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CONTENTS/EDITORIAL Volume 1 Issue 3 APRIL 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE It’s that time of the year when the captains of the hotel industry come together to be a part of Hotel Investment Conference South Asia (HICSA), the annual conference by HVS. The show, in its eighth year now, has grown significantly over the years. That’s not just because of the numbers. While it saw participation from over 600 delegates, it got some big names of the industry coming in as speakers (like Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president, The Trump Organisation). It had pertinent sessions like the one on social media, which saw participation from the country heads of Google and TripAdvisor. The participation from global heads of international hotel giants reiterates the fact that India is an opportunity no big chain wants to miss. However, there are bottlenecks we cannot ignore – from shortage of skilled labour to the delays in construction and procuring licenses. The conference had session on the opportunities and challenges the market has for these global chains. We bring you a summary of some of the prominent sessions in this issue. Also, we have the luxury hospitality chain MGM Grand, and Rotana Hotels Management – both present at HICSA – sharing their respective plans for India. We also have, in this issue, experts from the travel, tourism and hospitality industry giving their perspectives on ‘signs of our times’, that is, the current trends in the industry. We cover a wide range of topics from state of heritage hotels to F&B and emerging trends in social media to international hotel giant talking about opportunities in India. What’s more, there are hoteliers talking about their brands and the business. Furthermore, we update you with significant events and developments from within the industry. Feel free to write to us with your feedback.

New Developments 2 3 4 5 6

Crowne Plaza Rohini eyes events market Courtyard by Marriott bets on the wedding segment Oberoi Hotels summer offers focus more on family Accor introduces Formule 1 in India Park Hyatt opens its first property in Hyderabad

HICSA Report 7-13 All about HICSA 2012

Newsmaker of the Month 14 Carlson Rezidor and Bestech to open 49 Park Inns

New Entrants 16 Rotana Hotels plans expansion in India 20 MGM Hospitality to bring its luxury brand of hotels

Trends 22 New sleep techniques being practiced by hotels

The Brand and Business 26 27 28 29

ITDC redefines its role in the Indian hospitality sector Six Senses waiting to ride on the boom in India Fortune Hotels to be 90 hotels strong by 2015 Neemrana Hotels on their formula for success

Signs of Our Times

READERS WRITE IN Congrats on the launch. I’ve just seen it. Thanks for putting the information on social media. We marketers need more such information. Alan D’Mello, Delhi I recently saw the magazine. Must say it is a good read with interesting interviews and articles. Ashna Sabarwal, Noida

30-45 Experts from travel, tourism and hospitality present their views on current trends

Hospitality Report 46 A study on the hotel industry’s status by 2021

Guest Column 49 Hoteliers shifting their focus on smaller cities

Events & Happenings 50 Chandra Padmanabhan’s cook book launch at The Imperial 51 The Lalit Unveils new luxury tower

People 52 Appointments and movements across the country Editor: Navin S Berry Assistant Editor: Purva Bhatia Business Development: Sudhir Sood Advertising: Saurabh Shukla Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani Hotelscapes is published and printed monthly by Navin Berry on behalf of Cross Section Media Pvt. Ltd. and printed at Anupam Art Printers B-52, Naraina, Phase II, New Delhi and published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002. Tel: 91-11-43784444; Fax: 91-11-41001627, 41001628. E-mail: info@crosssectionmedia.com

Products 54 New launches this season

News Snippets 58 Latest news and updates from the industry

This issue of hotelscapes contains 60 pages plus 4 pages cover

April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

With realty prices soaring in Delhi, action is shifting to the suburbs and the satellite towns. In Rohini, for instance, where IHG has opened Crowne Plaza eyeing the burgeoning convention and events market. Nalin Mandiratta, general manager of the hotel talks about strategy the brand has for the market.

Crowne Plaza New Delhi, Rohini

EYEING A BIG SHARE IN A MICRO-MARKET

O NALIN MANDIRATTA GENERAL MANAGER

Business, so far, has been confined to central Delhi. However, now things are changing. There are different micro-markets developing like west Delhi. The area is set to see even higher paced development once metro connects airport line with Rohini. So we will have first mover’s advantage in this market. 2

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ne question that strikes you, in stantaneously, on seeing the 183rooms Crowne Plaza in northwest Delhi is: Why Rohini? Nalin Mandiratta, the general manager has a ready answer: “Business, so far, has been confined to central Delhi. However, now things are changing. There are different micro-markets developing in the city like west Delhi, which is seeing rapid growth. The area is set to see even higher paced development once metro connects airport line with Rohini. So we will have first mover’s advantage in this market.” The area has attracted investment from other big hotel giants too. The property is owned by Jaksons Developers Pvt Ltd and managed under the brand ‘Crowne Plaza’ by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Competing with Hilton New Delhi Janakpuri and Radisson Blu Paschim Vihar, Crowne Plaza in Rohini is marketing itself as “North-West Delhi’s preferred destination to meet and celebrate”. The hotel is targeting convention as well as events market, in which marriages and social functions will constitute a substantial chunk. The hotel boasts of about 50,000 sq ft of convention space, one of the largest banqueting spaces in Delhi NCR, having a capacity of accommodating up to 2,000 people. “The property is ideal for social functions, MICE as well as for leisure travellers,” says Mandiratta. The group is bank-

ing on the construction and development in the area and aims to get business from the belt constituting Sonepat, Kundli and Bhavani. The location is also advantageous as it is a moneyed market. “The hotel gets 70% of its revenues from Food & Beverage thanks to the weddings and events market,” he adds. The hotel has four eating outlets: Spice Art, which serves North Western Frontier cuisine; Mosaic, an all-day dining restaurant; Connexions offering an ‘eclectic ambience’ and Deli, the pastry shop. The hotel has localised to cater to the needs of the market. “Vegetarians are high in number in the area and also have an aversion to eggs so the entire selection of pastries is eggless. Also, we have a juice bar and chat counter, which is becoming popular among the locals,” he says. The hotel plans to have food promotions and festivals to woo the non-residents. The hotel also has a relaxation spa, Adya that specializes in European and Asian therapies and comprises of therapy rooms, a unisex salon, a well-equipped gym and an outdoor swimming pool. Designed by Thailand-based PIA Engineering & Associates, the hotel is rich in its design features. Having the luxury of space, the property comprises twin towers sharing a common basement. While the 15-storeyed tower is the hotel, the second 10-storeyed tower is office-cum-shopping complex housing top brands. ■ by PURVA BHATIA


The hotel recently organised a wedding fair and will soon be introducing a slew of packages to tap the booming wedding market. It expects weddings to contribute over 30 per cent to overall revenues this year.

Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport

POSITIONING ITSELF AS AN IDEAL EVENTS VENUE

I GAUTAM BHANDARI GENERAL MANAGER

Essentially being a business property with corporate functionality, this is the very first time we are venturing into the weddings and socials arena. With this year's projections in mind, we expect weddings to contribute to 1/3rd of our total revenues for the year 2012.

n a city where space is luxury, this hotel stands out with its spacious interiors. Unlike other Courtyard properties in the country, this one offers expansive lobby area, which appears enlarged also because of the use of white. Cashing-in on this luxury, the hotel, offering 12000 sq ft of meeting room space, is positioning itself as an ideal venue for conventions as well as social functions particularly pre-wedding events. “Wedding is the most important day of one's life. As people are increasingly looking at hotels as venues for weddings, it is a segment that is constantly growing. We are offering space as well as expertise through our in-house event management team,” says the newly appointed general manager, Gautam Bhandari. Showcasing its potential for the same, the hotel recently hosted a Wedding Fair, bringing together different suppliers, ranging from flowers and cards to photography, entertainment and DJ's' under one roof. The fair was a one-stop shop for all the wedding needs. The objective of the fair was to invite bookers and customers for a dekko and collaborate with the in-house team for the events and position itself as an ideal venue for events and functions. "Essentially being a business property with corporate functionality, this is the very first time we are venturing into the weddings and socials arena. With this year's projections in mind, we expect weddings

to contribute to 1/3rd of our total revenues for the year 2012,” says Bhandari. The hotel will be shortly introducing a range of wedding packages for couples - the exclusive Silver with Marriott Reward Membership, an appealing VIP Gold, and Platinum. Currently, it offers food and beverage packages that are customized to the occasion. The hotel has 330 rooms (out of which currently 292 are operational) & 16 contemporary style Courtyard suites. It offers catering options with its restaurants Red Zen and MoMo Cafe. It will soon open a spa completing the needs of events market. Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai is also betting big on its F&B to woo the local market. It has recently introduced "Power Lunch" concept offering Bento Box lunches to attract the corporate clientele from the neighbouring areas. Talking about the latest happenings at the hotel, Bhandari says, “It is important to keep refreshing things for the customers to get them to keep coming back. It's a fresh approach and offering something new that makes guests loyal.” The hotel has the advantage of its location, which is the central business hub of North Mumbai and is easily accessible by both of Mumbai's airports. The hotel, according to Bhandari, sees 79-80% occupancy, which constitutes mainly corporate travellers. ■ by PURVA BHATIA

April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

At an event held at Oberoi Gurgaon, The Oberoi Group announced a slew of offers to woo customers as well as its travel partners. Also, the group honoured the travel agents with certificates of appreciation for their contribution in the last financial year.

The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

SUMMER OFFERS BEGIN, MORE FOCUS ON FAMILY HOLIDAYERS

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he Oberoi Group has launched special summer holidays offers to woo domestic travellers. The group aims to see a growth in occupancies with these packages. “We see a huge opportunity in the domestic leisure market. To tap in to the potential of this growing segment of business, we have created our summer offers which target quality conscious travellers. Our objective is to create memorable experiences for guests who stay at our beautiful award winning hotels,” said Hemant Mediratta, vice president, sales, The Oberoi Group. The offers are valid at different Oberoi properties including The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra; The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur and The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore. The package includes daily breakfast, complimentary two-way airport or railway station transfers and a 15 percent discount on spa therapies. Guests have the option of adding lunch or dinner to the package at an additional rate. Valid for a minimum of two nights, guests will be given accommodation in a Premier Room or in a Luxury Tent, depending on the property they choose. There are offers like getting the third room complimentary on booking two rooms. If a guest stays three times in any of the properties in ensuing summer, he gets a room night complimentary anywhere in the world; for five stays 4

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Highlights… ☛ Keeping in mind the interest of

families, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts is offering a complimentary additional room for two children, up to 12 years of age.

HEMANT MEDIRATTA VICE PRESIDENT, SALES

We see a huge opportunity in the domestic leisure market. To tap in to the potential of this growing segment of business, we have created our summer offers which target quality conscious travellers. Our objective is to create memorable experiences for guests who stay at our beautiful award winning hotels.

he is entitled to two room nights. Also, there are a number of offers for kids to attract families, for instance the offer of a complimentary additional room for two children, up to 12 years of age at Rajvilas, Udaivilas, Amarvilas and Vanyavilas. "Our internal research says people are increasingly travelling with friends and family and in small groups. Keeping that in mind we are offering different packages at different properties," says Mediratta. "We are also noticing a rise in weekend stays from the local market. We experimented that in Mumbai and saw the interest, so we will be extending those as well," he adds. The Oberoi Group launched offers at an event at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, where Sanjay Rai, executive vice president, sales, The Oberoi Group and Hemant Mediratta, vice president, sales, The Oberoi Group unveiled the special brochure in the presence of experts from travel, trade and tourism industry. ■


In keeping with its expansion plans in India, Accor has launched its budget brand – Formule 1.

Accor Formule 1

A NEW BENCHMARK IN BUDGET SEGMENT

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he rooms are stylish and clean, equipped with quality bedding, flat screen TVs and free wireless inter net throughout the hotel. The ambience is ‘cool and cheerful’ and the check-in is available 24X7 – all of this at a price of little over Rs 2000 per person at Accor’s low-cost brand ‘Formule 1’. If the group is to be believed the brand will be a game changer in the budget hotels segment, offering “best budget rooms as per global hospitality standards”. “Accor is revolutionising the budget hotel sector. It’s an innovative budget hotel brand that will promote the concept of standard rooms with a single price for up to three people,” says Philip Logan, vice president Formule 1 Hotels, India. The first Formule 1 hotel will open next month in Greater Noida, which is an IT and education hub. The hotel has 114 simple rooms offering essential comforts. “Formule 1 presents a fresh approach to low-cost Indian accommodation. Although a standardized brand, it has scope for localisation. In fact, there are several elements modified for the Indian market,” equips Logan. For example, the rooms have enclosed bathroom, 25% rooms with bunk beds offering triple sharing, iron and ironing board, soap bar and shower gel. Indians, says Logan, tend to travel with a lot of luggage, so unlike in any other Formule 1 hotels in the world, the ones in India will have luggage trolleys and space under the bed. The F&B at the hotel is outsourced. The Greater Noida property has a Café Buddy outlet along with Swagath, a local restaurant brand. According to Logan outsourcing re-

Highlights… ☛ Facilities include flat screen

TVs with extra channels and free wireless internet throughout the hotel ☛ Other in-room facilities

include quality bedding with duvets, ensuite bathroom, individually controlled airconditioning and a work table. ☛ Rooms will have luggage

PHILIP LOGAN VICE PRESIDENT

Accor is revolutionising the budget hotel sector. It’s an innovative budget hotel brand that will promote the concept of standard rooms with a single price for up to three people. Formule 1 presents a fresh approach to low-cost Indian accommodation. duces the cost for the hotel, the benefit of which is passed on to the guests. The group is optimistic about the brand’s growth in India. Accor already has 380 Formule 1 hotels in 14 countries. In India, the group plans to open 10 more properties by the end of 2013 in India. Besides, the For-

trolleys and space under the bed for people who tend to travel with a lot of luggage.

mule1 property in Greater Noida, Accor is in process of opening Formule1 hotels in Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad by the end of this year. “We are confident of the brand being a game changer in the Indian market. The segment hasn’t matured as yet in India. The question everyone seems to be asking is when this segment will go international. We are offering fixed price product with standardized room and consistency in service,” asserts Logan. A budget brand, Formule 1 is different from Accor’s economy brand – ibis. The room size is smaller and F&B, as mentioned above, is outsourced. “As you come down the value chain, services reduce but the experience in the room makes up for it,” explains Logan. ■ by PURVA BHATIA

April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Park Hyatt

OPENS ITS FIRST PROPERTY IN HYDERABAD The hotel aims to stand-out in this cluttered market with its serviced luxury apartmentsThe Residence-a first in the city.

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yatt Hotels has announced the opening of Park Hyatt Hyderabad, the first city Park Hyatt hotel in India. Located in the heart of the upscale Banjara Hills neighbourhood, the hotel targets business travellers and local guests. The hotel also offers 42 fully serviced luxury apartments – The Residence, with five-star facilities and amenities. “Park Hyatt hotels are premium luxury hotels designed to cater to the discerning individual seeking privacy, personalised service and luxurious elegance of a contemporary hotel,” said Sven Hoffmeyer, general manager of Park Hyatt Hyderabad. “This new hotel will maintain the brand’s emphasis on art and culinary excellence with locally inspired artwork in the public areas and a signature restaurant headed by experienced chefs. I am delighted that the majority of our associates have been recruited from other Hyatt hotels, which will ensure that our guests receive an authentic and true Park Hyatt experience during their stay in Hyderabad,” he added. The modern, eight-story Park Hyatt Hyderabad includes 185 guestrooms and 24 Suites on the first six floors with 42 service apartments on the two uppermost floors. The stylish and contemporary interiors feature Indian motifs inspired by henna patterns, while silk and vibrant colours add a sari-inspired element to the decor. The restaurants at Park Hyatt Hyderabad are designed with interactive show kitchens. Tre-Forni, the hotel’s signature restaurant, prepares Italian dishes and offers communal traditional Italian-style dining as well as a private dining room. Dining Room offers 6

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Nizams of Hyderabad, The Spa offers hotel guests and local residents an enticing bouquet of result-oriented beauty and wellness therapies. The Spa offers other amenities including a Swedish sauna, steam room, beauty salon, and a fitness centre featuring a temperature-controlled swimming pool and the latest gym and cardio equipment.

Meetings and Events

SVEN HOFFMEYER GENERAL MANAGER

The hotel will maintain the brand’s emphasis on art and culinary excellence with locally inspired artwork in the public areas and a signature restaurant headed by experienced chefs. The majority of our associates have been recruited from other Hyatt hotels, which will ensure that our guests receive a true Park Hyatt experience. Hyderabadi dishes and classic European favourites. For a light bite to eat, The Living Room is the best option. The friendly and warm Oriental Bar and Kitchen is best for Southeast Asian comfort snacks. With treatments inspired by the royal

Park Hyatt Hyderabad is the first hotel in India to feature Hyatt's innovative residentialstyle meeting concept. Named The Manor, amenities for meetings and events at the hotel offer small and mid-sized groups a personal, tailor-made meetings or events experience aided by a dedicated Events Service team. The hotel also has a pillar-less ballroom that can be divided into three different spaces, a pre-function area, and seven meeting rooms, each equipped with the latest technology, high-speed internet access and audiovisual systems.

The Residence The city’s first five-star serviced apartments attached to a hotel, The Residence at Park Hyatt Hyderabad, offers an exclusive “home away from home” experience with a wide range of services and facilities. The fully furnished apartments are spacious, bright and airy with high ceilings and city or atrium views. The apartments have fully-equipped kitchens, stylish furniture and complimentary wireless Internet. All apartments are fully furnished and all the hotel facilities are accessible to guests of The Residence. Private Chefs “on request” are also available for parties. ■ compiled by APRAJITA SHISHOO


HICSA REPORT

HICSA 2012: The eighth edition of Hotel Investment Conference South Asia (HICSA) 2012 organised by HVS India concluded in Mumbai highlighting the challenges, opportunities and trends in Indian hospitality sector. Hotelscapes gets you the details of key discussions at the conference.

