Epe, an ancient town located within the Lagos East Senatorial District, is endowed with rich history and huge economic and tourism potentials dating back to the colonial era in Nigeria.
Part of its rich history is the fact that it houses a host of historic landmarks, including the first-ever post office in Nigeria, the second oldest sea port in the country, the second police station in the country, and the first comprehensive college in Lagos state, among others.
Epe, over the years, has also maintained its natural endowment. However, the full potentials of the coastal community had in the past decade remained untapped and largely unexploited.
But in the last two years, the once sleepy time is buzzing and bubbling again. Since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office on May 29, 2015, Epe, like many other communities in the state, has gotten attention from the government.
From road rehabilitation and construction to upgrade of healthcare facilities, as well as the Light Up Lagos initiative, Epe is fast becoming a new construction site.
There is also the ongoing massive Lagoon reclamation under the Epe Marina project which is fashioned after the Dubai Marina, and the primary goal is to facilitate the development of the area and give a quantum leap to the tourism potentials of the state.
But Governor Ambode, who coincidentally hails from Epe, gladly tells anyone who cares to listen that the infrastructural renewal-drive going on in Epe has only just started. With the series of ongoing projects, Epe is fast emerging as a new haven for investors and tourists alike.
With its proximity to Lekki, with the Free Trade Zone that houses the ongoing Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Projects, the Lekki Deep Sea Port and the Lekki International Airport, among other multifaceted projects, the corridor is set to welcome thousands of visitors for business and pleasure, and on the long run, portends greater prosperity for Epe residents and its environs.
Governor Ambode is not oblivious of this. This, perhaps, may have informed the construction of the Jubilee Chalet in Epe, a cozy resort built in a serene environment with a view of the lagoon, a secure neighbourhood for guests to rest from the hustle and bustle of the Lagos metropolis.
The facility, which used to be a reserved VIP Chalet hosting government functions, was before now in a state of total neglect, but it has since been transformed by the Ambode administration to a modern tourist destination offering a unique experience for relaxation, meetings, events, and so on.
Sitting on a vast area of land in the heart of the community, the Jubilee Chalet presents a perfect blend of comfort, relaxation in a natural habitat infused to meet up with international standards.
The facility, built by the State Government, has 72 rooms with four executive suites, an ultra-modern conference hall, a large meeting room that can sit more than 100 guests, as well as a modern restaurant.
It also boasts of a standard swimming pool, Tennis Court, football field, gymnasium, a bar and a party area.
At the commissioning of the Chalet recently, Governor Ambode said his administration thought it wise to expand the old Government VIP Chalet built by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration, in line with its objective to strategically reposition the town to take maximum advantage of the economic benefits of the huge investment activities in and around Lekki Free Trade Zone.
Present at the inauguration were an array of guests, including party leaders, members of the House of Assembly, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other stakeholders in the hospitality industry.
He said beyond the Jubilee Chalet, his administration was taking deliberate actions to promote tourism, leisure and recreation, including the construction and upgrading of road projects in Epe, adding that ongoing Epe Marina project would soon wear a new look.
â€œAs we are changing the face of Epe, we are doing the same thing in Badagry, in a twin-pronged approach to promote tourism in the State. The Government VIP Chalets in Badagry is currently being rehabilitated and will be commissioned early next year. Work is also going on at the Badagry Marina to prepare it for the investors and tourists that the Badagry Deep Sea port will attract,â€ the Governor said.
Ambode also said that aside enhancing the tourism potential of the Epe axis, the facility would provide employment opportunities for different categories of individuals and companies, boost economic activities in the community, as well as generate additional revenue into the state coffers.
â€œThe Jubilee Chalet and Epe town are ready for you. This facility is not only for tourists but also for corporate institutions looking for a serene location for their retreats and all Nigerians looking for vacation spots within the country. I assure you all that this facility will deliver services that will surpass your expectations and someday be ranked amongst the best hospitality properties in Africa,â€ he said.
To ensure the smooth running and maintenance of the facility, the Governor said it would be managed by MP Hotels, an internationally acclaimed firm in the hospitality industry, and that it would be charged to deliver world-class services and create wealth for the state and all stakeholders.
Managing Director of MP Hotels, Bruce Prins said the concept behind the establishment of the Chalets was far-reaching and the benefits could not be over emphasised.
â€œI think it is a very good thing that the government is investing first of all in hospitality industry and infrastructure development for its people because building is something that creates job opportunities and it contributes to the economy, especially to Epe as a town because contrary to popular belief, Epe is larger than people think it is but yet it has the rural distinctiveness that makes it very nice for relaxing,â€ Prins said.
For Prins, the beautiful view of the lagoon also adds to the aesthetics of the facility and gives guests the opportunity to savour the aquatic splendor of Epe.
â€œAs a result, the Chalet can attract both leisure by individual people who want to get away from the busy life of the city or it can also attract companies who want to do small retreat. We basically categorise this Chalet as a mid-level or mid-scale hotel and with that, it is more affordable for majority of companies and individual people. It has elements of luxury but it is affordable,â€ he said.
Prins is also confident that the mere fact that the facility is located close to the waterfront with an amazing view would be a major selling point to be considered by guests who would crave for more than just a roof over their heads.
In his words: â€œThe facility is very serene and it is unlike living on the island which is very noisy and very hectic. Here is relatively calm and once the waterfront project ongoing is completed, the waterfront visitors will also like to come here.
â€œEpe is outside of Lagos and itâ€™s a quiet place. So, what we are selling is the experience that people will have with us when they visit us at Jubilee Chalet, Epe. Itâ€™s a serene environment with natural features,â€ he said.
Aside the facilities at the Chalet, there is also a water fountain, good road network and expansive packing areas within the premises of the Chalets, while effective security arrangement has also been made to guarantee safety of guests.
The Jubilee Chalet, Epe, according to the government was just one out of several models to be built across the state as it intends to build such facilities in other locations.
With the Jubilee Chalet now open for business, visitors and tourists alike have a viable alternative for a one-stop relaxation centre that would provide a luxury treat, home away from home and a unique experience in a natural habitat.