Category: News

Akwa Ibom govt appoints Icon Hotels As Mgmt Company For Ibom Hotel And Golf Resort

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The Akwa Ibom State Government has announced the appointment of Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria, the Nigerian subsidiary of one of Africa’s leading hospitality management companies – Icon Hotel Group Africa – as managers of its Uyo based 5-star Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort. This is in a bid to further grow Tourism and Hospitality potentials of the state as economic activities resume nationwide.

Performing the handover ceremony on behalf of the state government, the Chief of staff to the Governor, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-Eyen charged the Icon Hotels & Resorts management team to bring their globally rated, authentic African hospitality-infused expertise to bear in managing the hotel.

While congratulating Icon Hotels & Resorts on the appointment, the governor stressed the need to onboard innovative ideas in attracting patronage for the hotel and the overall tourism development of the state. He also reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting the new managers in the discharge of their duties as both parties collectively ensure that Ibom Hotel becomes one of the leading hotel brands in Africa.

Governor Emmanuel said, “We expect that in the next 12 months the hotel should manifest a new culture and environment to attract patronage” urging the new management to shun victimization of workers and stressed the need for them to use those already working there, especially those who are good at their jobs.

In response, Fred Maina the Group CEO of Icon Hotel Group Africa thanked the government of the state for trusting their competence and expertise in turning around the fortunes of the hotel for the better. According to the respected hospitality management czar, the next 12 months will see the Hotel recording tuned up customer experiences in services, refreshed ambience and world class trained personnel. It will also see the hotel significantly contributing to the State’s revenue with increased inflow of tourists and businesses.

In his remarks, Mr. Adetope Kayode the CEO of Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria thanked the State Government for the privilege given to the Company to take over the management of Ibom Hotel. Kayode expressed happiness at the confidence reposed in their management team and their ability to attract the best African hospitality talent to ensure the success of the hotel. While pledging his team’s resolve to change the fortunes of the hospitality outfit in the State to become a world-class venture, he said they have all it takes to turn around the hotel to the desired state.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Rt. Hon. Orman Esin had thanked the Governor for his resolve in ensuring that Akwa Ibom State remains a destination of choice and for allowing private sector participation in the development of the State’s economy, saying the initiative has brought about added value.

Rt. Hon. Esin lauded the governor for identifying a capable company to take over the management of the hotel. He further reiterated that the Government’s decision is in a bid to ensure that Akwa Ibom State reaps the dividends of democracy and a proof of the Governor’s selfless interest for the development of the State. He expressed confidence That the management team of Icon Hotels and Resorts will take the hotel to the next level and was optimistic their onboarding will add value to the state.

Also present at the ceremony were: Mr. Brian Efa, the outgone Acting General Manager of the hotel and Directors of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, amongst others.

About Icon Hotel & Resorts:

Icon Hotel and Resorts Nigeria (IHRN) is a subsidiary of leading African Hospitality Group – Icon Hotel Group Africa. IHRN has a vision to be Nigeria’s leading hospitality, leisure and recreation Management Company through its unique blend of indigenously grained global expertise following the group’s enviable reputation, growth success model and foothold across several African countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, etc.

Their objective is to become one of Africa’s top ten hotel chains by 2025 through: capacity, customer focus, profitability, human capital development, extensive continental footprint coverage, online presence and reputation, and high guest experience index scale.

Icon Hotel Group set to assume management of Akwa Ibom Hotel

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The management of Icon Hotels and Resort, Nigeria, has announced its appointment by the Akwa Ibom government as the manager of the state-owned Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort.

A statement issued by Mr Adetope Kayode, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Icon Hotels and Resort, Nigeria, on Sunday in Abuja said that the team was appointed, based on its ability and competence to attract the best African hospitality talents to ensure the success of the hotel.

The Icon team pledged its resolve to change the hospitality fortunes of the hotel to a world-class venture.
“We have all it takes to turn around the hotel to the desired state,’’ Kayode assured.

Meanwhile, Gov. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, while reacting to the development, urged the Icon group to create innovative ideas that would attract patronage for the hotel and the tourism potentials of the state.

Udom expressed his administration’s commitment to partnering with the new managers to ensure that the hotel became a leading brand in Africa.

“We expect that in the next 12 months, the hotel will manifest a new culture and environment to attract improved patronage.

“I urge the new management to shun victimization of workers and retain the old staffers, especially those ones with track records of competence and efficiency,’’ he said.