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otel Investment Conference South Asia – the platform that gets hoteliers, developers, bank ers, investors and consultants together to discuss and deliberate on challenges and opportunities in the Indian hospitality sector – got bigger in its 8 th edition. It saw over 600 participants, including 155 international and overwhelming 108 women delegates. At a time when the global economic crisis is impacting travel and tourism industry worldwide, India continues to be an attractive market for international hotel giants to make investments. However, even as there are opportunities in all segments, (from budget to upper upscale and luxury in not just the metros but also in smaller town and cities) there are bottlenecks that slacken the pace of growth and development. Finding the right partner for franchise or management is imperative for a healthy long term

growth. HICSA 2012 highlighted all of these concerns and more. It underlined the signs of times and also put forth the way forward for the industry.

What’s attracting global chains to India? Picture this: hospitality giant, Carlson Rezidor, as reported in the magazine, has tied up with Bestech to get a stronger foothold in the market. It will invest Rs 210 crore to open 49 mid-scale Park Inn by Radisson hotels in North and Central India by 2024. US-based Interstate Hotels & Resorts has announced that the company has expanded its signed and managed hotels portfolio in India to 13. Accor plans to have 90 hotels in the country by 2015. Clearly, international hotel chains are betting big on the opportunity that India holds. The firms unanimously seem to agree that India is more profitable for them than

the international market. According to Hubert Jolly, president & CEO, Carlson Rezidor Group, India currently contributes 5 per cent to Carlson’s global revenues and by 2015 India would constitute 25 per cent of total global pipeline and 7 per cent of our global revenues. The opportunities, thanks to a rising middle class and a huge demand-supply gap, are tremendous and everyone is eager to have their share in this fast growing pie. “The dynamics are favourable and there isn’t enough supply, there is space for several competitors – larger the market, better it is for everyone. With the emergence of middle class, budget and mid-market will be biggest in coming years. Low cost flights are changing the profiles of travellers so we’ll see more international travel. We have a brand for everyone,” said Dennis Hennequin, chairman and CEO, Accor. Interstate Hotels & Resorts, which has a April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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HICSA REPORT

HICSA Hotels Awards 2012

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ICSA Hotels Awards acknowledge outstanding new hotel developments in the South Asian region in the past year. The winners are selected by delegates through an online voting system. This year, a total of five hotels were awarded in different segments, Vivanta by Taj, Bekal (in addition to Best Upscape Leisure award) received Critics' Choice Award for creating and investing in a new destination. “The HICSA Hotels of the Year Awards has evolved over the years to become a recognised and coveted platform. The awards are a reflection of the burgeoning growth of the Indian hospitality industry and recognise the quality of accommodation products across different hotel segments. It is notable that these products have witnessed enormous diversification based on their target market in the past five years. This is evident from the fact that the

HOTEL SEGMENT

AWARDEE

Luxury / Upper Upscale

The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Upscale - Business

Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway

Upscale - Leisure

Vivanta by Taj Bekal, Kerala

Mid-Market

Novotel Varun Beach, Visakhapatnam

Budget

ibis Mumbai Airport, Mumbai

awards were conferred upon five hotel segments this year,” said Manav Thadani, MRICS, Chairman, HVS – India and Chairman, HVS Sustainability Services. The panel of judges for the HICSA 'Hotels of the Year Awards 2012' included Manav Thadani, Chairman, HVS India and Chairman, HVS Sustainability Services, HVS South Asia; Ashish Jakhanwala, Chief Executive Officer and MD, SAMHI; Homi Aibara, Partner, Mahajan and Aibara; Akshay Kulkarni, Executive Director South Asia, Cushman and Wakefield Hospitality; Navneet Bali, Chief Investment Officer, Duet India Hotels and Ritu Bhatia Kler, Managing Director, Total Integrated Design.

Luxury Upper Upscale Segment – The Oberoi Gurgaon

Upscale Segment Business – Sheraton Bangalore Hotel Brigade Gateway

Upscale Segment Leisure - Vivanta By Taj Bekal Kerala

Mid Market Segment – Hotel Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach

Budget Segment – Ibis Mumbai Airport

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HICSA REPORT

Inder Sharma Conferred Lifetime Achievement Award The HICSA Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual, who has made an outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry. This year HICSA honoured Inder Sharma, former chairman and MD, Sita World Travel “for redefining the Indian travel landscape by creating new standards of excellence.” Sharma’s career spans over five decades and he is often referred as The Travel Man of India. His first assignment was as a transfer assistant with Mercury Travels at Rs 150 per month. “But it was the only offer I had and I decided to accept it with both hands without thinking about future prospects,” said Sharma. During that period, he got selected for training with SITA World Travels. His business acumen helped him set up offices in India and abroad. He later went on to become the owner of SITA Travels. Under Sharma’s leadership, SITA emerged as a brand synonymous with travel in India. While he received several awards for his outstanding contribution to the industry, he became the first person in tourism to be awarded Padma Shri. “I am honoured and humbled... and doubly delighted to get this award from a person who I hold in highest regard – Deepak Parekh, one of the finest Indians. There’s always a woman behind every man’s success and I do recognise the contribution my wife has made in my life and my two children who have dealt with me and my idiosyncrasies,” said Sharma.

joint venture with JHM Hotels in India, said it sees opportunity in upper upscale segment. “We are an international player and we’ve been around for over 50 years. We believe the growth is in the emerging markets. We enter a market only if we have a good local partner like we have JHM here. We have the management expertise which can be realised to full potential with a local partner,” said Jim Abrahamson, CEO, Interstate Hotels and Resorts. “Our focus will be on upscale and upper upscale

hotels. We have a great pipeline in place; we can grow to 100 hotels in five years. The greatest opportunity is in upscale midmarket category. The luxury market has only little opportunity in India and budget segment doesn’t make sense to us.”

Challenges Galore Despite the opportunities, there are several issues that hinder the process of growth. The major challenges are in the domains of human resources (in terms of skill and

knowledge base), land acquisitions, and approval or licenses process in India. Also, grooming and developing suitable human resources for the industry is a huge challenge. There is a big gap in this segment, with dearth of good colleges and lack of quality training. The gestation period for setting up a hotel in India is significantly more than the global norm and the sector has to incur higher costs. “The issue is that the sector lacks government support as it is considered an elitist sector,” pointed out Nakul Anand, executive director, ITC Limited. Rotana Hotel Management, which has been eyeing a presence in India says land acquisition is the biggest challenge. “Land acquisition is a big challenge; there are delays in construction and completion which results in increase in costs creating problems for both operators as well as developers. I’d like to see some progress there to build properties in time,” said Selim El Zyr, president and CEO, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation. Agreed Michael Issenberg, chairman and COO APAC, Accor, “The challenge of land acquisition is huge. We have been in and out of India a few times but want to get it right this time. We have learnt a lot about the market; one needs to put more focus on construction than development.” US real estate tycoon Donald Trump has been looking for an opportunity to build luxury homes and hotels in India for long. “The biggest difficulty is assessing who’s real and who’s not. Everyone is so entrepreneurial that it’s difficult to assess and find the right partner. The issues notwithstanding, India is an important market that holds tremendous potential. “This is really India’s time. In next 15-20 years, India will be equal to if not exceed China’s potential. We have been lucky to have found the right partner and we have big plans for the market,” said Gamal Aziz, president and CEO, MGM Hospitality. Anand feels the necessary boom in the market will come only when the domestic market starts staying in hotels. “Right now Indian families travel mostly to places where they can stay with their family or friends except for pilgrimage tourism. The tipping point will be when the middle class starts staying in hotels,” he said.

Technology & Social Media Social media has greatly impacted the way brands and customers communicate with April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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HICSA REPORT

Amitabh Kant, CEO & MD, DMICDC; Ankur Bhatia, executive director, BirdGroup; Arjun Sharma, MD, Le Passage to India; Priya Paul, chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels; Vikram Madhok, MD, Abercrombie and Kent India and Sunder Advani, CMD, Advani Hotels.

L-R: Vimal Singh, Golden Tulip Hotels; Ajay Bakaya, executive director, Sarovar Hotels; Dilip Puri, MD, Starwood Hotels India; delegate; Jean Michelle Cassé, Accor Hotels India.

each other. Customers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on reviews and updates on social networking sites. Hoteliers have realised the importance of integrating social media into the overall marketing mix. “The critics of yesteryears have been replaced by social networking sites. Consumers now rely on the reviews by friends and family on social media to make purchase decisions,” said Arjun Baljee, founder and MD, Peppermint Hotels. Nikhil Nath, founder and CEO, Knowcross Solutions, “Before the internet era, people relied on friend’s opinion. Social media has amplified space and taken away the distance. For example, if one puts a status on Facebook saying he’s planning a trip to Paris, there are instant and detailed responses in no time! TripAdvisor has showed 10

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Dinesh Khanna, executive director, Novotel Juhu Beach; Arvind Singhji of Mewar, HH Udaipur; and Sunder Advani, CMD, Advani Hotels.

how people rely on advices gives by fellow guests or customers.” Vikas Agnihotri, industry director BFSI and Travel, Google India explains the phenomena. “Our study and research suggests that it starts with consumers dreaming about a particular product or service. This is followed by searching about it online, which is followed by planning. Finally, it comes to experiencing, which is about delivering what social media promises.” TripAdvisor, the travel website that compiles reviews from customers, has made a big impact in the space. Julio Bruno, global vice president sales, TripAdvisor advised: “Social media is a part of our daily lives. Our consumer today is looking at all forms of media. Every hotelier should make optimal use of web, social media and manage reputation

through these. If you don’t engage with consumers, you’ll miss out on the opportunity.” However, there can be a doubt or suspicion as it could be a competitor writing a negative review or the brand paying a blogger to talk up. “Consumers are increasingly becoming discerning. So, they have the acumen to know if it’s a fact or not,” said Nath.

Tapping Tier II and Tier III cities Hoteliers have a general consensus on the burgeoning opportunities in Tier II and III cities. With soaring land costs in Tier I cities and demand growing in smaller towns, domestic as well as international giants are making a beeline to cash-in on the opportunity. Key factors supporting growth in these cities include reasonable land costs, limited hotel supply, healthy demand patterns led


HICSA REPORT

How Incredible is India? Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Ltd. delivered the keynote address where he listed out the key concerns, he highlighted the opportunity India presents. Here’s an excerpt: “Customers today are increasingly becoming discerning, demanding and even unreasonable. However, it is important to please them especially if you are in the service industry. Evidently, the service sector is the driver of growth. 30% of the total employment and 50% of FDI comes to the service sector. Yet one can’t help ask: What happened to the Incredible India? It was initially conceived to promote tourism but unfortunately with economic crisis, India’s GDP subsided... The fact remains that domestic demand is huge, so much so, that it cannot be met internally. Travel and tourism sector needs strong support. Also, we need to stop being armchair critics. CK Prahlad has envisioned India at 75. We should have a positive attitude. There should be a vision for this sector for over 10 years. Like many service industries, there is a challenge of retaining staff. The battle is not in getting customers but in retaining talent. Land acquisition in India is a nightmare; the act is archaic and there’s faulty land politics. It is startling that Indians are 8th biggest spenders abroad but extremely price conscious when spending in India while travelling.

Among other delegates, Suresh Kumar, president, Fortune Hotels (second from left) and S.P. Jain, MD, Pride Hotels (second from right)

mostly by domestic visitation, and strong economic and infrastructural growth. Pushpendra Bansal, promoter, Lords Inn hotels opined that the next big success stories will come out of smaller cities. Currently, the group owns 7 properties, and manages eight more properties under the Lords banner. The group aims to cross 20 properties by year end. Three star mid-market value hotel chain Premier Inn would like to open hotels in smaller towns. The group is optimistic about the opportunity in India. “The first phase focussed on securing sites for acquisition and development for getting into the market, testing the product and showing that we are a serious player. Having established the brand we have now entered our second phase of development where we want to invest strategically primarily through

L-R: Nakul Anand, executive director, ITC Hotels with Rajiv Kaul, president, Leela Hotels.

asset light models by managing hotels on behalf of owners,” said Aly Shariff, managing director, Premier Inn India. In 2006, Berggruen Holdings, a New-York based investment fund entered India to set up Keys Hotels, a value-for-money hotel chain in India. Today, it has a mixed bag of both owned sites as well management contracts. Asked whether the returns, in this market, are favourable, Sanjay Sethi, managing director and CEO of Keys Hotels: “The cost of construction remains more or less constant everywhere. The economies of these cities allow you to generate revenues.” The hotels have to adapt to cater to the needs of smaller towns and cities. “The customer in these towns,” said Vimal Singh, MD South Asia, Golden Tulip Hotels & Resorts and Louvre Hotels, “has different expecta-

tions than from what he has from hotels in Tier I cities. He is prepared to expect less in the smaller cities. However, the basics still have to be delivered. Service levels are important.” “Even when you go down price points, service expectations do not go down,” said Rahul Pandit, president and COO, The Lemon Tree Hotels. There are several challenges in operating in these towns, shortage of skilled manpower topping the list. However, Tier II and III cities offer spending power and low penetration cost. While growth of hospitality sector in the country’s Tier II and Tier III cities is set to become the next big trend, the market is difficult and flexibility is the key to survival. Hoteliers say it important to stay invested in long term. ■ by PURVA BHATIA

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HICSA REPORT

Manav Thadani

THE POWER OF ADVICE BY A TRUSTED ADVISOR HVS celebrated the global premier of a short film titled “Power of Advice”, in which the world’s leading hospitality CEOs discussed the importance of giving and receiving advice, and the role advice has played in their careers.

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VS entered Asia fifteen years ago with the opening of its New Delhi office, and over the years the company has developed a reputation of the “Go To” hospitality consulting firm in the region. I was at the right place at the right time and was fortunate to receive the right advice from individuals, whom I consider my mentors in the Indian hotel industry. As a young entrepreneur, I thought of these mentors as my “trusted advisors” and to become one was a goal I set for myself very early in my career. Today, I am proud to say 12

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that not only have I been successful in attaining my goal, but also translating it as the driving force behind the organisational culture within HVS India; a trusted advisor to many stakeholders of the hospitality industry in South Asia. “The Power of Our Advice” has resulted in several dreams being realised right from hotels being built to them exchanging hands. Over the years there have been numerous instances where the relationship between me/my colleagues and our clients has turned into one of friendship and trust, where opin-

ions are shared openly and candidly. Most importantly, our clients recognise that we value giving the “right advice” as much as they gain from receiving it. Nothing can exemplify this better than the fact that some of our most loyal clients, from amongst the 900 projects we have done so far in India, are the ones whom we advised against developing their initial hotel projects. It is this group of people, who perhaps send HVS the most number of referrals because they know that in us they have a trusted advisor – an advisor who isn’t afraid to tell its clients the truth,


HICSA REPORT even if it is something they don’t necessarily want to hear. Last summer when our executive search partners around the world started production of a film called the “Power of Advice”, I realised that becoming a trusted advisor was not a feat achieved by my team alone, but was also common to many HVS partners globally. In fact, Steve Rushmore, founder and president of HVS, is often referred to as the “Hotel Guru” in the United States. When he advises, the Global CEOs around the table listen; and this is what the power of advice is all about. Your credibility and knowledge, built over many years through sincere efforts and a hunger to learn, makes key decision makers turn to you for guidance. At HICSA today, HVS celebrates the global premier of a short film titled “Power of Advice”, in which the world’s leading hospitality CEOs discuss the importance of giving and receiving advice, and the role advice has played in their careers. The film follows twenty hospitality CEOs through Hong Kong, London, New York and Las Vegas as they oversee their global organisations. During this journey, the movie reveals themes

Over the years there have been numerous instances where the relationship between me/my colleagues and our clients has turned into one of friendship and trust, where opinions are shared openly and candidly. Most importantly, our clients recognise that we value giving the “right advice”.

that include: ● Being big enough to solicit advice ● Whether it is really lonely at the top ● The role of intuition and gut instinct in decision-making ● The importance of understanding what it is you don’t know ● The role of advice in teams and the quality of your people ● The fact you have to learn how to give advice ● That good advice makes you think and gain a perspective ● That telling the truth is essential ● And the DNA of a good advisor

Cast Stephen Alden, CEO, Maybourne Hotel Group

When do you know that you are a trusted advisor? ☛ When clients call you, not the other way around. ☛ When clients stop negotiating on price, and start negotiating on price/ value. ☛ When you get invited to client outings and private social gatherings. ☛ When you stop talking and start listening. ☛ When you think of your client’s best interests before your own. ☛ When you take pride in your client’s accomplishments before your own. ☛ When you are willing to say no to a fee because you can’t deliver or you don’t believe in the’client. ☛ When your advice means more than a boilerplate report. ☛ When you can measure the impact of your advice.

☛ When you get to pick your clients, instead of clients picking you. ☛ When reporters want your opinion. ☛ When people seek you out as a mentor. ☛ When teaching becomes more important than preaching. ☛ When you are willing to say, “I don’t know.” ☛ When empathy trumps sympathy. ☛ When you can say that you truly love what you do for a living. ☛ When clients are willing to give unsolicited references. ☛ When you are willing to tell your client “no.” ☛ When you see possibilities instead of roadblocks. ☛ When you inspire instead of direct.

Source: Keith Kefgen, CEO HVS Executive Search, HotelMag.com Blog.

