Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) has opened Intercontinental Lagos, it’s first hotel in Nigeria and the company’s first Intercontinental Hotel in West Africa.
The hotel is set to appeal to local residents and international travellers alike with four restaurants and stylish bars on offer. Ekaabo, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, serves up a blend of Nigerian and international cuisine and overlooks a majestic waterfall, while Milano offers contemporary Italian cuisine. For those after Far Eastern fare, the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Soho*, is the ideal option. At the hotel’s poolside restaurant, PS/SP, guests can choose from a variety of healthy lunch and dinner choices and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, while seated next to the hotel’s Zen garden.
For event planners and business travellers, the hotel offers state-of-the-art facilities. Its Grand African Ballroom can seat up to 1,400 people with an additional six other meeting rooms, a boardroom and business facilities available. The hotel also features a luxurious health and fitness centre, which includes a sauna and steam room, and Club InterContinental.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who was joined by other eminent persons from all walks of life, performed the grand opening of the hotel at a colourful ceremony characterised by glitz and glamour.
Fashola in his speech commended the promoters of InterContinental Lagos for their vision, saying the building of the hotel was a welcome development at a time Nigeria was yearning for foreign direct investments to grow the economy. He noted that continuous investment in the local economy was the answer to creating more jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerians.
“It is clear that there is growth on the African continent. But growth is a cycle as economists will tell you, and if we do nothing with the cycle of opportunity, it will move on. It is here now but we are dealing with growth without enough jobs. There is no miracle about it, the answer lies in continuous local investments, continuous pushing of the frontiers of commitment, continuous investments at home and emphasis on the possibilities that lie here”, he submitted.
Fashola, who commended the Milan Group and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for the multi-billion naira investment in the state, specifically saluted the courage of Mr. Ramesh Valechha for the bold move even as he assured willing investors of his administration’s commitment to the growth of the tourism and hospitality sector as well as foster an environment that can enable investments to thrive.
“The Milan Group and InterContinental Hotels Group, especially Mr. Ramesh Valechha, did not make this investment because the Lagos State Government went to look for investors. They made this investment because the environment was enabling. I salute the commitment and the belief of the Milan Group in the Lagos and the Nigerian economy. Some have alluded that commitment to persistent stubbornness, stubborn persistence was the word I heard about Mr. Valechha, but I think it is passionate persistence. It is persistence driven out of conviction.
“And if you want to know how deep that conviction is, you need to take a turn to the basement of this building. You will see that persistence and that conviction expressed in several metres deep of concrete and steel and it shows you how difficult it was to get this project underway. But they did not give up because they were convinced that this was the place to put their money”, the Governor said.
Fashola also enjoined Nigerian entrepreneurs to tap the opportunities created by the current deficit in key sectors such as hotel, road infrastructure and other utilities that could create economic growth, jobs and make life better for the people even as he declared InterContinental Lagos as a ‘’life-defining’’ infrastructure. He urged Nigerian professionals and entrepreneurs to continue to be the drivers of more landmark projects of this nature.
Speaking on behalf of the owners of InterContinental Lagos, the Chairman of Milan Group, Mr. Ramesh Valechha, disclosed that the newly opened first luxury five-star hotel in the history of Nigeria has created 650 direct employments and scores of indirect employment in the hotel value chain.
‘‘We note with a high sense of satisfaction that we have created 650 direct employments for some Nigerians and indeed scores of indirect employment for others connected one way or the other to our hotel value chain as suppliers and service providers. This is part of our noble contributions to the economic environment within which our businesses are set’’, Valechha said.
Paying tributes to Nigerians for their professionalism and resilience, the chairman disclosed that the architectural design and construction of the 358-room and 23-storey magnificent hotel were executed by Nigerian professionals while the financing was undertaken by two local banks – Skye and Wema. He also stated that the successful completion of the hotel, despite the challenges associated with projects of this magnitude, underscored the greatness of the vision of the owners and the belief of various people involved in the project, in the vision.