Mr Fred Maina, the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Icon Hotel Group, Africa, assured that the next 12 months would see Ibom hotel recording improved patronage and contributing substantially to the internally-generated revenue of the state.

The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Ephrian Inyang-Eyen, said that the move was to further grow the tourism and hospitality potentials of Akwa Ibom, as economic activities resumed nationwide.

Inyang-Eyen urged the new management team to bring in its ‘’globally-rated African hospitality expertise’’ to take the hotel to greater heights.

Icon Hotel and Resort, Nigeria is a subsidiary of Icon Hotel Group, Africa, one of the continent’s leading hospitality management companies.

African Hospitality Management Brands must Reposition for AfCFTA

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Two recent landmark developments in Africa point to the need for hospitality management brands owned by Africans to reposition their operations if they are to effectively take advantage of these developments and compete with their counterparts from the European and North American markets.

The first development was the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement on 30 May 2019 to create the world’s largest single market since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).This has turned Africa into a single market of 1.2 billion people with a combined consumer and an estimated business spending of $6.7 trillion, offering some of the world’s biggest opportunities for investors.

Although Nigeria prevaricated on the signing of the agreement, President Muhammadu Buhari eventually appended his signature to the AfCFTA agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in July 2019. Surely, the rest of Africa and international observers must have heaved a sigh of relief on this momentous occasion.

But the president’s assurance to the audience at the summit that Nigeria fully understands the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges was not a mere sound bite. Five months later, in December 2019, he announced a new visa regime for African visitors to Nigeria.

This second milestone, which sees Nigeria giving visas on arrival to all African travellers instead of the hitherto requirement that they apply in advance, demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to free movement of Africans within Africa more than anything else. It also signposts a radical change in the number of visitors that the country will receive from now on.

Happily too, the new visa policy has thrown the doors wide open to diaspora Nigerians by birth. Under the new policy, Nigerians with dual citizenship can now enter and exit the country freely without obtaining the Nigerian passport or applying for a visa. Their foreign passports will suffice for immigration purposes henceforth.

Bearing in mind the enthusiasm around the AfCFTA agreement among African leaders and its potential to boost intra-African trade, there is no doubt that it will serve as a game changer for tourism and the hospitality management business in the years ahead. This is especially so as “leisure remains an important component of Africa’s tourism industry, taking up a majority 71 percent of the tourist expenditure in 2018,” according to the Jumia Hospitality Report Africa 2019.

In the midst of these developments, it is imperative for African hospitality management brands to begin to project their indigenous credentials strongly in their home base so that they are not left behind in the race for market share. Given that much of the European and North American hotel markets are highly developed and have little room left for wide-scale expansion, Africa is the obvious next frontier.

Although the Jumia report indicated that Africa is the second-fastest growing tourism region in the world, with a growth of 5.6 percent in 2018 after Asia Pacific and against a 3.9 percent global average growth rate, it will be a disservice to Africans if established hotel operators from outside are left to continue to dominate the scene.

As the battle for global domination among hotel groups heats up in the African market, indigenous management hospital brands must not relent in their effort to grab a sizable chunk of the market for themselves with bespoke offerings specially suited for the African traveller in the light of the expected upsurge in inter-African travels.

The industry needs a pioneer of true African-grown hospitality management business charting the path for others to follow, in the provision of end-to-end hospitality management solutions that push the boundaries with the required flexibility and dynamism to satisfy individual customers.

Such a brand’s affinity with the local customs and traditions of fellow Africans will enable it anticipate the needs of customers in ways that non-African brands can never imagine or hope to replicate.

Indeed, it is time for African hospitality management brands to brush up their acts and compete with international chains for an increasingly discerning clientele.

Article author Adewale Okoya, former Editorial Chairman of Financial Standard Newspaper writes from Lagos

Hope rises for African hospitality… as indigenous management companies soar

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At the 2019 edition of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last September, delegates from across the African hospitality sector were toasting to a bumper year for African tourism and travel.

They were celebrating the achievements of the tourism and travel industry, which contributed $194.2 billion to Africa’s economy in 2018, representing 8.5 percent of the continent’s GDP, as well as, offered 24.3 million African jobs, or 6.7 percent of total employment.

Impressed with Africa’s growth of 5.6 percent in 2018, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) described the continent as the second-fastest growing tourism region behind only Asia-Pacific.