● Gamal Aziz, President & CEO, MGM Hospitality ● Raymond Bickson, Managing Director & CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces ● Winnie Chiu, President, Kosmopolito Hotels International Limited ● Eric Danziger, President & CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group ● Patrick Fitzgibbon, Sr. Vice President Development - Europe & Africa, Hilton Worldwide ● Laurence Geller, President & CEO, Strategic Hotels & Resorts ● Steven R. Goldman, CEO, Groupe du Louvre ● Peter Henley, President & CEO, Onyx Hospitality ● Dr. Jim Houran, Partner – North America, HVS Executive Search ● Patrick Imbardelli, President & CEO, Pan Pacific Hotels Group ● Keith Kefgen, CEO, HVS Executive Search ● Richard Leonard, Managing Director, Angelo Gordon & Company ● Michael A Leven, President & COO, Las Vegas Sands ● Simon Naudi, Director, Corinthia Group ● Martin Rinck, Area President - Asia Pacific, Hilton Wolrdwide ● Steve Rushmore, Chairman & Founder, HVS ● Barry Shier, CEO, Partner House ● Kathleen Taylor, President & CEO, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts ● Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Loews Hotels CoChairman of the Board and Office of the President, Loews Corporation ● Simon Turner, President, Global Development – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide ● Paul Whetsell, President & CEO, Loews Hotels ● Paul White, Former CEO, Orient Express Hotels ■ by MANAV THADANI

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NEWSMAKER OF THE MONTH

Carlson Rezidor and Bestech Join Hands to Open

49 NEW GENERATION PARK INNS BY RADISSON India is the first country in Asia-Pacific where Carlson Rezidor will introduce the new generation of Park Inn. The group is betting on the growing demand for affordable mid-maket hotels.

(Standing) L-R: Gordon Mckinnon, chief branding officer, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Simon Barlow, president, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Asia Pacific and K.B. Kachru, executive vice president, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, South Asia. (Sitting) L-R: Dharmendra Bhandari, MD, Bestech Hospitalities; Hubert Jolly, president, CEO and director Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Sunil Satija, MD, Bestech Hospitalities.

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arlson Rezidor and Bestech Hospitality have come together to cater to the growing demands of the burgeoning middle class in the country. Both the hospitality groups signed a strategic partnership to develop 49 Park Inns by Radisson Hotels. These hotels will be developed across Northern and Central India by 2024. With this strategic alliance, Carlson Rezidor plans to introduce new generation Park Inns by Radisson with a strong focus on the growing middle-class. In a joint press conference, both the companies announced their plans to develop these properties, which would be 14

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full-service mid market hotels and they together would invest $ 42 million on the first two properties, Park Inn by Radisson in Gurgaon Sector 88 and Park Inn by Radisson Chandigarh, Mohali. According to Simon Barlow, president, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Asia-Pacific, “These hotels will not be budget or economy hotels, but will cater to a mid-market segment.” Continuing further Barlow said that the emergence of the middle class as a strong category is the reason for this investment, the middle class in India is expected to grow from 170 million in 2010 to close to 600 million by 2025, the government is spending on infrastructure

and the domestic travel is on increase. The demand for modern yet affordable accommodation will be on the rise and thus the investments in the properties. Another reason for the strategic alliance is that the demand of the domestic market clearly outweighs the potential of the international market. Stressing further on the same point, Barlow said that, India’s potential lies a lot in the family market and the new generation Park Inns have been designed to appease the family market. For instance, along with a bed, there is an option of a sofa bed, so when a family comes and stays at the hotel, they don’t have to opt for a new


NEWSMAKER OF THE MONTH

Exclusive territorial agreement with Bestch in North and Central India NORTH INDIA STATES ☛ Jammu & Kashmir ☛ Himachal Pradesh ☛ Chandigarh ☛ Punjab ☛ Uttarakhand ☛ Haryana ☛ Delhi (NCR) ☛ Rajasthan ☛ Uttar Pradesh

CENTRAL INDIA STATES ☛ Madhya Pradesh ☛ Chhattisgarh

Source: HVS

Source: HVS

Carlson Rezidor Hotels in India 2012

Radisson Country Inn and Suites Park Plaza Park Inn by Radisson Total

In Operation 24 15 10 3 52

Pipeline

21 12 11 4 48

Total Hotels (Operational and In Pipeline) 45 27 21 7* 100

*It excludes the 49 Par Inn by Radisson with Bestech Hospitalities

2012 Expected openings 9 2 2 1 14

room or an extra bed, a sofa bed solves the problem. The two properties in Gurgaon and Chandigarh will be 200 keys and 160 keys respectively and both of them will be operational by 201516. The Park Inn by Radisson Gurgaon will have approximately 9,000 sq m of built up area and will have excellent visibility from the proposed 150 m wide Dwarka expressway. The site for the Chandigarh property has been strategically chosen and is just 3 km away from the under-construction international airport at Mohali and has excellent road connectivity with Ludhiana and Jalandhar. When asked how they will tackle the problems, like skilled manpower, while setting up these hotels, KB Kachru, exec. vice presdent, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor, replied saying that the group has tied up with few hotel schools. According to HVS, the country would need 180,000 hotel rooms and more than 40% of these are expected to be in the mid-scale segment. “We did a major study before we decided to open these new generation Park Inns. India is the first country in Asia Pacific where we have introduced the new generation of Park Inn by Radisson, and the major reasons for this is the growing demand for affordable accommodation, increase in the domestic travel by middle class, the need for right mid-scale brand that fits well with India’s emerging middle class,” said Simon Barlow. ■ by APRAJITA SHISHOO

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Rotana Hotels

PLANS EXPANSION IN INDIA; WILL ADD ANOTHER OFFICE SOON Rotana Hotels, Middle East and North Africa based hotel management company is eyeing growth in the Indian market. A multi-brand company, it offers hotels in different categories from full-service upscale to hotel apartments. Aman Aditya Sachdev, senior VP – India, Rotana talks about the brand and the plans for India. Tell us briefly about Rotana Hotel Management Corporation Rotana has grown to become the largest hospitality management company in the Middle East and Africa region (MEA). Our brands are not only widely recognised, but also much admired across the MEA and in our feeder markets. Rotana’s strategic development is orchestrated by a team of professionals, who have exceptional international experience and a fundamental understanding of the cultures and communities of each country where we operate. Until recently our strategic focus has been 16

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to have a property located in every country in the MEA; this plan is on track. Our portfolio has increased from 2 in 1993 to 78 by 2012. This impressive growth in the number of Rotana properties is powered by a consistency in ‘getting it right’ first time, every time. With our MEA network well consolidated, we have recently set in motion a roadmap to expand our brand footprint across additional regions and within these regions certain specific countries where we believe we will be able to bring high value returns to property owners/developers whilst delivering the bestin-class standards of hospitality to our guests.

We have been able to achieve such success within a relatively short period of time by offering the best-in-class international hospitality standards which have been perfectly blended in with the essence of traditional Arabian hospitality. Rotana is a multi-brand hospitality management company, operating the following four main brands: Rotana Hotels & Resorts are full-service upscale and upper-upscale hotels & resorts located in key business centre locations and sublime resort locations, respectively. With a wide range of services and facilities housed


NEW ENTRANTS believe that it has a wider geographic application in key locations. Development of these brands is meticulously managed across all our operations, evoking the utmost trust and confidence among property owners. As a management team, we are dedicated to raising the standards within the hotel industry by setting and improving on our own. We will continue to achieve measured growth and realistic expansion in locations which are of interest to us bringing our expertise to every future hotel, convention centre, serviced apartment or prime resort. As a company, we continue to pursue new openings and opportunities, fresh challenges, and partners, who seek the same goals and share the same aspirations.

Which are the segments Rotana operates in? What is the group’s USP? The fact that we are a multi-brand company with four very clearly positioned brands, we

under this brand umbrella, Rotana Hotels & Resorts offer the highest standards of luxury and convenience to the discerning traveller. The brand’s success is founded on its operating property portfolio and on its ability to attract some of the most renowned names in the restaurant world. Centro Hotels by Rotana meets the demands of a new generation of traveller, seeking finesse and functionality at reasonable rates. Young and fresh, Centro is a midscale lifestyle brand that is original in its presentation and dynamic in its offerings. Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana are first-class residences, with an added personal touch. Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana have been developed with both longterm guests and families in mind. Those staying longer than the average visitor will appreciate the particularly spacious accommodation, whilst families relish the promise of an environment which more closely resembles home. Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana is a niche market segment brand comprising of upscale and upper upscale hotels & resorts. This brand was developed by Rotana especially for the MEA region, although we

are able to cater to multiple market segments and locations. Rotana’s diversity of brands has provided a comprehensive range of products that aim to meet all the requirements of our customers depending on their travel motivation. We cater heavily to the corporate and MICE segments of the market in our downtown/CBD locations, and at the same time we have firmly established our brand in the leisure market with our exceptional resort property portfolio. The USP of Rotana is a combination of strategic planning and sound financial control, sophisticated human resource capabilities and reliable technical services support. The brand is driven by passion and personal warmth and the delivery of consistent quality standards, combined with a keen understanding of regional markets, commitment to research, and significant investment in systems and people. Our product offering is exceptionally strong. Our properties are in the right locations and our level of service, much sought after. Guests know what to expect when staying at any of our properties and this is very important for us to maintain. We have worked hard to gain the trust of our customers in a highly competitive market where most of the global brands were operating 2 to 3 decades before we came in. We are certain of our ability to be able to recreate the same level of success in India in the coming years.

What are the company’s expansion plans for India? What are the targets set for the market for the next 5 years?

AMAN ADITYA SACHDEV SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT – INDIA

The USP of Rotana is a combination of strategic planning and sound financial control, sophisticated human resource capabilities and reliable technical services support. Our product offering is exceptionally strong. Our properties are in the right locations and our level of service, much sought after.

India has always been a very important market for us. We are proud of the fact that India has been the country of origin of a significant number of Rotana colleagues, both at frontline and managerial levels. We also continue to enjoy tremendous patronage from Indians travelling overseas and staying at our hotels, both in terms of corporate and leisure demand; the fact that India is one of the largest trading partners for the majority of the countries where we currently operate in has resulted in us having built a very strong and sustainable relationship with the country over the last two decades. We have been actively researching the Indian market for some time, and have now committed ourselves to operate in the country for the long term. As a whole the country April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW ENTRANTS continues to be grossly under-serviced in terms hotel rooms, this fact gets all the more compounded when you focus on the branded sector. Whilst it can be argued that some of the major cities within the country have reached an acceptable level in terms of room supply, new large entrants such as Rotana will generate further demand traction as our global sales and marketing network drives additional business into these cities. Secondary and tertiary cities remain significantly under serviced, so in addition to the major cities we are actively pursuing upcoming destinations. In line with the above we are in the process of establishing a full-fledged office in Delhi-NCR. The prime function is to put in place Rotana’s strategy for its development within the market in terms of managing properties and’introducing Rotana to developers. We have set in motion our roll-out plans for the Indian market for three of our brands – Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Centro Hotels by Rotana and Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana. We are delighted with the early response and interest which we have received from the market.

Rotana recently opened its outbound sales office in Mumbai. What has your experience been so far? In July 2011, we inaugurated our new outbound sales office in India, which is working on promoting, marketing and selling Rotana’s properties and increasing Rotana’s market share whether business or leisure outbound travellers, in line with the overall expansion of Rotana and our growing market segment. It’s worth mentioning that the number of outbound business from India to our hotels increased by 11% in 2011, which is a very positive sign.

What is Rotana’s understanding of the Indian hospitality market: what are the key strengths and challenges?’ Domestic travel across all segments con-

Highlights… ❏ Rotana currently has an operating portfolio of 43 properties, it will open seven new hotels in 2012 and the expansion plans will see them managing more than 14,000 rooms across all properties by 2012. 18

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tinues to remain strong and it is only poised to grow further. A growing segment of the domestic traveller is now opting to stay at branded hotels as opposed to independent hotels or with family & friends. With so many of the state level tourism boards now aggressively promoting their respective destinations, domestic leisure demand has seen a recent surge, a trend which is expected to continue on an upward cycle. The easing of visa processes, better access infrastructure and an aggressive global marketing program for brand India both as a leisure and foreign investment destination has resulted in a positive impact on international arrivals. While this growth is still at its nascent stage, we strongly believe that the attractiveness of the Indian market for inbound tourists is poised for significant growth in the medium term. Each market has a set of development and operating challenges, and India is no different on these matters than many of the other countries where we currently operate. Development hurdles such as high land costs, low FSI ratios, under developed supporting infrastructure, high cost of capital, high rate of inflation, availability of quality contractors and excessive number of regulatory approvals are some of the key development challenges in the country. On the operating side of the equation the key challenge is in the area of human resources which for us is the key ingredient to the success of any hospitality operation. With the current surge in the number of new operating and under development hotels across the country and in the wider region and the added pressure from other service industry businesses, the available pool of quality

human resources for the hospitality industry has been significantly reduced.

What is the outlook for growth? We believe that despite its challenges, India remains as one of the most attractive markets for the hospitality industry. The key success factor is to partner with the right developers who have a genuine interest in the hospitality business and who have an ambition to be long-term owners of the asset.

How many hotels does Rotana currently have in its portfolio? What are the future growth plans? We currently have an operating portfolio of 43 properties (comprising of more than 11,000 rooms) across the MEA with an additional 34 properties (comprising of more than 11,500 keys) under development as of today. We announced earlier this year embarking on a 750 million USD investment managed by Rotana to open in 2012, helping our group to maintain its position as the largest hotel brand in the region. We will open 7 new hotels in 2012 including our first properties in Bahrain & Jordan and our second hotel in Qatar and will expand our portfolio in the UAE with four additional hotels. The expansion plans will see Rotana managing more than 14,000 rooms across its properties by the end of 2012. We believe our growth is supported by our commitment to keep evolving our products in line with travel trends and guest preferences, and one of the key areas for growth that we are currently addressing is the midscale market, for which we developed the Centro Hotels by Rotana brand. ■ as told to PURVA BHATIA


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NEW ENTRANTS

MGM Mirage Hospitality

TO OPEN ITS FIRST HOTEL IN INDIA BY 2014 Casino major MGM Mirage plans to launch a range of its luxury brands in India. The Indian market is well suited to the dynamic luxury brands of MGM Hospitality, says Gamal Aziz, CEO & president, MGM Mirage, who tells us about the chain and its plans for India. What are MGM’s plans for India? Which brands are you planning to introduce? By when is the first hotel expected to open? Our current focus for India is on establishing world-class non-gaming hotels and resorts by leveraging the incredible array of entertainment, dining, spa, nightlife, retail and other non-gaming attributes that our company is renowned for. While our company has multiple brands, our non-gaming efforts are focused on establishing hotels and resorts under our Bellagio, MGM Grand 20

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and Skylofts brands. We expect our first hotel in India to welcome guests in the last quarter of 2014. While Bellagio is positioned as the super luxury brand, MGM Grand is positioned a tad lower. The company will also bring in a third luxury hotel brand, Skylofts.

What is the target you have set for the Indian market? Which are the cities you are eyeing for growth? We have very aggressive expansion plans in India, and to date, have signed definitive

agreements for the Bellagio Mumbai, the MGM Grand and Skylofts Mumbai, the MGM Grand and Skylofts New Delhi, and the MGM Grand Noida. We have also signed a letter of intent for the MGM Grand Jaipur. India is a very dynamic market, and while we are not excluding any specific markets, we are currently focusing on major urban and resort destinations including Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Jaipur.

How many hotels does MGM have in its portfolio? What is your


NEW ENTRANTS

expansion plan?

GAMAL AZIZ CEO & PRESIDENT

India is a very dynamic market, and while we are not excluding any specific markets, we are currently focusing on major urban and resort destinations including Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Jaipur. We have very aggressive expansion plans in India, and to date, have signed definitive agreements for some properties.

MGM Resorts International is a Fortune 500 hospitality and entertainment company with worldwide recognition. We own and operate a peerless portfolio of 19 destination gaming hotels and resortsaround the world. We also have the MGM Grand Ho Tram under construction, which is a gaming resort in Vietnam that will be opening under MGM’s management in the first quarter of 2013. On the non-gaming side, we are very excited to have recently opened the MGM Grand Sanya, which is our first non-gaming property to open. In addition to the MGM Grand Sanya, we currently have 20 non-gaming hotels and resorts in our pipeline and we are aggressively looking to expand this portfolio globally.

Are you also exploring gaming opportunities in India? We believe that India would present an incredible opportunity for the establishment of large-scale integrated gaming resorts. However, to date, none of the markets in India have embraced the idea of an integrated gaming resort. We are continuing to monitor the situation in India very closely, and will pursue gaming opportunities if and when they become available.

What is your take on the luxury market in India? India is one of the fastest growing regions in the world for both business and leisure travel. The Indian market is well suited to the

dynamic luxury brands of MGM Hospitality. We specialize in developing destination properties that become a center for retail, entertainment, dining and business gatherings for the city in which they are located, and we believe our brand portfolio of Bellagio, MGM Grand and Skylofts fit perfectly with the increasingly sophisticated needs of the Indian hospitality market.

What is MGM’s USP, how will it be different from other luxury hospitality brands already present in the country? The distinctive approach of MGM Hospitality appeals to the local market audience. Our dining, nightlife and entertainment options at the world-class destinations we create cater as much to the local market as it does to the traveling guest. In each of our properties we seek to become the hub for the surrounding community’s social and business activities.

Are MGM hotels standardized or is there scope for localization? In additional to our unparalleled level of service, the only thing that is standardized at MGM’s properties is the fact that each of our properties will serve as “the destination” within the cities where they are located for both visitors and locals alike. In order to achieve this environment it is critical that each of our properties find the unique balance and combination between the local culture and our Las Vegas DNA. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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TRENDS

New Sleep Techniques being Practiced by Hotels

TAKING SLUMBER SERIOUSLY

Hotels are increasingly offering sleep and wellness programs that are tailor made treatments for the guests to ensure a good night’s sleep. On offer are pillow menus, heavenly beds, jet lag packages and spa packages.

