MOVENPICK Hotel Sets to Invest In Nigeria

We acquired this land in 2005 from the Ghanaian government. We 54630652were the first to build 5-star hotel in Ghana and that was the first phase of the development. We followed it up with the commercial development and the third phase is the residential development which is on-going.

The history of this hotel goes back to the original Ambassador Hotel which was given to Ghana by the British government as a gift to the country on independence.
Ambassador Height is a high end development that will comprise 18 luxury homes. The interior of the homes will finished with quality materials that will be uncommon in the market. All the amenities will be integrated. All the services within the hotel will be extended to the homes. The reason for the demand we have seen partly derives from the success of the luxury hotel and commercial space. The security in the hotel will be extended to the residences in
addition other hotel services. The houses are on three-bedroom and four-bedroom floor plans.

We as a company has been looking at the opportunities in Nigeria and we are considering Lagos and Abuja. We are in conversation with potential local partners.

These residences would be delivered fully finished with all the appliances and facilities in place. All that the buyers will have to do is how they want the interior furnishing and designs. Optional furniture packages will be offered. The furniture package will be luxurious and beautiful and we’re confident most home buyers will desire to furnish through us.
Market drivers in Ghana We are in the high end market and we are delivering luxury that we believe is above any other within Accra and Ghana as a whole. Truly speaking, there is a
shortage of housing across all areas of the market in Ghana. We have seen high demand
from the middle to upper class market and this is one of the things driving the demand for
these residence. I also believe that the demand is coming because of the location of the residences at the central business district of the city. The entire project spreads across 16 acres of prime land surrounded by ministries, commercial spaces within Accra. So, the buyers are buying the location, the residences association with Movenpick, the lifestyle coming from the hotel and facilities the hotel offers.

They are also buying for the build quality they have seen in the design and beautiful architecture of the hotel.

When we eventually come to Nigeria, we will be bringing a very exciting luxury experience to the country coming from hotel rooms, restaurants, retail amenities to the residences. From the commercial standpoint, we will be delivering facilities where business will be done in comfortable atmosphere.

Again, thousands of jobs will be created, and there will be huge technology transferred from management to Nigerian people.

For us at the KHI, we are for the luxury hotel and real estate segments of the market. We are for high end developments such as Movenpick, Four Seasons Hotels, Raffles, and Fairmont. Sometimes we do residential, sometime we don’t; sometimes we do commercial as we have here, sometimes we don’t. It is always hotels first and after that we begin to ask, what might make sense here—commercial or residential or both? So, we generally focus on 5-star hotels, and luxury high end residential and commercial developments.

Value appreciation Many of our buyers are for investment plan expecting value appreciation on their investment. We have seen about 10 percent value appreciation per annum
over the past seven years based on location and limited number of homes in the city.
Tenants will be paying a premium here due to the location and the lifestyle not found
anywhere else in this country. So, rental yield and value appreciation here is
encouraging.

100_0135Our brand value is exclusive luxury and we deliver quality that is unparalleled in the market from the luxury standpoint.

The Ghana real estate market The market is in short supply of housing in various segments of the market—the low, the middle and high income brackets. So, from the development standpoint, there is a great opportunity to come here and do development. The country enjoys relative stability and security within the West African sub-region. This is another
reason we have seen many Nigerian buyers because they have a home that is secure
unlike their home country where there are security challenges especially in the northern part.
Generally speaking, safety and security are core reasons people are coming here to invest and also why many multi-national companies are here doing business and setting up their headquarters. Again, the country’s currency, the Cedi, has been depreciating throughout this year and the economy has seen some challenges however we have seen strengthening of the currency and renewed economic stability in recent days. And in spite of these challenges, we’ve continued to see huge developments in the city and across the country. No human experience is without challenges but everybody is persevering to succeed. In recent time, we have seen huge security come back to the market with IMF opting to help out.

Hotel General Manager
Our portfolio are predominantly in North Africa—Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. What I have gathered over the last two years is that we are well known in Nigeria. People in Nigeria know this property; they know many people.

