By Jimoh Babatunde

There seems to be friction between the owners of Abuja Sheraton Hotel, and the international hospitality management group managing the property before now, Marriott International.NIPCO Plc,  a key downstream operator in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, recently acquired the majority share of the hotel through its subsidiary, 22 Hospitality Limited, to the become the new owner.

After the acquisition, the new owner revealed plans to close down the hotel for renovations.
A statement issued by the spokesman of NIPCO Plc, Alhaji Lawal Taofeek, quoted the Group Executive Director of the company, Alhaji Aminu Abdulkadir, as saying that the new investors are desirous of restoring the hotel to its former glory of being the first-choice luxury hotel in Abuja.

According to Aminu, this strategic drive is also aimed at making the hotel carve a niche for itself by becoming a leading hospitality firm offering premium services to customers, in accordance with global standards.

But Marriott International is kicking against the move as it said closing the hotel now will cost lots of distress to workers, suppliers, and guests.

Marriott, in a statement, yesterday,  said the decision to close down the hotel in a matter of days was ‘hurried’.

An unsigned press release by Marriott spokesperson said: “The owners of the Sheraton Abuja Hotel have informed us that they intend to close the hotel in a matter of days.

“Whilst we acknowledge that the owners need to carry out significant renovation works at the Hotel, we have objected to the closure on such short notice.

“We are concerned that the hurried manner of such closure will cause distress to hotel employees, and significant disruption to guests, suppliers and partners.

“After more than 30 years managing this iconic Abuja property, we are now working with the HAPSSSA and NUHPSW unions to support the 291 hotel employees impacted by this rushed closure.”

Abuja Sheraton Hotel, built at the cost of $300m by the Federal Government of Nigeria  in 1982, was sold for $34m  in 1986. The $34 million was said to represent Federal Government’s 51 per cent equity in the hotel.

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