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Marriott International Opens Sheraton Bamako Hotel in Mali

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Marriott International has announced the opening of Sheraton Bamako Hotel, marking its entry into Mali, in West Africa.

This milestone further solidifies Marriott International’s portfolio across West Africa, and promises to revolutionize the hospitality landscape in the country through Sheraton’s distinct product offering coupled with its commitment to go above and beyond for its guests.

“We are thrilled to build on Sheraton’s proud heritage in Africa that dates back to 1971,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Over the last four decades, the brand has maintained its first mover advantage through strategic pipeline development and growth, giving global travelers access to more destinations across the continent. Sheraton Bamako Hotel not only marks our entry into a new country, but also serves as a great example of our transformation efforts around the brand.”

Sheraton Bamako Hotel is the outcome of a collaboration with Koiraholding Group, promoter of the project whose Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Cesse Kome said, “I am very proud to partner with Marriott International to bring the Sheraton brand into Mali and I am confident this hotel will set a new benchmark in hospitality within the country.”

Strategically located in close proximity to Bamako’s Modibo Keïta International Airport in one of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, ACI 2000, the hotel provides easy access to the city center, major embassies, corporate offices, government buildings as well as numerous cultural and tourist attractions. With an enviable location affording panoramic views of the Niger river, the hotel seamlessly blends modern, elegant design, with distinct local touches to create a vibrant aesthetic and a compelling sense of place. Signature brand programing and an elevated guest experience create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes for an ideal gathering place for business and leisure travelers as well as the local community.

All 200 spacious and well-appointed guestrooms boast panoramic views of the Niger river and the lush green hillside dotted with mango plantations, offering unmatched comfort and the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience. 27 Sheraton Club rooms and 32 suites offer exclusive access to the Sheraton® Club Lounge, a private space where guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast, drinks and snacks during the day. Leisure facilities include a state-of-the-art Sheraton® Fitness Centre with cutting edge equipment available 24 hours a day, a spa and an outdoor pool for guests to relax and recharge for the day.

Four distinctive dining venues offer a wide selection of global cuisine. The all-day dining restaurant, City Grill, blends European and International cuisine with flavours from West Africa while a classic Paris inspired brasserie, the Brasserie Bamaquoise, offers the best of French cuisine. Guests can also enjoy fresh juices, a drink or light bites at Légendes Du Sport Bar, a buzzing sports bar or while relaxing at the Oasis Pool Bar.

With more than 820 square meters of dedicated meeting space, Sheraton Bamako Hotel features 11 meeting rooms including a 478 square meter Grand Ballroom as well as a fully equipped business center, with state-of-the-art facilities and endless connectivity through high-speed Wi-Fi. With natural light in most meeting rooms, creative menu options and thoughtful service that goes above and beyond, the hotel provides both choice and flexibility, making it an exclusive option for large scale business meetings, social events, weddings or even smaller intimate gatherings.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Travel/Tourism

Transcorp Hotels Unveils Online Booking Platform

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Transcorp Hotels

By Dipo Olowookere

An online booking platform to allow users secure quality accommodation, great food and awesome experiences has been launched by Transcorp Hotels Plc.

The new initiative called Aura is the company’s first in the alternative accommodation segment aimed to use technology to deliver true hospitality, exciting experiences, and drive shareholder value.

A statement issued by the hospitality giant explained that the organisation will partner with homeowners, hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour operators and locals to redefine travel and tourism through Aura.

Transcorp Hotels believes with the launch of Aura, it has further cemented its leadership in the hospitality industry and reinforced its commitment to innovation and superior guest experience across different demographics.

According to the statement, the service is currently available in Nigeria only with plans already in place to expand to major cities in Africa.

“Finding the right accommodation when you travel can be incredibly complex. Options available for the right prices are often limited and travellers sometimes end up with an accommodation that taints the travel experience.

“Transcorp Hotels Plc has been able to fix that with Aura and we are proud to be associated with them,” Obong Idiong, the CEO of Africa Prudential Plc, Aura’s technology partners, said.

While commenting on the development, the CEO of Transcorp Hotels, Ms Dupe Olusola, described the launch of Aura as “a new dawn in the hospitality industry.”

