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Inagbe Resort: Turning a Jungle into Paradise

Pristine, serene and stunning are some of the words describe theInagbe Grand Resort in Lagos as DemolaOjo discovered recently…
 

Many cities across the world blessed with the good fortune of having an extensive coastline have used the opportunity to generate tourist-based income. Lagos has lagged behind comparatively, especially considering the pristine beaches that can be found in locations many don’t even know exist. 
Africa’s largest metropolis has some catching up to do, and some organisations are waking up to the huge opportunities that come from embracing a beach-going culture.
The Inagbe Grand Resort located on an island strip that lies between the Lagos Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, and is an example of the kind of development the city has been crying for and which needs to be replicated to help change the face of one of the fastest growing cities in the world. 
A recent visit by this writer in the company of a few other representatives of the Nigerian press revealed the possibilities when imagination meets belief and drive. The 400-hectare resort isfirst of its kind in Lagos with the potential of being one of the most attractive tourist centres in the megacity if the plans of its developers come to fruition.
The development plan is divided into three phases. Only one of the phases has been completed but at its current stage, the resort is already ahead of much of the competition.
This in less than 400 days starting from scratch.  Last year, this large expanse of land was all jungle according to the unassuming Adeyeye Ogunwusi,  who served as the tour guide during our visit. If he wasn’t introduced at the end of the tour as the MD/CEO of Gran Imperio group, the developers of the resort, many of us wouldn’t have guessed.
“What we have done in this phase is to build 125 rooms, a 1,500 seater multi-purpose hall, a floating platform lounge on the lagoon,”Ogunwusi said. An impressive aspect is that a furniture factory has been set up on the island.  “The factory produces all the furniture and all the beddings required at the resort,” he explained.
Other developments already completed in the first phase of the plans include an ocean facing platform, a nine-hole golf range, an  indoor sports hall where you can play table tennis, badminton, snooker and  squash as well as outdoor lawn tennis court, outdoor basketball court, volleyball, outdoor paintballing, a swimming pool by the lagoon and swimming pools by the ocean.
“We also have two land helipads under construction towards the ocean and we’ve started our 18-hole golf course.”
The tranquil InagbeResort is just 15 minutes away from Victoria Island, Banana Island and Ikoyi, the prime commercial and residential locations in Lagos. But the resort is not just beneficial to the jetsetters.
“You can imagine having multiple projects like this in Nigeria. One way or the other, it will have a positive effect on employment generation, on community development and there won’t be too much pressure on urbanization.”
Gran Imperio prides itself on using close to 100 per cent local content in the construction of Inagbe. “It’s very Nigerian because almost every product we used here comes from all parts of Nigeria,” Oyenusi revealed. The emphasis using local from the island itself. The areawas originally used for coconut farming by the indigenes. The coconut tree is still used in various ways at Inagbe and for every tree cut down, seven are planted back, according to Ogunwusi.
The coconuttree itself is used forthe furniture produced at the factory. Potassium rich coconut water is also a big hit at and coconut oil for food and skin treatment at the Inagbe spa. Paint is also locally produced at Inagbe.
Beyond Inagbe willow plants and rattan ropes from Badagry and Epe mangroves are used for furniture,bamboo also from Lagos,rich mahogany wood for window frames and doors fromOgun and Edo,thatch roofing materials from Kaduna and Zamfara States, electrical fittings from Aba… the list goes on. Many of the horses are Nigerian too even though some are imported from Argentina.
“So far, it’s been attracting a lot of Nigerians and non-Nigerians on how things are done in our own local way. It is passion that is driving us. Our mantra is power of imagination.
“We are very excited about it. There is room for improvement but it’s a very good masterpiece to showcase real estate and tourism in Nigeria,” Ogunwusi continued.
One of the sightsis a 300 metre long musical fountain combined with an array of rhythmic water display and coloured lightening effect in the evening at the Lagoon front. There are ATVs (quad bikes and Jet skis for those with a spirit of adventure.
“You can see how calm everywhere is.  And it’s only 15 minute from the crazy hustle and bustle of Lagos. When you get back to Lagos, you start hearing all sorts of noise, everybody horning,..the beauty of this place is, it’s very serene, it’s very pristine,” Ogunwusi enthused.
Obviously, funding such a huge project is a challenge. However, Gran Imperio drew from the experience of having been involved in been involved – directly or indirectly – in over 2000 homes along the Lekki-Epe corridor in Lagos.They partnered with the roya family that had control over the land. 
“The land has a very strong history, culture and heritage. It’s being led by Oba MobadeleOyekan, son of the former Oba of Lagos. He believes in this dream. We met, we were able to connect and to partner with the local communities on how to get things done here. We didn’t have any issues because we were able to sell the dream to the locals and they bought into it because we told them we were going to generate a lot of employment.
“It used to be a jungle, a deserted land. Nobody wanted to live here. No electricity, nothing… the only thing they were doing which we discouraged was bunkering of NNPC pipelines by providing employment for the youths around here. Some of them are workers here (Inagbe), some of them are working at the factory (Essential Homes).
“It was very challenging raising finance because nobody believed in it including the banks. They said it’s a tall and ambitious project. It wouldn’t see the light of day they said. So we decided to start applying our own equity as a company.
“It is very stressful but we believe in it. It is a very good platform for us to launch our research that we’ve been working on for many years. So we decided to go all the way on our own. But right now we have got to a stage where we have a lot of investors local and abroad that are interested in the initiative because what we were able to do here was turn a jungle into a paradise that is very close to nature at its best. There is no amount of money you can use to buy nature.”
The Gran Imperio CEO sees every guest at Inagbe as a potential partner. “You can be a partner in the form of time-share. For example, you might just want to come here for 10 days in a year and if you want to use all facilities here with your family, you can buy into this scheme.”
He also addressed the issue of accessibility. “We have our own boats, but it is not enough based on  some activities we’ve had in the past here. So we have outsourced to some companies that have that kind of business venture. What they do is pick up our guests coming to the Inagbe from different jetties in Lagos and bring them here. Some people have even booked to have their destination weddings here.
“Instead of spending top dollar outside the country, spend it here. If there’s money circulating within the system, then even the security man working here will benefit from it. He can feed his family, the children can go to school, and the whole thing can keep rolling instead of taking it to another economy.
“The beauty of this place though is to come here by boat. It has its own relaxing effect. Lagos is more than 20 percent water but we hardly utilize it. Water is a big natural asset that God has given to this state.”
Going back to the question of accessibility and his belief that the resort would attract revellers, Oyenusi explained. “Don’t forget, over the last 20 to 30 years, people have been going to IIashe (a private beach on the same strip). A lot of wealthy Nigerians are investing in yachts and buying boats. A lot of Nigerians are also just discovering that water is very therapeutic.
“Currently, the heat in Nigerian reads above 30 degrees Celsius. But when you get on water, you hardly feel it. It’s a gradual thing. Nigerians are waking up to it.
“We have very good patronage so far because of proximity.  It’s very close to Ikoyi and VI. About 15 minutes. A lot of them have boats they don’t even know where they’ll go to. This is a masterpiece they can come to. Even if it’s just to stop by, have a drink, and go back.”
(Culled from http://www.thisdaylive.com)
January 16, 2015

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