‘‘Like all large construction projects, we had our share of challenges associated with projects of this magnitude. But members of our team have done their utmost to make certain that we are ready for our opening day! This kind of loyalty has been truly inspiring and makes us proud of the people of this great country and their unbroken spirit in the face of challenges. In spite of these challenges, we have made it, and you are all here to celebrate our success with us’’, he said.
InterContinental Lagos, he added, was purposefully built and reflected the highest international standards while assuring consumers of value for their money. According to Valechha, ‘‘we have, in our own little way introduced some positive narratives that will form the basis for new conversations about Nigeria at the global stage. I am confident of one thing; this iconic structure opened today will form the topic of new positive discourse by International business and leisure tourists who will have cause to visit Nigeria from now on.’’
In his remarks on behalf of Nigerian professionals that worked on the design and construction of the magnificent hotel, the Managing Director of Design Group and the lead architect who designed the building, Arc. Bayo Odunlami, said the complex was a testimonial of the high professionalism of Nigerians. While expressing gratitude to the promoters for their confidence in Nigerians, he said ‘‘this edifice is an outstanding testimonial that Nigerian professionals have come of age‘’. He added that it was also a boost for the country’s perception.
On his part, the Managing Director of Skye Bank, Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, commended the resilience of Mr. Valechha and his team for seeing the project through despite the challenges. He said apart from changing the Lagos skyline, InterContinental Lagos was ‘‘a hotel of the future’’ for Nigeria. His Wema Bank counterpart, Mr. Segun Oloketuyi, described the project as ‘‘a landmark and destination hotel’’, noting that it would impact the nation economy in terms of direct employment and several value chain benefits.
Veteran architect, Mr. Robin Johnson, whom Mr. Odunlami acknowledged as his professional trainer and mentor, saluted Mr. Valechha for making his vision to become a reality and expressed joy with the high quality of work done by the local professionals whom he said had helped the owners ‘‘built their dream exactly the way they wanted it.’’
Earlier on, a media interactive session was held by the Milan Group and InterContinental Hotels Group managements during which they spoke on the hotel project and its offerings. According to them, some of the state-of-art facilities at InterContinental Lagos include 260 superior rooms, 61 club or business rooms, 36 suites and a presidential suite all totalling 358 keys.
Other facilities are seven different types of restaurants and bars that serve continental, Nigerian, Chinese, and Italian cuisine, a 1000-seat ball room, eight meeting rooms, a business centre, a board room, and a health floor consisting of most modern gymnasium, swimming pool, sauna, spa and steam rooms. There is also a swimming pool deck floor with an open space for seating 1200 or more guests in an open area for cocktails, leisure and after work relaxation.
General Manager of InterContinental Lagos, Mr. Didier Coeln said, “Given its excellent location, InterContinental Lagos is perfectly placed to give our guests access to central business areas, pristine beaches, and some of the best entertainment options in Lagos,”. “We also understand that our guests value authenticity and want to experience the local culture. Our concierge team looks forward to sharing their local knowledge of Lagos so guests can enjoy an authentic and enriching stay with us.”
The grand opening event was attended by eminent persons among whom were Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; his predecessor, Chief Joseph Sanusi; Lagos State Commissioners for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu; Mr. Kayode Opeifa (Transport); Engr. Taofiq Tijani (Energy and Mineral Resources); Group Managing Director of Milan Group, Mr. Rajesh Valechha; Executive Director, Milan Group, Mr. Vikram Valechha; General Manager, InterContinental Lagos, Mr. Didier Coeln; Regional General Manager Africa, IHG; Mr. Maher Nasr and Regional Director, IHG; Mr. Karl Hala.
Also present were former Managing Director, Skye Bank, Mr. Akinsola Akinfenwa; Managing Director, Wema Bank, Mr. Segun Oloketuyi; former Managing Director, Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia while the royal fathers present included the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Oniru of Iruland, Oba Abiodun Idowu Oniru. Other dignitaries were former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Inuwa Wushishi (retd.) and Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Press Limited, Mrs. Maiden Ibru among several others.
InterContinental Lagos is the sixth InterContinental hotel in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the next five years the hotel is due to be joined by an additional two InterContinental hotels in Senegal and Uganda.