Ikogosi, the hub in the tourism corridor of Ekiti state with a waterfall about ten kilometers ahead in Ipole-iloro and religious tourism hills in Erio-ekiti offers an arguably rich blend of interesting places. Currently under rehabilitation, Ikogosi is transforming into a prime world-class resort in its bid to retain its status as be a prime tourism spot. OMOLOLA ITAYEMI writes
Ikogosi Warm Springs and Resort natural attractions has as much allure as its history. Though yet to be verified, these myths run whole gamut, from wives of the same husband turning into warm and cold springs to a hunter discovering the spring on a hunting expedition.
Scientists on the other hand, give the possible and plausible explanation that the deeper a body of water goes underground, the hotter it becomes and if by chance it is forced back to the surface through some earth fault, the temperature will be relatively high.
Like any natural wonder, it has its own devotees, mostly members of the immediate community who swear by the healing and therapeutic nature of the warm water.
Over the years, its allure diminished with the neglect it suffered from previous administrations, despite its good start with the Baptist mission, which established a youth and conference centre and other conveniences on a hill adjacent to the warm spring area, attracting both local and foreign tourists in the 50’s.
However in 1978, Ondo State acquired it from Baptist Mission putting in a few infrastructures before the resort centre was acquired from them by Ekiti State government after it was carved out of Ondo state. It however, suffered a lull as until the administration of Kayode Fayemi started the rehabilitation process in July 2011.
Like any work site under construction, workers and equipments common to construction sites were strewn all over but that didn’t take a shine away from Ikogosi as its rich fauna, rolling hills and awesome view are still stunning. Coupled with the serenity that comes with areas like this, Ikogosi is the perfect getaway for couples, retreats and meditations especially with the chaotic lifestyle presently imbibed by many.
Part of Ikogosi’s attraction is the quaint colonial buildings dotted all over adding to its picturesque aesthetic. In other climes, such buildings would have been done away with during such rehabilitations, but not Ikogosi who prides itself as a historic location. Hence, retaining most of the things naturally habitat to it without losing the essence of their uniqueness such as the chapel.
The rooms have been redesigned to meet international standards, 3 to 5 star to hostel accommodations (24 units for educational purposes such as excursion trips from school). There will be internet availability, ample car parking space, shopping malls, amphi-theatre, good road network, security with CCTV, security gadgets and personnel, warehouses, laundry, restaurants and all other amenities that make up a world-class resort.
The newly refurbished resort is also keying into business tourism with its big amphitheatre and conference halls.
The resort will be managed by Mantis known for their expertise in tourism development in resorts and wildlife parks. With over thirty year experience, Mantis has brought their experience to bear. According to John Dixon, the general manager Mantis Collection, ‘I certainly think that what is key in tourism is location and Ikogosi springs resort is in a beautiful location. Our vision is to make it a first-class resort with adjourning nature reserve. We’ve seen the sincerity of purpose of Ekiti government. I’m impressed with the passion of every member of the government team. Part of our mandate is to train and manage members of the community in helping to run the resort, only the top executives will be south Africans, the remaining work force will be Nigerians. We know this is part of the multiplying effect of tourism and will work towards it,’ he said.
The first phase, which is the development of the Mc Gee Camp (named after the Baptist missionary that built the chapel) the 3-star area, JKF Chalets (32 rooms), the Warm Spring site, the Western Chalets and the Villa, which will be amongst those completed and opened to the public in October. This phase will be offering a total of 100-room accommodation catering for different category of tourists.
Shedding more light on this, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Tourism Development, Sesan Obidiran is going to be in three phases. ‘At the Mc Gee Camp, we are expecting about 24 rooms with a bunk for 48 students. At the villa, we met four and we are adding eight to make 12, which is for the VIPs, while the western chalet is for the choice category.’
‘The McGee camp also has the conference centre which can sit 300 guests, the shopping mall, the business centre, restaurant, bar, music centre and a chapel for the religious tourists.“At the back of the Mc Gee camp is the amphitheatre where people can hold various forms of events and social functions. This is served by a big well paved motor–park,’ he revealed.
At the Warm spring site, the old swimming pool has given way to the new one with a fountain, dressing room, toilets and a restaurant. Also new is a track for nature trail within the forest
On the cost and management of the site, Ibidiran revealed: “It is being wholly financed by the Ekiti State government and the place will be managed by the Mantis group from South Africa. In fact, the official of the Mantis Group is on ground to see that the structures and facilities are well planted so that what the government is expending 135 billion naira on will not only worth it but come out beautifully to justify the investment.”
By Omolola Itayemi
This article was first published in This Day on 4 August, 2012.
Saturday, May 18 2013, 7:40 pm
As long as we have the unemployed, the hungry and the desperate, a hapless citizenry would always be exploited by the manipulators of difference, secure in the knowledge that there would be foot soldiers to take their war to the street. —
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