Nicole Plaatjies is the general manager Proof Lounge Hotel, a new boutique outfit in Lagos. As a woman who combines brain with beauty and functioning very well in the hospitality sector, she is confident that women will prove their mettle in the sector currently dominated by men. Speaking at the sidelines of the recent Akwaaba Travel Market, Nicole expressed confidence on the growing profile of the hospitality sector in Nigeria insisting that the boutique hotels, like stop-gaps have a realtime role to play in the emerging industry that is attracting a lot of investment and growing very rapidly. She sees this as a sign that the future of hospitality is great and concluding that the role it will play is to create jobs for the youth and boost the economy. Excerpts..
What is boutique hotel?
A boutique hotel is a small hotel which typically has between 10 and 100 rooms in unique settings with upscale accommodations and individualized unique selling points, like good food, accommodation and service. Boutique hotels began appearing in the 1980s in major cities like London, New York and San Francisco. Two of the first boutique hotels in the world opened their doors to the public in 1981: The Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London and the Bedford in Union Square, San Francisco. Although there is some quibbling as to whether it was the first boutique hotel ever, Morgans, in New York City, is the most notable of the era; it debuted in 1984. A trend observed in recent times is for international hotel chains to establish luxury boutique sub-brands to capitalize on the growth of this segment, now a major feature of the hospitality sector all over the world.
How well is the segment doing in Nigeria?
Vey well. In the last two decades, boutique hotels have appeared in various cities in Nigeria, to capture the mid-level spenders and those consumers that desire exclusivity and great ambience. Many boutique hotels are furnished in a themed, stylish and or aspirational manner. The popularity of the boutique concept has prompted some multi-national hotel companies to try to capture this market share. In the United States, New York City remains an important centre for boutique hotels clustered about Manhattan. Some members of the hospitality industry are following the general “no-frill chic” consumer trend, with affordable or budget boutique hotels being created all around the world. They are also found in resort destinations with exotic amenities such as electronics, spas, yoga and painting classes. In major cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri etc, there is a growing profile of this class of hotel and it is impacting positively on the hospitality sector with its unique offering.
Is boutique same as budget hotel?
No. Hotel operations vary in size, function, complexity, and cost. Most hotels and major hospitality companies have set industry standards to classify hotel types. An upscale full-service hotel facility offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, an on-site restaurant and the highest level of personalized service, such as a concierge room service and clothes pressing staff . Full service hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with many full-service accommodations, an on-site full-service restaurant and a variety of on-site amenities. Boutique hotels are smaller, independent, non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities. Small to medium-sized hotel establishments offer a limited amount of on-site amenities. Economy hotels, or budget, are small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer basic accommodations with little to no services. Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized hotels that offer longer-term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership involving ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage. A motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Boutique hotels are typically hotels with a unique environment or intimate setting. A number of hotels have entered the public consciousness through popular culture, such as the Ritz Hotel in London. Some hotels are built specifically as a destination in itself, for example at casinos and holiday resorts.
So how do you classify Proof Lounge?
Proof Lounge hotel is an independently owned boutique hotel which opened in 2017. Proof Lounge gives you cozy accommodation, very competitive pricing and great service. Our mission is to provide outstanding lodging facilities and services to our guests. That’s why we focus on individual, business, leisure travels, corporate companies, government clients, as well as travels associated with group meetings and conferences in line with the new tourism trend of MICE. We emphasize high quality standards in our rooms, food and beverage division. In Nigeria, we want to be seen as one of the best boutique hotels by anticipating, meeting and exceeding our guest expectations. Through our passion, integrity and customer focus, we want the Proof Lounge to be the most outstanding hotel in Lagos, with a warm and friendly team, dedicated to memorable, personalized services, thus providing our guests true African hospitality.
What’s your niche?
We provide excellent service in an atmosphere of high luxury, hospitality, relaxation with respect for the environment. Located in the Lekki hub of Lagos, the hotel and lounge has 19 bedrooms that are tastefully furnished and equipped with high speed internet and a fully serviced mini- bar. We are at 8, Rafiat Ayinke Tinudu Close, Oniru (in between FCMB and Ebeano supermarket). This property is perfect for the business traveler or leisure seeker who wants to rejuvenate and for government officials who seek a tranquil environment to recoup. At Proof hotel we render various kinds of services, ranging from several unique dining experiences at the restaurants, headed by new concepts from our experienced chefs. The hotel’s dining offers comprehensive cuisine and various drinks.
“Our restaurant serves assorted Nigerian cuisine and international dishes. Our Bar and Lounge offer the perfect setting to sip on a top-shelf whiskey, a glass of fine champagne or a quick cocktail after a hard day’s work. The rooms are cozy and made up of Blaise, Noble and Chubby, designed with magnificent bathroom with showers and baths reflecting the latest in design and technology. Our rooms exude comfort, in fact it is the perfect home away from home. The security network is water tight with constant surveillance, and both mobile police men and our security men are fully covered with surveillance cameras and electric fencing. Planted at the topmost floor of the hotel, the VIP Lounge is in a class of its own. The VIP Lounge hosts a collection of rare and artisan spirits, wines and champagnes curated by our award-wining bar team. Their alchemy with these top-shelf drinks and fresh kitchen produce, creates seasonal menus of cleverly crafted signature cocktails, remaining the best in the business.”
What’s the future hospitality in Nigeria?
The future is great, with a lot of investments going on, Nigeria’s hospitality sector is booming and that is good news for stakeholders in the travel business. Thousands of jobs will be created, and the economy will enjoy a win-win situation. There is no sector that is more sustainable than tourism, not even oil.