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aking cue from the recent Supreme Court’s judgment that declared sleep fundamental right, Indian ho tels seem to be pulling out all stops to ensure restful slumber for their guests. All kinds of accoutrements – from the plebian to the sybaritic – are being pressed into service to let the customers enjoy a glitch-free snooze. Take your pick from a ‘sleep program’ to a pillow menu, ergonomic mattresses to antisnore devices, special massages, customised window blinds to bath salts, sound proofing, custom-designed beds to white noise machines and Executive Nap Kit – there’s little’coming between the guest and his shut eye! Beach House Goa Resort Hotel, for instance, offers rooms which are fitted with a “Nightcove” system to facilitate comfortable sleep through ambient lighting, music and special relaxation techniques. The hotel also offers a comprehensive wellness program to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. After a full medical assessment (‘Signature 360˚ Screening Process’), a tailor-made treatment is

The ITC hotels, currently offer a comprehensive “WelcomSlumber” kit. This includes a booklet on sleep, special quotes on sleep, an eye mask, an ear plug, a complimentary hot beverage before sleep. fleshed out for the guest by a team of physicians, nutritionists and dieticians. This includes a special diet, yoga, self awareness programs, complete organ support and cleansing and neuro linguistic programming. The ITC hotels, which were among the first to take their guests’ sleep seriously in the nineties, currently offer a comprehensive “WelcomSlumber” kit. This includes a booklet on sleep, special quotes on sleep, an eye mask, an ear plug, a complimentary hot beverage like hot chocolate or warm glass of milk (on request) before sleep. A spray of sound sleep and stress reliever bottle and a fragrant dreamkerchief are also placed on the pillow before the guests hit the sack. Pillow menus are also a popular sleep aid

amongst hotel guests. Both, The Claridges, New Delhi and The Claridges, Surajkund offer an exclusive pillow menu with a raft of options to choose from. Need extra head support while snoozing? Worry not. The hotel’s ‘Firm Feel Pillow’ will ensure just that. Those with sensitive necks and spines can opt for the ‘Posture Perfect Pillow’ that snugly adjusts to bodily contours. Plagued by an allergy? The ‘Anti-allergy pillow’’– crafted from super refined micro fibers of polypropylene – is your bet against fine dust or natural materials like cotton or feathers found in normal pillows. Why are hoteliers placing such an overt emphasis on sleep? “Hotels are basically in the business of selling sleep,” equips Oliver C. Martin, general manager, The Claridges

Heavenly bed, Westin

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TRENDS

Guest room at The Claridges, Surajkund

Surajkund. “When the guest is away from home, his utmost priority is good quality sleep. We ensure that through our multiple offerings, the guest not only enjoys a good night’s rest but is also sufficiently rejuvenated and uplifted. Such services are increasingly becoming a key differentiating factor for luxury hotels,” he adds. Apart from a pillow menu, The Claridges Surajkund also offers an eight-fragrance menu that comprises a range of scents that can be burnt in diffusers to de-stress the clients. The hotel is also in the process of launching a ‘music menu’ to provide an even more soothing in-room ambience for the guests. Also in the pipeline is a whole floor of 20 ‘Pure Rooms’’– where the SPM (suspended particulate matter) or the ambient dust level will be nearly zilch. This will cater to the extremely health conscious customer at a nominally higher tariff. Global surveys have repeatedly underscored that one of the most basic luxuries that guests look at in hotels is good quality sleep. “A good night’s sleep is non-negotiable. We ensure that everyone who stays at our hotel walks away well rested. It is the key to a productive trip and we spare no expense

The Westin revolutionised the travel industry in 1999 with the launch of its ‘Heavenly Bed’ that inspired countless imitators igniting hotelbed wars and jump-starting the hotel retail phenomenon. to help our guests sleep better,” explains Sanjay Sharma, general manager, Westin Sohna and Westin Gurgaon. Well, Sharma should know. The Westin group has raised its sleep service to the level of an art form. The global chain revolutionised the travel industry in 1999 with the launch of its ‘Heavenly Bed’ that inspired countless imitators igniting hotel-bed wars and jump-starting the hotel retail phenomenon. In the decade since, more than 75 million guests have tucked themselves into Heavenly Beds at Westin hotels around the world. The Westin staff will also proudly tell you that Presidents, Hollywood/Bollywood royalty and professional athletes have all tucked into their exclusive beds and given glowing feedback. The beds have galvanized the Westin group into investing over US$30 million to create the perfect night’s sleep. It

introduced 52,000 new Heavenly beds in its 39,500 guest rooms, becoming the first hotel brand to take sleep so seriously. Taking its sleep philosophy forward, Westin has also introduced several additions to its Heavenly portfolio, including the Heavenly Crib in 2000, Heavenly Shower in 2001, Heavenly Dog Bed in 2002 and Heavenly Spa brand in 2008. Where are these uber beds sourced from? Apparently they are manufactured by Simmons exclusively for Westin Hotels and comprise a 13-inch no flip pillow top mattress, with one-of-a-kind motion separation technology and individually pocketed coils. The standard box spring unit is over eight inches. Each bed, also sold as a mattress and box spring unit, is a case study in Cornell School of Hotel Administration! Beds are superstars at the Radisson Blu Hotel, New Delhi too. Informs Javed Ali, April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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TRENDS

Radisson Blu, New Delhi

vice president & general manager of the hotel: “All our beds have the 10-inch posture-paedic luxury mattresses. These provide for incredible comfort and luxury by virtue of a patented quilt designed to improve circulation and aid sound sleep. Our bed linens have a range of duvet covers and pillow choices which include hypo-allergenic options apart from down and feather.” Of particular relevance, in relation to the hotel’s proximity to the international airport, adds Ali, is the hotel’s spa transit package which includes detoxification through a unique ‘Dry Floatation’ experience. The unique feature of the dry floatation bed is that it aids deep slumber, whereby 40 minutes on the dry floatation bed is equivalent to the relaxation obtained by four hours of normal sleep. “This treatment allows you to experience an almost weightless state known as ‘passive immersion’, inducing complete relaxation of the joints and muscular system,” explains the GM. The Radisson’s Jetleg Spa Package allows a guest to check in directly into a spa rather than the hotel room. There’s a four-hour, sixhour or eight-hour package priced at Rs 6,750, Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,750 plus taxes respectively. All packages include private suites for single and couples, steam and sauna, relaxing massage and face treatments, light refreshment and sleep time. One can opt for multifarious therapies like an aromatherapy massage, Swedish massage, Indian 24

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Radisson Blu Hotel, New Delhi in relation to its proximity to the airport offers a spa transit package which includes detoxification through a unique ‘Dry Floatation’ experience which aids deep slumber. marma massage and body scrubs. The spa at the Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur also leaves no stone unturned to ensure that its guests sleep like babies. It offers Padabhyanga, an ayurvedic reflexology therapy that focuses on the marma points of the feet and lower legs. “Padabhyanga promotes quality sleep, increases circulation and energy flow to boost immunity, rejuvenating the entire body,” informs a therapist at the spa. “This therapy incorporates the use of a kasa bowl which is warmed in oil resulting in a more effective therapy as the metal interacts with the energy force of the body.” According to Dr. Ramesh Khatri, general physician at Max Hospital, Noida, the overt attention to sleep is hardly surprising considering sleep disorders affect a sizeable segment of the Indian populace with a widening age bracket, mostly due to increased stress levels. ”Technology, extensive travel and an insecure economic environment have been contributing to increased stress levels, resulting in many bodily imbalances,” says the doctor. Khatri adds that sleep deprivation can

adversely affect the brain and cognitive function. A 2001 study at Chicago Medical Institute concluded that lack of optimal sleep is linked to serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illnesses including psychosis and bipolar disorder. Small wonder, abroad, some outfits even offer a Sleep Concierge who ensures that guests get a peaceful sleep by advising them on what to eat before going to bed and which pillow to choose. The Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort in Florida, for example, features a Sleep Advantage Program as part of an effort to comfort overworked business travellers. The hotel has even designated “quiet zone” floors, ensuring guests are not staying next to any crying babies or family reunions. Ogden Nash famously quipped how the bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late. Indian hoteliers couldn’t agree more. ■ by NEETA LAL


April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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THE BRAND AND BUSINESS

ITDC

RE-DEDICATES ITSELF TO THE ROLE OF CATALYST ITDC has played major role in the hotel and tourism industry and will now enter into non hotel sectors like hospitality education and provide job skills for the country’s unemployed youth.

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TDC has been the prime mover in the progressive development, promotion and expansion of tourism in the coun try. Established in 1966, ITDC’s bouquet of services consist of accommodation, catering, transport, travel & tours, duty free shopping, entertainment, publicity, consultancy and manpower training – all under one roof. ● Proactive approach, introduction of new initiatives and ventures have created a plat-

The Ashok

LALIT PANWAR CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR

About Rs 70 crore has been spent in ensuring that The Ashok, Hotel Samrat and The Janpath are repositioned as prime properties in New Delhi. Another tranche of Rs 100 crore is being utilized for ITDC hotels countrywide. Main thrust areas are on renovating guest rooms and public areas. 26

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form of change and introduced benchmarks of excellence. Overall performance of the corporation is reflected in the profit of Rs 21 crore achieved in the current financial year. ● The new face of ITDC is reflected in areas of performance viz. excellent event management both in India and abroad, installation of ‘Sound & Light’ shows in the country and ambitious plans to maximize revenue by leveraging resources of the existing hotels through public-private partnership (PPP) and consolidation of existing business. ● ITDC now envisions a more comprehensive view of the tourism scene in India. The Corporation has adopted an additional mandate to enter into non-hotel sectors like hospitality education and provide job skills for the country’s unemployed youth for the Ministry of Tourism’s “Hunar Se Rozgar” initiative. ● An MoU with ‘Trifed’ for marketing tribal handicrafts at Ashok Group Hotels and an MoU with ‘Swayam’ to launch Ashok Access to provide user-friendly services for differently-abled persons are the other initiatives of being aware

of social responsibilities and commitments. ● The joint venture with IL&FS is aimed to develop tourism infrastructure through public-private partnership mode and the JV is called Ashok Infra (Ashok Tourism Infrastructure Development). ● Physical upgradation, manpower development and motivational inputs are other benchmarks of success at ITDC. About Rs 70 crore has been spent in ensuring that The Ashok, Hotel Samrat and The Janpath are repositioned as prime properties in New Delhi. Another tranche of Rs 100 crore is being utilised for ITDC hotels countrywide. Main thrust areas are on renovating guest rooms and public areas as well as IT-hardware and property management. ● Manpower development has also set paradigms of excellence at ITDC. 100 fresh graduates have been recently inducted in the workforce. To be in sync with times, the Corporation works on constant and sustained in-service training of existing staff as well as on-the-job professional training. ■


International luxury spa and resort chain is waiting to ride on the luxury boom in India. Sonu Shivdasani, chairman & CEO talks about the brand, luxury segment and his plans for India.

ConDao villa exterior, Vietnam

Six Senses

LOOKING FOR RIGHT OPPORTUNITY IN INDIA

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SONU SHIVDASANI CHAIRMAN AND CEO

Six Senses is a resort and spa management and development company, established in 1995, which manages resorts under the brand names Soneva, Six Senses and Evason; plus Six Senses Spas and Six Senses Sanctuary.

s Sonu Shivdasani planning to come to India? With iconic brands such as ‘Soneva’ and Six Senses, we would have thought he would have been here already. Hotelscapes caught up with him recently in New Delhi, for an informal chat. Yes, he remains interested, given the right opportunity. In recent times, his group has made some entry into Indian space. He is working on Soneva Spas at Jaypee Greens at Greater Noida and also at World One, the new residential complex coming up from Lodha Builders, in Worli, Mumbai. But any big ticket project still seems to be eluding him. “Given the right opportunity” – is all that he is willing to say for the moment. I would have thought India would be a place he would want to come to. Given that he is of Indian origin, but educated and lived mostly in London, he keeps coming back to India. About once a year, he says, which is better than once in two years. He may like to look at developing a high end destination spa, somewhere in the Nilgiris, or a beach resort in the Andamans, but then infrastructure poses a big challenge. Other countries also pose less of a challenge in putting up a hotel – it should be easy to set up. He is open to partnerships, of course given a professional player in the business.. What do his projects and brands stand for? His answer is ‘intelligent luxury’. When

you feel the need for fresh air, life in the open, with organic foods, fresh as fresh can be, then he has the answers. The definition of being rich has changed over the years. Today, he says, the rich live in downtown cities, and have little exposure to the world outside. He lists the 5 layers of luxury as outlined in a survey put together for Lamboghini. Stage 1 is when the customer wants to make a statement, that he has arrived, making an obvious splash with his money. Stage 2 is when he becomes less ostentatious, acquires taste, so to say. Stage 3 is when he is seeking experiences. He uses his wealth to learn. Stage 4 is self actualisation and Stage 5 is when he is making a statement with ‘who you are’. Soneva is about stage 3, providing luxury experiences, giving an opportunity for people ‘to be’ and learn from their experiences. How about Indians being good customers for his properties. He has 6 in Thailand, 3 each in Vietnam and Maldives and 1 in Oman. He is presently building a new resort in Sri Lanka. This is a 50:50 joint venture with Aitken Spence. Surely, the group has come a long way since 1995 when the first property opened, in the Maldives, the Soneva Fushi. He could do with more Indian travellers; presently, some 4 to 5% of his clientele is from India. Most of them are repeat clients, returning for more. He would want more from India, and hopes soon India could become one of the top 10 producing countries for the group. ■ by NAVIN S BERRY

April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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THE BRAND AND BUSINESS

Fortune Hotels

PLANS 90 HOTELS BY 2015, BUILDING ‘VALUE FOR MONEY’ Suresh Kumar talks to Hotelscapes about Fortune Hotels and their expansion plans and their vision of being a 90 hotels strong chain by 2015.

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he chain’s tag line says it all – ‘Let Fortune Take You Places’. The chain that was created to cater to the mid-market to upscale segment has made its presence felt across the length and breadth of the country, having grown exponentially in the last 4-5 years. ‘Fortune Hotels’ is not only taking its guests 'places' but is also offering them an excellent value for money in each location. Whether the hotel is located in a metro, mini-metro, a business location or a resort cum leisure destination, the brand is now widely recognised for the quality of its product & services. Its ‘mid-market to upscale concept’ has generated confidence among its promoters and the chain is being recognised as the best ‘First Class Full Service Business Hotel’ chain in the country. A wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Ltd., Fortune Park Hotels Ltd has clearly defined sub-brands bringing instant recall, therefore, the guests can easily match their requirements with the chain’s offers. The subbrands now include the recently launched ‘My Fortune’ brand that represents ‘stylish lifestyle hotels’, where the ‘comfort of home’ and ‘efficient service’ come seamlessly together, thereby creating a ‘sense of belongingness’. These hotels offer a perfect blend of traditional Indian hospitality with new age technology, catering to the upscale business traveller. The first hotel under the new brand was flagged off in Chennai. The other sub-brands under which the hotels are being operated by the chain are ‘Fortune Select’, ‘Fortune Park’, ‘Fortune Inn’ and ‘Fortune Resort’. In the process of creating quality hotel accommodation in a wide choice of destinations, the Fortune Hotels chain has emerged as a brand with a reputation of contemporary modern hotels offering quality 28

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SURESH KUMAR CEO

In the next few years we see ourselves consolidating our position as the top player in the first class, full service, business hotel segment and to be constantly recognised as a provider of consistent quality products and services, thereby be perceived as the premier “value” brand in India. products and “value led” services. It’s branded restaurants, modern décor, convenient service designs and sub-brands that cater to different categories of guests, sets it apart from all other chains. With 66 signed properties, 5074 rooms spread across 50 cities in India, 'Fortune Hotels' is operating 40 hotels at present. The chain offers full service without compromising on quality and that too, at a very people-friendly price. Convenient locations,

excellence of cuisine, efficient service and competitive pricing, have made the Fortune Hotels chain fairly popular with both business and leisure travellers. In the next few years we see ourselves consolidating our position as the top player in the first class, full service, business hotel segment and to be constantly recognised as a provider of consistent quality products and services, thereby be perceived as the premier “value” brand in the Indian hospitality scenario. We have always emphasised on the virtue of leveraging on the power of a “spread” as “the length of the chain is the strength of the chain”. We plan to continue to work towards our vision of “unfurling a Fortune at every 180 km” by concentrating on Metro, Mini-Metro, Tier I & Tier II cities across the country. The chain has extensive expansion plans and we are looking at being a 90 hotels strong chain by the year 2015. Fortune Hotels brand draws its strength from the proud lineage-ITC Ltd., which is a pioneer in the hospitality industry in India. As it continues its sweeping growth through its well defined sub-brands, the focus of Fortune Hotels is holistic in its development. The properties are being set up in major metros, mini metros, state capitals and business towns. Each hotel is created to suit the business needs of a particular environment leading to a perfect economic fit, and with each property taking its roots in one location it further opens up the possibilities at another level in a “neighbouring hub of development”. Fortune Hotels has undoubtedly established itself as a leading ‘first class, full service business hotel chain’ and it plans to maintain this position by following a balanced approach towards growth, expansion, brand extensions and providing the same assured quality of product and service across the country. ■


THE BRAND AND BUSINESS

Neemrana Hotels

EXPERIENTIAL HOSPITALITY IS THE KEY TO ITS SUCCESS Aman Nath tells us the reasons for the success of his hotels; the Neemrana experience, selective advertising and young blood in sales and marketing team.

