Elakamah: Business of Wellness Will Change with Our Natural Sauna Centre

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Lance Musa Elakamah, former Deputy Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange is set to commence business in his company’s natural artesian and sauna centre. He tells Raheem Akingbolu the idea is turning nature’s gift to a veritable business opportunity

Health Resort as Business Opportunity…
While many have not seen it as a major business, or perhaps for the rich and affluent, the idea of a wellness centre as a business and therapy centre might have a new and different look with the impending opening of the Lasena Artesian Natural Steam Bath Sauna and Wellness Centre. But it is deeper than that. According to Musa Lance Elakamah, the owner of the centre and former deputy director-general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, the idea is beyond just having sauna centre but looking at the whole gamut of health and relaxation business. According to him, it is not just enough for people to come and have a steam bath and then return home but also important to see that it improves their lives and the health while the increasing the bottom line of his own business.
When THISDAY visited the site recently, Elakamah said the delay in opening the place for business was because he was looking for investors. Sources close to the lawyer turned businessman informed THISDAY that he is a kind of businessman who has an unusual aversion for bank loans. But he said despite initial challenges of funds, the place would soon be ready for business. He said nature has done the greater part of the job while what is left for him was to complete the remaining part of it: which is exploiting the gift of nature for the benefit of mankind and for his own business opportunities.

Natures Gift…
The idea of the sauna did not come to Elakamah by accident. It was his own way of maximising the gift of nature, which he stumbled upon. Explaining how he got to the point of turning the natural artesian water into a business venture, he said he had set up a plastic factory with the aim of producing plastic bottles for other bottled water producers. Considering that a bottle was being sold for a paltry N10, he toyed with the idea of his company going into the business of bottled water. It was when he dug a borehole for this that he discovered he had been standing on top of raw gift of nature in the name of natural artesian water which was rushing out of the soil at over 70 degrees centigrade. When asked how he felt when he first discovered the water, he simply said: “we all ran away.”
It was after this he summoned the courage to come back and took a sample of the water to know its properties. He said the first place he went to was the University of Ibadan, in Oyo State.

“The first place we went to was University of Ibadan to see one Dr. Adeleke, head of department of pharmacy. We sent samples to him and he discovered that the water had a lot of minerals. He discovered that it was purely alkaline water. Water can either be acidic, neutral or alkaline. Neutral has a ph of 7. Anything below 7 is acidic while anything beyond 7 is alkaline. And ours is 7.8 which is the real alkaline level the human body needs. Even too much alkaline is not good; it must be in the right proportion of between 7.2 to 8.5 and we are in 7.8. And if your body is in good alkaline state, you are healthy as diseases thrive in an acidic environment. So if your body is in alkaline state, your body is healthy and if you are healthy, you are likely to live long. Others can claim it has alkaline by adding artificial materials to it like chlorine and caustic soda, but our water does not have any of that. We call it the gift of Mother Nature to man.”

And now the Sauna…
Elakamah said it was after they started the bottling plant that they discovered they were not even using up to 10 per cent of the water. That was how the idea of a sauna and wellness business came up.
“We are doing the first natural sauna in Africa. You can see that it is almost 90% complete. And you can see the extent of wok on that when I took you round. It will be powered by the natural heat of the water; it won’t be boiled. That will be the first sauna bath house in the whole of Africa. We have in Australia, Czech Republic and the US. But in Africa, ours will be the first where you come and have a complete wellness centre. It will be a complete hydro-therapy centre. It will be wellness of the body, soul and mind.”

He showed THISDAY round the facilities which included a restaurant and massage centre. The structures were constructed in such a way that after the steam sauna bath, all a patron of the place needs to do is to go to the massage centre where there trained masseurs are waiting to attend to him or her.
Explaining further, he said the other saunas all over the place are either powered by Infrared, artificial heating or electrical heating via the furnace.

“What you have is not mineral water. Yes, it is hot but the heat is generated mechanically. You cannot compare that sauna with one that is powered by natural heat with a lot of mineral resources that will enter the pores in your body and heal you. I am not saying the artificial ones are not good, but they are not natural. What I am saying is that this will be the first natural sauna in Africa. So I implore Nigerians to come and see and take the advantage of what nature has freely given us.”

A Whole Wellness Business Centre…
Part of the wellness centre was also a block of chalets which, according to Elakamah, would be for customers that want to come with the families and stay overnight. He explained that for nature to have blessed his company with the natural artesian water, what is left is to exploit the business opportunities that go with it.
“That is why we want to change the face of the business health resort and wellness. We might be bragging that we have the number one natural artesian water in the whole of Africa and hence, the first outfit to provide natural sauna bath. But what will endear us to our patrons is the way we go about the business of making their visit to the place a worthwhile experience. And that is why we are leaving nothing to chance as we get set to open for business.”

Perhaps, what many do not see as a viable business idea might well turn out to be a gold mine for this man who likes to call himself the curator. And when asked why that title, his answer was simple:
“I am the only one who knows the history of this place. Just like a curator knows the history of every artifact in a museum.”