City People Visits The Sprawling Resort
In the next few weeks, the ancient city of Ile-Ife will witness the grand opening of a new world class resort built by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. Though work is still ongoing and finishing touches are being put to the project, completion of work in the first phase is 90% ready.
The new resort built on 252 hectares of land will have 300 rooms after completion. Its situated at a lovely location, just as you drive into Ile-Ife. It is a place where modernity meets an African rural setting. If you are driving into Ife from the Ibadan end of that ever busy Ibadan-Ife road, this sprawling resort hits you in its grand splendour. To the right hand side from the highway you can see the white structures, all bungalows, built in chalet format. Because the road is on a higher plain, you can have a birds eye view of the resort. The resort is scheduled to be opened in March, 2018. Its called the Ife Grand Resorts & Leisure, a replica of Ooni’s Inagbe Grand Resorts located on an Island off Lagos waters. The major difference is that whilst you can access the new Ife resorts by road, Inagbe can be accessed by water.
City People visited the Ife resort last Wednesday and found construction workers working at dizzing pace to enable them meet up with the March deadline. It took about 3 hours to take a walk round the impressive resort, all painted white. And as you walk round you can see and feel a touch of royalty. City People was conducted round by the manager, Mr. Elusakin Oluwasogo Emmanuel and his aide, Princess Fadekemi Adenipekun.
What’s the whole concept behind the Ife Grand Resort & Leisure, City People asked the Manager, Mr. Sogo “The Ooni, when he was conceiving the idea wanted to have a place where Modernity and Tradition actually come together. And that is what you see here. We have nature at its very best here. Kabiyeesi actually insisted when construction started here that none of the trees should be touched or cut. He wants nature’s presence here. That is why at the entrance into the reception hall, we left these two tall palm trees alone as we met them. They are there to beautify the structure. We had to accommodate them.”
Most of the streets are actually named after major towns and cities across the Yoruba nation, in the Western part of Nigeria like Oyo, Ogbomosho, Lagos. Its a way of celebrating what we have. Look at our front desk, inside the reception area, its nature in its raw form. Our reception desk was carved out of an Iroko wood. Our chairs at the reception area also convey a message and say something about Africa and African culture. You can see Kampala, you can see Ankara, both raw and laminated. You can see Damask fabrics used in covering the chairs. You can see Ofi fabric. You can see the richness of these fabrics. This is who we are. Things you see here are things that have to do with our culture. By that I mean designs, artworks that speak to our culture. When this place is fully operational we would have a gallery here, where people can pick up artworks, artifacts, paintings.”
“Everything you see at this resort, shows that we are very close to nature. You can see the use of a lot of wood, well pruned wood.
The whole resort is divided into about 5 major parts, namely: The Arrival and Reception area, the Bar/Platform area, the African Village where you have 50 African huts, with thatched roofs hung on trees named after all the Oonis of Ife, the deluxes/presidential suites, the sporting arena, the Igbo Olodumare, the Conference Centre/Events Hall, and the Car park area all interwoven.
Very significant is the fact that all the streets inside the resort are named after popular Yoruba towns and areas like Oyo Street, Ijebu Street, Ogbomosho Street, Isale Eko Street and it goes on.
Also significant is the fact that apart from the supervising managers, close to 100 artisans like plumbers, welders, electricians, carpenters, kitchen staff who have been working on the projects are locales, from Ile-Ife. So far, the Ooni has been able to take many unemployed young boys off the streets.
All the furnitures like tables, chairs and beds were manufactured right there at the resort by Kabiyeesi’s resident carpenters. Don’t forget he has construction workers in his real estate company. All the furniture was done from solid woods like Timber and Iroko trees.
This is because the Kabiyeesi is a great advocate of backward integration. So, he gave instructions that all the raw materials for the construction of the Ife resort be sourced in the neighbourhood. So far, over 100 artisans have been engaged locally to work on the project.
The various sections of the resort have significant land marks. The Ooni specifically left instructions to the builders that all the palm trees, cocoa trees and natural vegetation be left the way they met them. So hitting you as you drive into the resort are palm trees and all the natural vegetation they inherited there. At the reception lounge 2 old palm trees usher you in.
Also, at the reception you will see a rich display of African wood. For instance the reception desk was carved out Iroko tree. All the reception chairs are done in Adire, Aso-Oke and other rich ethnic fabrics.
Then you leave the reception and move into the big kitchen which has all the state of the art fittings, and then you move into the bar, which is opposite it and then the open air Platform, done in wood. From there you will be led on a tour to see the deluxes and Presidential blocks. And the African Village.