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hat was first spotted in 1977 as a vast and splendid ruin, has since become synonymous in India as a foremost example of architectural restoration-for-reuse. The Neemrana non-hotel Hotel brand of hospitality hinges on the real – not necessarily on the ever-escalating standards of ‘more’. Neemrana has not so much been obsessed with just raising the bar of Indian hospitality towards excessive luxury, but it has worked concertedly towards creating another niche whereby the enjoying of history and its architectural treasures has now become a part of the ‘experiential’ Indian tourism repertoire. That this is achieved from ruins – turning India’s waste into its assets. It is for this authenticity that the Neemrana nonhotel Hotels have now come to be known for. The success is owed to the relentless focus and effort in providing experiential hospitality. Neemrana Hotels are like none other in that they do not follow any set of rules of management – they have made their own. Neemrana Fort-Palace, being Rajasthan's closest palace to Delhi, remains the weekend favourite of Delhiites. We have also become a favourite venue for hosting conferences and weddings from both India or overseas. A Neemrana experience is very rooted and real. We have no pretensions to being what we are not: just Neemrana ‘non-hotel’ Hotels! None of the buildings you wake up in with us were built to be hotels. We have remodelled them to this purpose. Neemrana employs, trains and empowers local people to be first part of the restoration and revitalization process and then try and make the whole enterprise viable. This is more easily said than done. But it is a process we have now successfully achieved at 25 properties, across 10 states of India. And yet, we are are only funded by ourselves as we try and achieve that viability cycle through the year. We employ no mercenaries, as our

AMAN NATH FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN

A Neemrana experience is very rooted and real. We have no pretensions to being what we are not: just Neemrana ‘non-hotel’ Hotels! None of the buildings you wake up in with us were built to be hotels. We have remodelled them to this purpose. commitment to our people is complete. A Self-propelling Heritage Brand: As far as brand building and visibility is concerned, Neemrana does not reach out to potential customers via high decibel advertising – yet our hotels enjoy high occupancy levels throughout the year. Our guests now wake up all over India in some 25 properties that we have revitalized. We do selective advertising with established travel magazines and selective interviews with business and travel publish-

ers. In sync with the increasing popularity of the internet we have re-launched our website www.neemranahotels.com and made it more informative and user-friendly. We have also launched individual sub-sites for all our properties where our clients can see photographs of each unique room along with room descriptions that aptly describe the atmosphere, interiors and location of the room. We also have facebook and twitter pages www.facebook.com/Neemranahotels and www.twitter.com/Neemrana_Hotels which have become excellent platforms for our existing audience to share their Neemrana experiences. It is also a great way to reach out to people who have not been Neemranified yet. However, we do not indulge in road-block marketing. We have merely created a forum for our audience to reach out to us. There is new, young blood in our Sales & Marketing team and we always try to interact with our clients as human beings – not just as a company. Immediate Plans: The latest addition to the Neemrana portfolio is Deo Bagh which has opened its doors in the historical city of Gwalior. Deo Bagh has 15 rooms spread across 5 wings, facing a Nau-Bagh. These have been named after the historical connections of the Jadhav family of Gwalior. The Zenana wing was used as a summer house for the ladies and dates back to the 17th century! Neemrana will also be launching Divan’s Bungalow in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and Tijara Fort-Palace in Alwar, Rajasthan this summer! As India Today recently mentioned “Neemrana Hotels taught India that a hotel need not be in a destination, it can be the destination !” Today, many Neemrana lovers plan their next holiday according to the latest destination that Neemrana has created, goading us to restore and revitalise more of India’s heritage ! ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure recently approved the harmonised list of infrastructure sub-sectors. The list extends benefits only to 3star or higher category. Vivek Nair, honarary secretary, FHRAI and vice chairman & managing director, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts talks about the concerns.

Infrastructure Status for Hotel Industry

ANOTHER BUDGET AND ANOTHER MISS FOR HOTELS Tell us how the infrastructure status will help the industry

VIVEK NAIR HONORARY SECRETARY, FHRAI AND VICE CHAIRMAN & MD, THE LEELA PALACES, HOTELS AND RESORTS

Tourism is India’s largest employment generator at 53 million i.e. 9.2% of the total employment workforce. The government’s target is to double our Foreign Tourists Arrivals from the present 6 mn to 12 mn for which additional 1,80,000 guest rooms is to be set-up at a cost of about Rs 72,000 crore. 30

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The hotel industry is greatly disappointed with the fact that the Cabinet Commitee on infrastructure whilst finalising its harmonised list of infrastructure sub-sectors has only extended the benefits to 3-star or higher category classified hotels located outside cities with population of more than one million. This would leave out more than 95% of the hotels which would require the benefits of being included in the infrastructure list. This is because outside cities with population of more than one million, hotels of only small size of say about 100 rooms could be set-up in Beach Resorts, Heritage Sites, Wildlife Sanctuaries, etc. The bulk of the hotels which are set-up in cities with population of more than one million are the ones that really require the incentives given to infrastructure projects by infrastructure lending institutions like Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), India Infrastructure Finance Ltd. (IIFL), IDBI, IFCI and other Commercial Banks who could extend financial assistance up to the period of 15 years, unlike at present where the maximum tenure is 10 years from Commercial Banks. Also, the hotels of about 100 rooms outside the population of more than one million have a low project cost say of about Rs 100 crores, as the cost of land is very small compared to the total cost of the project; unlike in cities where land constitutes a major pro-

portion of the cost and cost of projects range upto Rs 2,000 crore. They are capital-intensive and have a long gestation period. These hotels are the ones that really require the benefit of extended tenure of loans of 15 years. Thus, the main characteristics of the definition of infrastructure i.e. high sunk cost and large scale employment generation leading to economic development because of huge multiplier effect of the Hotel and Tourism Industry etc. would not be fully fulfilled by the hotels outside city limits.

What steps do you want the Government to take? We wish the necessary amendment is made so that in Section 35 AD of the Income Tax Act, 2-star or above category hotels operating anywhere in India would benefit from being in the infrastructure list. Tourism is India’s largest employment generator at 53 million i.e. 9.2% of the total employment workforce. The government’s target is to double our Foreign Tourists Arrivals from the present 6 mn to 12 mn for which additional 1,80,000 guest rooms is to be set-up at a cost of about Rs 72,000 crore and for which the aforesaid amendment to all the hotels in India to be eligible, to be in the infrastructure list, is of vital importance. If the aforesaid target is accomplished, almost 23% of the additional employment of 78 Mn could come from the Hotel and Tourism Sector in the 12th 5-year Plan (2012 - 17). ■


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

Trends in Hotels Selling Online

ONLINE HOTEL YET TO REPLICATE THE SUCCESS OF ONLINE AIRLINE Deep Kalra explains how the online hotel market is still at a nascent stage, facing several challenges and trying to make it big in India

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t is probably the industry's worst-kept secret that online hotel-inventory has not been able to replicate the success of the online air-ticket purchase model. It is even presented as a case in point by detractors of this model. With MakeMyTrip having spent over half a decade introducing and continuously improving this model, this is a good time to reflect upon our efforts. One of the key challenges when we started selling hotels in 2005 was creating a viable supply-chain that not only ensured availability of the inventory online but also a seamless purchase experience on the website.Unlike the airline industry that created the first GDS in the 1960s largely to keep track of flight schedules, availability, and prices and as early as the mid-1970s, when SABRE (owned by American Airline) and Apollo (United) began installing their propriety internal reservations systems in travel agencies, hotels in India had no such system. We looked to solve this by creating India’s first extranet for hotels to load room inventories, either as a rolling stock with a cut-off date or on a real-time basis for sale on MakeMyTrip.com. The next challenge was to sign up hotels and ensure that once the bookings came in, they were honoured and customers faced no issues. This was achieved by sheer dint and effort of a young Business Development Team that we placed in key commercial and leisure destinations across the country and a central operations team that confirmed and reconfirmed bookings while obtaining future inventory. As we established ourselves as the dominant travel brand in India, it got increasingly easier for us to sign up domestic chains and stand-alone hotels. However international chains, headquartered in faraway Europe and USA had a much longer gestation period. At present, we have several direct connects with international

bookings systems and offer thousands of hotels across the world with last-room availability.Now, with the hotels witnessing productivity and our ability to produce rooms when they need them, a virtuous cycle has started and getting hotels on board is no longer a challenge. However, a fundamental challenge in customer-behaviour owing to the nature of the product still awaited us. Unlike the established buying behaviour of customers of purchasing air and rail tickets through travel agents, buying hotels in India was a fragmented affair. Most people just showed up at the destination while many leaned heavily on contacts and friends and family to make bookings. To counter this trend, we followed a two-pronged approach – creating awareness that customers could book hotels online and establishing credibility that they would have a hassle-free experience after booking through an intermediary. The latter was strongly supplemented by building content, both proprietary and user-generated, which included photographs and customer reviews and topping that up with a best-price guarantee with easy cancellation terms. Further innovations such as early bird discounting, last-minute deals and launching a bundled flight and hotel discounted product sweetened the deal. Despite these mammoth efforts, we feel our journey of selling hotels is just about beginning. Our investment in My Guest House Accommodations Pvt Ltd has strengthened our presence in the distribution of low budget accommodation inventory besides strengthening our connectivity with hotels in India. The category is maturing and all our efforts have now started to pay off. This is showing in our triple digit annual growth. We sell over 2500 room nights a day. Revenue from our hotels and packages business increased by 45.8%

DEEP KALRA FOUNDER & CEO, MAKEMYTRIP.COM WITH INPUTS FROM

AMIT SABERWAL SVP AND HEAD – HOTELS AND INTERNATIONAL MARKET MAKEMYTRIP.COM

Despite the efforts, we feel our journey of selling hotels is just about beginning. Our investment in My Guest House Accommodations Pvt Ltd has strengthened our presence in India. in the quarter ended December 31, 2011 compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2010. We have ensured that we maintain a reasonable margin in this business and do not believe in discounting from our pocket. As we continue to build supply across categories, including budget & home stays and as we add new customers, we are confident that we would continue to be the place where consumers would turn to for booking a hotel of their choice at the right price! ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

Perspectives Ahead for the Industry

OPPORTUNITIES, ISSUES AND RISKS IN INDIA’S GROWTH KB Kachru on Carlson Rezidor’s plans for the Indian market; the growth, the challenges and the expansion plans over the next few years.

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he hospitality sector is building up fast in India preparing for the next growth spurt in the short term. The general Indian industry is in the middle of an economic slowdown, with rising fuel costs, interest rates, cost of construction material and most importantly scarcity and rising costs for skilled labour. However, international and domestic travel has increased 14.4% during the last 10 months. The existing hotel supply has grown from approximately 40,000 quality rooms to over

KB KACHRU EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SOUTH ASIA, CARLSON HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has been bullish about India for over a decade and we continue to be very optimistic about the Indian hotel market. We are the largest international hotel operator in India by number of hotels and are committed to India. 32

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Radisson Blu

70,000 rooms in India with an anticipated further 100,000 expected to enter the market over the next 3 to 5 years. With this phenomenal growth, we must consider inherent issues, risks and opportunities. While the hospitality industry has experienced considerable growth over the last 5 to 10 years, it still operates within the constraints of the Indian market and as such will be impacted by shortage of skilled labour, sky-rocketing costs of fuel and electricity, cost of construction (and land) all of which impact the return potential of hotels. Occupancy performance of hotels on an all India level has never fallen below 60% on average from 2003 to 2011. However we also have to remember that the travel industry is probably the most sensitive to business cycles. The RevPAR across major cities has declined during the last couple of years due to the combination of reasons especially the global economic slowdown. The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has been bullish about India for over a decade and we continue to be very optimistic about the Indian hotel market. We are the largest international hotel operator in India by number of hotels and are committed to India. We will continue to see the right opportunities with the right brands in the right locations. As industry leaders, we opened a record 19 ho-

tels in India since January 2011 and expect to open 13 more hotels in the rest of 2012. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s commitment to owners in India is demonstrated by nearly 100 corporate employees providing support towards hotel development, preopening, operations and across 9 regional sales offices. In addition to this, the toll-free call centre at Gurgaon has facilitated guest reservations for Carlson Rezidor’s hotels. The potential today is, as always, in primary cities due to better connectivity, infrastructure and ability to cater to a range of segments. Going forward we see short to mid-term opportunities in the secondary markets which currently have minimal supply, affordable land parcels and have demonstrated potential for demand (commercial, leisure, MICE, etc). Mid-market brands such as Park Inn By Radisson or Country Inn and Suites By Carlson have considerable opportunity in these locations. Most secondary and tertiary markets are dominated by the high potential domestic travellers which provides a good fit to most mid-market brands. Also in the coming years it is important to look beyond the traditional avenues and on to new initiatives – medical tourism, sports and adventure tourism, religious circuit, wildlife safaris, rural tourism, eco tourism, and wellness tourism so on and so forth. ■


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

Branding the State

GUJARAT STRENGTHENS HOTEL INFRASTRUCTURE Vipul Mitra, talks about Gujarat government’s support for the growth of tourism in the state. What has been the growth of the industry in your state? We have recorded an increase in all three categories, namely, domestic, national and international tourists. There has been an increase of 16.5% in overall tourist traffic as compared to last year, and an increase of over 60% from 200607. Also, the overall number of tourists is also expected to double in the next 5 years. There is a growing demand for good hotels in most of the tourist destinations, and the hotel industry is gearing up to bridge that demand.

What has been the reason for this spectacular growth?

VIPUL MITRA PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, (TOURISM, CIVIL AVIATION, PILGRIMAGE, INDUSTRIES AND MINES) GOVERNMENT OF GUJARAT

Gujarat was always a tourist destination, but it required a good branding exercise to make it visible to the entire world. The Bachhan campaign got a tremendous response from everybody. This has also translated into an increase in traffic at various places.

Gujarat was always a tourist destination, but it required a good branding exercise to make it visible to the entire world. The Bachhan campaign got a tremendous response from everybody. This has also translated into an increase in traffic at various places. For example, Sasan Gir recorded the highest increase in traffic of more than 80% as compared to last year. As a result, the Taj Group reopened their resort in Sasan. The industry has realized the potential of hotels at tourist destinations in Gujarat.

rently, there is a huge demand for budget hotels in and around tourist destinations. Only when this demand is met, tourists will have the confidence in travelling, which in turn will contribute to the economy.

How many more hotels are required as your state grows over the coming years? According to an estimate by GITCO, Gujarat needs 40,000 more rooms to accommodate the tourist surge in the next 5 years. Out of this, around 12,000 star category hotels are required.

How do you view hotels, as part of the growing economy of the state? Where do hotels fit in your scheme of things?

Apart from hotels, we also need convention centres, entertainment centres, etc – what kind of policy do you have which will encourage this growth?

Gujarat is a booming economy and we see diverse investments happening in the state. Such an economy has to be supported by a good hospitality industry. It is prudent that hotels of various categories are required to cater to the growing demand. As far as tourism industry is concerned, we believe hotels are an essential part of the system. Also, hotels catering to various economical strata are required for sustained tourism economy. Cur-

Convention centres and entertainment centres are also a part of tourism, and have enormous scope for business. On the question of a separate policy, the state government offers a level playing ground to any investor who is interested in investing in Gujarat. Rather than a specific policy, it is felt that any investment which will have a positive effect to the overall economy of Gujarat is to be considered important. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Emerging Trends in the Business

SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL MARKETING TAKE LEAD Dilip Puri talks about the brand Starwood, the relevance of social media and digital marketing in the hospitality industry. Using Digital Technology platforms to drive personalization Our mantra is that people want a better way to experience the world and we have to be able to provide them with what they need. To remain ahead of the curve, we must realise and understand how technology is impacting our daily lives and how we as a hotel company can use this information to personalise a guest experience. Personalisation is the heart of hospitality. What are we doing differently today is we are recognising the fact that the whole platform of digital technology, which includes social media, is changing the way we are experiencing the world and how quickly we are sharing our experiences. How do we then as a hotel leverage all that information about you as the customer and make sure that we 34

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offer an experience that meets your needs and expectations. We can do that as we have the platform of digital technology. We can do it when you want us to do it, and in your space. So it is ultimately the ability of the hotel company to recognise that you can use platforms of digital technology and social media to completely change the experience you want to give your customers which we believe is an emerging trend. The key really is how quickly and differently can we do this.

The relevance of social media Social media, we believe is fast becoming a key distribution channel. There is a lot of information that exists there about our guests, their needs and expectations and their feedback. It is quick and is real time. More importantly it is viral. Our ability to understand the importance

of social media and proactively incorporate this into our strategy, to be able to leverage the information to our advantage will be a key differentiator going forward. The review mechanism which exists today is getting more and more powerful, a lot of people, while choosing a hotel, go on to TripAdvisor and see the ratings before finalising their plans. We are the first hotel company to open up our websites for ratings and reviews. The best use of social media is in marketing, making the presence of the brand felt across the platform. For us, this is essentially the next big thing.

Development of newer market segments with a stronger focus on MICE We believe in the opportunities that lie in tier


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES Brand differentiation key to competitive edge and consumer engagement

2 markets. Today's tier 2 markets are tomorrow's tier 1 and we want to be in these markets before they reach the point of inflection. Some of these markets are beginning to create demand with newer segments purely because of the quality of the kind of hotel that exists. A good example of this is Le Meridien Coimbatore which we opened in November. The city did not have a world class hotel with this kind of MICE facilities. Today we see large scale medical conferences taking place in the city because there is a hotel that provides the necessary facilities to do this. These hotels will create their own demand we believe.