“For more than 30 years, Transcorp Hotels Plc has been at the forefront of creating a superior guest experience at our locations. Today, our commitment to innovation has offered us an opportunity to extend this beyond the hotel premises,” she noted.

On her part, Ms Priscilla Adeboye, a travel enthusiast and early adopter of Aura, said the global pandemic has pushed international travel down her list.

“But I still want to be able to take some time off work or spend a weekend away from home with the family. I have found incredible homes on Aura that meet my need for space and privacy,” she remarked.

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COVID-19: Arik Air Wants Quick Vaccination of Aviation Workers

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Arik Air

By Ahmed Rahma

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of indigenous airline, Arik Air, Mr Roy Ilegbodu, has urged the federal government to prioritise aviation workers as the country is set to begin vaccination against COVID-19.

Business Post had earlier reported that Nigeria on Tuesday received nearly four million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, had enjoined Nigerians who wish to receive the vaccines to register on the website of the NPHCDA, adding that over 2.3 million Nigerians have registered in the past few hours.

Dr Shuaib had also said frontline health workers, amongst others would be prioritised in the vaccination.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Arik Air boss said aviation workers are frontline workers and giving them priority in the COVID-19 vaccination will help keep the economy running and enable more people to travel safely.

He stated this when he met with travel and tourism expert, Mr Ikechi Uko, in his office in Ikeja, Lagos.

Mr Uko was at the Head Office of Arik Air in Ikeja to invite the airline for his Annual Abuja Jabamah Travel Event which is slated to hold on March 27 in Abuja.

Mr Ilegbodu said, “Aviation workers should get priority for vaccination. In Arik, we are trying to see if we can get all our staff vaccinated as soon as possible. This will allow us to serve the public confidently, as we are frontline staff who deal with the public every day.”

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Shipping Giant Hapag-Lloyd Opens 5th African Office in Kenya

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Hapag-Lloyd

By Adedapo Adesanya

Shipping giant, Hapag-Lloyd, as part of its expansion in Africa, has opened a new office in Kenya.

While the main business will be managed from the port city of Mombasa, the company will also have an office in Nairobi, the country’s capital.

Hapag-Lloyd mainly transports agricultural goods out of Kenya, especially tea, coffee, fruits and textiles. The imports primarily consist of chemicals, foodstuffs and a wide range of goods made of plastic or rubber.

The new office will be headed by Country Manager Prashant Sindhwani and the establishment will see 19 staff members work in Mombasa, six in Nairobi and one in Uganda.

Via the gateway port of Mombasa, the shipping company offers two different services: the China Kenya Express Service (CKX) will connect Kenya with some of the most important ports in Asia, such as Singapore and Shanghai while the East Africa Service (EAS2) connects the East African country with the west coast of India and Jebel Ali in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Speaking on this, Mr Dheeraj Bhatia, Senior Managing Director Region Middle East at Hapag-Lloyd said, “Kenya is the economic hub of East Africa and the most important growth region on the continent.

“By opening our new office in Kenya, we expect to continue our robust growth on the African continent.”

Hapag-Lloyd also serves landlocked East African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, with regular inland connections to and from Mombasa.

As part of its growth strategy, the shipping company will endeavour to develop inland connections to Somalia, Southern Ethiopia and Northern Tanzania.

On this, Mr Rolf Habben Jansen, Chief Executive Officer at Hapag-Lloyd explained that “Our Strategy 2023 focuses not only on becoming the number one for quality but also on selected growth markets worldwide.

“We see an enormous growth potential in Africa and will further invest in our services and selected countries.”

In a congratulatory note, German Ambassador to Kenya, Mrs Annett Günther, wished Hapag-Lloyd all the best with their new presence in Kenya.

She noted, “Kenya as a regional and continental hub for trade relies on strong and efficient logistics service providers.

“Hapag-Lloyd has been serving the region for many years, so it is a logical step, and a good sign for the business community in Kenya, that they are now establishing a permanent presence in Mombasa and Nairobi.”

With the opening of the new office in Kenya, Hapag-Lloyd now has own five offices on the continent in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. Additionally, Hapag-Lloyd recently opened its Quality Service Center in Mauritius.

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Travel/Tourism

NAAPE Decries Non-Payment of Pensions, Tackles AMCON

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sack pilots NAAPE

By Ahmed Rahma

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has called on the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to pay no fewer than 50 of its members in Aero Contractors redundancy benefits, having declared them since 2016.

