Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort: Rebirth of natures paradise 

Travel Hub with Okorie Uguru

Few states in Nigeria can boast of stunning countryside landscapes like Ekiti State. The topography is elevated with hills and mountain ranges creating an undulating green canvas for the eyes.

Driving along Ekiti roads is never straightforward; it is a lesson in twists and turns which is rewarded with a stunning view of hills draped in green.

Nature has been kind to Ekiti State. The land is green; the people are warm and friendly, and they make visitors have a sense of homeliness, and a feeling of security. In Ekiti one feels secure to relax and leave the worries of megacities behind.

However, the destination is Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort recently rebuilt, upgraded, and reinvented.

Thanks to a private investor, Cavista Holdings and managed by an arm of Cavista, Glocient Hospitality managers.

Ikogosi Warm Spring is a thermal miracle of nature gushing warm spring water out of the bowel of the rocks.  It is among the few places in the world where nature creates the extraordinary. Although referred to as warm and cold spring, there are actually four points gushing out water with four different water temperatures. There is the point for warm spring, then the lukewarm spring; there is cold Spring and very cold spring streams.

The traditional myth around the spring has it that the Ikogosi Warm Spring was discovered by a local hunter by the name Ogunkugan in the course of his hunting expedition. Like most abnormal phenomena in Africa, the origin is laced with myth.

High Chief Ayo Ademuluwa, Cavistas Community Engagement Manager, an indigene of the town and the Chief Security Officer of the resort gave a brief history of Ikogosi warm spring.

He said the spring was discovered by a hunter from Ile Ife.  He was compelled to stop by at the water fountain while on a hunting expedition after hearing noise from the spring.  He later discovered it had a higher temperature than other similar streams in such a pristine environment. It was with an admixture of fear and joy that the hunter headed to the Obas palace to reveal the amazing wonder he had just discovered.

The Oba dispatched traditional title chiefs to the site to confirm the story. At last, it was confirmed to be true. It became a place of worship of local deities.  A chief was immediately made the spiritual head of the Awo (the traditional name given to the warm spring). Similarly, the adjourning cold spring, which has a confluence at a point in the same precinct, was called Awele.

The warm spring was a place of traditional worship of the gods by indigenes of the community for a long time in the olden days. However, this was to change when the missionaries started making inroad into the hinterland.

Being part of the Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort, even though Ikogosi holds the sacred the precinct of the warm springs, it is free of any item for traditional worship. The surrounding is well-manicured and kept clean by the management of the resort, but they are quite mindful of the communities’ belief.

The first missionary to take keen interest in the resort was Reverend MacGee, a British Baptist missionary. The community gave him a piece of land around the spring area. He was the first to build some accommodation facilities for church activities like youths camping. He built a Baptist youth camp made up of chalets, a chapel, his residence, recreational corner and dormitory.

Along the line, he had a misunderstanding with the late social crusader and educationist Mr. Tai Solarin.

Solarin had come on an excursion with students from his Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State. They arrived at Ikogosi late and were tired. They needed accommodation to sleep for the night at the youth camp being run by Rev MacGee. Unfortunately, there was no space since Tai Solarin and his students made no prior booking.

Solarin contacted Reverend MacGee requesting for accommodation, but was not successful. Solarin wrote a petition the next day to the Government of Western State alleging that Rev. MacGee was discriminating against Nigerians.

The government asked MacGee to vacate the land. He did and returned to his home country, leaving behind all the structures he erected. Unfortunately, the resort fell into mismanagement and lack of attention. It became a shadow of what it used to be.

Governor Kayode Fayemi decided to do things differently by entering into a management agreement with Cavista Holdings through their hospitality management company, Glocient Hospitality.

Glocient after entering into an agreement with the Ekiti State government in the middle of 2022, by December took over the resort with its decaying and decrepit facilities.

High Chief Ayo Ademuluwa described the state of things then: When Governor Fayemi came back, he decided that the best was to have an investor for the resort, that he would not inject public funds into it anymore.   He brought Glocient Hospitality, an arm of Cavista Holdings

The General Manager of Glocient Hospitality, Mr. Lanre Sharafadeen Balogun described the condition of the place when Glocient Hospitality took over: You couldn’t stay here for one hour. This place here was like a place where bats converged. There was no roof. Some other buildings roofs were falling off.

It was dark. It was just completely down.  We couldn’t even enter. And even the states, you know, the leadership of the states, when they got in here, they were shocked.

Glocient went on to transform the Ikogosi to the current state of being a world-class resort. Balogun explained: So, in our approach, we did everything you are seeing here. No contractor was involved. The rooms you stayed are local. We did it.  We got the local furniture people, the local artisans, the tilers, the plumbers and so on.

We have experienced hands that have done international projects.  They worked in some of these big international brands that you see in Lagos. The room design too, we did everything ourselves.

I can boldly tell you that we did everything in the rooms. When we came here, the rooms were not  properly aligned. The alignment you are seeing in the room where you have the media wall, the TV wall, that was not where it was before.

There was a window in that place, but, you know, from the hospitality experience, you must sleep and your bed and your media wall must align directly to how you are sleeping.  So, all that we have to bring in our experience to design that. So, the experience and know-how was what brought us here.

“And within eight months, we were able to achieve complete 60 rooms. This place was completely dead when we came in.

If Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort was dead before, it is now bustling with life. The rooms are tastefully furnished to international standards. The environment has the ambiance of a resort with bicycles and electric cars to move around the resort.  So, visitors are met with luxury and the opportunity to enjoy nature at its best.

The Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort is not only offering world-class resort for Ekiti State, the ripple effects of the resort has impacted positively on the Ikogosi community and its environs. There are job opportunities for indigenes, as close to 80 per cent of the resorts staff are from the community. In addition, the resort has succeeded in connecting the Ikogosi community to the national greed and the steady influx of tourists has also boosted economic activities in the community.

The regent of Ikogosi community, Princess Omobola Adepoju nee Olorunisola said: They are doing a lot for the community in the area of employment. They have been able to employ our youths. I think, if I am not mistaken, about 75 or 80 per cent of the youths working there are from this community. Before they got employment there, they had nothing to do. You know these youths, very restless, but since they started working there, the town has been peaceful. They are doing a lot to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the community.

Ikogosi warm and cold spring is natures gift for relaxation and therapeutic purposes, combined with world-class hospitality and leisure at the resort. Nigeria has a perfect getaway.

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