Review: 2019 Eko Christmas Tropical Wonderland Boosts Tourism



Eko Christmas Tropical Wonderland, organised  by Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos in 2019, was a highly sought after event which helped Lagos to fill its hotels and grow revenue during the Yuletide. It also gave the country’s entertainment industry a huge boost. Justina Okpanku writes

Lagos hotels usually register high sales but it is not always busy throughout the year. Hotel room occupancy levels drop for festive season. It is perhaps the reason hotel managers slash room rates in order to attract patronage. Holiday market is usually dull in major cities such as Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt because some people like to travel to the countryside, (village-going syndrome) while others do foreign trips during Christmas. In December 2018, for example, Lagos hotels  surprisingly offered hospitable rates; some were willing to offer whooping 60 per cent others 70 per cent discounts on all rooms types for people to be able to afford to enjoy the festive season.

The out-gone year was a bit different, the holiday market improved thanks to 2019 Eko Tropical Christmas Wonderland.  People spent their holiday in places close to home because of security concerns.  Moreover, many transport companies, airlines, and other tourism reliant companies had hiked their fares and fees. People stayed where they were to enjoy the holidays. There was excitement as  people heard about the Eko Tropical Christmas Wonderland. Families were eager to enjoy music and entertainment in beautiful environment. The room occupancy levels climbed as demand out-stripped supply. There are no official statements though, maybe because of trade secret.

A reservations officer of Eko Hotels & Suites in Lagos was in great spirits as he chatted with a customer who perhaps wanted to book a room in December 2019. “We are full. We are not only full, we are over full, that’s the problem,” he said excitedly.

Eko Hotels was not alone. Other Lagos hotels especially those situated on Victoria Island/Lekki and Ikoyi, close to Eko Hotels smiled as a result of the premier Holiday event organised  by the management of Eko Hotels & Suites.  Hotels such as Radisson Blu Anchorage, Oriental Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson, Mason Farenheit, Avenue Suites, to mention a few, were said to have “rejected” customers a few days before Christmas 2019.  “We are full,” was a chorus by staff of the hotels  where JUSTOURS reporters visited before the year came to an end.

The Eko Hotels’ all-inclusive package for the whole family was flagged-off during the Yuletide (December 15, 2019). It added flavour to the Christmas fun. Eko Hotels had advertised its week-long programme  stating that it will feature activities that will bring magical moments especially for children to enjoy the lights, spectacular and tropical fun must have made holiday wishes come true for families and tourism-reliant companies.

In his opening remarks during the light up ceremony that kicked -off the Tropical Christmas Wonderland on December 15, Chairman of Eko Hotels, Mr. Chris Chagoury said: “The tropical experience is designed for families and individuals to have another classic Christmas memories and create new magical hospitality moments that only Eko Hotels offers with line-up of thrilling events between December 23 and 28, 2019.”

Mr Chris Chagoury, Chairman, Eko Hotels& Suites with Mr. Ghassan Fadoul, MD; and Mr Danny Kiouropouglou, General Manager of the hotel, during the Light up ceremony December 15, at Eko Hotels, 2019.

Eko Christmas Tropical Wonderland 2019 was very popular and it oversold.  Eko Hotels however graciously sold tickets to families who didn’t book early to ensure their kids also have fantastic holiday in the stunning hotel. Patrons who could not stay at Eko Hotels looked elsewhere. It was cool for many hotels in Lagos.

Some hotels gave the Eko Hotels’ creative programme a nod for their surprisingly new sales. Four Points by Sheraton, Lagos used it in their favour.  The hotel situated in Lekki, Lagos must have leveraged Eko Hotel Tropical Christmas Wonderland to make sales last Christmas.

There’s no gainsaying that Eko Hotels made an impact. Domestic tourism received a boost as people brought their kids to Lagos from far and wide  to be part of the event described by patrons as “Eko Hotel wonder.”

A man who flew into Lagos with his family from Port Harcourt stormed Eko Hotels and was determined that his family (a family of five) will be part of Eko Christmas Tropical Wonderland 2019. Apparently, he didn’t make reservations before coming.

His wife, a woman in her late 30’s was up and about in the beautiful environment when they arrived that Thursday. Her mood changed when they told “no room” when her man went to make enquiries at the Front Office Desk.  The man obviously didn’t give up. “Mummy, are they giving us room? her eldest child asked while dragging her hand. Adding: “I hope you have not forgotten to tell Daddy to beg them. Soon, their father returned with a huge smile on his face.  The 13-year-old daughter who spoke with his father briefly raised her two hands up in joyous mood and beckoned to her younger brother “Oya, carry your bag and let’s go to our room and change so we can join them (pointing to children having fun while catching up with their favourite celebrity for Selfie opportunity at the hotel lobby (Eko Hotels is one of the places celebrities go to in West Africa.

