IkoyiÂ Hotel, one of Nigeriaâ€™s mostÂ sucessful and pivotal inns has undergone a rebirth. It now known as Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotels. Representing a timely change ofÂ brand and image, the 100% Nigerian ownership of the hotel remain unchanged but management is now being exercised by The Southern Sun Hotels, the largest and one of the most successful hotel groups in Africa .
The South African hotel management group was established in 1969 to provide great hospitality to local and international guests. Southern Sunâ€™s portfolio of hotels provide world-class accommodation across all markets, and offer the widest distribution of hotels in major urban centers and key leisure destinations across South Africa.
Southern Sun portfolios are designed to meet the needs of all guests whether business or leisure. Â The groupâ€™s offshore division comprises of hotels within Africa and the Seychelles where it has 2 properties.
It also has properties in Dubai which are four star deluxe standard business hotels. It has other properties in Dar es Salaam , Tanzania , Nairobi Kenya , Lusaka Zambia and Maputo Mozambique . Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel is the groupâ€™s first property in West Africa .
Commenting on this new and exciting chapter in Ikoyi Hotelâ€™s sixty year existence Mark Loxley, General Manager, Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotels said that the Southern Sun Hotel Groupâ€™s relationship with Ikoyi Hotels was formulated approximately 7 years ago: â€œThe feasibility study of the management contract was signed 7 years ago and definitely the owner/operator relationship is very importantâ€
â€œAndÂ we have made Â Â ourÂ start by exercising a great standard which we have a strong affiliation to. And Our benchmark should be the window on the world of many good hotel and environmentâ€.
June 2009 marked the culmination of Southern Sunâ€™s brand evolution following the heavy and significant investments in the rebranding and renovation of Ikoyi Hotel: â€œWe started trading on the first of June 2009â€”so weâ€™ve been operating basically for 9 months and the occupancies have totally increased on a month to month basis. Â Despite the economic downturn, I think weâ€™ve made a good start; as an example, in the first ten days of November, the hotel ran 60% so after 9 months, we firmly believe that we have started to take our place in the marketÂ and thatâ€™s a trend which weâ€™ll obviously want to increase as we move forwardâ€
â€œMore specificallyÂ we have formulated marketing plans to ensure that we continue to grow the business and demonstrate the full potentials of the hotelâ€.
Mark Loxley knows what makes the Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel special. He thinks the winning formula needs to be the understanding of the marketplace: â€œWe believe that the Lagos market is a very sophisticated one and we never underestimate the sophistication of this market. We also believe in relationship association with our premium and corporate clients,Â likewise the formula in terms of creating a winning situation which also needs to be the attitude of the staff and the consistency of the service standards to ensure that the product is maintained in a great manner whereby we can secure repeat clientele as we move forward and allow for the continued success of the hotel to mark itself upâ€.
With more international
chains moving into the hospitality marketÂ competition in the sector gets on the increase and the management and owners of Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel are conscious of the fact that the new entrants into the market would be coming in with brand new products. TheÂ refurbishments carried out on Ikoyi HotelÂ have literally transformed the product into a new and this, Loxley thinks, puts them in a very competitive edge with the new hotels because in addition to the good product; he also thinks that they have the experience and the service provision culture that has been bulit over the years through customer loyalty:
â€œI think when we talk about other hotels in the Lagos environment; there are hotels that we will describe as direct competitors and possibly indirect competitors. Historically, some hotels have had dominance in terms of the supply and demand situation and as the new hotel identities come on board and enter the market place, I think the emphasis will be growth in terms of service and standards and I think weâ€™ve definitely made a good start.
And the ultimate judge of the performance of the Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel will rest on the clients of the hotel and we have engaged in continual process of feedback from our customers and so far the response weâ€™re getting has been very good and weâ€™ll continue to maintain and enhance all standards that relate to this hotelâ€.
Located in the affluent and Prestigious IkoyiÂ and just next door to Victoria Island the major financial and corporate center in Lagos, Southern Sun Ikoyi HotelÂ has 195 rooms with one main restaurant; a terrace facility; hotel gym; mini bars in all the rooms and a 24-hour in-room dinning.
The whole hotel is internet and wifi compliantâ€”a complimentary service to all of its guests. It also has a business center which is adjacent to the 120 square meters main function hall which is known as Oduduwa A and B. The hotel has 12 seater board rooms on a mezzanine lounge and two small meeting rooms adjoining the board room. It alsoÂ has on the mezzanine level gym facility which is complimented by a sauna and steam access facilities for all the hotel guests and again thatâ€™s complementary.
Upon check in, all
guests get two shirts pressings complimentary and two bottled water replenished everyday in-room and rates are inclusive of breakfasts. The room categories include the standard rooms of which it has 86 and it has what it calls the executive rooms (785) which are the next level up. It also has double double a twin bedded room and it further more has the suite categories and then what it calls the junior suite. Definitely, Mark Loxley believes that the hotel has a lot of added value that makes it different from the previous Ikoyi Hotel:
â€œIn fairness, it was a different management structure. We as a management company haveÂ specific corporate guidelines that we use and our focus is very much on guest service and attention at all times. And we operate a management principle whereby we believe in and we practice collective responsibility and participated management. So, we have a high visible management presence in all our guest service areas to ensure that the service delivery is correct all the time and that guests receives the maximum amount of attention and service that they deserveâ€
â€œAnd I think that aspect
of the human element is what we call the attitude friendliness of the staffÂ which is the benchmark that separates us from the previous Ikoyi Hotel and competitors and as we go forward we have a particular operating standard that we maintain and we will always enhance that added value.â€ Loxley also states that guests of the previous Ikoyi Hotel, most of whom are of the business and government segment have automatically and thankfully returned to the hotel: â€œThese are the segments where the previous Ikoyi Hotel had an emphasis on and as a revised and refurbished hotel after an extensive redevelopment program, we are seeing returning clientele and also focusing on new business which is very important to a new hotel especially in the specific business environment which we areâ€.
Mark thinks that the personality of the hotel lends itself to a friendly and efficient service: â€œI think home from home would be the very apt expression. Itâ€™s very important that the guests feel comfortable immediately they arrive andÂ ultimately thatâ€™s what aÂ practical hotel experience where everything functions is all aboutâ€s.
The current goal of the Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel is to create more awareness in the marketplace and Mark Loxley thinks that would be done through media liason and then extending beyond the borders of Nigeria by getting the word out to Europe, North America, and the Ecowas region: â€œWe draw clients from all over the world and in terms of obtaining our market share we will further indulge in market intelligence and make sure that we use all means possible to emphasis and generate more business into the hotelâ€