By Chido Nwakanma
Responsiveness and courteous services were the triggers and invitations to the world of Hilton Leisure Resort & Hotel, Awka, and that first impression held. It was exceptional and professional.
It began innocently. Ahead of the FrontFoot Media Initiative Accountability Reporting workshops in Benin and Awka, I reached out to friends online in search of suitable venues. Uche Nworah, immediate past MD of the Anambra Broadcasting Corporation, recommended Hilton. He said it was new and had good facilities. Mike Meze pointed to Geogold Hotel as an old reliable. Chris Nwoko confirmed the assessment.
I set out to contact them. Chigozie Azubike at Geogold responded faster than the folks in Benin who were lackadaisical. The response got added traction on reaching Mrs Nkem Anyanwu at Hilton. She was clearly on a mission to ensure that her hotel never missed any potential business opportunities. She took all concerns about rates and reverted in two hours max. She was persuasive.
Two weeks later, I confirmed the initial impressions. I went first to Sage Hotel, GRA Benin, to do a site inspection and sitrep. I thought Sage had excellent hardware but lacked the software to run it. It was prophetic as Sage embarrassed itself on the second day of our event: we were out of power for five hours!
I arrived at Awka and found it easy to get to Hilton Leisure. Surprise: guests had taken up all the rooms this Friday. The responsive Operations Manager Nkem swung into action. She gave me a seat and asked for a few minutes. She consulted with the Indian gentleman that manages the hotel, returned, and made an offer that spoke to business savvy. She and General Manager Mr Kundu Biswajit offered me a suite for slightly above a single room rate. I was glad to drop my cheque deposit for the event.
Hilton Leisure Resort Hotel has the hardware and critical software of capable personnel to render quality hotel services.
The rooms are elegant with contemporary furnishings. The dining room is like a furniture showroom, given the class of chairs available. Service in the restaurant could benefit from the speed in other areas. I surmised that the restaurant confirms the thesis of hospitality and tourism expert Ikechi Uko that Nigerian hotels build a family-size kitchen to serve a village. The twain cannot meet, so they find it difficult to cope with orders.
Hilton Leisure has pleasant and well-trained staff who go out of their way to be courteous. A day after the event, my laptop frightened me. Not to worry, said one of their ICT staff. He sorted out the challenge and then declined my offer of reward.
The entrepreneurial vision of HRM Igwe Benneth Emeka attracts high patronage. Consequently, Hilton Leisure is building a 65-room extension to its 52-room hotel. I ran into His Highness, a dapper gentleman, in the lobby following his attendance at an event in the banquet hall the previous day. He often visits to experience service in his hotel.
Hilton Leisure Resort promises to provide “comfort for your comfort”. It does this through its elegant 52 rooms and three mega halls, all built into “eco-friendly and post-modern high-tech buildings”. It offers elevators in two buildings.
Facilities include a fully equipped 24-Hour gym with dedicated instructors, barbing saloon, spa, beauty parlour, gym bar, snooker bar, greenery sit-out, bush bar, VIP Lounge, luxury swimming pool, and free Wi-fi that genuinely works.
Young and young-at-heart would find great pleasure at the back of the house equipped as an outdoor clubhouse with titillating offerings. Its well-equipped gym attracts high attendance by residents in nearby parts of Awka, so occupancy is high in the mornings.
Awka is brimful with hotels of varying sizes and descriptions. They compete vigorously at varying price points and service levels. One source claimed that Hilton Leisure is among the top five in the Anambra State capital but would not name the others. Anambra has a profusion of hotels in its increasingly urbanised landscape. We pay attention because hotels speak to several aspects of the quality of life in a location, its economy, values and standards.
Hilton Leisure Resort Hotel met our needs for business and recreation. It offers the right ambience and service environment through staff with a distinct service orientation.