opinionBy Demola Ojo
The Best Western Hotel brand is the world's largest hotel chain, with over 4,195 hotels in over 100 countries. With roots in the United States, it has over 2,000 hotels in North America alone. However over the years, it has spread its tentacles all over the world and with it, the affordable services that they are known for.
One of the hotel chain's outlets known as The Island Hotel started operations in Victoria Island, Lagos sometime in 2009 as a 142 room property. Fast forward to 2012 and Best Western The Island has - after a brief hiatus - reinvented itself as a leaner 96-room property that has kept its Best Western traditions but with designs for a slightly more upscale market while still keeping rates competitive.
For example, Best Western has a marketing program that involves free Wi-Fi access hotspots in its hotels which is always a bonus. At The Island Hotel, this is not restricted to in-house guests only; you can walk in, have a drink at the bar and get connected.
There are no frills to this hotel. The Wave Restaurant and Bar on the ground floor have a comfortable, homely feel; nothing fancy. The restaurant opens out to an outside terrace where the buffets are served. Breakfast is complimentary to in-house guests. It's a nice touch having a meal in an enclosed, roofless environment and still have the temperature conditioned.
The swimming pool on the first floor was being refurbished at the time of writing this review but should be functional a week from today according to the general manager of the hotel, Graham Barenshe. For the fitness buff however, there is a gym and a rooftop tennis court, a unique addition.
There are plans to add other amenities to the roof of this five-floor hotel; an executive restaurant, bar and lounge is in the works to complement the existing conference room - one of three at the hotel. All have excellent views of the Bar Beach and the Eko Atlantic city under construction. In truth, location is a big draw for this hotel, and you're always tempted to back the elevator doors as they are transparent and offer the same seaside view.
Despite being by the beach, Best Western The Island Hotel is less of a tourist hotel and more of a destination for business travelers. Thus its main selling points are affordable pricing - in some cases as much as half of some of the other famous brands in the Victoria Island-Ikoyi axis - and clean, relatively spacious rooms (the 32-inch flat screen TVs are hung on the wall, creating more space).
It is not a boutique hotel in the strict sense of the word but it is small enough to be intimate; Mr Barensche can sometimes be seen socializing with guests at the restaurant/bar, asking for feedback, which is a nice personal touch. He is relatively new to the hotel; he came on board in July to lead the hotel's reinvention, off the back of seven years managing some other Nigerian hotels in Lagos, Abuja and Eket.
The South African has previous experience of managing hotels in his native South Africa cutting across different star ratings. He seems to have a clear idea of what Best Western The Island Hotel should be: "...nice top of the range three-star hotel, then we progress from there," he said.
If there are any misgivings about the hotel, then it's the fact that it is not the finished article yet, due to refurbishments going on; it is a work in progress. However, if the basics are what you're looking for - clean, modern rooms and reasonably good service at a good price, with the added benefit of a seaside view- then Best Western The Island cuts it.