As we preceded inward the city, I was taken aback by the high level of cleanliness of the environment and smart policing. Worthy of note is that even the motorbike riders have a dedicated road for their inter-city journeys and this time with helmet on for safety purpose. There is no blaring of horns or over-speeding epitomizing a decent society that is truly working. Every motorist is driving at a speed limit without the unusual maneuvers and dangerous overtaking. And all these were helped by the good road network. Viva Destination Cotonou!
BENIN ROYAL HOTEL
This was on display at the reception with courtesy and impeccable customer service amidst a welcoming smile. Bonjour! The customer service team also speaks fluent English for those who do not speak French and even Yoruba language. During that trip I struggled to learn a few French languages. I think it is necessary to find time to enroll for a French class in future. French language is romantic. Interestingly, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the hotel, Mr. Dine Bouraima is from the Yoruba dynasty of Benin.
He is also the President of Consortium Touristes Par Millions (CTM-Benin). He confirmed to us that the hotel was built in 2014 and was inaugurated by the then President of the Republic of Benin. He describes the Benin Royal Hotel as number one in Cotonou. According to him, “It’s of national and international standard”, he said as you could savour the evidences on ground as we moved round the hotel. What more, there were on full display magnificent pieces of arts and intercontinental cuisines and sumptuous meals.
In his capacity as the President of CTM-Benin – an association of all hotels, freight companies, travel agencies, restaurants, artistes, airline operators etc – says there is accomplishment in doing things together. Indeed, I agree with him. Tourism and hospitality require synergy of pragmatic team work. For him, a Beninois sees Nigeria as its own United Kingdom and United States of America. While complaining about border blockades, he is asking Nigerians to take Benin and the Benin Royal Hotel as their own. He wonders why Nigerians are spending so much money going elsewhere when all the comfort they desire is well catered for in Cotonou. In a similar vein, he wants Africans to do things together for the development of tourism in the continent, stressing that it remains a win-win for all.
The Benin Royal Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city and within walking distance of major business, leisure and tourist areas at 5km, 10 minutes of the Cardinal Bernadin Gantin International Airport of Cotonou.Benin Royal Hotel is an internationally inspired luxury in the heart of Cotonou, whose design embodies beauty, built by Italian firms with materials imported from Italy to give it that global taste
THE NIGHT EXPERIENCE
After the group check-in at our different rooms at the hotel, we were told to relax and change to dinner attire to honour the soirée night. That was a large gathering for the unveiling of the iconic beauty queen, Miss Bezayit Tadesse Gizachew as Ambassador of Consortium Touristes Per Million (CTM).
This paragon of beauty is a delight for Travelogue paparazzi, giving you a modeling pose and alluring smiles needed for a photo shoot. Her commanding presence at the event really added colour to the event, while the audience was thrilled to the rich cultural heritage of the Republic of Benin. That encapsulates the beauty, values and connection with the Yoruba in particular-with the colorful display of masquerades, to beautiful dance drama all rooted in the history of Yoruba dynasties
A TRIP TO THE NEW BENIN MUR DU PORT: THE LARGEST MURA PAINTING IN THE WORLD
An exploration to this site is educative, telling historical story as displayed artistically in different colours in Cotonou. It captures the very essence of Benin history. The image or graffiti is situated at La Marina Road, acclaimed as the world’s largest street artwork adding impactful values and making it a unique tourist site in Cotonou.Graffiti as image has this peculiarity of reaching people the most as a great vector of communication. And so the wall communicates to the people, to the tourist, using this medium to raise awareness, to bring us back to our roots, and reconnect with our history and our identity. Kudos to the government of the Benin Republic!
People who love nature have no option than to see the art painting and get immersed. Cléopatre Kougniazondé, CEO of TOURA, a Benin tourism agency, took us on a tour of this long, beautiful artwork while we could not wait to take pictures as well as other tourists who visited the place. She said the artwork was painted in a period of 01 month by 27 selected creative minds-both local and international graffiti artists. The painting site is laced with a lot of history with projections to the future. It was a beautiful mural painting depicting a restored treasure.
ADVENTURE TO THE AMAZON
Just as we were talking about the beauty of the mural painting, a few minutes away, just behind the presidential office building comes the imposing Amazon statue built in homage to the world’s only all-female army established by Queen Tassi Hangbé of the famous Kingdom of Dahomey. The master piece was erected on a wide expanse of concrete floor, a wonder to behold any day. Every day, people from various cultural backgrounds, particularly tourists flock around to behold this breathtaking landmark. It is worth to mention here that the environment at this Amazon Square is safe, clean, without any dirt on the floor.
THE BEACH ADVENTURE
Beach tourism is a money spinner. I have raised awareness on this on some previous editions of our Travelogue Magazine. It is without a doubt, that beach activities generate a lot of revenues to the government and individuals. I love clean beach environment. This was also confirmed at the Obama Beach in Cotonou. Our experience at the beach was fun and memorable. We were there till about 9 p.m on Sunday amidst of soul-lifting local music, and when it later switched to Nigerian music-everyone got excited, dancing to the vibes!Thanks to our host, Mr. Dine Bouraima, Chairman of CTM and CEO of Benin Royal Hotel who also gave us a good treat at the beach. Food and drinks are aplenty, an a la carte by the sea side, all are to be enjoyed at the beach waterfront without fume. Mosquitoes find it difficult to perch on us. No flies dancing around us. Everywhere is safe. Light is constant. My 72-hour stay is a testimony of good living. The way of life is relaxing. No anxiety. Assuredly, I will love to have another getaway to Cotonou. Ensure you too should find the time to visit Cotonou, check-in at Benin Royal Hotel and thank Travelogue later.