The Manager of the place, Mr. Elusakin Oluwasogo Emmanuel conducted the City People team round the complex, and we noticed the African feel to the furnishings of both the reception area and the main bar, with the use of cane chair, local woods, with colourful African fabrics and use of rafia mat.
The foundation for the resort was laid on 6th December 2015 and construction work began in March 2016. One of the interesting land marks in the resort is the African Village which is a replica of a typical African Village. In that part of the resort, he has built 50 huts to represent the 50 Ooni’s before him and each of the Oonis that reigned before Ooni Adeyeye has his name etched on the hut built by Mr. Lanre. They are hanging elevated huts with thatched roofs. There is also a hut for Oduduwa.
There is also a Bar built there and a Bamboo Lounge that will have a night club and swinmming pool. There is also an African Kitchen where local African foods will be served in the old way in pots and calabashes. There are palm trees there that can be tapped for palm wine. There are also cocoa trees. At the entrance of the African Village is a water fountain made up of a village pot with water gushing out of it.
Mr. Lanre explained that Ooni’s plan is to immortalise all the Oonis of Ile-Ife. “We are fast losing our history”, he explained “and the Ooni feels we could immortalise them here. So people can come in here and check into any of these huts and have a feel of a typical African hut”.
The resort also has deluxe rooms made up of 5 blocks of 14 rooms each in each block. There are also 5 presidential lounges and 5 executive lounges. Many of it is still work in progress, explains Sogo. All in all, there are 300 rooms.
Then there is the multipurpose hall that will be able sit 5,000 people. Within that same complex is the conference room, seminar room, meeting rooms and some offices. There is also the Games Village with separate sections for both children and adults. It has facilities for Spa, gym and indoor games. There is also a sports complex that has a Lawn Tennis, Volley Ball and Basket Ball. Court. It also has a pitch for a 5 aside football. All over the resorts, workmen and artisans all of whom are locales can be seen putting finishing touches to the ongoing construction.
For those who want to indulge in gaming and hunting, a separate section of the resort has been created for that purpose called Igbo Olodumare, a jungle park. Those who like Adventure can go into that thick forest that will eventually have a zoo. There are plans to also have a Golf course located beside the forest.
It is to preserve the naturalness of the forest that the Ooni insisted that minimal destruction be done. As extensive as the development of the resort has gone so far, Sogo says what exists now is the first phase of the resort.
Who are the likely clientele of Ife Grand Resorts? The management hopes it will play host to tourists and all those visiting Ile-Ife. “If you want to be close to nature this is the place to come to”, explained Princess Fadekemi Adenipekun.
“We hope that in the next 5 years, Ife would be the Mecca of tourists and the resort will be a sort of pilgrimage destination. A lot of festivals hold here in Ife to celebrate the Isese people, Odun Ifa, Moremi. We can provide acommodation for guests. This is our own Dubai. We are expecting professional bodies and corporate organisations to come here and hold their AGMs, retreats.
They all don’t need to go to Dubai. Our African Village will host them. Young people can come here to host destination weddings, interested people can hold Village-like weddings at the African Village. Here, we blend African outlook with Western outlook. People can come here for a get away vacation, for the family. They can take a whole week off or just a weekend of Friday to Sunday. Wedding anniversaries can be celebrated here or renewal of vows.”
“Kabiyeesi also wants the locals to enjoy the facilities here. That is why we have the 14 room deluxes that are affordable. There is no discrimination Kabiyeesi feels Osun State, being a civil servant state, civil servants can also take time off to give themselves a treat. They can come in to use any of the 14 room deluxes.”
“There are affordable rooms. Kabiyeesi has the interest of his people in mind by bringing to Ife, luxury for his people.” Sogo adds that we don’t have a very viable recreational centre around here in Ife. People go to Ada Golf Course and Ikogosi but you can’t compare what they have there with what we have here. This will help salvage that problem”.
“This place is also good for the University community,” explains Princess. “They can hold alumni meetings here, secondary and primary school students can come on excursions here. Pretty soon there will be a tour guide here that can take our guests from here to major sites in town. That will be part of the services here, the sight and sounds of Ile-Ife We implore all Nigerians to patronise us. The government should also patronise us for their meetings, retreats and conventions.”
“By the time the sports complex is ready football teams can come here to train and lodge. We have our 6 aside football pitch. Teams that go to represent Nigeria at Olympics can come here to train. Its like home away from home.”
“When we are fully operational our rates will be affordable. Kabiyeesi really wants to make this resort affordable so that many families can afford it.”