Ikogosi resort: A tale of transformation and the hunger of a ‘crazy’ investor

I had just returned from two successive trips in the last three months. Embarking on another was not in the plan. So, the trip to the Ikogosi Warm Spring resort came with some doubts.

The weather was cloudy on the day of the journey and my indifference was further stretched: It seemed like it would pour down and not at the same time — as if the universe was unsure of what element to dole out to its willing human recipients.

But Ikogosi, a community weary of its complacency in Ekiti, promises ‘magic’. Stories say that nature and legend converge at the resort. My momentary musing on what ‘magic’ could mean in this context triggered a rush of energy urging me to ignore the weather – after all, when has getting wet killed anyone?

With a few assessments of the clouds through my window, I whipped my bag and set out.


After negotiating through traffic tales the bustling city of Lagos is known for from Ilupeju and zig-zigging through ancient buildings that line routes from Lagos-Ibadan, Ilesa-Ife-Efon, and Alaye-Ikole, the journey to Ikogosi were a mix of stress and fun: stressful because good roads are a taboo to the Nigerian government, and fun because I had not embarked on a road trip in years.

But the trip suddenly felt calm and became more blissful from Aramoko, a town sitting 15 kilometres away from my destination.

From here, the landscape quickly transitions to structures of ancient and modern themes with a slight blend of greenery. As we (there were others heading my way too) moved further, the greenery became prominent with more hills, signalling the beginning of the end of our banter-filled trip.



By around 4 pm, I arrived at a gate pleasantly designed with thatch and a signpost that reads, ‘Welcome to Ikogosi resort’. In Nigeria, infrastructure is one of the problems citizens cry over. Seeing things work effectively does not come by easily. But the resort seems to be on the brink of a different narrative.

From the gate to the conference centre and relaxation spots like the pool, the buildings and the overall landscape are designed with guests in mind. By my assessment, the most strategic facility is the restaurant which is the first structure you see on entry. On arrival, I was led to the restaurant for refreshment — chatting with new faces over great food and officially kicking off the promised relaxation. You see what I mean by strategic?

The revamped entrance.
The restaurant, although renovated, still has the elements of what McGee built.
The Ikogosi resort conference hall. The facility was formerly a chapel.
One of the hotels built to accommodate guests living with disabilities.
Inside one of the rooms at the resort.

One by one from the restaurant, guests were led to the second most important place — the rooms. As a frequent traveller, I consider the hotels the second most significant simply because guests spend most of their time there. Outside presents a cosy appearance that segues into luxury inside the resort’s rooms. The interior design speaks of professionalism. At least, I could turn on the TV and all the channels are accessible. The bath soap smelt so good I was tempted to make it a souvenir. The mirror in my bathroom has an in-built light that can be powered on by touch — indicating the adoption of technology in their services.


Other than the possibility that guests may require their toes to use the peephole, Ikogosi resort makes one feel at home in the real sense.


Irrespective of where you lodge within the facility, only one path leads to the ‘gods’ – the warm and cold springs. A boardwalk runs by the pool and terminates at the historic, myth-laced waters.

A major highlight, the springs embody the essence of the Ikogosi resort and carry the folklore of a thousand generations. To begin with, there are four different springs that form what many have described as nature’s wonder: two warm springs and two cold springs which all maintain their unique thermal degrees.


With different sounds and colours, the warm and warmer springs have a confluence somewhere at the site, making up the two warm springs. The phenomenon is the same with the two cold springs. Combined, the springs form the warm and cold springs of Ikogosi, with a meeting point that has now become the most popular tourist site at the resort.

The source of the warm springs of Ikogosi.

The springs were discovered more than 700 years ago by Ogunkugan — a local hunter — in the course of his hunting expedition, the myths say.


The sounds of the gushing springs had led Ogunkugan, an origin of Ile Ife, to the site when he became thirsty after several failed attempts at making a kill. Marvelled, he headed to the king’s palace to reveal the amazing discovery.

The site soon became a place where the locals worshipped the gods after the traditional leaders confirmed the hunter’s tale. A chief was immediately made the spiritual head of the Awo (the traditional name of the warm spring). The cold spring was called Awele.

Yes. I posed for a photo at the confluence point of the warm and cold springs.

This was a long time ago, before the missionaries made their way into the region. Till date, it is believed that the spring is therapeutic.

An interesting observation was that the springs do not mix even at the meeting point, no matter how intense they are ruffled. Well maintained and kept clean, I learnt the spring also serves the swimming pool and runs through the water systems of the resort.



Other mysterious sights are the hollow and twin trees. Although not as popular as the warm and cold springs, the twin trees are another mysterious architecture of nature. Standing just in front of the springs, two trees share a root and have coexisted that way for years without killing each other. The colour of the bark of one of the trees is light, while the other has a darker shade — just like the warm and cold springs.

