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Tourism operators urge Marriot to bring iconic St. Regis brand to Nigeria

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Justine Uzo

Some Nigerian tourism operators want Marriott International to bring St. Regis to Nigeria following news of the hotel chain’s plans to open in the UK. Marriott International, Inc., which manages the world’s best hotels, had announced the signing of a management agreement with Cola Holdings and The Westbury Hotel Limited to bring the luxury brand St. Regis to the UK. The newcomer, located in one of London’s most attractive areas, is expected to welcome its first customers in 2023.

St. Regis will also open 11 new resorts globally by 2025. The announcement was made during Marriot’s virtual press conference recently, which was moderated by President, EMEA and Senior Vice President, Design Hotels & EMEA Brand Portfolio, Satya Anand, who also gave an overview of some of Marriott’s brilliant openings this year.

Nigerian operators have expressed their joy saying that business travelers will have the most enjoyable time when visiting Nigeria, if the prestigious St. Regis is represented in Nigeria as a franchise. They said the new Marriott property in Ikeja, Lagos is already showing results after signing the deal.

An event planner, Chioma Egu, from Lagos, hails the move saying “St. Régis is a few luxuries away. She wants Marriott to bring the brand to Nigeria to join the vibrant hospitality market in Lagos.

“St. Regis brand is not represented in Nigeria at this time. We expect the beloved St. Regis brand to premiere in Nigeria,” she enthused. Egu continued, “The planned St. Regis Hotel will not only add more beds to the competitive Lagos market, but it will also undoubtedly be well received by executives.

Ibiso Lawal is another tourist operator in the country that is pinning its hopes on Marriott to provide more beds. While commenting on Marriot International’s new achievement, Ibiso, one of Nigeria’s travel experts, urged Regis Hotels & Resorts to bring the “luxury leader” here.

“I think their policy transcends purely commercial gains, important as they are. The St. Regis brand will stand out. I will be delighted if Marriott runs a St. Regis hotel in Nigeria to let people here feel its classy brand,” he noted.

According to him, “Nigeria has hotels. We have Sheraton, Hilton, Golden Tulip brands, to name a few. The question is which hotel chain is not represented in Nigeria. But we want more salable rooms in the premium segment. Already, Marriott International is making waves in Lagos. Like Oliver Twist, we want St. Regis and you know what that means for the accommodation segment in Nigeria, competition will drive down rates.

Travel industry insiders are keen on having more salable rooms in the high-end segment of the hotel industry in Abuja and Lagos to drive down rates. At present, it has been difficult to control prices. Lagos has one of the highest accommodation rates in the world. Lagos Tourism has received a poor review when it comes to accommodation rates. Hotel rates in Lagos remain high. For example, room rates at Sun Heaven Hotels & Resorts, Ikoyi, Lagos start from N45,000 to N150,000 per night.

Another hotel in Lagos, Eko Hotels & Suites, charges higher rates ranging from N69,000 per night to N300,000 per night (Eko Signature).

The challenge lies in market forces, a mismatch between demand and supply, where more guests are looking for a few standard rooms. The prices of salable rooms are therefore very high.

Speaking earlier on hotels, Israeli MASHAV expert Illan Ben-Joseph said, “Nigeria has hotels and more are coming.” What people should be worried about, he said, is having budget hotels. “Most of the hotels in Nigeria are in Lagos. What happened to places like Jos where you can hardly find a good hotel? The government should encourage entrepreneurs to develop hotels and attractions in certain areas and provide tax breaks,” Ben-Joseph said.

The St. Regis brand, meanwhile, continues to expand its renowned global portfolio by adding this highly sought-after address in Mayfair, London. Plans call for a massive $122m (£90m) redevelopment and transformation of the former Westbury Mayfair Hotel, with the addition of an eighth floor.

St. Regis London, with 196 rooms and suites, offers a highly personalized guest experience on the corner of Bond Street and Conduit Street that will combine the brand’s modern glamor with the best of British style and service.

The hotel will be designed by Peter Newman-Earp of Morrison Design with interiors by Richmond International. Additionally, the property is set to receive an extension to the rear of the hotel, creating improved public spaces, as well as renovations to the building facade and drop-off area outside the main entrance. Design plans include an exclusive restaurant, speakeasy jazz bar, fitness center and spa.

The St. Regis London will honor the building’s heritage by retaining the iconic Polo Bar, originally designed for the American Phipps family, polo enthusiasts and creators of the Westbury Hotel in New York and London, and where Guests can enjoy a local twist on the Bloody Mary, St. Regis’ signature cocktail.