As well, this year, there are 75,000 branded rooms in 401 hotels in the pipeline across Africa; representing a growth of 51 percent in total pipeline rooms since 2015, according to the annual African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey by W Hospitality Group.

But the big global chains are still dominating, with Marriott International representing 81 hotels; Accor 57; Hilton 55; and Radisson Hotel Group 47 hotels in the pipeline, while countries with the largest pipelines; are Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Ethiopia.

However, some African hospitality management companies are waking up to the challenge and improving on their management skills, gaining confidence of African hotel owners and impressing with world-class service and facility offerings.

From the Mantis Collection, Legacy Hotels & Resorts, Sun International, Serena Hotels, Icon Hotel Group Africa, and to many other indigenous hospitality management companies, Africa is beginning to raise home-groomed hospitality business managers who now understand that the enormous growth in the sector cannot be ignored or left to international brands.

Of course, African hospitality managers are now engaging in the scramble for their market share in hospitality management considering the boom on the continent.  Currently, there is an increase in intra-Africa travel with at least four out of every 10 travellers in Africa are from within the region. That means more guests for the hotels on the continent and more hotels to manage by the indigenous hospitality management companies.

Bearing in mind the need to address the shortage of quality hotels on the continent, as well as, to encourage patronage from Africa’s growing middle class, Icon Hotel Group Africa (IHGA) is among the management companies that are bracing up to the challenge.

The group, which is spreading its reach beyond its Kenyan base, is a fast-growing end-to-end African-grown hospitality hub that serves as a resource base for diverse core hospitality competencies across Africa and beyond.

A stay in Mount Meru Hotel or Palace Hotel both in Arusha, Tanzania, will attest to the world-class quality and commitment of the group to guide the development of international standard, yet culturally authentic hospitality assets on the Continent.

From the East, IHGA’s presence is now felt in West Africa starting with Nigeria. The turnaround at Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, which resulted in the rebranding to BWC Hotel by Icon Hotel GroupAfrica is a testimony to the sophisticated network of experienced professionals Icon Hotel Group has.

But the Icon Hotel Group Africa is looking to expand further in Nigeria. To ensure that, it recently appointed Adetope Kayode to drive its growth and expansion plans in Nigeria. With over 16 years work experience across many sectors, Kayode, whose career to date includes stints at KPMG, ARM, Mixta Africa and HTI Consulting, has achieved among many feats; leading a team that structured and established the first specialist hospitality and retail real estate investment fund in Nigeria. He is committed to the vision of Icon Hotel Group, which was conceived in 2008 as a response to the dire need of a homegrown hospitality management firm with a deep and holistic understanding of the hospitality sector in Africa.

He describes the Nigerian hospitality market as underserved by quality assets, creating a deep opportunity for a swift rollout of hotels as well as other hospitality, leisure and tourism assets in the key cities as well as other lesser known destinations across the country.

On the 17th of June 2019, Icon Hotel Group (IHG) representatives landed in Cadjehoun International Airport, Cotonou- Benin for a two day meeting with IKA Building SARL, the developers  of  the 30 million dollar five star Best Western Premier Breeze Hotel, and Sinoconst, the proposed Chinese contractors for the Hotel development.

On the Agenda was a site visit to assess the existing structure and a meeting to discuss the hotel project in totality including the funding options to finance the project to commissioning.

Mr. Kimani Guchu, Head Architect of the project,  gave an elaborate presentation giving a detailed explanation  of the modern African theme and wave concept he had designed and wanted to execute for the hotel.

Sinoconst’s Mr. Allan Gao expressed his commitment and eagerness to actualize the Hotel project. This led to the signing of anMemorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IKA and Sinoconst with IHG’s CEO Mr. Fred Maina and Martika Consulting’s Mr. Deo Kluvi bearing witness.

“We are extremely delighted that the overall meeting was a success and Icon Hotel Group as the operator is excited to go back to site for execution, completion and commissioning of the hotel,  that will probably be the most prestigious recreation, business and leisure address in Cotonou -Benin.” Concluded Mr. Maina.