As the name implies, the ‘hollow tree’ is just hollow. It is like being in a canopy with leaves and branches as roof.


The twin tree.


The resort was not always a place of paradise, my interaction with Ayo Ademiluwa, a high chief of Ikogosi, revealed.

As you may have read, its prominence and structures date back to the late 1950s, when John Sydney McGee, an American missionary, picked interest in the site after hearing and seeing the wonders of the warm and cold springs.

“After seeing it, he felt he owed it to humanity the privilege of getting to know,” said Ademiluwa.

“The only way he could do that was through the print media. He started writing about Ikogosi warm spring.”

Overwhelmed by a hunger to popularise the community, McGee secured the consent of Ademiluwa’s progenitors to develop the site into a mission camp.

Coming with a pool and some chalets, what McGee later built would be named Baptist “Warm Springs” Camp, attracting “a lot of religious activities”.

But after a discord with Tai Solarin, the late Nigerian educator and author, the cleric left and the facility was sold to the government for N300,000… and slowly, it relapsed into ruins.


The resort features 92 rooms, a pool, a restaurant, and a church (now the conference centre), which all became dilapidated and unhabitable under the government.

Ademiluwa, who was later appointed to manage the facility in 2019, said under the government, the place became “very decrepit… very dead” and a haven for “rats, bats, and snakes” due to abandonment.

The restaurant’s roof was falling off, I learnt.

“…none [of the rooms] was really habitable. I was living in one, I killed snakes in my room twice,” he recounts.

“We had like a million bats in the ceiling [of the conference hall].”

According to file photos, the facility was like this:

Ikogosi Warm Springs bags 'Best Holiday Resort in Nigeria' award
The old gate.
The restaurant before the concessionaire took over the management of the facility.
Inside one of the rooms before the revamp.
Prior to the concession deal, the resort was in ruins and covered in weeds.

The fortunes of the resort turned for the better when Kayode Fayemi visited the facility after winning his second-term governorship bid in 2018. Fayemi “had wept” when he saw the decay that had crept in.

In fact, the boardwalk that linked the ticketing booth to the pool “caved in during the tour”. It was this incident that ignited the search for a dedicated private investor — and they found one in Glocient Hospitality, a subsidiary of Cavista Holdings Limited.

After signing a concession agreement with the state government in 2022, the new managers embarked on a journey of transformation, and it was swift, Ademiluwa said.

Within a short while, “most of the rooms that were inhabitable were revamped”.

“It was like magic,” he intoned.

“We’ve not had a single case of bat infection.”

So far, more than $1 million has been spent on renovations, Sharafa Balogun, general manager at Glocient Hospitality, told TheCable.

He said 60 — out of 92 — rooms have been revamped.

The general manager said the spring experience and the dining experience for guests have been upgraded, comparable to what is found in world-class hotels worldwide. He also stressed that a security architecture, which was non-existent, is now in place.

In addition, Balogun said the landscape has received a facelift in view of creating a “forest park”, adding that the firm plans to increase the rooms to 120 and the investment to more than $5 million.



One lesson from my trip is that Ikogosi itself is a major tourist attraction. The town is filled with so many tourism sites that can grow the state’s tourism sector – if harnessed.

For instance, somewhere in town, there is a river that houses certain types of fishes can only be seen when fed with bread crumbs or biscuits. The story is that fish caught from this river cannot be eaten as they become as hard as a stone when cooked.

The town also plays host to the site of the first plane crash in Africa which happened in 1942. The jetsam of aircraft still exists to date.

The river with the strange fishes.


In a conversation with Omobola Adepoju, the regent of Ikogosi, she lauded the resort’s managers for the economic impact of the facility on the town.

She said about “70 to 80 percent” of the youths working at the resort come from the town and earn regular wages, thereby improving the economy of the region.

According to the traditional ruler, prior to Glocient’s takeover, most houses in Ikogosi were unoccupied because people did not want to stay in the area. But that is changing.

“Now, we have a problem of accommodation, people are looking for houses because people are coming from neighbouring towns to work here,” she said.

“We’re looking for people to come in and build estates.”


Lost but found.

Amid the chat with the regent, Ademiluwa cut in, bragging about the security of the resort.

“…the way we trained them (workers) that has been applicable is if you left an ordinary pin, no matter how valuable it is, at a spot, somebody will have picked it and kept it for you,” he said.

I put his statement to the test by leaving my little ring behind the day I checked out. When I reported the ‘incident’ two days later, the ring was retrieved in less than 20 minutes with a promise to have it dispatched to me. Of course, I turned down the gesture.

I later learnt that the ring was found by a housekeeper who then left it in the custody of another after his shift.


The management of the Ikogosi resort says the facility is still undergoing transformation.

Although the Ikogosi resort can compete with its counterparts elsewhere, Glocient said it is unsatisfied with its achievements so far. The company also plans to have a helipad, a sports centre, and a golf facility at the resort.

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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