An Eye on West Africa

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If all goes according to plan – and there are many, many people working hard to make sure that happens – an amazing new hotel will have opened at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at the end of September.

Frequent travellers will be wondering how any hotel can be amazing. Despite all the hype, airport hotels are pretty samey, are they not? Large, busy, soulless; guests are ‘processed’ through the system, and leave soon after arriving, without being noticed very much. Well, this hotel is bound to be busy, but the other adjectives surely won’t fit at all.

However, it does have one of the longest names of all hotels in Lagos! It’s the 54-room Legend Hotel Lagos Airport, Curio Collection by Hilton. But let’s just call it the Legend Hotel for now. What the full name tells us is that it’s at the airport, it’s managed by Hilton and it’s part of the Curio Collection, which means that it’s not actually branded a Hilton, but you’ll still get your Honors points.

This is Hilton’s first hotel in Lagos, after being in Abuja for 30 years. It’s tried a number of times to get a hotel at the airport, and if you look carefully you can still see the signs up on development sites where it was supposed to have happened, but didn’t.

The Legend Hotel is going to be a super place to stay. The interior is very high quality, with a great team led by General Manager Peter Idoko, who has returned home after a stint with Hilton overseas – he was, before that, up in Abuja with the brand. Idoko’s been on seat for over a year now, making sure that everything is in place for their formal opening on the fifth of October.

The formal opening is when someone comes along and cuts a ribbon, but before that they’ll spend a week testing everything and ironing out any kinks.

But there are two things that make this hotel not just super, but really, truly amazing.

First, there’s the view of the parking lot. Come again? Yup, the view of the parking lot, but not the usual ranks of company cars. Because this hotel is next to the ExecuJet terminal, and the public areas look out onto the apron where the private jets are parked, some big, some little, but they are there almost literally ‘in your face’.

It’s such a WOW factor! I guess you get used to it after a while, but at least for the first few times you’ll say “awesome”! You’ll wonder how on earth they managed to park the things quite so close to the window of the lobby and the restaurant, you’ll hope that that wingtip isn’t going to hit the glass when they turn to leave, and then start dreaming about where you’d go if it was your plane parking here! Well, once you and I do own our own jets (come on, we can dream, can’t we?!), not only can we park next to the lobby but, and this is the second amazing thing about the Legend Hotel, we can waltz down the steps, onto the red carpet, and straight into the hotel, which has its own immigration and customs facilities.

This is a very, very cool aspect indeed! As far as I can tell, there’s not another hotel worldwide that can compare (please do let me know if there are any out there).

There are plenty of hotels actually inside airport terminals for transit passengers, but not with its own passport control to get into the country within a few yards of your plane. So, no queuing, no waiting for your luggage, no hassle. It really puts the luxury into private aviation.

Like most new hotels in Nigeria, the Legend Hotel has been a long time coming, and actually getting it open has been a pretty long, drawn-out affair, whilst all the little snagging items have been attended to. But it’s so close now, and by the time you read this, it should – no, it will – be open for us to visit, even if we do have to enter the more traditional way, through the front door (sigh!).

The first hotel at the international airport, the first hotel for Hilton in Lagos, the first hotel with direct airside access, a plethora of firsts for Quits Hospitality, the owners. Which, incidentally, has already commenced construction of a 90-room extension to the Legend Hotel, and is planning a fully-fledged 350-room Hilton Hotel next door. So after some false starts, Hilton has landed at Lagos airport.

www.w-hospitalitygroup.com