Substituting traditional markets of US and Europe with emerging markets and the domestic markets We have seen how some markets like the US and Europe have been more severely affected by the recession, If we are not able to substitute those markets, it would be a huge challenge. For us, the whole question boils down to this: If the British, the Germans and the Americans aren't travelling, then who is travelling? Clearly you can see a lot more Asians are travelling. So are we able to make inroads into the Chinese markets, the Japanese market, and the South East Asian market – what we call the intra-regional travel? To me, that is a huge challenge. We don't see the reduction in demand from the traditional markets to be a big concern because they are clearly being substituted by the emerging markets within India and within Asia Pacific. In most of our hotels in the big gateway cities as well as in the smaller tier 2 markets, we have already begun to substitute a lot of the international business with domestic business.

Stronger focus on attracting and retaining talent To me the battle for market share in the future will not be over the guest; it will be fought over talent. Companies that have more robust strategies in place to acquire, retain and nurture talent are the ones that will succeed. Being a global company, one of the big opportunities we have is we can bring the best practices from all over the world into this country. One of the things that we do very well is not just look at hiring the best people, but seeing how we can make them more productive. Productivity is a function of training, it is a function of making sure that you have en-

DILIP PURI MD, INDIA & REGIONAL VP, SOUTH ASIA

Social media, we believe is fast becoming a key distribution channel. There is a lot of information that exists there about our guests, their needs and expectations and their feedback. It is quick and is real time. More importantly it is viral. gaged employees, you have happy employees because it automatically makes the employee work harder. This is possible with the kind of tools we have today. For example, we continuously do employee satisfaction surveys in our hotels. With Starwood Careers when we look at high potential employees, whether at an associate level or a management level, we actually look at the employee and say I got to make this guy grow; I got to give him a career path, make sure that his aspirations are fulfilled. So we will take him on as a high potential candidate and put him on a track that says 12 months from now these are the skills he must have acquired, 18 months from now, this is the new position he must be in, so that he can see an opportunity for growing, not just for a year or two years but across his entire career with Starwood. So for us it is not about hiring for a particular position but it is about hiring the employee so that we can retain that talent for a long time because we invest a lot of money in training the employees.

Globalisation and all that comes with it, including billions of new travellers and next generations connected via social networks, translates into a truly global consumer base with an unprecedented appetite for global and highly differentiated lifestyle brands. Starwood’s unique approach to branding – segmenting brands by lifestyle vs. price - appeals to growing brand-centric consumers around the globe. Brands are no longer just a guarantee of reliability – being a nice but generic hotel is not enough. Brands today need to have Personality, Purpose and Personalisation. Starwood’s business model and culture are built around owning the hearts and minds of our guests and creating value for owners. Our nine distinct and compelling brands stand out in a sea of sameness.The wellspring of Starwood’s lifestyle brand strategy dates back to the launch of W in 1998, and we've kept the flame of innovation burning brightly with the launch of Aloft and Element. Westin proved that a distinct brand personality in a mainstream upper-upscale space can create a category killer, uniquely positioned to own wellness – a $2 trillion industry – in the hotel space. The acquisition of Le Meridien showed how Starwood could breathe new life into a languishing brand, reinventing the brand for a growing, global creative class. With Sheraton we’ve brought today’s sense of personality to an established brand that grew up in the era of reliability. The $6 billion revitalisation and Sheraton’s repositioning as The World’s Gathering Space have translated into positive business results. Four Points by Sheraton is drafting off of Sheraton’s success, and its pipeline of high quality new build construction continues to elevate the brand, which is also a great conversion play. Starwood more and more dominates the luxury space, and between St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W we have more luxury hotels than any other hotel company, including Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. We are well positioned to take advantage of wealth creation around the world which is fueling new demand for luxury – 70% of our pipeline for St. Regis and The Luxury Collection is in emerging markets. Starwood has the scale to invest in brandbuilding, the financial resources to take advantage of opportunities and the global presence to grow wherever demand grows. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Growing Economy Gives Rise to Domestic Travel

HOTEL CHAINS LOOK AT INDIA FOR GROWTH Jean-Michel Cassé talks about Accor India and the potential Indian hospitality industry has and the challenges that need to be countered.

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his is an interesting time for the hotel industry in India. With a robust trend in the tourism industry, the hotel industry in India has witnessed a rise in growth, business opportunities and elevating room occupancy. The hotel industry is expanding worldwide, placing India as the second-fastest growing tourism market in the world. The thriving economy and increased business opportunities in India have acted as a boon for Indian hotel industry. The arrival of low cost airlines and the associated price wars have given domestic tourists a host of options. The increase in tourism and rising foreign and domestic tourists have lead to the growth of the Indian hospitality market, creating a perfect opportunity for the players, domestic and international. Even today, India faces a huge challenge of being “under roomed” while the economy is growing rapidly. This certainly provides a huge opportunity for hotel sector as a whole. With more hospitality players entering the market, it would definitely bridge the demand-supply gap and leverage the opportunity, making India, the ideal market for all. Another trend that is emerging is the MICE segment that has immense potential and provides tremendous growth opportunity in India for the sale of several hundred

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JEAN-MICHEL CASSÉ SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS

The rising foreign and domestic tourists have lead to the growth of the Indian hospitality market, creating a perfect opportunity for everyone. Even today, India faces a huge challenge of being “under roomed” while the economy is growing rapidly.

room nights as opposed to few by the transient travellers. India’s growing strength in the information technology, bio-technology, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors has prompted prominent international bodies to host trade shows and conventions in the country and similar prominence is also expected in the coming years. The Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) by Accor is India’s only branded large scale convention facility today. While the potential of hotel industry is great, there are several constraints for the industry to grow. In India, setting up of hotels is a highly capital-intensive process, involving significant construction and planning activity. This sector has definitely witnessed a more challenging business pick up due to emerging decelerating economic trends both nationally and globally. Challenges that the industry has faced in the last one year has been a result of the ongoing financial meltdown, delay in projects and hotel openings impacting the flow of business, retaining trained staff from competition, new supply across all markets and softening demand resulting in price wars. India is today in the defining stages of the business of hospitality, with unlimited tourism and untapped business prospects. Hotel industry in this region is certainly poised for a growth phase. The standards of facilities and services offered have evolved over the last decade towards the extensive use of technology, environment friendly services, pricing, market segmentation, regional preferences, etc. The Indian hotel market is surely to double in size in the coming years. With increase in foreign tourist arrivals, the popularity of heritage sites, and international events such as the Commonwealth Games, Formula 1 being held in the country, it is bound to lead to the growth in the Indian Hospitality market hence making it a perfect opportunity for all players. ■


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

Key Indicators for the Business

EXPANSION WILL SLOW DOWN; FOCUS ON SUBURBAN AREAS Ashok Khanna gives us a quick rundown on the hospitality scene in India, the trends, the challenges and the future outlook. ● Most of the future expansion in India will

● Loyalty programmes are going to be a big

be by multinational hotel companies in the midscale category.

driver of business going forward.

● With the supply of hotel rooms exceeding the demand in the metropolitan and secondary cities, there will be pressure on Rev PARS.

● Cost of operations will increase due to increase in HLP and payroll. EBIDTA’s will be under stress.

ASHOK KHANNA MANAGING DIRECTOR, IHHR HOSPITALITY

There is not going to be much growth in the arrival of international tourists to India. This is because of new destinations opening up in Middle East and South East Asia, Sri Lanka in particular.

● Due to scarce availability of land down town in the metropolitan and secondary cities, most hotels will come up in the suburban areas. ● Hotel expansion is not going to be as robust as has been in the last few years. This is because of high cost and scarcity of land, high interest cost and the supply of hotel rooms being in excess of demand for hotel rooms.

● With bottom lines of most companies being under stress, companies are cutting down on travel and the per diem spend by executives travelling and staying at hotels. This will result in reduction in ARR's in all hotel categories.

● Because of high cost of land, there will be a lot of commercial cum hotel projects being developed. ● Food and Beverage outlets in hotels will be limited because of high taxes. ● The largest driver of demand will be the domestic business and leisure traveller. They will predominantly stay at budget hotels. ● New destinations for leisure travel and hotels at these locations will be limited because of the lack of infrastructure, specially poor road access. The government is facing a financial crunch and will go slow on the development of infrastructure.

● There is not going to be much growth in the arrival of international tourists to India. This is because of new destinations opening up in Middle East and South East Asia, Sri Lanka in particular. ● There will be an acute shortage of trained manpower for hotels. The manpower costs are also going to escalate substantially. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Bukhara, the much acclaimed North-West Frontier restaurant at ITC Maurya.

Changing Trends in Food

INVENTIVE CUISINE OFFERS NEW AVENUES IN F&B Gautam Anand talks about the history and evolution of food trends in India.

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ay ‘Goodbye’ to expensive imports: Halibut, John Dory, Chilean sea bass, blue fin tuna on star eatery menus slowly will take a back seat to Indian salmon, Pomfret, White cod, snapper, all bountiful in the sub- continents coast line. Flavour, freshness and adaptive to local recipes, this catch so much more suited to the Indian cuisine repertoire. An ever aware populace and social activists demands this change of thought and taste. Diners, exposed 38

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to evolving cooking styles of local fish, offering unusual flavours, condiments and textures than earlier, welcome this trend.

Secular Cuisine – an Idea Called India India being a multicultural and secular through its historical dictates showcases a variation and style every 500km. The Mongols brought in their style – East-Indians from their Portuguese heritage had no qualms

with pork and tenderloin, Iranians are the precursors of today’s micro “parsi” influence. Turko -Afghans of undivided India are a legend for their kababs and breads, a huge success across the subcontinent. In each case, local flavours and practices combined over centuries with the dominant flavours of centuries old India. Today’s menus must not disinherit our inheritance and therefore must also include our former colonists.


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES Street Cuisine. Market cafes

I envisage a French quarter, Dutch flavours British puddings and Portuguese sea food dishes to make menus more composite and putting at ease, India and her world.

Staging Experience – Your World as a Theatre... Stage an experience through Product formulation in restaurant brands and public spaces and therefore bringing alive experiences that sell, incorporating local/global flavours, a cast of characters & rituals which provide memorable moments. In sum, an experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible and experiences memorable Just imagine in an Asian restaurant with geishas in kimonos, Singapore girls in sarongs, steward with Chinese collars

Uber Luxury on the Table Top In the footsteps of the grand Mughals, maharajas and learning from our British past, whence celebration and banqueting followed wins in the battlefield or in the corporate field. For such gatherings, large shining silver candelabras, huge silver trays of roast, colourful porcelain and clinking cut glass ruled the table tops. In our time, from the turn to the 21 st century, this has changed to: subtle design on china that brings out graciously presented food on it. Uncut crystal has replaced heavy cut lead crystal wine glasses to an extent that glasses are now shaped to bring out the flavour of the chardonnays and sauvignons and as many more... At any rate our approach is to celebrate the world’s finest toppings on our tables.

Ancient Indian Cuisine – Eat Ancient... Hinduism is built on mythology in cahoots with food. Brahma, the creator of universe, also created the Ayurveda, the strongest influence on Indian cuisine till date. It depended upon the philosophy of taste, perennial availability and seasonal availability of the fruits and vegetables according to the seasons in the Indian calendar. It not only gave the knowledge for healthy life but also gave the guidelines to

GAUTAM ANAND VICE PRESIDENT – PRE-OPENING OPERATIONS, ITC HOTELS

If there is modern Indian cuisine we can speak of, the credit and evolution is due to the adventurous vision of young chefs of Indian origin. Young chefs fighting for survival in the tradition bound Indian mindset ventured to distant shores, showcased their latent skills and even surpassed their mentors.

No longer has the street food remained to the house wives for a gossiping and socialising entertainment. Once who were called hawkers are now the most looked out for in the whole of India. North is a gourmet’s delight serving Chaats, Jalebis, Matra Kulcha Kulfi, Nimish etc. Mughals pristined us with Seekh, Shaami, Burra, Nihari, Biryanis etc. The city of Joy also owns the origin of Nizam’s kathi. Their favourite invention Jhaal Moodi was a variation to Bhel Puri of the West. This culture moved toward the East and transformed into Aloo Dum and Dahi Bora. The simple Gol Gappa in Dilli becomes and Puchka in the east and Pani Puri in the west. Every nook and corner can be smelled of Maach and Chingri Bhaaja. The south dots us with what they call as “Tiffin” namely Idli, Medu Vada, Sambhar, Dosa, at nominal price. With the welcome of Pao in the West, Usal, Missal, Bonda and Samosa got their company with it. Ragda Pattice from Gujarat got converted into Pao Bhaji and Bonda to Vada Pao. Street food of India has freed itself from the trappings of the category of “Snacks” to step into the area of full-sized menu meals.

Modern Indian Cuisine If there is modern Indian cuisine we can speak of, the credit and evolution is due to

No longer has the street food remained to the house wives for a gossiping and socialising entertainment. Once who were called hawkers are now the most looked out for in the whole of India. North is a gourmet’s delight serving Chaats, Jalebis etc. combine the correct taste, textures, nutrients with maximising the natural resources best suited for our well being. Aryans helped discovering barley, rice, moong lentil, masoor lentil, black eyed beans, jackfruits, yam and pomegranate. With Gupta dynasty came the golden age, bronze and copper utensils, beans, wheat, pumpkin and gourds. Brahmin became the temple cooks and served Prasada. With Mughals, the smoothening of gravies, the art of grinding spices, saffron, ittar and introduction of onion and garlic originated. After British Raj, “The Club Culture and Raj cooking” came into fashion. Indian cuisine took a new turn with categorising its branches according to the regions of India.

the adventurous vision of young chefs of Indian origin. Young chefs fighting for survival in the tradition bound Indian mindset ventured to distant shores, showcased their latent skills and even surpassed their “ustad” mentors, gaining recognition and acceptance in the fast paced world of global cuisine. Most, successfully invested their skills in entrepreneurship, to the acclaim of Western critics, achieving financial success and visibility. Back home in India, on visits their efforts are lauded by food writers and critics. Their style is not so much a bank of new tastes or recipes, but a fresh modern outlook at presentation and combination styles. Do not call this fusion as the world recognises it, instead call it inventive. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Encouraging Tourism Numbers

GROWING ECONOMY TO SPUR INCREASE IN HOSPITALITY Ankur Bhatia explains how the burgeoning middle class and growing economy are fuelling the growth of hotels in the country.

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ith the fortunes of the hospitality industry inextricably linked to the tourism industry, the growth in the tourism industry has fueled the growth of Indian hospitality industry. Ranked as the 12th most attractive tourist destination in Asia and 68th in the world, India welcomes around 6 million international visitors every year and nearly 562 million domestic tourists. The increasing numbers of both domestic as well as international tourists have been very encouraging for the Indian travel and hospitality sector which has nearly doubled during the last three years. To cater to the huge influx of travellers, India currently has over 200,000 hotel rooms spread across hotel categories and guesthouses. Further, growth of Indian economy has resulted in more disposable income with middle class, thereby prompting increasingly large number of people to spend money on travelling and hotels. Advent of corporate incentive travel and the MNCs in India has also boosted the prospects for hospitality in the country. The

Highlights… ❏ The growth of the Indian economy has not only boosted business prospects in major cities but also in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This has led to an aggressive increase in hotel development activity and provided avenues for expansion of various hotel brands. With the growth of micro-markets, people are now opting to stay at hotels located closer to their place of work, thereby saving time in traveling across the city. 40

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ANKUR BHATIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BIRD GROUP

Growth of Indian economy has resulted in more disposable income with middle class, thereby prompting increasingly large number of people to spend money on travelling and hotels. Advent of MNCs in India has also boosted the prospects for hospitality in the country. fast-growing HNIs in India has led to the advent of aspirational luxury travellers. Owing to this, a few international brands have already vested their interests in the country. Dusit Thani is one such international brand which has tied up with Bird group under the brand Dusit-Bird Hotels. Considering that the country has different categories of cities, Dusit with its various brand-fits will comply with the varied demand offering a range of hotels that cater to different needs. Priding itself on Thai

heritage, the hotels will offer authentic Thai experiences fused with Indian hospitality in its services. The first property under this tie-up, DDND, is set to be launched in the last quarter of this year, in New Delhi. This is a very hi-end luxury property. Bird Group has also acquired Royal Park Hotel in London which is yet again a niche property. Other international hotel chains are also tapping on to this market and offering exciting packages to lure the new age traveller. There is a proliferation of luxury villas and spas in exotic locations like Kerela, Rajasthan and Goa to cater to this demand. Hotels are also offering fine services like wine tasting, cabaret shows, gondola & Mercedes rides to attract tourists who look for exclusivity and luxury. The growth of the Indian economy has not only boosted business prospects in major cities but also in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This has led to an aggressive increase in hotel development activity and provided avenues for expansion of various hotel brands. With the growth of micro-markets, people are now opting to stay at hotels located closer to their place of work, thereby saving time in traveling across the city. The growth of these independent micro-markets has boosted the existence of multiple hotels of different categories in these cities. Marketing 'brand India' under several subsets such as cultural tourism, medical tourism, religious circuits, etc., has also opened the market for many hotel chains in remote locations. India has proven the inherent strength of its economy and its consumer base of over a billion people. Developments like the hospitality district at Delhi's international airport, large format sporting events, medical tourism and the nationwide launch of third generation (3G) telecom services has further fuelled the hospitality sector. ■


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES

Special Concerns for Special Interest Travel

HERITAGE HOTELS NEED GOVERNMENT SUPPORT Lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges in developing heritage hotels in the country, says Rakesh Mathur.

