After an extended pitch process, Luxury Branding was appointed by Nigerian entrepreneur, Otunba Mike Adenuga, to conceptualise a new ultra-luxury hotel brand for Africa.
The Chairman of Mike Adenuga Group, a private holding company for Equitorial Trust Bank, Conoil and Globacom, a leading African telecommunications company operating in four countries in West Africa, was introduced to Luxury Branding by Clive Shepherd, Chairman of DSA Architects International.
Codenamed “New Vista” hotels, Shepherd had commenced work on designing for Adenuga a 275-key landmark hotel and residential building on Ikoyi Island, Lagos. The client’s intention – evidenced in the design proposed by DSA, was to position this property as nothing less than the “Burj Al Arab” of Africa; an icon of hardware and a new benchmark for hospitality in the region.
Early in the design process, discussions between Shepherd and hotel development specialist James McGee, focused on the merit of Adenuga appointing a branded management company to provide technical services at the very least. However, it didn’t take long for serial entrepreneur Adenuga – who according to credible estimates had become Africa’s second richest man by starting each of his previous enterprises against the odds – to decide to go it alone. Rather than pay marketing and management fees to a global chain brand, he would create his own brand and he would build his own hospitality management school and organisation. He would learn the hard way how to operate to standards that had rarely, if ever, been achieved in Africa.
To support this bold decision, Shepherd introduced Adenuga to an “A-team” of professional advisers of which Luxury Branding was confirmed as a core member alongside DSA, HBA (Inge Moore, now founder of Muza) and James McGee.
Our first task was to design and undertake a pan-African market study to identify the opportunity across the continent for what Adenuga had charged his core team with creating:
“An African brand to rival Four Seasons”.
Based on an extensive primary research exercise, encompassing dozens of stakeholder soundings and multiple site and hotel inspections, Luxury Branding analysed current and future demand for deluxe hotel accommodation across Africa. Using a number of cross-referenced criteria, in addition to Lagos, the following cities were selected as potential locations for the new brand: Luanda (Angola), Gabarone (Botswana), Cairo (Egypt), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Accra (Ghana), Nairobi (Kenya), Casablanca (Morocco), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Lusaka (Zambia).
Next, working closely with Dr Mike and his daughter Bella Disu, an accomplished businesswoman in her own right, we developed “AfriLux”, an inspirational hospitality concept, which was described as where “global refinement meets African heart”.
Hotels of this new brand would become places where global design and refinement would blend harmoniously with authentic African fashion and craft. All to be delivered with that uniquely warming African smile.
With the concept approved and teams mandated to translate the idea into the hotel hardware, software and “Ajose” heartware,
we turned next to naming and designing a brand identity.
From an initial shortlist of 20, seven potential brand names were illustrated through sketch designs and presented to the team in Lagos. Casting his vote with a not entirely surprising gesture of patriarchal fidelity, Dr Mike chose “Bel” as his preferred moniker and so was christened his new brand: “Bel Hotel” from Mike Adenuga Group. The mark was derived from Bella Disu’s signature and incorporated into a distinctive visual identity system.
In 2015, the oil price began to collapse and the project is currently on hold pending a sustained recovery in the price of crude.