IHG, Sinoconst, IKA &Martika Signing MoU as representatives from the companies witness. Front Row: Left to Right- Mr. Fred Maina (CEO- IHG), Mr. Wu Shuai (Finance- Sinoconst), Mr. Joseph Agunbiade (Promoter-IKA) and Mr. Deo Kluvi (Project Cordinator- Martika). Back Row, Left to Right: Ms. Nadine Mwihaki (IHG), Mr. Allan Gao (Sinoconst), Mr. Micah Mathenge (Sealdeal) and Mr. Magloire Denon (IKA).
Team Icon, Sinoconst, IKA and Martika during a site visit of the Breeze Hotel project in Cotonou- Benin

Team ICON Holds A Route-To-Site Strategy Project Meeting in Cotonou-Benin June 2019

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IKA, Sinoconst, IHG &Martika signing an MoU for collaboration in the Breeze Hotel Development Project From Left to Right: Mr. Fred Maina (CEO- IHG), Mr. Wu Shuai (Finance- Sinoconst), Mr. Joseph Agunbiade (Promoter-IKA) and Mr. Deo Kluvi (Project Cordinator- Martika)

On the 17th of June 2019, Icon Hotel Group (IHG) representatives landed in Cadjehoun International Airport, Cotonou- Benin for a two day meeting with IKA Building SARL, the developers  of  the 30 million dollar five star Best Western Premier Breeze Hotel, and Sinoconst, the proposed Chinese contractors for the Hotel development.

On the Agenda was a site visit to assess the existing structure and a meeting to discuss the hotel project in totality including the funding options to finance the project to commissioning.

Mr. Kimani Guchu, Head Architect of the project,  gave an elaborate presentation giving a detailed explanation  of the modern African theme and wave concept he had designed and wanted to execute for the hotel.

Sinoconst’s Mr. Allan Gao expressed his commitment and eagerness to actualize the Hotel project. This led to the signing of anMemorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IKA and Sinoconst with IHG’s CEO Mr. Fred Maina and Martika Consulting’s Mr. Deo Kluvi bearing witness.

“We are extremely delighted that the overall meeting was a success and Icon Hotel Group as the operator is excited to go back to site for execution, completion and commissioning of the hotel,  that will probably be the most prestigious recreation, business and leisure address in Cotonou -Benin.” Concluded Mr. Maina.

IHG, Sinoconst, IKA &Martika Signing MoU as representatives from the companies witness. Front Row: Left to Right- Mr. Fred Maina (CEO- IHG), Mr. Wu Shuai (Finance- Sinoconst), Mr. Joseph Agunbiade (Promoter-IKA) and Mr. Deo Kluvi (Project Cordinator- Martika). Back Row, Left to Right: Ms. Nadine Mwihaki (IHG), Mr. Allan Gao (Sinoconst), Mr. Micah Mathenge (Sealdeal) and Mr. Magloire Denon (IKA).
Team Icon, Sinoconst, IKA and Martika during a site visit of the Breeze Hotel project in Cotonou- Benin

ICON growth strategy remains on course

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Our growth strategy remains on course. Team Icon Inspecting potential pipeline projects in the Gulf of Guinea West Africa

Iconites (Kidz club) fun day in Nairobi

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Iconites (Kidz club) enjoying water sports in Karen Nairobi

Hospitality firm taps into counties with Juja hotel

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Hospitality and tourism develop­ment and management firm Icon Hotels Group Africa (IHGA) is invest­ing in a prime hotel facility in Juja as it moves to tap into opportunities in counties. The IHGA founder, Mr Fred Maina, said the construction of the flagship hotel in Juja was in line with the company’s plan to devolve mod­ern hospitality facilities in counties.

Hospitality and tourism develop­ment and management firm Icon Hotels Group Africa (IHGA) is invest­ing in a prime hotel facility in Juja as it moves to tap into opportunities in counties.

The IHGA founder, Mr Fred Maina, said the construction of the flagship hotel in Juja was in line with the company’s plan to devolve mod­ern hospitality facilities in counties.

The development serves to show resilience by players in the multi-bil­lion shilling tourism industry who have had to overcome the dwindling fortunes as a result of low interna­tional visitor arrivals.

“We are keen to leverage on our vast experience in development of hospitality proper­ties as we seek to expand our foot­hold not only in Kenya and East Af­rica but the African continent as a whole,” Maina told Weekend Busi­ness.

The Juja hotel project located near Jomo Kenyatta University of Ag­riculture and Technology (JKUAT) will consist of 70 air conditioned rooms designed to attract high-end clients and corporates.

Maina, a veteran hotelier, said the hotel, which is expected to be completed by 2016, will have mod­ern conference, dining and facilities. It will also have cocktail and sports bars with large screens for sports lov­ers.

