The American University, Hotel in Yola, Adamawa State, may not be located in big city like Lagos or Abuja. However hotel is carving a niche for itself in the hospitality sector with its unique features. In an interview with journalists, including Omolola Itayemi at the just concluded Akwaaba African Travel Market in Lagos, the General Manager of the hotel, Amine Saad, speaks on why the hotel is unique in Nigeria, and challenges
Tell us about AUN hotel.
Our hotel is surprisingly located in Yola, at the American University of Nigeria Yola campus. We have 58 rooms, including six suites, very classy rooms well designed; we have local designs from Yola here for all our rooms. The hotel facilities include the club, two tennis courts, two swimming pools, a gym. On November 19, we are going to celebrate our founder’s day.
We are also celebrating the opening of a new restaurant called Jabama. Jabama is a Fulani word which means welcome. This beautiful restaurant has capacity for 140 people. We also have a very beautiful coffee shop, we call it Keke Caffè; we have a lounge, bar and a very beautiful lobby.
The American University of Nigeria is playing a very big role in the North East of the country; that is why it is the first African development university. All our students and faculty are involved in community works which we do frequently, same for our staff. All our facilities are designed like a hospitality school where student can learn their courses, from their training rooms and go for their practical on ground.
Yola is one of the volatile areas in northern Nigeria. How do you handle the problem of insecurity?
I have lived in Yola for five years now. We have never had any problem or any security issue. I don’t know of Bornu and other places in the North-East. I came from Lebanon and is a very small country. Adamawa is bigger than my country, believe me in Lebanon we have much more problem than we have in Adamawa.
For the past five years, we never have any security challenge. I drive myself early in the morning and late in the evening. Many Nigerians students live on campus. AUN has been there for the past twelve years, same for staff and faculty. We have staff and faculty from 36 different countries. We have been here; we live together and so there is security challenge here.
Are there plans to have the hotel in other parts of the country?
Yes, if you succeed in Yola as a hotel, you will succeed everywhere, and we thank God we have been doing very fine for the past five years. The company is expanding and definitely, there would be opportunity for expansion to other states.
What are the challenges of managing a hotel like this one in Yola?
When I came to Yola, it was a very big challenge. If I want to go to the market, I cannot find all I need for the hotel. We have the challenge of power. We run most of the time on generators. Diesel supply is always not regular. The major challenge is that of bad perception about this part of the country, which is not true because I lived here and I know people who live here and have stayed here for many years.
How affordable is the hotel
Our rates are very affordable compared to Abuja and Lagos. Our classic rooms start from N28, 000 including taxes and the buffet breakfast.
What is the distance of the hotel to the Yola International Airport?
The distance of the hotel to the Yola International Airport is about 20 minutes.
Where do you get your patronage?
You may not believe me, for the first five years, we have guests from all over the world, from BBC, CNN, Aljazera, US Embassy and the EU. All the state governors have stayed in our hotel. Four months ago, we had 34 governors who stayed in our hotel at the same time.
What is your unique selling point.If you are looking for luxury, security, Internet, WiFi access all over, spa, swimming pool, tennis courts; if you play squash, or you are looking for a good service, AUN Hotel is where you must go.
Ilora Day 2016
Ilora is an ancient town that has metamorphosed into a metropolitan town in Oyo State due to her stability over the ages.
Historical facts and records showed that Ilora was founded by a famous hunter called Akibio between 15th and 16th centuries, settled at a place called Igbo-oro now at the back of the present location of Akibio palace.
In celebration of the town, all sons and daughters of Ilora both at home and diaspora, their descendants, families, friends, well-wishers gathered for the annual event to celebrate another blissful “Ilora Day 2016” and the launching of N100 million development appeal fund at Akibio Secondary School ground, Oke-Isanmi, Ilora last Saturday, November 12, 2016.
Welcoming the guests, Chairman, Ilora Day 2016 Planning Committee, Kadiri Wasiu said that Ilora had witnessed unparalleled development within the short time that His Royal Majesty, Oba Stephen Olufemi Oyeniyi, Oparinde II came to the throne as Akibio of Ilora.
Kadiri commended the wife of Oyo State Governor, Florence Ajimobi for the provision of health centre in Ilora as one of the beneficiary of her Access to Basic Health Care programme.
The Chairman, Ilora Development Association, Deacon Kayode Ajayi charged invited guests and indigenous of the town to come together to take Ilora to a greater height irrespective of social, economic and religious diversities.
Speaking on the leadership qualities of Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the monarch, Oba Oyeniyi described Alaafin as someone who has special interest in the affairs of Ilora town generally.
At the launching of the N100 million development appeal fund, the family of Aribisa in Ilora donated 2 hectares of land worth N4 million to the town and presented the signed documents on the land.
The Lacasera Company, Grand Oak Ltd and Airtel were among the major sponsors of the Ilora Day 2016 event.