Obudu Ranch Resort: Managing a Paradise Brand
The Obudu plateau with an altitude of 1,716 metres above sea level enjoys a climate typical of the temperate regions of the world. It is now christened "The Paradise Brand". What makes the brand tick? Tunmise Adekunle who was there recently writes on development towards the making the Ranch Nigeria's number one brand of tourist destinations.
It is the highest peak in the Cross River State. The resort which was established as a cattle ranch in 1949 is now located in Obanliku Local Government Area in Northern part of the State. It is about 332km , which is about five hours drive from Calabar.
It is located on a plateau of about 1,575.76 metres above sea level. The 11km of unwinding road with its 22 bends make driving into the ranch quite exhilarating. One of the most exciting bends is the "devils elbow" which is half way through the stretch.
The ranch has a temperature of between 26 oC - 32oC between November and January while the lowest temperature range of 4 oC - 10oC is recorded between June and September.
On the way you pass through tall, dense forests where the branches form a canopy that completely shuts out the sun. Driving up to the plateau, you'll view rolling mountain ranges.
Cattle are bred on the ranch for their fresh milk, butter, meat , and cheese, and these are available at the dairy section daily. Cows were brought in from Holland for management by Farmfresh Limited to give residents of the ranch best of naturally processed dairy products. There are also birds and pigs that produce eggs and pork respectively, in commercial quantities.
The Ranch which is 24 square kilometre in size is at an altitude where view is breathtaking and the air is fresh and clean. There is also the spectacular grotto (a natural swimming pool with its sparkling pure water, and a clear view of the long winding waterfall. Green mountain ranges surround the natural reserve that is home to rare species of birds and other animals such as the Gorilla. The ranch which has a mini-golf course and a squash hall is a popular resort and is currently managed by Protea Hotels of South Africa.
This well known resort extends to the Cameroon border, at the base of the Sonkwala Mountains on the Oshie Ridge, 110km east of Ogoja.
The mountain ranges were first explored in 1949 by Mr. McCaughley, a Scottish rancher who camped on the mountaintop for a month before returning with Mr. Hugh Jones a fellow rancher who, in 1951, together with Dr Crawfeild developed the ranch. Although the ranch has been through troubles since, it has very recently been rehabilitated to its former glory by the Protea South African Hotel chain.
Walking through numerous waterfalls, horse riding, squash and tennis nature beckons at you. A nine hole golf course has been constructed alongside a club house containing a gym. The ranch also has a Health Centre and a Police Post, natural small swimming pool with a mini waterfall .
The Cattle Ranch Hotel has 70 suits from a standard double to the huge governors lodge. And now the presidential retreat area is under construction to be ready before the end this year. According to Engineer Charles Okongor, the Director of works in the State's Ministry of Works, the Presidential Villa which will be highest on the ranch is being built at a view point for the President to see as far as he could, even up to Cameroon. The Villa has eight Chalets for presidential aides being constructed with 100% Seasoned Wood from Finland. Under the Supervision at Ben Lasakkonen, a Finish, the Wooden edifice that can last close to 500 years, as it is in Finland, has a special and globally exclusive Model for the ranch. The Presidential Villa has an helipad under construction.
All rooms have been furnished to a high standard, with imported furniture and soft furnishings with a range of DSTV channels.
Hiking is an absolute must to view Gorillas and the Rain Forest or explore natural reserve. This reserve lies beside the resort and was created by Cercopan and sponsored by Leventis as a habitat for the highly endangered spices guerilla found only in South Western Cameroon, on the island of Bioko and in South East Nigeria. The reserve is also home to many endemic bird species. A tree house built in the tree canopy will cater for even the most avid bird/monkey watcher.
The road network is 5.3km with 11 plots drain work which is estimated to last nothing less than 50 years. Whilst at the resort, which is located in a Malaria and Tsetse fly free area, a taste of the fresh dairy products, agricultural produce or the Ranch honey are not only one of nature's wonderful gift, but also a mark of excellent management of a paradise brand . Fidelis Alima-Oku, the beehive Manager said that a total of 2000 containers have being imported from South Africa to produce quality and undiluted honey . 25 employees, with 500 trained Bee farmers are to produce 50 kg of 2000 containers annually. This is being targeted as hard currency earner for Nigeria.
