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Tourism gets big boost as 146-room hotel to begin operations in Akwa Ibom

Tourism development has received a big boost as the 146 room FourPoint by Sheraton Hotels in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State is expected to commence operation before the end of the year.

The expansive 12-floor edifice whose construction started in 2013 was commissioned by Governor Godswill Akpabio shortly before his exit in 2015.

Director of Projects in the state Ministry of Special Duties, Ephraim Udosen told reporters that the current administration has carried out modifications and upgrade in more than 50 key facilities and areas to meet the standards of the hotel management who has also opened their recruitment portal to demonstrate their readiness to commence operation this year.

Udosen said the hotel has become one of the most technologically advanced in the country after several facilities were added and modifications and upgrades carried out in several of its facilities including the power installations, water treatment process, fire suppression and fighting systems, cooling system and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), in line with the requirements of the hotel managers.

According to him, the state government has constructed the parking lots, 310m access and link roads around the hotel, completed outstanding landscaping, procured transformers with switchgear and constructed dedicated power supply lines from the National Grid to the Hotel, ensuring availability of constant power supply.

It also purchased thousands of equipment, furniture and utensils and procured all outstanding Operating Supplies and Equipment (OS & E), Furniture Fittings and Equipment (FF&E) and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure under the agreed US $7.2m released to the Hotel operator.

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The administration also provided the first phase of the Hotel Guest Room Management System (GRMS) involving the incorporation of setback temperature control devices in all guest rooms Fan Coil Units (FCUs) and certification of all installed Plants, Equipment and Systems like Lifts, Boilers, Chillers, Firefighting Equipment/Systems, Water Quality (Potable, Swimming Pool, Chill Water) etc by third parties as recommended by Marriott.

Others include installation of bomb blast films in all entrance glasses, replacement of Failed Mineral Surface Membrane (FELT) to waterproof the concrete roof deck gutters of the main Hotel roof floor and mechanical floor and provision of additional PH correction dosing station for further purification of domestic water supply to the Hotel.

“We also installed Automatic Fire Suppression System (FM200), 20KVA inverter system and additional 12,000 BTU/Hr (3.5kw) – split wall type AC system in the IT room and procured active switches/accessories for the IP close circuit cameras to complete the installation of the CCTV system of the Hotel.

“To tell you how committed Governor Udom Emmanuel is to this project, he ensured that the maintenance contract was rewarded to the original contractors to ensure continuity.

The only hindrance now is in attaining the high standards of the hotel manager’s in certain areas and in this regard we have attained between 97% and 98%,” he explained.

In addition to the FourPoint by Sheraton Hotel, there is also Tropicana Entertainment Complex being the two high-class hospitality facilities entertainment initiated by the previous administration.

First managed by the then Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in 2014, the FourPoint by Sheraton hotel was expected to drive tourism growth and make Akwa Ibom a notable tourist destination in the country.

Owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government, the hotel became Starwood’s 10th hotel in Nigeria and its second hotel in Akwa Ibom after Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has since been acquired by Marriott International Hotels in a deal that was wrapped up in September 2016.

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