Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra Hotel – Project Newsletter Issue 1: Demolition Successfully Completed

First Stage of the Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra Hotel Construction successfully completed

How it all started…

The Cape Sierra Hotel was leased by the GoSL to the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) for a fifty-year period in 2008. NASSIT in turn, seeking to maximise its returns on the asset, undertook an international bidding exercise in mid-2010, inviting bidders to present plans to transform the hotel into an International First Class Hotel. The winning bid came from IDEA (UK), who had secured the world-renowned Hilton Worldwide as its hotel operator. IDEA (UK) is a U.K based company led by Sierra Leoneans and most of its shareholders are Sierra Leoneans at home and in the diaspora.


IDEA (UK) contracted with Lagan Construction Ltd, an experienced international construction company to undertake the building of the new hotel. Lagan had the capacity, experience and financial standing that was required by the funding banks and Hilton for such a large and complex project. Lagan had recently completed the resurfacing of the Lungi Airport runway so were able to mobilise very quickly. IDEA (UK) has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary IDEA (SL) to project manage the construction phase and work with Hilton during the operational phase.

Why demolish?


The question is often asked – why demolish a perfectly good structure? Well, the old hotel building was constructed in the early 1960s, to what was then a very modern standard. The hotel, and its iconic water tower, became a landmark on the Aberdeen landscape and provided many years of wonderful service to the local population and foreign visitors, whether on business or for leisure activities. Some fifty years later, having survived the war years, the hotel was looking tired and worn. More significantly, the design of the hotel, whilst great in its time, no longer met the needs of today’s discerning business client who is used to international travel in what has become a much smaller world. For a start, the rooms were too small for a five-star hotel today. The 57 rooms in the main hotel were typically 15-19 square metres in size compared to Hilton’s minimum standard of 32 square metres. Furthermore it would have been difficult, inefficient and even impossible in some cases to adapt the buildings for the technologically sophisticated customer service systems of a modern 5-star hotel.


Call in the experts!

Lagan subcontracted J Tinnelly & Sons from Ireland to undertake the demolition. Tinnelly are demolition experts with over 40 years’ demolition experience worldwide. The demolition methodology chosen was simple and safe and reflected the location, age and condition of the structure, the materials used for constructing the existing hotel and the potential for any hazardous substances. Equally important considerations were environmental remediation, engineering, dismantling and technology issues in order to guarantee complete predictability of the demolition. Tinnelly used two 934 Liebherr demolition excavators with special cutting and crushing equipment to undertake the demolition under full insurance cover, whilst adhering to the standards set out in British Standard – Code of Practice for Demolition. Tinnelly’s extensive experience in complex demolition and major site clearance works resulted in the demolition works being completed ahead of schedule, leaving more than sufficient time to clear the site of the rubble. With the site cleared it is now difficult to imagine that five large structures once stood on the site. The rubble was carefully stockpiled to create additional security reinforcements around the site.  Demolition work can be hazardous, yet due to the care taken by Tinelly, not a single accident was experienced on site.

The Minister for Works, Infrastructure and Housing commented on the speed of the demolition as well as the orderliness of the site, stating that it was an excellent example of how construction works should be carried out in Sierra Leone. The demolition phase has already provided income for many local companies including suppliers of services like security, sand, stone and fuel. A number of local residents were employed on site and they and other local residents have noted that the completion of the first phase has brought an anticipation of job creation in the area and an excitement about what the future holds for the Aberdeen peninsular.

The first phase of the construction of the new Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra Hotel – demolition of the main buildings and recreation areas of the old Cape Sierra Hotel – has been successfully completed. The demolition was completed on schedule and the entire site has now been secured with fencing. Excavation work for the new hotel’s foundations will now commence.

What next?


Detailed design of the hotel continues. The world class international team based in the U.K is working closely with Hilton’s Dubai-based project team on all aspects of the hotel design. Details of the hotel design will be featured in a future newsletter.



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One Response to “Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra Hotel – Project Newsletter Issue 1: Demolition Successfully Completed”

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