With the Yacht, we are replicating luxurious experiences Nigerians enjoy overseas at home
From successfully running a premium lounge in highbrow Lekki Phase 1, to opening a luxurious boutique in the same neighbourhood, Eyitayo Fakehinde, founder and owner of Sailor’s Lounge and The Yacht Hotel, has set his eyes on exclusive offerings for those passionate about quality.
In this interview, the trained optician, who left his thriving optometry career in the UK to follow his passion in Nigeria, speaks to Obinna Emelike on the need for home groomed quality offerings, what stands his hotel out, his passion, among other related issues.
Why did you leave a career in optometry in the UK for hospitality in Nigeria?
I am a trained optician and I practiced in England, but I do not practice any more.
I just have to follow my passion. Optician is more of my father’s calling. So, I am doing what I enjoy now, which are hospitality, art and creativity.
I designed the hotel building and all the furniture in the helipad and lots more.
Why the yacht?
The yacht in the real sense is exclusive. Imagine being on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, you can associate it with tranquility, exclusivity, quiet, and luxury. These are what our brand stands for.
We are exclusive, quiet, a nice place and luxurious. We started the yacht hotel because we think that Nigerians travel a lot, and they go to exclusive places. We often embark on very expensive tours abroad but unfortunately, we do not have that kind of practice in Nigeria. We have the ambiance and everything; it is just that we got carried away going to other places that we are not appreciative of what we have here.
The need to replicate such luxurious outings in the country brought the idea on; we can have a Nigerian brand that can do exactly what they are doing over there, and that can attract Nigerians and foreigners as well.
We started the building in 2018, and this is my first hotel. Incidentally, I am also the owner of Sailors Lounge on Admiralty Road, Lekki Phase 1. The lounge has been there for 10 years. The same principle that brought Yacht Hotel to light happened to Sailor’s Lounge; people go to the Caribbean, they go by the water, they feel cool, but there is water besides you and you are putting dirt in it.
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How has business been since opening doors to the public last year?
The yacht is very exclusive, we opened November last year, and it is about 10 months old. The covid-19 pandemic affected us for almost a year, but we are resilient.
The traffic has been good. We have been attracting the kind of people we want to attract, which is very important to us. Our kind of clients are people that have passion for luxury and for enjoying their wealth. We have been attracting them and gradually we are coming up, we are not in a rush.
We do not want a crowd, we want few and very exclusive rooms for those who appreciate them. For instance, the least room here costs N105,000 per night, and we have a room that will cost you $2000 per night. So, it is very exclusive, and we do not need to have 100 rooms. We do not want to turn it into a commercialized hotel, it is a boutique hotel and that is the brand.
Also, we attract a lot of foreigners.
What is special about The Admiral, your latest offering?
The concept is from a yacht. When you see some of the big yachts they have helipads where helicopters can land and from where the boss can easily move when there is an urgent meeting. So, that is our most exclusive lounge, but we call it luxuriate, we do not call it lounge. The lounge hosts 120 guests.
We opened it last month, and it is going to be strictly by invitation and membership only.
What is the unique selling point of the hotel?
It is a luxurious boutique hotel. We are not looking for 100 people. We want to give 25 people the best time they can have in Nigeria, not only in the facilities, but in service offerings.
One of the reasons the hotel was built is to give exceptional service. We want you to come to this place, feel like home and have all you can get in a five-star or seven-star hotel. So, that is what we are selling. Yet, we have water that is very unique. A lot of the 3-star and four-star hotels do not have our kind of waterview, but I do not see that as our selling, but service is our selling point. Once you visit us, you will want to come back and back again because of the unique service. When you are in another hotel you start comparing it with the Yacht hotel, if I was at the Yacht, I would have gotten this, this would have happened, and so on; that is what we want
I like challenges and doing things that nobody has done. There are many hotels in Lekki, but when you enter the Yacht, you will see and feel the difference and that is what I love.
Do you run leisure packages?
Yes, we have luxury boats and there are packages that give you a boat, sleep, and spa.
We have membership, we can run concierge for you, you can tell us you want to go to Dubai or I am not around to take care of my guest, we will handle it for you if you are a member.
There are many other services that go with the luxury Yacht offering.
You also curated a special art exhibition and wine tasting to open the lounge, why?
Naturally I am gifted; I wanted to paint but that did not happen.
So, the exhibition is purposeful, our support for the arts and also unique excitement for guests.
We enjoyed exhibiting the art because the concept of this building is art and that is how we want guests to see it. When you are coming, it is like you are going into the gallery, it is exclusive and tailor-made. Again, what you like about the yacht may not be what another person likes about it, so we offer variety with the art offering.