From just a little town renowned only for its smithing activities, Awka has gradually become a name in the hospitality industry in Nigeria, with prospects of taking over the hospitality business in the whole of South-East Nigeria
Awka, the capital of Anambra State, South-East Nigeria, located almost mid-way between the two big cities of Onitsha and Enugu, has over the years grown into a big city, and has now become a name to be reckoned with in the hospitality industry in Nigeria.
Awka’s rise to prominence began in 1991 when the old Anambra State, comprising the present-day Anambra, Enugu, and parts of Ebonyi State, with its capital at Enugu, was split into Anambra and Enugu States. Anambra itself was originally part of the old East Central State, consisting of the five states of what is now known as South-Eastern Nigeria. In 1976, the old East Central State was split into Imo and Anambra States, and both existed side by side until 1991 when the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida created additional states in Nigeria, taking away Enugu from old Anambra.
With this development, Enugu city automatically became the capital of the newly created Enugu State while Awka, until then only renowned for its smithing activities, became the capital of the new Anambra State.
This new status greatly buoyed the emergence of Awka as a city. In less than no time, individuals, businesses, and corporate organisations began to cluster there. With this too, Awka instantly became an ancillary town to the commercial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi, and even Enugu.
Development attracts further development. So it was that with the congregation of individual and corporate businesses, civil servants, as well as financial institutions like banks in Awka, the hospitality industry too began to boom. As all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, workers and other individuals within Awka and its immediate environs, plus numerous other people who had one or two businesses to transact, needed places to relax, or just to pass the night in the case of travellers, and the emerging hospitality industry in Awka was handy to provide these needs.
So, from just a few manageable guest houses in 1991, Awka has increased in leaps and bounds. Today, virtually every corner of the city is dotted with gigantic structures as hotels, guest houses and suites, most of which boast of state-of-the-art facilities like tastefully-furnished rooms, swimming pools and exquisite pool sides, other recreation facilities like lawn tennis pitch, gym and aerobics equipment, amusement park for kids, table tennis and volleyball pitch, among others. Many of them also have nite-clubbing facilities for night crawlers.
Some of these hotels and suites include Tourist Garden Hotels and Suites (located along Awka-Enugu Expressway), Mano Hotel, De Exchequers Hotel, Cosmilla Suites and Hotels, King David Garden and Suites, Queens Hotels, Hyton Hotels, Mercy-En Hotels, De Limit Hotels and Suites, Irish Garden Suites, Golphins Suites and Hotels, Parktonian Hotel, White View Hotel (located at Ifite Road, new Nnamdi Azikiwe University), De Olde English Hotel (purportedly owned by the erstwhile governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige), Palos Verdes Hotel (located at Iyi-Agu Estate, Awka), Brownsville Hotel and Suites, Numac Hotels Limited, Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn, Century Guest House, Lake View Rendezvous, Grand Riviera Hotel, Malikwu Suites and Spa, Desires and Leisure Hotels Limited, J.Jumac Hotels and Towers, Basino Hotels and Tourist Village, among others.
There are also a good number of fast food joints and exquisite kitchens that serve a variety of mouth-watering African, continental and Oriental dishes, as well as numerous local delicacies like Nkwobi, Isiewu, Ugba, Abacha, and so on, as well as assorted drinks, including unadulterated nkwu enu (fresh palm wine). Some of these include Phronesia Afican Kitchen, Crunchies Fried Chicken, Next Level Restaurant and Bar, MacDons Fast Foods (just off Arroma Junction, by High Tension), Bejoy Centre Point (Arroma Junction), Gelly’s Garden (Arroma Junction), Mr Biggs, Doris Kitchen, Bamboo Garden, among others. These places also provide excellent gardens and relaxation spots.
Awka also enjoys some level of serenity, without the regular do-or-die hustle and bustle of many a Nigerian city. For this reason, it serves as a buffer zone for businessmen, corporate individuals and others resident in the rather noisome commercial and industrial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Enugu. Because many of these people work tirelessly from Monday to Friday, at the weekends, they usually look out for places to relax, unwind, and get away from the madness of commerce that characterise their daily living. But it is not only Enugu, Onitsha and Nnewi that Awka serves; it also serves people from other states of the South-East as well as other parts of Nigeria.
With all this in place, Awka is no doubt set to compete favourably with, or even surpass the records already set by Owerri, the Imo State capital, which had a headstart in the hospitality industry, and where the governor, Ikedi Ohakim, has boasted to have upped the number of hotel rooms from 2,300 in 2007 to 10,800 in 2010, or even Enugu, which emergence as a city dates back to the discovery of coal in the town in the early years of the twentieth century.
So, when next you have a reason to be in Anambra, or in any part of the South-East for that matter, please do not be in a haste to leave. Stop over at Awka and experience true hospitality, the brand which Awka alone can offer. The taste of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. Welcome!