Index Hotels is looking to expand operations in West Africa, following its success in Ghana over the past decade. The hotel management specialists are currently investigating opportunities to develop business hotels in Sierra Leone and have already consulted on developments in Cameroon.
This comes as Index Hotels is developing their fourth hotel in Ghana – located in the Accra Airport Residential Area – an exciting and unique addition to the Accra skyline targeting tourists, business travellers and local Ghanaians. Having broken ground in March this year, Index Hotels conceptualised this development, which CEO Craig Seaman explains is quite unlike a typical hotel, while the renderings and the execution of the design were done by Blerta Copa of Ble Architecture. Over and above the luxurious suites, long-stay apartments and meeting rooms, the Accra Airport Residential Hotel is also a social hub with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, a members’ club, state-of-the-art fitness centre and a spa.
With seven out of 10 of the fastest-growing economies in the world being in Africa, and the number of tourists expected to double by 2030, Index Hotels is already ahead of the curve. “We chose to base ourselves in Ghana a number of years ago for several reasons,” explains Seaman. “Ghana’s stable political environment was an important factor, meaning we could safely expand into West Africa. We also identified an opportunity to grow the hospitality industry there by focusing on developing independent local hotels before the market became saturated with internationally branded hotels.
“Being passionate about the impact of hospitality not only on our guests, but also on employees and surrounding communities, we wanted to play a role in upskilling local talent and creating jobs while introducing state-of-the-art technology and world-class systems,” he says.
Fiesta Residences in Accra was Index Hotels’ first new development; a ground-breaking combination of boutique hotel with serviced apartments to attract both short- and long-stay guests – often corporate clientele on business in the area. “We also conceptualised The Grillroom, which was the first of its kind in Ghana – an elegant à la carte restaurant with an upmarket bar, pool terrace and lounge offering guests a first-hand experience of social life in Accra. Together with the Lurra Spa, this helped position Fiesta Residences as a capital city destination.”
Seaman attributes their success in Ghana to an in-depth knowledge of the operational nuances of hospitality in Africa, as well as strong business relationships. “We manage and develop independent hotels by working hand in hand with owners and developers, helping them realise their dream for a hotel that will make a meaningful contribution to the economy and society, while optimising their investment. “We also have a deep understanding of the diversity of local markets and believe in a ‘one-size-fits-one’ approach. As such, everything we do, from concept through to guest experience, is intentionally individualised, based on what the market requires and what niches we have identified.”
A unique ethos and approach
Index Hotels has made their mark with their ‘one-size-fits-one’ approach on home ground in South Africa as well, coupled with a holistic approach to hospitality management. “Where many hotel management companies focus purely on hotel beds, we look beyond this at unique food and beverage offerings and a diversity of accommodation, such as serviced apartments, bungalows and villas,” says Seaman. “Also, lifestyle venues such as our spas, and our flagship Enoteca, a wine showcase experience at Le Grand Domaine in Stellenbosch.
“Offering heartfelt hospitality remains our whole orientation. Hospitality is a catalyst for creating communities and people are hungry for that sense of belonging. Ultimately, I see us as community builders, and that, too, is a unique approach in this industry,” he points out.
Finally, and importantly for tourism in Africa, Seaman stresses that their focus has always been on developing and growing local economies. “This is particularly important given the tourism revenue leakages that have been reported on recently. The figures show that for every US$100 a tourist from a developed country spends in a developing country, only around US$5 remains in that local economy. I believe this advocates for more independent local hotels and is one of the reasons why Index, as an African hotel management company, has been making strides. Our distribution model and revenue optimisation specifically focus on better yields for local hotels by reducing the cost of distributing room inventory, and also conversions to bookings,” he concludes.