SLOW YOUR ROLL, MARIOTT HOTEL PROJECT IS A STILLBIRTH
Like the fabled Cheshire cat in Lewis Caroll’s literary classic, Alice in Wonderland, Jim Ovia’s Marriott Hotel project is turning into a white elephant. Few people will forget the unusual buzz news that the hotel’s emergence in the highbrow hospitality sector generated few years ago.
The end might have come sooner than expected for chairman and founder of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia’s ambition to play big in the hospitality industry. For a man who has succeeded in many of his endeavours, Ovia’s Marriott Hotel project might be a stillbirth after all. In 2012, Ovia’s Quantum Luxury Properties Limited entered into a multi-billion naira agreement with the global hotel brand, Marriott, to have one in Nigeria.
Primed to be located beside the Civic Centre, also owned by Ovia, on the Ozumba Mbadiwe waterfront Victoria Island, Lagos, the proposed five-star hotel, he had said, would comprise 150 star rooms with a 2014 launch date already set. “We identified a gap in the marketplace within the hospitality industry to support the burgeoning sectors. Nigeria is well known for its hospitality and Lagos as a mega-city deserves a world-class facility to complement its status. We are proud to have the opportunity to partner with a world-class brand like Marriott,” Ovia said excitedly, adding that the Nigerian economy continues to be an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), particularly with the boom in the telecoms industry and the attractiveness of the banking sector.” That was in 2012. What many didn’t know perhaps is that it wasn’t just Ovia that got the Marriott franchise; Taiwo Afolabi, the shipping magnate behind SIFAX Group regarded as one of Africa’s fastestgrowing multinational corporations with diversity in Maritime, Aviation, Haulage & Logistics, Oil & Gas, also got approval to site one in G.R.A, Ikeja, Lagos. Unlike Ovia’s which seems to be dead and buried, Afolabi’s 300-room Marriott Hotel is nearing completion and would soon open for business. Different strokes for different folks.