Getting there by road from Port Harcourt is 8 hours, Eket 6 hours, Calabar is 5 hours and Enugu in 3 hours. For these road users, all the roads leading to Obudu are witnessing reconstuction, courtesy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
For much easier transportation, the Bebi Airstrip is under extension with navigation equipment ready, borehole sunk and ready by December, 2004 to add to an unforgetable trip. The Bebi Airstip is located at the foot of the hills about 40km away from the ranch . The airstrip is being upgraded to a 2.0 km runway so as to handle larger and twin engine aircraft of the Boeing 737 and BAC 1-11 category. This will be expectedly ready by next month.
What is more? ADC Airlines in partnership with Protea Hotel Ranch Resort & DANA have put together a great opportunity for enjoying the natural splendour of the Obudu Ranch Resort. Their Air Hotel Plan package offers a choice of a weekend in the hills or a weekaway package.
The package tagged "Flight to Paradise is an all inclusive package to the tropical spendour of Protea Ranch Resort.
The package covers return tickets on ADC Airlines and DANA also includes pick up from Bebi Airstrip to the Ranch and drop off to Bebi Airstrip on day of departure.
Flights depart from Abuja, Enugu, Port-Harcourt and Calabar on Friday to the Ranch and the return Flight from Bebi Airstrip on Sundays by 1230hr.
Envigaging the increased flow of traffic on daily basis, the managers at the place are putting in place a 4.5 kilometre twelve stations cable car. The cable car which beats the South Africa 1.2 Km cable and will be the longest in the World is already in the 11th station. All the equipment have arrived so as to meet the December 2004 take off of the cable car.
With a total of 30 cars with one presidential car one cable, 6 passengers have a 15 minutes jolly ride to the ranch in one cable car.
Interesting of note is the social responsibility focus of State government towards Obudu inhabitants. These inhabitants, old and young told THISDAY that they are happy with development at the ranch and the positive attitude of the state government towards them. They have there stories to tell. Their schools churches, market and other ares of interests are being giving face lift of befitting touch. They work for the state government on the ranch earning nothing less than N1,000 daily. They share from the electricity supply to the ranch. They also share part of the treated water provided for servicing guests at the challets.
Of all the GSM networks, Only MTN has a very clear reception. Others are just not available. What of corporate presence of our big brands? Though minimal, brands like MTN, Guinness, Gulder, Dunhill have the signages felt. Though they are not at thir full potentials, looking at the the size and importance of the ranch as Nigeria's leading brand tourist attraction coupled with ever increasing tourist traffic to the site. For our ever strategic brand managers, Obudu is a fertile site for there brand leveraging
Any stay on the ranch from all assesment is sure a memorable one with packages including a round trip Air Fare, Hotel Accommodation, Meals, Transportation, Tour Guide, Night Entertainment & Site seeing.
The Ranch Stays open to guests throughout the year. Special Events are usually organised for holidays and special weekends.
The Ranch's total of 70 stone walled chalets comprises 54 double rooms and 23 suites.
Guest chalets at the Ranch are fully furnished with facilities like lounge bar, Restaurant, in house laundry and 24 hour security. more Sporting Facility , Natural Swiming Pool, Gynmasum, Flood lit lawn tennis court, Squash Court, Specialised hiking trails, Bird watching, Putt putt mini golf where one enter the cloud at times.
For entertainment , Satelite TV, Disco Room, Bard Games are there. Theatre- styled seating conference room seats 250 people. The reception / entrance foyer , 2 smaller breakaway rooms for up to 20 people , basic conference equipmet speak volume.
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Food, Agriculture and Rural Issues
"Please come with warm clothing as weather can get wet and cold", says the very bold caveat.
Welcome to Obudu Ranch Resort, Nigeria's paradise brand that any tourist, lovers of good life, nature cannot resist.
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