Other facilities in the hotel will include a fully equipped wellness centre and gymnasium, long stay hotel apartments / Penthouse on the top floor, targeting regional business, a banking hall and the shops on the ground floor and a service basement with a laundry.

Adding value

“We hope to attract niche clientele looking for upmarket facilities away from the traditional city hotels at pocket friendly rates. Our conferencing will boast over-the-top technologies, like video conferencing, wireless projectors, simultaneous translations facilities,” Maina said.

“This resonates well with the new political dispensation where accent is on taking all types of services closer to the people. We hope to play  our role in delivering top-tier hospitality services and conferencing to counties.

Maina explained that IHGA had launched an aggressive regional roll out plan targeting key properties across East Africa.

“We intend to enter into hotel management contracts so as to grow the Icon brand. We have a number of hotels in the pipeline that we are actively engaging with a view of getting them on board,” he said.

Already IHGA, through its hospitality consulting subsidiary GLHML, has been involved in the development of hotel projects across the such as The Palace Hotel and the Parrot Hotel both in Arusha and La-Pallise hotel and the Grand Leg­acy both in Kigali Rwanda.

“We are also working with King-Fisher Beach & Conferencing Resort in Pangani-Tanga and Magorrotto eco-lodge currently being developed in the lower Usambara Mountains in Tanzania,” he said.

He said IHGA is developing a management package for small mi­cro hospitality enterprises and bud­get hotels with the aim of adding val­ve to the hotels by creating centralised operational platforms particularly in their finance and marketing functions. IHGA, Maina added, was looking at working close­ly with tourism stakeholders in the region with a view to enhancing in­tra-regional tourism trade and local domestic tourism.

Kenyan hotel chain eyes Republic of Somalia peace dividends

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One of the first Kenyan owned hotel management company, Icon Hotel Group Africa is set reap Somalia’s peace dividends by setting up a branch in the country. Peace and normalcy has returned to the troubled Horn of Africa state after Kenya and the African Union defeated the Al-Shabaab.  Somalia had not known peace for more than two decades.

One of the first Kenyan owned hotel management company, Icon Hotel Group Africa is set reap Somalia’s peace dividends by setting up a branch in the country.

Peace and normalcy has returned to the troubled Horn of Africa state after Kenya and the African Union defeated the Al-Shabaab.  Somalia had not known peace for more than two decades.

The latest move by Icon Hotel Group Africa comes amid heightened interest in Africa over the last decade that has seen infrastructure expanding  steadily and the building and upgrading of hotels.

The hospitality industry in Africa has got a boost from various multi-national hotel chains that have made commitments to expand their footprints on the African continent.

Expansion

The hotel will also use the country as a spring-board to other regions in Eastern Africa.  The new firm will be providing high-end solutions to the hospitality industry.

In an interview with The Standard on Saturday in Arusha recently, Icon Hotel Group founder and hotelier, Fred Maina said Somalia is their next frontier. “We shall start wholly by covering the larger East African Community (EAC) region before rolling out to the rest of Africa,’’ he said.

Mr Maina has 35 years experience as top manager in Kenya’s leading hotels said.

Maina said Kenya’s skilled manpower in the hospitality industry, remains unrivalled in the region. He explained that Icon Hotel Group Africa will apart from managing hotel and hospitality establishments seek to be involving in leasing, franchising hotels in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands bordering the East Coast of Africa.

Re-focus

“We shall target some top projects, aim to re-engineer the hospitality industry as well as look at the possibility of reviving hotels that went under and come up with strategic planning with leading financial institutions to provide the much needed financial muscles,’’ he said.

Icon Hotel Group Africa headquartered in Nairobi has already signed contracts to manage six hotels in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In one of its experimental phase in Tanzania, Icon Hotel Group Africa is overseeing the management of the Palace Hotel,  Arusha.

Maina said that in Kenya, three new hotels under construction near the shores of Lake Naivasha rated as four-star resorts will be under their stable.

“Our focus will be on small and budget hotels and as we grow, we shall venture into more bigger ones,’’ Maina said.

South African hotel group, City Lodge has ventured into the rest of Africa with its entry into Kenya and Botswana respectively.

Maina said in all the properties they are keen to venture into, they will target seminar and conference facilities as nearly 45 per cent of meetings and conferences in the African continent takes place in hotels

“This percentage is increasing thus new hotels and upgrades are vital,’’ he said.

By Philip Mwakio, The Standard