The recently concluded Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF 2019), provided an opportunity for world-leading augmented hospitality group, Accor to reaffirm its commitment to sustainable tourism development on the African continent as it unveils the world’s first Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub by Mantis, the brand in which it has a 50% stake.

Scheduled for launched in early 2020 at South Africa’s famous Mantis Founders Lodge, the one-of-a-kind concept will bring together conservation partners from across the globe to showcase the future of eco-travel to potential investors and sustainability-minded travellers.

This collaboration of leading eco innovators will see Mantis build five new room models known as ‘Innovate Hospitality Units’ close to the luxurious Founders Lodge – two tents, a pod, a log cabin and a treehouse that integrate the latest green technology on a site designed to showcase to business leaders and future travellers, alike, the vast possibilities of low eco impact accommodation and activities.

Details of the Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub by Mantis was revealed by Accor at AHIF 2019, the leading hospitality investment forum in Africa organised by Bench Events, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from September 23 to 25.

“Mantis, a global pioneer of conservation tourism, is once again pushing the boundaries, creating a hub where experts can collaborate to give investors and guests a glimpse into the future of sustainable hospitality models and eco-experiences,” said Mark Willis, CEO, Middle East & Africa.

“This bolsters Accor’s commitment to sustainable tourism development in Africa as we embrace innovation to pursue responsible expansion that supports local communities and protects and promotes wildlife and the natural environment.”

Eco-Lodge Innovation Hub is the combined brainchild of digital strategist and product innovator, Craig Llewellyn-Williams, and Paul Gardiner, CEO, Mantis.

Mantis, a collection of luxury boutique hotels, eco-escapes and waterways around the world, includes Mantis Founders Lodge, the original Mantis Group property. Located adjacent to the world-famous Shamwari Game Reserve on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, the entire project created was by Paul’s father, the globally-revered conservationist, Adrian Gardiner.

“As the heartland of conservation tourism, Founders Lodge is the natural home for our  hub, providing an inspirational setting where suppliers can test, develop and showcase off-the grid accommodation and green energy innovations,” said Paul Gardiner.

“At the same time, the new units tap into popular global travel trends including wellness tourism, multi-generational holidays and eco-education, offering future guests new travel and lifestyle experiences that are central to the Mantis and Accor hospitality offering.”

Sustainable development has been the focal point of the Accor/Mantis strategic partnership signed in May of 2018, with both parties founding the Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) as part of the deal.

This non-profit company (NGC) signalled the commitment of both groups to prevent the accelerating decline of Africa’s wildlife and over the past year, the CCFA, which is aligned to Accor’s conservation platform Planet 21, has donated more than US$500,000 to approved community projects across Africa.

The Mantis partnership has also strengthened Accor’s leadership position on the African continent, where it has been operating for more than 40 years and is an economic driving force with more hotel rooms than any other hospitality player.

The Group’s current footprint spans 25,826 rooms in 164 hotels across 22 countries and five new hotels with a combined 705 rooms have been signed year to date, growing its total Africa pipeline to 13,642 keys across 61 properties.

Mantis, one of 12 Accor brands represented in Africa, operates 19 properties in South Africa and is due to launch seven new projects by the end of 2020 across five destinations – Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.

The Sub-Saharan region has emerged as a development hotspot for Accor, firmed up with new signings in Kenya and Ethiopia in the east and Nigeria in the west, with 8,555 keys scheduled to open in these markets over the next two years.

In Ethiopia alone, Accor has seven new management contracts signed across the ibis, Pullman, Mercure, MGallery, Mövenpick, Mantis and Novotel brands, demonstrating the country’s vast growth potential and a key reason for its selection as the AHIF 2019 host nation.

Luxury and upscale brands account for more than half of Accor’s Africa network and building on this momentum, the group has secured major project wins including MGallery, Pullman and Mövenpick properties in Addis Ababa, a Pullman in Nairobi, and in North Africa, a Fairmont in Taghazout, Morocco and the world’s largest Rixos resort on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera.

“As one of the world’s fastest-growing continents, positioned as the next global market, Africa is a priority development region for Accor,” said Gaurav Bhushan, Global Chief Development Officer, Accor.

“With the industry’s most dynamic portfolio brands, covering every market segment from economy to luxury and more than four decades of African market expertise, we can build on our position of strength to benefit guests, investors, local communities and the wider economy, taking a leading role in shaping a sustainable hospitality industry for the future.”

For more information on the conference programme click here

Niyi David
Author

‘Niyi David is a travel writer/photographer and Editor-in-Chief at More Cream Than Coffee. Previously, he worked at Afro Tourism West Africa Ltd as a travel writer, and was Head of Media and C.O.O. before leaving in May 2018. Prior to that he had worked as scriptwriter on some major media projects in Nigeria, such as 'Peak Talent Show' and the Ford Foundation sponsored 'Stop Impunity in Nigeria' campaign.