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taying in a heritage hotel is an essential part of the itinerary of foreign tourists attracted by India’s rich ar chitectural legacy. Heritage hotels, therefore, are not just accommodations but an experience. However, there are challenges galore in the business of promoting this experience. According to Rakesh Mathur, ex-president WelcomHeritage, now director and principal advisor Zinc InVision Hospitality, Crossroads Hotels and CIE Hospitality “One of the biggest hurdles is the lack infrastructure, issues like shortage of electricity, lack of skilled manpower, lack of proper public utilities like drainage and sewage systems make it impossible for people to maintain heritage properties. Also, most of the heritage properties are in rural and remote areas, there is a lack of connectivity to these areas, if there is no transport available, how can one reach the destination.” Mathur pointed out that at a recently held FICCI and MP Tourism seminar in Khajuraho, the main topic of discussion was the lack of infrastructure that affected the growth of tourism and particularly heritage tourism. In addition, Mathur said that it is im-

Highlights… ❏ There are several other problems that plague the heritage tourism industry. Red tape is one major hurdle. The government needs to broaden its approach on people acquiring these properties. The policies are very long-winded and there are number of clearances required to acquire a property like this. On the other hand, there are many government offices that operate out of some of these old heritage buildings, consequently they are ill-maintained.

RAKESH MATHUR EX-PRESIDENT, ITC WELCOMHERITAGE NOW DIRECTOR & PRINCIPAL ADVISOR, ZINC INVISION HOSPITALITY

One needs to keep in mind that these heritage buildings are old and they were not constructed with a hotel in mind. The construction was completely different and now years or probably centuries later some of these buildings are in decrepit condition. portant to merge our natural heritage with the heritage in rural areas; natural heritage is intrinsically related to the heritage buildings and properties and if heritage properties have to be developed into hotels, the natural areas surrounding them should be taken care of. Mathur suggests that the government should give incentives and subsidies so that it is easy to maintain these properties. Mathur said, “There is a difference between a heritage hotel that works on seasonal basis and a proper city hotel. Both the properties can-

not be compared and the government needs to treat both of them differently. For example, the license fee for the bars in these hotels should be lowered; it should not be as high as it is for the city hotels.” “One needs to keep in mind that these heritage buildings are old and they were not constructed with a hotel in mind. The construction was completely different and now years or probably centuries later some of these buildings are in decrepit condition. Since maintaining these properties requires huge costs, there must be special schemes like ease in getting loans on lower rate of interests,” he added. There are several other problems that plague the heritage tourism industry. Red tape is one major hurdle. The government needs to broaden its approach on people acquiring these properties. The policies are very long-winded and there are number of clearances required to acquire a property like this. On the other hand, there are many government offices that operate out of some of these old heritage buildings, consequently they are ill-maintained. “Instead of acquiring these buildings for official purposes government should construct more office spaces and lease out these buildings to be maintained as heritage properties. It can be a public private partnership, there are many properties that successfully work on that model,” said Mathur. The government needs to strengthen its policies and aid the restoration and maintenance of heritage properties by providing subsidies and giving various other incentives. There is a huge scope of development and the government needs to work in tandem with private players to bring about that growth in heritage tourism. With a well thought out government approach heritage properties can get a boost, and consequently tourism in the country can also get the right push. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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F&B Business

OUTSOURCING CAN GROW SERVICE & PROFITABILITY Hotels in India are increasingly outsourcing everything from laundry operations to housekeeping and spa to IT. The next buzz expected to storm the industry will be to outsource the restaurants and bars in hotels, says Prasanjit Singh, MD, HVS F&B Services India. In your opinion, should hotel restaurants be outsourced? In the last five years, the room inventory in most Indian cities has multiplied exponentially. The hunger of international hotel brands to enter the Indian market is expected to bring in rationalization of room rates and a price war is inevitable. This competitive market environment will put pressure on Indian hotel managers to effectively control departmental 44

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costs as well as the overall GOP. Currently, most hotels in India outsource the following functions – Housekeeping, Kitchen Stewarding, Security and Valet/ Chauffer service. The next buzz word expected to storm the industry will be to outsource the restaurants and bars in hotels. The environment is perfect for this transition. Outsourcing restaurants and bars will be an option for new hotels as well as existing ho-

tels looking to renovate or re-engineer their Food and Beverage function.

What are the benefits outsourcing can offer the hotels? The Food and Beverage function, commands attention because of its importance to guest satisfaction and brand management. Outsourcing partnerships typically bring together organisations with diverse capabilities. Part-


SIGNS OF OUR TIMES can be increased profit and enhanced shareholder value.

What are the prior considerations to be made before deciding to outsource hotel restaurants?

PRASANJIT SINGH MANAGING DIRECTOR

The Food and Beverage function, commands attention because of its importance to guest satisfaction and brand management. Outsourcing partnerships typically bring together organisations with diverse capabilities. nering with well known celebrity chefs does enhance the image of a hotel among the locals thus creating a buzz. This is a very important aspect for restaurant management as the common saying “people bring in more people” really works towards the success of a Food and Beverage brand. The Indian consumer is getting more and more brand conscious. In addition to a brand identity, most operators find that guests are not only more willing to patronise high-street brands conveniently situated within the hotel, but they are also willing to pay more for the privilege of dining with a familiar concept. Increased willingness to dine coupled with increased willingness to spend results in increased revenues. Hotels introducing a branded restaurant into their property often experience higher external traffic. Market exposure translates into increased outlet revenue and enhanced customer perception of the Food and Beverage outlet brand name, as well as enhanced customer perception of the hotel itself. Thus, the net result of rebranding and repositioning

Competition: No outsourcing arrangement will work, unless there is market demand. Competitive analysis should include restaurants in the neighbourhood hotels, as well as stand-alone restaurants in the area. Profitability issues and pricing a new outlet also must be considered in the market context. Those days are gone when the customer was willing to pay more money at hotel restaurants than stand alone brands. Marketing: The hotelier and restaurateur must establish responsibility for marketing the new concept. Frequently hotels agree to advertise the operator in the guestrooms, although the outlet typically absorbs the cost of signage in the rooms and throughout the hotel. Additionally, the restaurateur typically assumes responsibility and accountability for all external advertising. Guest Expectations: The goal of

Quality standards and monitoring mechanisms should be detailed in addition to agreeing on hours of operations. Concessions affecting profitability occasionally need to be made in order to solidify a working relationship.

What are the different outsourcing options available to hotels? Leasing – A hotel leases a section of its space, preferably with self-contained back-ofthe-house areas in exchange for a flat fee and/ or a percentage of sales. The hotel benefits by receiving a guaranteed rent, plus a revenue “top-up” each month. The landlord, however, loses control of F&B operations. Management must agree to let someone else run the show. Franchising – This option suits a hotel seeking to change a restaurant concept without investing in an internal and potentially untested concept. The hotel buys an established brand and system for a fee. The process begins with an upfront payment - a buy-in to the right to operate a better known and more profitable concept. Frequently, the franchisor requires the hotel to make an additional payment for a capital investment,

The goal of outsourcing F&B operations is to enhance profitability by increasing internal as well as external traffic, without losing the current customer base. It is essential to consider guest reaction to the change in F&B concept. outsourcing F&B operations is to enhance profitability by increasing internal as well as external traffic, without losing the current customer base. It is essential to consider guest reaction to the change in F&B concept. If a negative reaction is anticipated, a hotelier risks losing its customer base and thus future earning potential to the competition. Management Styles: It is important to look at both the local and corporate management styles of both the hotelier and restaurateur. Incompatibility of the two styles could result in a rocky relationship. In order to avoid this friction, some hotels have found it advantageous to appoint the General Manager of the restaurant to the hotel’s executive team, thereby creating a sense of responsibility and belonging and enhancing relationships throughout the organisation. Terms of the Contract: The operational terms of the contract must be set out in detail.

requiring a purchase of specified equipment. Under the franchising terms, the hotel pays the franchisor a royalty fee, usually based on a percentage of sales, for the privilege of using the name and resources. Joint Venture – This is a variant of franchising and contracting. The hotelier creates a strategic alliance with a known and successful restaurateur. The two parties create a separate financial company, which is appointed as the lessee of the restaurant. The new organisation, the restaurant lessee., then outsources the F&B operations to the restaurateur. Typically the hotel provides the capital expenditures and the restaurateur brings intellectual property and expertise. The two parties share the successes and the related profits. Proprietary Brands – Hotel chains can create a proprietary brand, introducing the concept into all of its properties. This approach appeals to guests who enjoy consistency throughout a hotel chain. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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HOSPITALITY REPORT

HVS and WTTC Release

STUDY ON HOTEL INDUSTRY STATUS BY 2021 The paper quantifies the industry’s requirements and support policies needed to facilitate the growth of the hospitality sector by 2021.

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VS, the world’s leading hospital ity consulting and services orga nisation, in collaboration with WTTC, India Initiative, has released a White Paper on “Hotel Room Supply, Capital Investment and Manpower Requirement by 2021”. The summarised findings of the white-paper are that in ten years, the hospitality sector in India will need 180,000 additional rooms,

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$25.5 billion for constructing these rooms and about 211,000 people to operate them. It further predicts that by 2021, global travel industry would see 1,362 billion travellers, of which India is expected to account for 0.8 per cent. The domestic travellers will grow at 8 per cent annually to 1.735 billion by 2021 and India would need a total of 3, 51,540 rooms by 2021. Budget hotels will be the driving

force because they usually have more rooms per hotel than a first-class or luxury hotel, can be built faster and cheaper in multiple micro-markets as well as in most Tier I, Tier II and Tier III cities, it said. The existing stock of hotel inventory is 1,63,038 rooms, adding that the Indian average room inventory is less than 15 per cent of the average inventory of Asia Pacific and other global cities. Capital investment and the manpower are two other


HOSPITALITY REPORT

“While in recent months the government, and particularly the Tourism Ministry, has made great strides, there is much ground that still needs to be covered. We hope this report services as one of the tools for implementation, says Manav Thadani, MRICS, Chairman, HVS South Asia.

critical aspects. The additional investment in hospitality in the country would be around Rs 1,27,600 crore by 2021. Talking about the issues raised by the paper, Manav Thadani, MRICS, chairman, HVS South Asia, says: “While in recent months the government, and particularly the Tourism Ministry, has made great strides, there is much ground that still needs to be covered. We hope this report services as one of the tools for implementation and that the Indian hospitality community will be able to utilise this publication to work with the government to find areas where holes need to be plugged

and bridges needed to strengthen.” “The White Paper is of vital importance for the stakeholders of the tourism sector in India, especially so with the attention and overtures that the sector has received in the 12th Five Year Plan of the Government of India. This Paper will amplify the necessary considerations that the hospitality sector in India has been demanding.” says Vikram Madhok, chairperson, WTTC, India Initiative. Tourism, says the paper, is an intensely competitive, focused, rapidly evolving business sector. The qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the supply of accommoda-

VIKRAM MADHOK CHAIRPERSON

The White Paper is of vital importance for the stakeholders of the tourism sector in India, especially with the attention that the sector has received in the 12th Five Year Plan, the Paper will amplify the necessary considerations that the hospitality sector has been demanding. tion have a direct bearing on the overall success and development of tourism. Therefore, in order to ensure that the supply of accommodation contributes effectively to tourism development plans and objectives, it is rational that the development of the accommodation sector should be the primary element of the overall destination planning process. “Tourism has an immense potential with incredible opportunities and HVS has rightfully opened the window to this developing scenario. The India State Ranking Survey 2011 is another significant work that HVS has introduced. The States and Union Territories should closely examine the parameters on which they are ranked and evolve better mechanisms to promote tourism, which can significantly contribute to the economy of the State. Each of our States and Union Territories has considerable wealth in tourism and opportunities needs to be explored in a planned manner. WTTCII looks forward to closely working with HVS in future on these strategic policy approaches,” says Sujit Banerjee, secretary general, WTTC, India Initiative. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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COMPANY PROFILE

Swosti Group

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ORISSA AS TOURIST HOTSPOT Orissa has a tremendous tourism potential and can be the next most attractive tourist destination in India, says JK Mohanty. He shares with us the group’s plan for the destination.

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rissa is emerging as a prime tourist destination of the country having a strong infrastructure base to host guests from abroad and India. Swosti Group is dedicated to developing it as a popular tourist destination, taking care of every aspect -- whether it is quality accommodation, or visiting destination in luxury or finding new ways to add little adventure. With the only platinum class of hotels, Swosti Premium has redefined hospitality

J.K. MOHANTY CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR

Swosti has continuously endeavoured to surpass its own standards and commitment to excellence. We have our own group of professionals to handle all the travel related needs of its guests. Swosti Travels has its unique level of service excellence in introducing travel package MICE. 48

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scene in Orissa. In Eastern India, Swosti group has largest convention hall. The SwostiPremium offers facilities in the room and consumables are of superior qualities in its 147 Royal rooms, 12 Executives convention halls of various capacities, Scottish Bar, Ladies Club etc. Swosti Premium is transforming itself as the hi-tech leisure, corporate and convention abode with more value added customer facilities from wi-fi to refurbished ayurvedic, spa, economic packages and much more. The Plaza club at Swosti Premium with the state of art sound &light discotheque, pool & billiards, swimming pool, health club, restaurants & bar offers an all-time experience. The premier luxury hotel Swosti located in the heart of city Bhubaneswar has been transformed into a boutique hotel with its new multi cuisine restaurant, coffee shop and the restobar. Aqua, the multi cuisine restaurant serves Indian, Pan Asian, North Frontier and Mediterranean cuisines along with a good collection of wines. Café d Art, a unique concept has been introduced in Bhubaneswar, a

gallery attached to the coffee shop where the guest will have the option to buy art work from the displayed artifacts. Marina, the restobar has been designed keeping in mind the needs of the business traveller as well as the new tech generation. Swosti has continuously endeavoured to surpass its own standards and commitment to excellence. We have our own group of professionals to handle all the travel related needs of its guests. Swosti Travels has its unique level of service excellence in introducing travel package MICE. Beside Swosti Palm Resort at Gopalpur on sea with 26 air-conditioned rooms, conference facilities we are planning to set resorts in Chilika, which would comprise 150 cottages and will provide 10 house boats, an herbal garden, golf course, amphitheater, banqueting facilities, fishing pond and state of art spa. We are setting up another resort at Puri will have 98 rooms. Similarly, a modern hotel is proposed in Satpada, the eco tourist center, which is renowned for its dolphins. ■


GUEST COLUMN

MARKETING AND MANAGING HOTELS IN SMALLER CITIES With metro cities getting saturated, small cities are catching the attention of travellers and hoteliers alike. Rahul Rohit, GM – HK Clarks Inn Amritsar lists out the advantages these cities offer.

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ith increased industrialisation and rising salaries of the middle class, the tier II and III cities have become focus areas among top hotel brands in India for expansion. Economic advancement and a significant growth of business activities in India have necessitated frequent travel. The Indian middle class with more disposable income, increased focus in leisure and travel activities has set in a modification in consumer profiles. With the middle class travelling all over the world, its awareness about quality of services and facilities provided in hotels has grown; it demands products of the same level in tier II and tier III cities. The best possible mode to penetrate into these markets is to sign a management contract with local owners as it requires less investment and low promotional and operational costs. The untapped potential is also realised. Here, the local owners get advantage of the technical know-how of the brand which is required to build a snag free hotel with impetus on energy conservation using operationally suited interiors and equipments. Most hotel brands have sales offices in metros which feed in business to these markets as most of the head offices of corporate houses are based there. The nationwide contracting is done for all the hotels in the chain with these big corporate houses. The hotel brands also tie-up with travel agents in metros to get business for these areas. Therefore, the local owners get to reach a much bigger market for their product when they join hands with hotel brands. What’s more, there is an advantage regarding attracting skilled professionals to these smaller cities. As the hotel brands have a presence all over the nation, they have access to a larger pool of professionals for running the hotel which would have been difficult for the local owners to arrange. The expansion for hotel brands in tier II and III cities is beneficial as it offers low rentals, invest-

Best way to market the brand in these cities is the utilisation of regional and local media that reach out to the wider section of the society. Labour in such cities is easily available and cheaper than metro cities thereby lowering the operational cost of the venture.

ments and infrastructures costs. Besides this, real estate is easily available and affordable with low lease and acquisition costs. Marketing and promotional expenses are much more cost-effective than in the metro cities. Best way to market the brand in these cities is the utilisation of regional and local media that reach out to the wider section of the society. Labour in such cities is easily available and cheaper than metro cities thereby lowering the operational cost of the venture. Acquiring and recruiting the man power also costs less here. Besides this, on the basis of the consumer demographics of these cities, the hospitality brands incorporate certain changes in their product and service offerings in order to ensure profitability. The most important thing to consider while expanding in these cities is to find the right property or a location to put the right brand depending upon the consumer demographics that are driving the business in that particular market place. A typical hotel size ranges from a 40-60 room property with more importance given to the F&B outlets and banqueting space. The ARR ranges from Rs 2,000 - Rs 3,000. Unlike the metros, in these cities the F&B revenue, specially banqueting, forms a major chunk of the total revenue of the hotel. The hotels are being redefined with new concepts, innovations and strategies. With changing mindset of consumers and operators, contemporary hotels of this category have taken a full U-turn with resolute contrast. Now they are mini full-service hotels being recognised as business class, compacted with basic facilities for discerning business travellers targeting a specific market segment of mid rank business executives and price sensitive corporate. These are competitive hospitality units that demonstrate professionalism and are reasonably priced with good service, style and ambience. The market in these cities yearns for international standards albeit with a local flavour. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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EVENTS & HAPPENINGS

A Gastronomic Delight at Chandra Padmanabhan’s Book Launch at the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi

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Vijay Wanchoo, senior vice president & GM, The Imperial and Chandra Padmanabhan unveil Southern Flavours.

he Imperial Hotel, New Delhi played host to a cosy book launch in March; ‘Southern Flavours’ by the acclaimed culinary author Chandra Padmanabhan at a launch cum culinary session. Her book explores some of the best South Indian delicacies from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. The event was organised by the Imperial Culinary Club in collaboration with Westland Ltd. The special live and interactive culinary session was held on classic South Indian vegetarian cuisine where Padmanabhan donned the Chef’s jacket for a select audience including members of the press, members of the Imperial Culinary Club and the Westland representatives. She demonstrated the preparation of five of her favourite dishes from her new book – Paruppu Adai (mini lentil pancakes from Tamil Nadu), Ajiga Pulusu (curd curry from Andhra Pradesh), Masala Beans Poriyal (beans with spicy coconut from Tamil Nadu), Vellarikkai Kosumalli (fresh cucumber salad from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) and Paal Payasam (the ever popular and famous milk dessert from Kerala). Throughout the session, Padmanabhan kept the audience involved and riveted with witty banter and interesting anecdotes. The Imperial Culinary Club is a fantastic initiative by the hotel to share a variety of delicacies with food enthusiasts and increase awareness about multiple cuisines. A fortnightly affair, this unique, interactive platform brings together the gastronome and the cook. There have been almost 30 such sessions in the past. Not only do the sessions provide a gastronomic experience to the members, they also help the Imperial Hotel create a niche in the market. The hotel targets hi-end local clientele and provides them with an F&B privilege card, participating certification and a chance to win the lucky draw. ■

Chandra Padmanabhan's culinary session.

aw winners. rs to lucky dr entary vouche m pli m co s oo give Vijay Wanch 50

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by AARUSHI GUPTA

Audience at the event.


