Holiday Inn Accra

Until recently, the tag on Accra as the gateway to West Africa did not seem to carry much weight. But when the major international oil companies started setting up shop in the capital after the discovery of oil in 2007, the city began living its dream status as the destination of choice for business travellers and tourists.

Motivated by the growing investor and tourist interest in Ghana, international hotel brands also started registering their presence in the country in their bid to take their service to the world's business people and leisure travellers.

Holiday Inn, one of the world's most known hotel brands is among the latest entrants to Ghana's hospitality industry.  The hotel's 7-floor tower edifice at the Airport City naturally adds to the beauty of the capital's skyline and the serene ambiance coupled with a passion for good service delivery is breathing fresh air into the competition. Actually, managers of the hotel, African Sun, are familiar with the Holiday Inn standards because they operate more than 20 hotels under a similar franchise and their own brands across Africa.

"Our story begins in Zimbabwe where we operate the majority of our hotels largely under the Holiday Inn franchise. We operate hotels in cities and in resorts in Zimbabwe. We have expanded our growth into South Africa where we operate hotels in Johannesburg. We have also moved on to Nigeria and now we are in Ghana where we are the managers of the Holiday Inn Accra," said Cornelius Nyahunda, managing director of African Sun's operations in Ghana.

In four decades, the hospitality management group has evolved from a Zimbabwe-based firm to a pan-African company. However, the Zimbabwean operations still remain the biggest part of the group, comprising 13 hotels and resorts, among them, Elephant Hills Resort, The Kingdom at Victoria Falls and The Victoria Falls Hotel.

The group's South Africa operations have two hotels, namely the Grace in Rosebank and The Lakes Hotel and Conference Centre, both in Johannesburg.

In Nigeria, the company operates five hotels under management contracts. They are Obudu Mountain Resort, Utanga Lodge and Amber Tinapa all in Cross River State. The rest are Nike Lake Resort in Enugu State and Best Western, Ikeja in Lagos. By the third quarter of this year, the group will expand its operations to Botswana where it is expected to open another Holiday Inn in Gaborone.

The group has a strong pipeline of additional sub-Saharan Africa properties under development, many of which are scheduled to come on stream in 2012. "Apart from a management contract with Holiday Inn Accra, which we have operated for two years, we have plans to open another hotel in Accra with about 200 rooms within the next two years.

Being a lease, we plan to invest in excess of US$4 million into Ghana," said Nyahunda.

"Accra in particular and Ghana in general is an attractive market for hospitality investments - be it, hosting business travellers or receiving leisure tourists.

The country has long beautiful beaches, a rich heritage of forts and castles, great cultural attractions and wildlife that can be brought into the whole tourism mix to propel Ghana to pole position in the sub-region. Ghana's economy is on a growth path and we certainly would like to be party to it as a specialised operator in the hospitality industry," he added.

Apart from new jobs created with the setting up of the hotel in Accra, the company has also created opportunities for local businesses examples being the supply chain of uniforms, culinary commodities, bed linens, decorative art and building, according to Nyahunda.

"As a way of doing business, African Sun prefers to deal with local partners particularly in the area of food and beverage. We believe in local taste because it is authentic and there is uninterrupted supply. And we prefer to support local communities so that as they grow, we grow, understanding that the same will become our customers," he said.

African Sun continues to consolidate its position as a leading player in the tourism industry in Africa by investing in building strong relationships with strategic partners.

The group realises that it is through transparent dialogue, identifying shared agendas and working closely with governments, developers, financiers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and communities that African Sun will continue to increase its footprint on the African continent.

"The three things that make us stand out from the crowd are, one, we have a long history of operating hospitality business and from that we have become skilled and possess the DNA for hospitality management. Two, our brands, be they 'best in class' global franchises or our own home grown brands and three, our presence and knowledge of Africa," Nyahunda said.