Akwa Ibom State government has said that the 146 room Four Point by Sheraton Hotels at Ikot Ekpene is 97 percent completed and is expected to commence operation before the end of this year.
This was disclosed by Mr Ephraim Udosen, a Director in the Ministry of Special Duties who is in charge of the Project when members of The Correspondents chapel visited the facility on a fact-finding mission.
According to him, the expansive 11 floor edifice which construction started in 2013 was commissioned in an elaborate ceremony by the then Governor Godswill Akpabio shortly before his exit in 2015.
But the hotel has come under heavy criticism by indigenes and residents as a failed project because it was yet to commence operation more than five years after it was officially opened.
He explained that the hotel was not technically completed before commissioning as most of its facilities failed to meet the standard and specifications of the hotel managers, Starwood Group whose franchise was later taken over by Marriott.
He further stated that the current administration user Udom Emmanuel, has made additions and carried out modifications and upgrades in more than 50 key facilities and areas to meet the standard of the hotel managers who have also opened their recruitment portal to demonstrate their readiness to commence operation this year.
Udosen said the hotel has become one of the most technologically advanced in the country after several facilities were added alongside modifications and upgrades carried out in several of its facilities including the power installations, water treatment process, fire suppression and fighting systems, cooling system and ICT, in line with the requirements of the hotel managers.
According to him, the present administration constructed the parking lots, 310m access and link roads around the hotel, completed outstanding landscaping, procured transformers with switchgears and constructed dedicated power supply lines from the National Grid to the Hotel, ensuring availability of constant power supply.
It also purchased thousands of equipment, furniture and utensils and procured all outstanding Operating Supplies and Equipment (OS & E), Furniture Fittings and Equipment (FF&E) and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure under the agreed US $7.2m released to the Hotel operator.
The administration also provided the first phase of Hotel Guest Room Management System (GRMS) involving the incorporation of setback temperature control devices in all guest rooms Fan Coil Units (FCUs) and certification of all installed Plants, Equipment and Systems like Lifts, Boilers, Chillers, Firefighting Equipment/Systems, Water Quality (Potable, Swimming Pool, Chill Water) etc by third parties as recommended by Marriott.
“We also installed Automatic Fire Suppression System (FM200), 20KVA inverter system and additional 12,000 BTU/Hr (3.5kw) – split wall type AC system in the IT room and procured active switches/accessories for the IP close circuit cameras to complete the installation of the CCTV system of the Hotel.
“To tell you how committed Governor Udom Emmanuel is to this project, he ensured that the maintenance contract was re-awarded to the original contractors to ensure continuity. The only hindrance now is in attaining the high standards of the hotel. Managers in certain areas and in this regard, we have attained between 97 and 98 percent”, he said.
The Four Point by Sheraton Hotel alongside the Tropicana Entertainment Complex were the two multi billion-naira entertainment and recreational projects embarked upon by the Godswill Akpabio’s administration.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has since been acquired by Marriott International Hotels in a deal that was wrapped up in September 2016.