This call was made by the president of NAAPE, Mr Abednego Galadima, during a chat with newsmen over the weekend in Lagos.

He said some of the challenges in the industry include non-remittance of pension deducted from its members, explaining how these will become thorny issues in the not too distant future.

Mr Galadima decried how the staff of Aero have suffered and how whatever was accrual to them since 2016 may have lost value having gone through recession twice and inflation countless times.

“The issue of the redundancy benefit payment of Aero Contractors has lingered too long, as you may recall, Aero is under receivership and they rendered people redundant since 2016.

“We are still battling to see that our members are paid their benefits. The time value for money has already been lost; I want to call on AMCON to see that this money is immediately paid so that these Nigerians would go home and get on with their lives,” he said

“To be fair with you, we know we have over 50 workers but the total money so far is still being calculated.

“The Aero management reneged on their commitment to giving every worker a letter communicating to him what is due to him so we can’t provide that figure.

“The airline itself has done its calculation but they have not communicated what each category is entitled to, based on what the union agreed with those affected since 2016,” the president stated.

On issues of non-remittance of deducted pension funds, the NAAPE president drew the attention of employers in the aviation industry to the negative trend explaining that if these funds are not remitted, it would amass and the employers would not be able to pay, stressing that it is another challenge waiting to rear its head in the no distant future.

He said, “We also want you to publicize some of the challenges NAAPE is having, particularly in the areas of pension. Employers, most of the operators in this industry do not pay deducted pensions of their staff as at when due. And you know as a worker, you always look forward to retirement and that is what we normally fall back on.

“Most of the private operators still owe staff, especially our members’ pensions; they deduct and not remit. We want them to be sensitized to know that this is not right, and by the time they accumulate it, it becomes very difficult for them to pay.”

AMCON took over Aero Contractors in February 2016 and in March 2017, the airline issued redundancy to over 60 per cent of its staff which saw endless days of union activities and according to NAAPE, up till now, no staff declared redundant has been paid.

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FAAN Temporarily Shuts Lagos Airport Runway

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Lagos Airport Runway

By Ahmed Rahma

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has announced the temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

According to a statement on Tuesday, signed by the General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the closure was due to a landing incident.

“The closure is due to a landing incident involving a Boeing 737 Azman Air aircraft with registration 5N SYS, and flight number ZQ2325. The aircraft had a tyre burst after landing on this runway,” FAAN said.

The agency added that all passengers and crew on board the aircraft were safely evacuated and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, are working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria hereby announces a temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

“All passengers and crew onboard the aircraft were safely evacuated at 1908 hours, and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, AIB, and NAHCO are already working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy,” the statement read.

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United Nigeria Airlines Commences Operations Friday

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United Nigeria Airlines

By Dipo Olowookere

All is now set for the inaugural flight of United Nigeria Airlines as the management has confirmed that the company will begin operations on Friday, February 12, 2021.

According to the organisation’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, the inaugural flight will be conducted with an EMB145 aircraft.

He further disclosed that the flight will depart Lagos through the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MM2), Ikeja and then land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.

Mr Uchegbu further said the aircraft will thereafter leave Enugu to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja before making a return to Lagos.

He said adequate preparations have been made for a smooth journey through the different routes, noting that the company was ready to put a smile on the faces of passengers.

The image-maker of United Nigeria Airlines expressed confidence that the company will transform the way people fly, assuring that they will get value for their money and trust in the firm.

He said, for now, the airline will carry out regular daily flight operations to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Enugu, with Port Harcourt and Owerri to follow very soon.

United Nigeria Airlines, after fulfilling all mandatory regulatory requirements, was issued an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), enabling it to begin flight domestic operations.

Business Post gathered from reports that United Nigeria Airlines is owned by a billionaire businessman, Mr Obiorah Okonkwo. The airline is operated by Private Airlines Services Limited.

The company aims to become the most efficient airline operator in Nigeria and increase its assets and investments to support the development of its services for regional and international operations and then build good reputation in the aviation sector and become a strategic player in the industry, globally.

United Nigeria Airlines is coming on board at a time the aviation industry is struggling to get back on its feet as a result of the devastating blow it was dealt with by COVID-19, which forced governments across the globe to restrict the movement of people.

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