What gives us confidence in what we do is how we look at the business; how we brand
our home away from home for the business traveler, because when the business traveler travels, he is not travelling once a year, he is so often away and so looks for a place that compensates for the loved ones he leaves behind when he is away from home.
This hotel caters for a large variety of markets—business travelers, conferences, meetings and exhibitions. It has everything to offer for everybody. It has hotels and for every traveler, their needs—from comfortable rooms to executive suites.

There are a lot of facilities to enjoy.
We cannot do what we do without the people and that is why we have a great team on board that helps to put all these in place.

Competition
I don’t call it competition because the customers have the right to make their choice. It is good even you are alone in the market because if you are alone, you become selfish and lazy. As long customers have their choice, you have to seek what they look for and today’s customers need change continuously. Competition is something completely normal and if one hotel is better than another, it is not a matter of discretion but the customers’ choice. It the customers that tell us if we meet their expectations or not.

Room rate
Our rates are fair reflections of what we can offer; there is a lot that this property can offer—we have water treatment plant, power supply, safety mechanisms etc. All these things are to be maintained. So, I can’t only look at the rates; I also have to think of how to guarantee standard. You cannot compare hotel A with hotel B because the rooms differ in terms of size and offering.

Factors driving hotel industry
You have a large spectrum of travelers from around the world and they all want to have an experience. There are travelers from around the globe with different expectations and you have to meet these expectations.

Profitability

We are here because it makes sense for us to be here and the owner of this property are here because it also makes sense for them to be here. Nigerian market Nigeria has a big boost in business and we are looking to invest in Nigeria. Lagos holds investment attraction. Why are all these hotels coming up, because there is demand. More hotels will still come and the market will grow. I believe there will be operators in Ghana and with this the market will grow because it is a place to conduct business and people who conduct business are away from home. The industry itself has changed. In the past, people held their meetings at home or in
their offices, but today, they go to the hotel to hold their meetings. Every country moves forward and businesses conducted differently and this is how hotel operators come in because they are not only offering rooms but also total package of hotel facilities for meetings, conferences, exhibitions etc. All these are what drive the business Impact on the bottom-line.

There is no negative impact on the bottomline, because the industry is growing. New
operators are coming into the market. Each operator’s occupancy rate depends on how
he profiles and markets himself—what kind of tools he uses in order to be seen outside because the market is not only domestic. The industry is like an airline whose market is not limited to where the customer stops.
The hotel industry is very very complex and does not consist in just putting your name on the billboard or putting your add in the newspaper. Today, the world moves on and people look, compare and evaluate and decide where to go to find the market.
So, if am to come to Nigeria, we have a good name there; we are known beyond Ghana
and as a matter of course, we are known al;l over West Africa. That is how we grow.

Challenges
Our business is very volatile and is easily affected by unfavorable government policies and business environment. Any travel industry is so affected.

But for us, we are on ground; we are very competent and so, we have no reason to be
afraid. We have also no reason to be afraid to come to Nigeria. Every business has
its cycle, but after the low comes the high.

In terms of government policy, Ghana is a very interesting country and it has huge
opportunity to grow. The environment is friendly to conduct business.

We are closely looking at Nigerian market where we see even greater opportunity with
huge hotels recording 60-70 percent occupancy rates. This is a key interest for us.
The cuisine We consider different nationalities and food is always different because
everybody likes something different. You need to find a common ground for everybody.
But you have a strong African client and so you need to look at African food. And
African food is also different even if they look similar. So, we try to blend into
the local flavor. We do a lot of balancing act on daily basis.

You have to admit you limitations where you have them because the travel market is growing so fast and there are so many expectations and so you have to think fast. You have to operate 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. Try and stay on that consistency.

Energy cost
This is certainly one of our largest costs especially with our environment which is quite challenging. With high humidity outside, you need to ventilate the building to let air in.

Security
All our guests expect high security standard, not just the high profile guests.
Security is not our business, so we have engaged people from outside to provide security for us and they are doing it well. The guest shouldn’t feel that he is not safe because he is just secure, but what we do and how we do behind the scene it to get to where we are should not be his headache.

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Edition 82October 2014

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