When it comes to traveling and getting a luxury experience, a few destinations come to mind. Whether you like to live it up in Tulum, find relaxation in Bali, or stay right on the water in the Maldives, people have a lot of options to choose from. Additionally, countries in Africa are getting more exposure and being added to that list. Most tourists visit the Motherland for the culture, food, and African safaris. But now, it is time to add an extravagant getaway as another reason to spend time in one of the richest continents in the world.
Eugene Ahadome, his brother and his sister had a vision and wanted to redefine what luxury looked like in their home country, Ghana. From growing up in the U.S. and being exposed to different activities, the siblings decided to change the way people look at luxury and create something that has never been done before. Combining their love for water sports and wanting to give back to their community, the Ahadome family launched Lake Club.
Lake Club is the newest all-inclusive day resort based around water sports. This luxurious destination is located in Akosombo, which is in the eastern region of Ghana just a couple hours away from Accra. Akosombo is also home to Lake Volta, which is the largest man-made lake in the world. This is the perfect destination for visitors to experience top-tier customer service, indulge in amazing food, embrace beautiful views, and take in water-focused entertainment.
In an exclusive interview with REVOLT, Eugene shared the inspiration behind creating Lake Club, steps it took for his family to get started, and how they plan to make their mark in the tourism industry. Check out the conversation below.
What inspired you all to create Lake Club?
My brother and I lived in LA, and our sister stayed in Chicago. Since we were near San Diego, and with Chicago having amazing summers, my siblings and I did different water sport activities growing up. We wanted to bring that feeling back home and open it up to everybody. At the time, we realized there was potential in Ghana. A lot of times, you see people fly out of the U.S. to go to places like Tulum or Dubai. Everything that people look for out there is actually here in Ghana too. We just need to develop the area more.
We centered the Lake Club around water sports for a reason. We wanted Lake Club to be different in that aspect because generally, Africans are scared of water. So we wanted the resort to be all-inclusive, luxurious, and a safe experience with our water sport activities. Once you book your stay, you get free breakfast, lunch, and dinner and access to all the water sport activities.
What kind of water sport activities do you all offer guests?
We have kayaking, paddleboarding, Jet Skis, speed boats, a 10-seater boat, and a 20-seater boat as well.
What was the process of starting a family business like?
My siblings and I all have different roles in the business. I handle the marketing partnerships and branding. My brother has management experience and our sister is a consultant. We were able to bring all of our skills together when developing the business. There was no clashing or anything, so that really helps us in the long run.
How were you able to acquire the land needed to build the day resort?
Even though we lived in the U.S., we always used to come back to Ghana during the summers and around Christmas. So the area we chose to have the Lake Club located [in], we always found the area to be beautiful and would visit it a lot. So during our visits, we would be looking for land and making connections to acquire it.
When we purchased the land, it was 100 percent self-funded between the three of us. The land was around $50,000, if I remember correctly. We were one of the first people to start something like this in the community. After we bought the land, we hired contractors and my sister would stay in Ghana to manage that part of the process. My sister would manage the day-to-day by keeping up with the contractors, and my brother and I would fly back from time to time and check in on things.
What was the biggest challenge while building?
The biggest challenge was that my siblings and I were not in Ghana at the same time. Working on a business like this remotely was a little difficult. There could be times where we would get a call from a contractor who is requesting additional fees for the project. You can’t verify it while not being there yourself. You also cannot check for errors thoroughly during the process [while] being remote. All of this actually motivated me to move back to Ghana and be more physically present.
What considerations went into the designs?
From living in LA, we were inspired by some of the properties we saw when it came to the resort’s design. We knew we wanted it to be a riverfront property. We made sure we had a pool, a volleyball area, cabanas, and intentionally created it as a space where you could also have weddings as well as other events and retreats. We did this in a way to not make the place look too crowded.
What was the hiring process like in order to get the right staff?
We reached out to a chef that was familiar with the area to bring on board. From there, we put up job posters in the community for people to apply for waitressing, bartending, customer service, etc. Then we went through the vetting process and rigorous training. We were not turning away people who didn’t have experience in hospitality, but wanted our host staff to be ready to go by launch date. We also had experts come in and train the staff on accounting, customer service etiquette, and other skills.
What were the core values that helped establish the customer service model for Lake Club?
Customer service in Ghana is not the best. You can go to certain places and the staff can be rude to you or they are not very familiar with the systems that they are using. That was very important to me when hiring my staff. I didn’t want us to fit within the stereotypical Ghana customer service experience. We wanted the experience at Lake Club to be better and stand out. We instilled that mentality into our staff and taught them how to speak politely to customers. As soon as you walk up to the Lake Club, you are greeted by the host staff and they give you a full explanation of what guests will have available to them during their stay. We want guests to feel welcomed and feel at home while staying at Lake Club.
Can you touch on getting funding from investors in order to scale?
We have been self-funding with constructing the resort and hiring staff. Now, we have opened up to pitching to investors to help fund the resort. Right now, we are getting all the funds needed in order to start construction next month and add additional rooms.
From a cultural perspective, what do you hope guests learn about water sports after staying at Lake Club?
Even though people may have their misconceptions on how they feel about water, once you feel safe about doing certain water activities, then you are more willing to try it. We want people to always remember that when you choose any of the water sport activities, it is way safer at the Lake Club than other places. You are able to get a tour of the area from our staff and you will not get this kind of service anywhere else.
For example, we do not allow people to do the kayaking activity by themselves. We always make sure a staff member is with you on the kayak or any of the other activities. You even have a chance to learn some history about some of the surrounding islands. One island has donkeys on them, and people are able to see the donkeys and even pet them (laughs). So it is not your typical kayaking experience.
What are your goals for the space?
We officially opened in May of this year and in September, we added three rooms, so guests can stay at the resort multiple nights. By September 2024, we are going to have 10 additional rooms ready for guests. When we opened, we started small. We started as a day resort and only invited family and friends over. They still had to pay for the experience because we wanted to test how the experience would be for future guests. As time went on, we started getting requests from people saying they wanted to stay more than one day. That is when we decided to build three rooms. When we have 10 more additional rooms, they are going to be in a villa style and everyone will have their own pool.
As we continue to build and scale the resort, we want to offer more water sport activities. We are going to start with the different kinds of Jet Skis and kayaks, and will begin promoting competitions people can participate in. We also want to add activities that are outside of water sports as well. We want to add ziplining and ATVs. Right now, everything is in phase one, and we are only going to get better and better.
What has been the biggest eye-opener for you when it comes to launching your own luxury resort?
I want to say everything has been eye-opening (laughs). There have been a lot of challenges and what I have learned is that you cannot be prepared for everything. With registering the company, going through the administration of tourism, there are still a few things I am learning right now.
What advice would you give others looking to get into the luxury resort business?
I would say do a lot of research. But another thing that is super helpful is having a strong team. Everyone has played an important role in this entire process. From working with the team that helped us get the land, to hiring the staff, to the team that helped import the water sport vehicles into the country; this has all been through knowing how to build relationships. I always tell people that when it comes to building relationships, think about adding value to people first. Do not be so eager to ask for favors. Try to add value into people’s lives, so when it does come to a point where you need a favor, it comes naturally. I am big on building relationships and a strong network around you. When you have that, there is absolutely nothing you can’t do.