In less than a year after taking over the Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort, in Ekiti State, Glocient Hospitality, the concessionaire of the resort and the hospitality arm of Cavista Holdings, has transformed the resort into a tourism and holiday sanctuary. In this interview, Sharafa Lanre Balogun, general manager, Glocient Hospitality, speaks to Obinna Emelike on the feats, reasons to visit, awards and other offerings for discerning guests.
For those who do not know Glocient Hospitality, what is the company all about?
Glocient Hospitality is the hospitality arm of Cavista Holdings. We are the concessionaires of Ikogosi Warm Spring. Our mission is to make Ikogosi a premier resort in the world.
We took over the resort in December 2022, but we signed the concession agreement in October 2022 and in December of that year, we started the upgrade of the resort. Before taking over the resort, you cannot work conveniently in it because it was uninhabitable. But in three weeks after takeover, we made the resort habitable. The Ekiti State governor was impressed and he called us transformers.
What are the transformations at the resort?
We have over 70 rooms and suites spread across different categories. Designed and fitted to feel like home, each room and its surroundings provides a sanctuary that reflects the beauty in simplicity that the legend of Ikogosi Warm Springs brings. We also have other world-class facilities.
The transformation was done in a short time because we have a plethora of people who were highly experienced in the industry. We are talking about over 40 years experience in business coming together to work in this our first project and we are going to do more of these projects across the country.
Ikogosi’s call to action is Go See Ikogosi. We believe in the fact that you have to see the place for you to understand what that heritage is.
It is a world heritage and we are in the works of trying to register it on the United Nations World Heritage Site list because it is the only place in the world that has a warm and cold spring together in one place. The combination makes it unique and the world needs to know about it.
The town where the spring is located is not so much a big town. It is unique and the people are warm and welcoming. The people and the Oba, before his passing, received us warmly when we came.
The people are elated with the transformation that has taken place in the resort, their environs and the state since we took over the resort.
Considering the huge cost, how were you able to fund the transformation project at the resort?
Cavista Holdings under John Olajide, our chairman, invested massive foreign direct investment in the resort.
His major focus for investing in Nigeria is jobs, more jobs and jobs. In Cavista Holdings, we engage over a thousand people. That is a major plus for Cavista Holdings.
However, we have been able to transform the lives of the people of Ikogosi. We inherited some staff and upgraded them. We started taking our first guests on December 25, 2022.
When the governor visited us, he did not believe what we did in three weeks.
We did the pre-opening and construction in the resort at the same time and by February we had completed 30 rooms. When we opened the rooms to guests, the feedback was beyond our expectations.
More importantly, the Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort is the only one anywhere in the world. So, it is a privilege to be the custodian of the resort.
How has business been since you took over the resort?
Business has been fine since we took over the resort last year. We have hosted some big events here. The Ekiti State House of Assembly held their inaugural meeting at resort for three days, we hosted the governor’s father’s birthday when we launched our 1000 capacity hall, and we have hosted the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) at the resort for a couple of days before they decided to have their AGM, which was recently concluded. We have also hosted the president of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and also have some other association bodies coming to experience the resort. The impressed guests are now helping to spread the news of the good development at the resort down the ecosystem. Many are beginning to know what we are doing at Ikogosi and also amplifying the offerings.
What are the reasons to visit the resort?
We have revitalized the brand as the new Ikogosi. We want people to come and see and also make sure that what we are building is a world-class hospitality location and a choice destination where people can have different events; weddings, birthdays, AGMs, retreats, among others.
These are the reasons we say Go, See, Ikogosi. There are spots for you to host anything, it is far removed from the noise of the city and it is a really preserved ecological location; everywhere is green, the natural atmosphere is perfect, the air is clean and the food we serve are natural from the farms.
Down the line, we are looking to become the best eco-friendly resort in Nigeria.
So, these are the kind of things we put in from day one and they allow us to move forward. With a highly dedicated team and highly motivated leadership in our chairman John, we are going to achieve these.
You recently won the best resort award within a few months in operation. What does that mean to you?
It is difficult to see a resort come back to life and within a short time win awards. Ikogosi won the Best Holiday Resort in Nigeria at the Hotel Managers Conference in Owerri, Imo State recently. The Ekiti State and Imo State governments were well-represented, the award is internationally acclaimed and it has been held consistently in the past six years.
There are still more awards to come. We won this within a few months of operation, imagine we are a year old or more.
Are you also looking at agro-tourism, considering your huge lush area and flourishing farm?
Ikogosi Resort is a unique ecosystem and environment. We have the space to include agro-tourism. The ground is naturally fertile. So, among the many experiences we will be offering our guests is agro-tourism.
The vegetables and livestock that our guests eat are from the resort farm. We grow our lemon and avocados, the fish and poultry are all sourced from within the resort. You know that organic feel of seeing your vegetables, livestock, fruits and others products being harvested or sourced in your presence, that is the experience we want to offer our guests.
With such feelings, people will stay longer at the resort and no need to go to Dubai for holiday because we have some unique places in the country like ikogosi. At Ikogosi you spend less and have value for your money.
We urge Nigerians to come with their families, have fun, enjoy nature and add value to the locals and Nigeria at large.
Thanks to Glocient Hospitality for its vision to do this because there are people who have money but will rather take it overseas.
Ikogosi is a space that will open your mind and help you to think better.