By the time you read this, the brand new Lagos InterContinental Hotel should have opened.  With almost 360 rooms, it’s the largest internationally-branded in the city, and the views are stunning!  They’re offering an introductory internet rate of US$360 (or ten times that in the Presidential Suite, if you need more space!), which isn’t bad for Lagos.  We’ve been looking forward to the opening for – well, for a couple of years now, and in the same way that other new openings have raised the bar, it’s going to go even higher at the InterContinental.

Now, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, least of all that of Mr Didier Coeln, the General Manager of the hotel, but I have a concern about the impact that the traffic is going to have on that hotel.  In fact, I have a concern about the impact that traffic congestion is having on all the hotels in Lagos, prompted by the fact that I missed my flight again this morning(!).  Not without challenge, I have been telling people that Lagos traffic had got a lot better in the past couple of years.  I take it back, it’s not.  And, I’ve seen a massive increase in traffic in Accra, too, which is taking its toll on some of the non-central hotels, such as those on La beach.

From my house in VI on a Sunday morning to the Southern Sun hotel, which is on the way to the airport, that’s a 15 minute drive, tops.  Took me two hours a couple of weeks ago, on a Friday night going to the airport.  I left almost 6 hours before my flight was due to leave, and I still had to run to ensure I was there before the check-in closed (yes, I had checked in on-line, but at Lagos you still have to physically check in.  Don’t ask).

From my house to the domestic terminal at MMIA in the early morning, 1 hour max.  Nearly 2 hours this morning, hence the missed flight.

The reason for this is simple, it’s rubbish driving, and it will take forever to change the habits of several million drivers.

The InterContinental is on a fairly narrow road, and it just needs one rubbish driver to clog it all up, and you won’t be able to get there, or out again.  The same goes for the Four Points, which suffers from a badly timed traffic light (robot) just outside, and the Southern Sun has the same problem – you can see your darn hotel, but just can’t get there! (yes of course I could walk, but it’s the rainy season…..).

I guess this is a fact of life, economic growth brings more traffic, and as fast as you build new roads (drive the Lekki-Epe Expressway, very smart), the traffic grows faster, and goes slower, and slower.  If you’re travelling to Lagos, and you want to stay at the InterContinental (and you should), leave yourself plenty of time – or buy a helicopter.

 

Trevor Ward

W Hospitality Group, Lagos           

trevor.ward@w-hospitalitygroup.com