akwa Ibom because there are certain elements that make the state attractive and also easy to visit. To this day, Uyo is probably the easiest place to visit from Abuja and Lagos thanks to Ibom Air. “
“Why do people want to visit Awka Ibom? The reason is that they can come here and feel safe. Thank you to our governor for making the state peaceful and safe to attend conferences and relax with family members. We may have a fantastic hotel and golf course, but if people don’t feel safe they won’t come, ”he added
The hotel hasn’t seen any major renovations over the years in terms of painting, interior furniture conversion, and a few other infrastructures to live up to its 5-five status.
The hotel’s chairman, Udeme Ufot, noted that there are plans to renovate and facelift the hotel’s structures and facilities. The goal is to improve service delivery and the customer experience.
ICON Hotels and Resorts Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Adetope Kayode, further affirmed: “Over the past year we have run the hotels and challenged ourselves aggressively in redesigning, planning, financing and restructuring the entire hotel transactions that will finance the renovation of the hotel are required.
“We were busy with the engineers, technicians and other teams looking for ways to optimally renovate the systems. In the interests of the population of Akwa Ibom State, we took an entrepreneurial approach to renovating the hotel. To ensure efficiency, are implemented in the process.
“We are assuming that full renovation activities will begin in the first quarter of 2022. Our goal is to complete the renovation in 12 months. “
Relationship with host communities
ICON Hotels and Resorts Nigeria last year embarked on an intense year-long human capital development program at IBOM ICON Hotel and Golf Resort that aims to convert semi-skilled workers into skilled staff who can seize hospitality opportunities and serve at executive levels anywhere in the world.
The management training program, with the aim of ensuring a continuous supply of talented future executives for sustainable growth in the hospitality industry, includes its trainees from the hotel’s host communities, ICON employees and recent graduates with leadership skills, good communication skills and a caring attitude and track record hard work.
ICON Hotel and Resorts Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Adetope Kayode, commented on the program, which aims to develop indigenous talent and prepare them to take advantage of opportunities around the world that the hotel has launched the management development program to State aid to youth, especially those in the host communities, have a chance to learn and grow in the highly specialized hospitality industry.
“It should familiarize them with best practices, train them on the job over an intensive period of one year and give them the opportunity to gain a foothold in the industry.
“When we talk about employment prospects, ICON Hotel Group Africa has a variety of employment opportunities for good students on this merit and merit program in all of their managed properties across the continent.
“The whole idea is to encourage them to do their best and since they have performed at the end of the program it gives them opportunities both at IBOM ICON Hotel & Golf Resort as well as other ICON property managers and other properties with other hotel managers in East Africa, Nigeria and across the continent who are ICON partners.
“The opportunities we can offer graduates of this program are extensive and this hotel definitely offers opportunities for graduates of this program.”
State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Orman Esin, said he was pleased that the hotel management had taken the initiative to train young people in the host communities and stressed that the state would benefit from the development program.