The managers of Sheraton Hotel Abuja, Marriott International, have expressed displeasure over closure of operations of the hotel by its owners, Capital Hotels Plc.
Mr Richard Collins, Area Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa for Marriott International, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
While regretting the inconveniences, the Marriott management reiterated its commitment to the wellbeing of its staff.
“We are deeply concerned with the decision taken by the owners of the Sheraton Abuja Hotel, to close the hotel within a short time frame, causing unnecessary distress to employees and significant disruption to guests, suppliers and other partners.
“We disagree with the manner in which the owners, Capital Hotels Plc, have hurried the decision to close the hotel, without making sufficient arrangements for the 291 hotel employees, some of which have worked at this iconic property for many decades.
“The wellbeing of hotel employees is our first priority and we will continue to do our best to support them during this difficult period,’’ Collins said.
Meanwhile, a statement by management of Capital Hotels Plc (CHP), stated that the hotel union members protested against Marriott for the non-payment of their severance packages as agreed.
It said the protest was also for other issues bordering on safety standards due to the degraded state of the hotel which endangered the lives of employees, guest and the public.
According to the statement, these reasons led to the decision by management of Capital Hotel Plc to temporarily shut down operations to enable them carry out renovations on the hotel.
It stated that the new owners had communicated the decision to temporarily shut down the hotel to Marriott since September.
“The management of the hotel also assured that most of the employees would be reabsorbed upon reopening of the hotel, dowsing the fears of job loss.
“This commitment from the management is in addition to the mouthwatering severance package that the employees would be receiving as a consequence of the temporary closure.
“This development is coming in the wake of the acquisition of majority stake in Capital Hotel plc, owners of the hotel, by 22 Hospitality Limited,’’ it stated.
Similarly, the Group Executive Director, NIPCO, Alhaji Aminu Abdulkadir, had expressed the company’s desire to restore the hotel to its former glory as “first-choice luxury hotel,” in Abuja.
Abdulkadir, in an earlier statement by NIPCO’s spokesman, Alhaji Lawal Taofeek, said the strategic drive was targeted towards making the hotel a leading hospitality firm, offering premium services to customers in accordance with global standards.
“The hotel is currently managed by Starwood/Marriott under various system licence agreements with CHP.
“In the past, Starwood had acknowledged in various reports that the hotel was in a much degraded state and would require hard renovations to make it brand compliant.
“However, despite the hotel’s poor condition and non-compliance with its brand standards, Marriot/Starwood has continued to manage the Sheraton Abuja Hotel, which is currently in a dilapidated and deplorable state,” he explained.
Abdulkadir said as part of commitment to manpower development in the hospitality industry, plans were underway to establish a ‘Hospitality Academy’ in Nigeria.
He said this would be done in collaboration with the Federal Government to train Nigerian youths in various hospitality skill sets.
“This initiative is borne out of the current global shortage of trained and experienced hospitality manpower.
“Indeed, statistics showed that there are currently more than one million job vacancies in housekeeping, waiters, chefs, security, IT and maintenance of the hospitality industry.
“The CHP Hospitality Academy will not only train Nigerians for local employment but will also equip them with the requisite expertise to seek overseas placements to fill the large volume of vacancies in other parts of the world.
“Thereby becoming a veritable recourse in the quest to reduce unemployment in Nigeria,’’ he said.