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African Sun breaks into the West Africa hospitality market

Lucky Onoriode George, eTN Ambassador  Mar 23, 2009

LAGOS, Nigeria (eTN) - Operating over six hotels within Nigeria and Ghana, including Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State, Amber Tinapa Resort in Calabar, Nike Lake Resort in Enugu, Clear Essence California Wellness Centre and Boutique Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos, Utanga Safari Lodge in Obudu and Holiday Inn Accra Airport, in Ghana, African Sun is sailing profitable in the West African coast despite its southern background.

The accomplishment in its new frontier is not a surprise going by its over forty years experience and management of hospitality and tourism facilities on the African continent. And through this period, the indigenous African hospitality management company has developed and managed some of the world’s best brands.

It has as well developed some of Africas’ best hospitality personnel and crafted some of the best operating systems.

But its strategy to grow into the West Africa was, however, birthed from realizing the opportunities in the region and matching these with its own capabilities.

These competencies and the confidence of having dominated the Zimbabwean tourism market pushed African Sun to satisfy the growing demand for hospitality and leisure services in the West Africa region.

With high expectations, the hospitality outfit is establishing its brand footprint in the West Africa enclave that will create a critical mass, which in turn brings about economies of scale, and be there for the long-haul.

Before its successful handling and rebranding of the Obudu Cattle Ranch which is now Obudu Mountain Resort, African Sun, like any other international business operator seeking to break ‘new frontiers’ did face some challenges. The major ones were the legal framework in the new territories, the infrastructural challenges both physical and administrative, and most importantly the skills to execute this roll-out strategy.

African Sun’s tested experience in managing tourism/tourist facilities, has over the years and recently in Nigeria delivered its promise to leave business guests with “unforgettable experiences” whenever and wherever they use its facilities.

Besides, its well spread portfolio of hotels from business hotels, conferencing and leisure resorts, to safari operations did not anyway derail it from being leisure and life-style oriented. It also impacted on its roll-out strategy that allowed it fit easily into a more business environment such as Ghana and Nigeria

But in walking the West African region of its expansion journey, they hope carry along some beneficiaries, key being the travelers in West Africa, the labour market, host communities suppliers and of course, its shareholders.

With over 70 percent occupancy rate, the hospitality operator meets its expectations especially in the Nigerian properties.

“Month-on-month, year-by-year, our expectations are being met.” says Cornelius Nyahunda, a manger in African Sun Hotels.

Having worked with some of the most wonderful business partners, hotel owners in the private sector and state governments in the region, it prides itself as the fastest growing hospitality operator in Africa.

In West Africa where the competition is tense with notable international brand such as Sheraton, Hilton, Le Meridian, Protea and Novotel, African Sun rather see a goldmine that only quality service delivery can explore. “Competition is the greatest thing that can happen to a business environment, and in most cases, it benefits the customer. With the competitions, hotel users in West Africa now have more choice, and in order for us to gain their loyalty, we just have to deliver more value for the dollar paid, and more consistently than our competitors.”

What endeared African Sun to the sub region is the region’s resourcefulness, in terms of oil, minerals, agriculture, timber, rubber, fish, fast growing cities among others. And it follows that there will be need to grow capacity in good quality accommodation services for travelers engaged in these economic initiatives, African Sun decided to break in the region.

Besides this, the other reason is to have an opportunity to review the potentials that will attract tourist in the region and beyond to travel for leisure, a sector which African Sun has built a lot of competencies over the years and is here to lead the way in developing this line of business in West Africa.

The success story of tourist locations such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe that play host primarily to guests from international markets such as USA, the Americas, Europe and Asia testifies to this.

If you are in Nigeria, a visit to some of their properties such as Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State, Amber Tinapa Resort in Calabar, Nike Lake Resort in Enugu, Clear Essence California Wellness Centre and Boutique Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos, Utanga Safari Lodge in Obudu will convince you. If you are in Ghana, a trip to the Holiday Inn Accra Airport will leave you with a lasting experience.

African Sun breaks into the West Africa hospitality market
Photo by Lucky Onoriode George

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