All eight accommodation floors of the Tower Block now have the guestrooms partitioned. Windows and balcony doors are in place.
Testing of electrical wiring has been completed on six of the eight guests floors. Installation of ventilation and cooling chutes, water sprinkler supply pipes and fire detector cables is also underway.
Concrete water storage tanks have been constructed in the basement. These tanks will provide water storage capacity that will last for 21 days of hotel operations.
All the guestrooms on the first floor of the Low Block have been partitioned. The windows and balcony doors have also been installed.
Hard landscaping is the construction of the external surfaces such as walkways, car parks, pool terraces and tennis courts.
In preparation for the hard landscaping the ground levels around the hotel structure is being raised by backfilling with soil and compacting. This is to provide level access to the entrance of the hotel and also around the pool terrace.
The concrete batching plant that provided the concrete for the construction of the building has been relocated off-site to make room for car parking.
Soft landscaping is planting of trees, flowers and shrubs. The landscaping team is led by Francis Hughes, a horticulturist with 40-years experience. His company, Hughes Franco, employs six other gardeners on the site.
Over a thousand plants are now being transplanted into their final positions as the hard landscaping is nearing completion. Francis is also working with the contractor on the installation of the underground sprinkler network for the plants.
Operations planning kicks off
The Hilton Human Resources Director for Africa and the Indian Ocean, Mrs Hellen Lebone, visited Freetown during the second week of May 2017 to start the planning for the recruitment of over 250 hotel staff.
She met a cross-section of Human Resources practitioners to better understand the HR regulations and industrial relations climate in Sierra Leone. She also visited the Milton Margai School of Hospitality & Tourism to discuss their training curriculum.
Mrs Lebone informed the head of the School that Hilton would be interested in working with the school to improve its curriculum and quality of its graduates and so strengthen the sector in Sierra Leone.
Mrs Lebone also met with Hon Sidi Yahya Tunis, Minister of Tourism & Cultural Affairs. Hon Tunis welcomed Mrs Lebone and further reiterated the government’s continued support for the project.
Mrs Lebone advised the IDEA team that Hilton has currently identified a number of potential candidates for the position of General Manager (GM). The selection process will start in late June when the potential candidates will visit Freetown. The candidates will all be existing GMs currently running a Hilton hotel elsewhere.
The successful GM and other members of the Hilton pre-opening team are scheduled to take up their positions in Freetown during the last quarter of 2017.
Investing in our people
Sarah Mansaray and Emilia Cole are two final year Higher National Diploma in Civil Engineering students from the Milton Margai College of Technology (MMCET) who have been doing an internship on the project since February 2017.
Both Sarah and Emilia plan to study architecture and see their HND as a first step. The Interns spend their day assessing and reporting the quantity and quality of work done the previous day.
Emilia says “I had never seen dry wall partitioning. To observe how these walls are so rapidly constructed using aluminium tracks and panels has been quite an experience.”
Our architects of the future believe that this internship has given them an invaluable platform for launching their career.
Emilia and Sarah say that their courses at MMCET were very theoretical. They had learnt about materials and processes that they had never seen until they came to the project site.
We continue to receive a number of visitors to the site including the British High Commissioner, His Excellency Guy Warrington and a team from our lenders Afreximbank.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Saidu Conton Sesay, also visited the site to assess the progress being made.
The American Ambassador, His Excellency John Hoover, also visited the site with a team from the embassy.
Ambassador Hoover recalled that when he last visited the site over two years ago the project was at excavation stage. He expressed his amazement at the progress made since then.
The hotel is now set for completion of the fit out by the end of the year. TesOng and commissioning will be done during the first quarter of 2018. The expectation is that the hotel will be open to paying guests at the start of the second quarter of 2018.