Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, still a delight to tourists, golfers

Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, still a delight to tourists, golfers

It is no longer news that the Le Meridien brand has left Akwa Ibom State after branding its premier hospitality outfit for a decade. The reality is that since the exit of Le Meridien, a brand under Marriot International, on December 31, 2017, new vista of experience for the guests, golfers and opportunities for the locals have opened. Now rebranded as Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort and under a new management, the premier golf resort in the South South region of Nigeria is still golfers’ delight and an escape worth the while of tourists any day. For the skeptics, what has changed is the management company, the standard, staff and facilities are still much intact and even improved. Few months down the line, the resort is still very much in a good shape; the world class facilities combine with fascinating lush landscape and enchanting nature to woo guests to feasts. Of course, in its determination to keep the high standard and reputation of the hotel, the Akwa Ibom State government, the owner of the golf resort, appointed Ronald Stilting, a reputable hotelier with international profile, as the general manager. Stilting, in the other hand, is very familiar with the Nigerian and African hotel markets. From opening and managing Lilly Gate Hotel in Lekki Phase 1, to managing Golden Tulip Essential on Airport Road, both in Lagos, Stilting is not a novice in the Nigerian hotel market. However, he is bringing to bear his over two decades of experience in the global hospitality industry in the management of Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort. The good thing is that it is no longer a brand name that is at stake, rather Stilting’s name and if the Dutch national fails to deliver, that may cost him further hotel management jobs on the African continent. ‘‘The facility has not changed. I am the only one that has changed as the new general manager. But I am here to improve on what I met on ground”, Stilting says. The Stilting-led management is starting on a right note, first by taking stock of why the former manager left, engaging the stakeholders and aggressive marketing and media campaign. Some of the stakeholders he engaged recently were tour operators, travel agents and the travel media. The mix was necessarily in order to present the resort afresh to them, seek collaboration in marketing and creating awareness of the facilities and services to would-be guests, and target market. Taking stock of the facilities and services, the new general manager noted that the resort features of an 18 – hole golf course, including the Marina Club, 163 well-appointed rooms, seven chalets, fitness centre, bars and restaurants, conference facilities and most importantly, well-motivated staff who ensure personalised and value for money offerings for every guest. For him, one of the reasons to visit is the golf course with an enchanting and undulating landscape, hilly ranges and water courses. Describing the golf course, he says that it is highly regarded as one of the best and challenging courses in Nigeria and a professional golfer’s delight. Barely three months on, the Duct hospitality expert says his team’s efforts are yielding the expected results. “Presently, we are pretty much on course. We have not lost ground in the market, rather our clientele base has improved since January 1, 2018 when the new management commenced operation”. He also highlights his areas of focus saying, ‘‘We are on course and will sustain our feats but now we want to push it beyond this level and that is one of the reasons that you are here’’. Going specific, the general manager says, ‘‘We want be very strong in golf and also improve on our efforts at capturing more conferences”. As well, he thinks the local market holds huge potential; hence effort is also made to capture it with sales trip to cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and neighouring cities to Uyo. To capture the local market and other guests, the hotel is improving on its facilities alongside with the offering of new products. From a strong focus on increasing golf and leisure offerings, which really has not been marketed that much, Stilting says the resort is also focusing more on family and children. To do this, the new management is planning to improve on the existing facilities with additions such as soccer pitch, themed park, swim and dine and Sunday brunch. While the product and service offerings are looked after, the new management is also keen on improving the physical look of the entire property with planned upgrade of the facilities, which according to the general manager, is due after 10 years. The upgrade will be carried out in phases with the lobby area, restaurant, bar, and rooms getting a face lift to enhance guest experience, he further notes. Stilting and his team insist that they have a great facility, there is no change rather improvement and all you need do is visit for a great experience, especially this Easter holiday. OBINNA EMELIKE