Fantastic Holiday

How can the kids forget 2019 Eko Tropical Christmas Wonderland and its’ dining offerings  during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? How can they forget the opening of the games arcade and cinemas on December  21,  which was  part of the wonderland experience?  Families saw on the different packages ( Tropical Luxe, Tropical Lush & Tropical Mix) checking-in and there was a grand baking class titled “Kiddies Bakefest” with the chief pastry chef of Eko Hotels,  Chef Abdallah Outa taking the class.

Wow! The evening of December 24 was the carnival-like Santa’s Procession with over 20 of his nut crackers and elves. It was also a time for a sing along with Santa Ilie after which there was a pyjamas party with fun loving families and carol night with the new concept singing tree.

The highpoint was Christmas Day, December 25. Christmas Day was time for the elaborate Christmas brunch from seven continents. Cuisine from Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas, just mention it , were on display for families to treat themselves to a variety of sumptuous delicacies. It was followed by a carol costume concert and the evening was climaxed by the Tropical Christmas All Stars Contest – an event that saw 5-star performances from talents within the ages of 6 to 18 years from all arts.

This Contest saw the first prize winner in the duo of Temilayo Abodunrin& Joshua Akinotan carted away a whooping cash prize of =N=500,000, the second prize winner – Ebere Anyiam- Osigwe went away with a mouth-watering prize of  =N=350,000 while the third prize winner in the person of Vanessa Jones carted away =N=150,000.

There were no losers at all as all other contestants smiled home with a  handful cash prizes of =N=100,000 each. It was an evening to savour as families and guests alike showered accolades on the management of Eko Hotels & Suites for the genius concept that brought smiles to the faces of children.

Chris Abali, a banker said his family had a fantastic holiday.” Abali who joined his family on the third day of the programme said it was worth it. “The kids were thanking me and their mother for the “endless fun”.  The beauty is, we spent less compared to taking them abroad or even visiting my hometown. You know the risk and security situation in the country. “

Another parent, Mrs. Pat Idowu, said the programme was like a reunion  for  her as she got to meet some of her old friends who wee also at the Eko Hotels’ event.  “A colleague in my workplace told me about the Eko Hotel event and I bought it.  Now, it’s like all the friends are here. Our kids are meeting themselves and having fun.” While thanking Eko Hotels for the thoughtful package, the property investor said “Initially, I was worried about the cost,  but it turned out to be affordable.”

Others may have looked to the revenue generation for the hotel industry in Lagos. ” With crowds like this, (three big events were taking place at Eko Hotel on the same day, December 28, 2019) who will complain that the hotels are not making it. I came to cover an event and I was told there’s no room for me to stay. There are other people like me (pointing to small crowds of people at the lobby who were also looking for accommodation).  That means if you create a good product, people will come,” noted a leading   sports writer in the country who was at the hotel at the time. The bottomline is, Eko Hotels gave tourism a boost.

General Manager, Eko Hotels, Mr. Danny Kiouropouglou said: “What you are seeing tonight ( during the Christmas light up ceremony that ushered in Eko Hotels Christmas Tropical Wonderland) is our way of contributing  to the entertainment  sector by engaging with the people  viz-a-viz showing them what they can see and feel in Nigeria at this time of the year. The whole idea is that we are in Africa so we cannot be emitting the western world (Europe where is there is snow) to celebrate the way they do.

“But since we are in Africa which is the tropics we have to celebrate it our way”. Adding:” It is a way of making Nigerians to spend their Christmas holidays here in Nigeria than they spending it in other parts of the world like the United Kingdom, USA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Australia etc. now we have created entertainment opportunity for them to stay in Nigeria, spend their money at home and enjoy good time here, he said during the lighting up ceremony of Eko Hotels Christmas Tropical Wonderland. ”

Mrs. Iyadunni Gbadebo, Director of Sales, Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos with kids enjoying themselves at the event. Photos: By Justina Okpanku

The hotel’s Director of Sales, Mrs. Iyadunni Gbadedo, had said the package is one unique and historic treat that “our esteemed clients and visitors to the hotel should not miss out on as our four hotels, including Eko Signature, Eko Suites, Eko Hotel and Eko Gardens, will offer families three or five days. In-deed it was a 5-day intense fun, laughter and excitement. You would only be selfish to have the kids miss the next edition of Eko Christmas Tropical Wonderland.

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