HARDLEY Apartments, the sealed hotel of former soccer star and Africa’s pride, Kanu Nwankwo, on Waziri Ibrahim, Victoria Island (Lagos), is truly troubled.
Apart from being sealed by Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), on Monday, August 3, 2015, for air and noise pollution, it has been experiencing difficult and challenging times in the last few years.
The boutique hotel which began on a beautiful note in 2005, clinched its space as a fabulous fun spot and first rate arena to spend your day and night. With 55 rooms –including a pent house and five suites –Hardley Apartments was once valued at over N3 billion.
And during the good times, before recession and a spate of hurried decisions, it grossed over N30 million monthly.
“During the boom, we had block booking by banks and oil companies,” one of the insiders volunteered.
“The hotel was well maintained, the interior bespoke and fanciful but functional –and it was a joy to work there.
“There were two brand new generators. One of them was a 600 KVA gen which cost about N40 million.”
Another source claimed, “The swimming pool and lounge where you could host events was out of this world. The lounge was sound proof. And the restaurant was well managed.”
The boom reportedly lasted many years, with the boutique hotel making good money along the way. There were almost 100 staffers keeping the spot running well at this period.
But with the recession and slide in hospitality industry came more challenges worsened by a spate of hurried decisions and changes.
One source maintained: “Interference in the running of the business was a major contributor to the slide in the hotel. And with interference came a series of hurried decisions, encouraged by lack of understanding of the terrain and bad management.”
Once maintenance was largely ignored, many things started going wrong. And with dwindling income, the slide could hardly be arrested.
The two new generators ‘knocked’, and the replacement was the one that contravened Lagos laws on air and noise pollution. The noise and air pollution were so bad that part of the hotel walls was blackened.
And neighbours, including Corona School and Cash Madam (Alhaja Adebisi Odionsere) could hardly enjoy their day and night.
Loud music reportedly boomed from the hotel’s swimming pool without consideration for neighbours.
The air pollution, black smoke, posed a danger, especially to children of Corona School. And complaints, ignored for many months by the hotel, eventually led to its closure by LASEPA.
When Hardley Apartments was sealed on Monday, August 3, some of the staffers were still inside the hotel, and they had to scale the fence.
The slide in maintenance culture, coupled with low sales (which fell to half of its income in good times) and the change in culture led to many people who had no business inside the hotel prancing about. And this move further drove many corporate customers away.
Staff turnover also became a problem –with engagement and disengagement the order of the day. And many staffers were given responsibility far above their qualification and experience.
“The staffers are overwhelmed,” an insider sang. “Staff turnover is too high. There’s even one of our staffers in court with management over an issue.
“Now, salary is delayed. And even Kanu (Nwankwo) has not been to Hardley Apartments in many months.
“He needs to find time to look after this investment, if he wants it to succeed,” an old staffer told us.
“Kanu shouldn’t allow this investment, this once beautiful and glamorous hotel to lose all the glamour and struggle.
“Hardley Apartments can be saved with good management.”
LASEPA CONFIRMS RE-OPENING OF HARDLEY APARTMENTS
Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency confirmed on Sunday, August 9, 2015, that Hardley Apartments was re-opened two days after the sealing over contravention of air and noise pollution laws.
The boutique hotel was re-opened on Thursday, August 6, 2015, with a promise that the generator causing the pollution be replaced this week. And a fine of N500,000 was imposed and paid.
Olori Tokunbo Eko, LASEPA’s public relations officer, said the hotel was re-opened after its management signed an understanding to stop the noise and air pollution emanating from its generator.
Hardley Apartments was given a 7-day ultimatum to either replace the old generator or eliminate its air and noise pollution. This is in addition to cleaning the surrounding walls blackened by the smoke.
When we spoke with Hardley Apartments’ company director, Mrs. Darugo, on Saturday, August 8, 2015, and she corroborated that it has been re-opened.
“The issue has been resolved,” she told us. “You can always get additional information from the hotel’s reception.”