EVENTS & HAPPENINGS

The Lalit Legacy Tower at The Lalit New Delhi Unveiled Among Much Fanfare

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The entrance to the The Lalit Legacy Suite.

Dr Jyotsna Suri, chairperson & MD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group along with L-R: Amitabh Kant, CEO & MD, DMICDC, Naresh Kapuria, director, art & culture, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group and artists Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman and Satish Gupta

nch (2) gacy Tower lau at The Lalit Le e liv g tin in i Burman pa Artist Jayasr

he Delhi glitterati were in full attendance at The Lalit, New Delhi when The Lalit Legacy Tower was unveiled by Dr. Jyotsna Suri, chairperson & managing director, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group. The Champagne and Caviar event saw the high and mighty grace the event. From Rohit Bal to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons-Aman and Ayan Ali Bangash, celebrities from all walks were present at the unveiling. After the initial round of viewing the tower, the celebrated artists, Jayasri Burman, Paresh Maity and Satish Gupta painted live at The Lalit Lounge while the champagne was being popped. According to Dr. Suri, “In the year 1988, we pioneered the concept of creating an exclusive tower of suites for the discerning business traveller. Twenty three years later, The Tower gets a makeover and is now in a contemporary avatar, though retaining its glorious legacy.” The transformation process was led by Dr. Suri herself wherein restoring the artifacts, refurbishing the existing furniture, everything was done painstakingly by her. The Lalit Legacy Tower offers 53 designer suites and 25 luxury rooms and the accommodation is divided into following categories, The Lalit Luxury Room, the Lalit Business Suite, The Lalit Executive Suite, The Lalit Luxury Suite and The Lalit Legacy Suite. The star attraction although was The Lalit Lounge that is on the 20th floor and provides 24 hours business services. The refurbished suites have been curated by Dr Suri herself and they draw their inspiration from the creations of the artists Jayasri Burman, Paresh Maity and Satish Gupta. The suites are luxurious in their comfort and provide exceptional services, like exclusive express check-in, round- the- clock butler service, customised bar and room services, in-room high-tech kitchenette facilities and complementary airport transfers. ■ by APRAJITA SHISHOO

Artists Paresh Tower launch Maity and Satish Gupta painting live (1) at The Lalit Le gacy April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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People… Wyndham Hotel Group Frank Trampert has been appointed managing director of the Asia Pacific region of Wyndham Hotel Group. He will oversee operations, development and execution of cross-functional brand initiatives in the Asia Pacific region. Frank was previously associated with Carlson Hotels in Australia, Europe, Singapore and USA in different capacities including vice president of distribution services and IT and executive vice president of revenue generation. He also served as President of Circos Brand Karma in Singapore.

Kenilworth Resort & Spa Rajeev Sharma has been appointed general manager of Kenilworth Resort & Spa, Goa. Rajeev will overlook operations for the hotel. He brings with him an experience of over 25 years in the hospitality industry. He has held a number of senior positions and has been associated with major hotel brands such as Hyatt Regency in Delhi, Imperial Hotel in Delhi, Sarova in Kenya and Majestic in Abu Dhabi.

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai Harsha Devraj has been appointed general manager of The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai. He brings with him over 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He has been associated with various segments of hospitality including operations, marketing, projects, strategy building and business development and has worked with The Taj Lands End Mumbai, Taj Manjarun Devraj, Taj Residency Nashik and Sarovar Grand Hometel. He set up a 4 star project – Lazy Lagoon – in North Goa in 2007. It has been branded as a Sarovar Portico Suite unit. He also set up two 5-star properties – Clarion The Beach, South Goa and Clarion The West End, Nashik. 52

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Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport Gautam Bhandari has been appointed general manager of Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport. In his new role, Gautam will be responsible for managing the personnel and financial operations, streamlining the objectives of F&B and marketing hotel activities. Previously, Gautam was working as the Hotel Manager with Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Hotel. He brings over 14 years of hospitality experience to the table. He has been associated with international brands such as Marriott and InterContinental Hotel Group.

Formule 1 Greater Noida Florian Kohli has been appointed general manager of Formule 1 Greater Noida, Accor’s first international lowcost hotel. Florian has been associated with the hospitality industry for over six years and has worked in various capacities over the span of his career. He has been associated with Accor since 2007; he joined the sales & marketing Team at Novotel Hyderabad International Convention Center. Other hotels he has been associated with are Ibis Berthier Porte de Clichy Paris and Ibis Delhi International Airport. Florian completed an integrated IMHI Cornell Program from Paris and a two-year Masters in Business Administration.

Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini Pranav Bharadwaj has been appointed director of sales and marketing of Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini. In his new role, he will be responsible for planning, developing and implementing promotional strategies, sales and marketing plans and special sales projects. In the span of 15 years, Pranav has been associated with brands such as Marriott Hyderabad, Hyatt Kolkata, Le Meridien Jaipur and Leela Mumbai. An IILM alumnus, he also received a Post Graduate degree in sales and marketing from National Institute of Sales.


People‌ The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Sarovar Hotels & Resorts

Mayank Uniyal has been promoted as associate director of sales of The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace. In his new role, he will be responsible for tapping new market segments and maximizing productivity. He will also work towards enhancing talent within the team while living up to The Westin culture. Previously, he was working as senior business de-

Shantanu Jha has been appointed general manager sales (West) of Sarovar Hotels & Resorts. Based out of Mumbai, he will oversee the sales offices in Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodra. In the span of his career, Shantanu has been associated with brands such as Radisson, Grand Hyatt and InterContinental. He has a wide exposure and expertise in hotel sales and marketing.

velopment manager. Mayank has a rich experience of 11 years in the hospitality industry. He has been associated with hotel brands like Choice Hotels International, Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd and The Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts.

The Suryaa, New Delhi Dhananjay Kumar has been appointed resident manager of The Suryaa, New Delhi. His new role involves overlooking and stabilizing the F&B department. Dhananjay has an experience of over 18 years in the hospitality industry and has worked in various capacities with some of the most popular brands in hospitality like Hyatt Regency in Dubai, The Oberoi, Hilton, Shangri-La, The Claridges and Radisson. A certified trainer from Hyatt and Shangri-La International and a keen wine sommelier, he has also represented India at various International wine festivals.

The Westin Mumbai Garden City Aditya Shamsher Malla has been appointed executive assistant manager - sales & marketing of The Westin Mumbai Garden City. He has been associated with the hospitality industry for over 18 years. Prior to joining, Aditya was working as Director of sales & marketing at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace. Other hotel brands he has worked with are The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata and Skal International Kolkata (127) at Skal International Asia.

Marriott India Samir Kant Avasthi has been appointed director of MICE of Marriott India. In his new role, Samir will be responsible for convention sales. He will also look into creating unit synergies with all Marriott hotels within India, increasing rotational association business and improving networking opportunities. In the span of eight years in the hospitality industry, he has been associated with brands like The Grand, InterContinental and Taj. He has also been awarded the President Circle for 2009 & 2010 and Roger J. Dow Sales Excellence award for 2010 performance at the Asia Pacific Sales & Revenue leaders meet.

JW Marriott Mumbai Leena Sengupta has been appointed rooms division manager of JW Marriott Mumbai. She will be responsible for the operations for Rooms Division. She will also look after the Front Office, Housekeeping and Spa functions of the hotel. In the span of nearly 16 years, she has worked with prestigious brands like The Oberoi Group, The Grand New Delhi and The Taj Palace. She is an alumnus of the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD). Leena has been honoured with the Long Service Award and the Leader of the Month Award at The Oberoi Hotels. April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Products…

Bathline Sensations Presents OVERFLOW Whirlpool by KÄSCH Bathline Sensations brings to you a revolutionary bathtub by KÄSCH from the OVERFLOW collection. The OVERFLOW Whirlpool promises the ultimate bathing experience that brings one close to nature. The Whirlpool is designed to en-

hance the bath and revitalize all the senses. This unique bathtub is meant to soothe a stressed mind with the sound of waterfalls and spring waters. For more information, call 011-47690000 or get in touch at info@bathlineindia.com

Home Et Tu Presents Cosy Couches and Seaters Mirror Minerva & Console Minerva by Qboid Design House Qboid Design House brings to you an attractive offering to redecorate the interiors. Mirror Minerva and Console Minerva, from the house of Qboid, lend the space a grandiose appeal with delicate, skilful carvings using silver and gold deco finish. Together, they fit beautifully. The look and quality of the pieces match the appeal of the royal Victorian Era. Independently, the mirror makes for a breathtaking hanging on the wall while the elegant console offers plenty of storage space along with aesthetic appeal. Mirror Minerva is priced at Rs 39,900 and Console Minerva is priced at Rs 44,900. For more information, visit www.qboiddesignhouse.com 54

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Home Et Tu has introduced a brand new range of couches and seaters, a first for the brand. Adding colours and vibrancy to any space, the couches not only provide comfort but also beautify the room or lobby. The couches can be customised with a wide variety of fabrics by brands such as Jab, Chivasso, Carlucci, Alhambra, Easy Linder and Elitis. The lounger with stool by Home Et Tu is made from pure tussar silk fabric and is upholstered in quilted embroidery. The lounger is priced at Rs 57,000 and the stool at Rs 19,900. For more information, visit www.homeettu.com


Products…

Indian Folk Art Forms by Baaya Design Luxury Abalones Fashion Light Quilt by FRETTE FRETTE presents the Luxury Abalones Fashion Light Quilt as part of its Spring Summer – Couture, Luxury collection. These silk duvet covers and quilts exude an elegant, luxurious and class appeal with natural, iridescent colours in large spiralling patterns. It is available in two colours – dark blue and pink.

The light quilts belong to the Grotto range that comprises of jacquard cotton bed sets, pillows, terry towels, bedcovers, cushions and quilts. The range begins at Rs 18,200 and goes up to Rs 3,28,000. For more information, visit www.frette.com or call 22873406/05

Baaya Design has on offer a wide variety of traditional Indian art forms, like murals and paintings, straight from the artisans. While adding beauty to homes and offices, it also works towards preserving ancient culture and traditional art forms. Baaya Design offers Kalighat and Jadupatta, Gond art from MP; Kalamkari and Shadow puppet art from Andhra Pradesh; Madhubani, Godhna and Mithila from Bihar; Mughal Miniatures and Kishangarh paintings, Phad and Sanjhi from Rajasthan; Thangka and Mandala art from Sikkim and Himachal; Orissa Patachitra and Saura art from Orissa; Warli from Maharashtra; Sohrai and Khovar from Jharkhand and Tanjore art from Tamil Nadu. It also offers Dokra art and Bengal Patachitra. For more information, visit www.baayadesign.com or call 022-65210165 / 09619284141

EPSON launches Full-Featured Projector Series EPSON has launched its latest Eb-1800 series. The latest full-featured projector offers brightness of up to 4000 lm and comprehensive connectivity. The features enable the projector to be used efficiently even in bright areas. It can also be networked successfully to receive image and audio signals. These new launches by EPSON are perfect for business as well as education purposes. The price range of the EB-1800 series begins at Rs 87,200. For more information, visit www.global.epson.com April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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Products… Huawei Launches Cloud Phones

Huawei Devices recently launched its smartest, slimmest and lightest tablet yet – MediaPad. The much awaited Huawei MediaPad is the world’s first 7" Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet. The MediaPad makes for a great portable entertainment and business option. It is driven by Qualcomm' s dual-core 1.2GHz processor to drive easy multi-tasking, richer web browsing and faster processing of HD movies and games. It measures just 10.5mm (0.4 inches) deep and weighs approximately 390g (0.86 pounds). It offers industry’s highest 217 PPI (pixels per inch), an IPS screen, WXGA (1280X800 pixels) display, 1080P full HD and SRS. It also features a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera and a 5 megapixel auto focus rear facing camera with HD video recording capabilities. It comes with Flash 10.3 support and full HDMI output. It is priced at Rs 28,359. For more information, visit www.huawei.com/ap/en/

LG Presents Health GuardTM LG recently launched a brand new range of refrigerators with Health GuardTM, a unique air purification system. This system uses four filters for dust, fungi spore, bacteria and odour to circulate clean and healthy air. It realises a strong sterilization up to 99.99% bacteria which ensures Purest Air inside the refrigerator. This unique, new feature is available in LG's Wonder Door and Frost Free refrigerators. The price ranges from Rs 47,100 to Rs 1,86,500. For more information, call 9871630164 or email Kshitija.sharma@lg-one.com

CA Style by Living In Style, Mumbai Living in Style, Mumbai recently launched CA Style – a range of lavish contemporary furniture. With 10,000 sq ft of plush, magnificent home decor furniture and accessories, the CA Style section of Living in Style, Mumbai has on display some of the best contemporary furniture from international brands like Camel Italy, Calia Italia and Kelvin Giormani. With new design concepts, the aim of the store is to transform 56

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shopping into a revelling experience. The CA Style section is designed with utmost care and attention is given to comfort and elegance. The purple lighting and modern wallpapers truly add to the look and feel as well. With a constant lookout for evolving trends, the brand Living in Style promises unparalleled quality and excellence. For more information, call 2875286/28773448.


Products… FCML Introduces JVD Locks The first French manufacturer of hotel accessories, JVD offers cutting edge safety solutions with supreme quality and service. JVD electronic door locks are manufactured using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. The technology allows for contactless operation and light maintenance. The RFID technology also allows for more powerful anti-cloning security and reprogramming of more than 100,000 times. The locks come in various designs and finishes to go with the appearance of the door. For more information, visit www.fcmlindia.com

LoomCrafts Launches “Eco-Tents Cottage”

LoomCrafts recently launched the luxurious, environment-friendly "Eco-Tents Cottage" in the Indian market. The tents are temporary in nature with a minimal impact on the environment. Ideal for camping, these are perfect for areas where permanent structures are not allowed. These are manufactured as per the eco tourism industry guidelines. The frame work is made of alloy aluminium while the top and sides are done in tensile membrane fabric. This grants the tents a long life. They are fit for tropical regions and are wind proof. The tents also provide guests with eco-amenities like solar power, natural ventilation, cloakroom and bathtub. The price range starts from Rs 2,500 per sq ft and goes up to Rs 3,500 per sq ft. For more information, visit www.loomcrafts.com or call +91-120-4561647

All Weather Range 2012 by Trend n’ Design Trend n' Design presents their all new All Weather Range 2012 of trendy hand woven furniture with elite aesthetics. All products are made of synthetic fibres that are 100% UV, frost, water and fade resistant. The range requires zero maintenance. The collection includes products such as outdoor dining furniture, patio umbrella, living range, pool furniture and accessories. Trend n' Design offers high quality furniture for hotels, motels, resorts, corporate and townships. The manufacturing unit of the company is based in New Delhi. For more information, email trendndesign@gmail.com April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEWS SNIPPETS

HOTEL HINDUSTAN LAUNCHES A PROPERTY IN PUNE

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otel Hindustan International (HHI) has announced its foray in Maharashtra with the launch of its new property in Pune. The hotel which brings the total portfolio of HHI group’s properties to five will open shortly. The property targets the business traveller. “We are delighted to add Pune to HHI’s footprint and it is our first entry into Maharashtra. This is the fifth property from the HHI Group and like other HHI properties this one too reveals a new world unfolding from the old. The Pune property is upscale and is set to cater to India’s fast growing business travel market. It is created to achieve the best world class standards in hospitality, comfort and luxury. Guests can look forward to HHI’s unique offerings in more cities as we continue to expand our brand presence in India,” said DK Jaiswal, chairman & managing director, HHI Group. The property offers 50 guest rooms at present. The rooms are sound proof, with fully automated power curtains and touch panels for all services and lighting. They also

have in-room coffee machines. The hotel also features two banquets for conferences and meetings, Crystal I and Crystal II. For recreation, the property offers The Eye Club (resto bar and lounge) and El Fresco

(open air restaurant). The Eye Club is attached with an exclusive island bar and special dining room. El Fresco offers live barbecues and customised mini tandoors with Indian, Mexican, Italian and Spanish preparations. ■

PREMIER INN PLANS TO OPEN 8 HOTELS PER YEAR IN INDIA

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K-based Premier Inn is geared to expand its foothold in the country. The group already owns and operates hotels in Bengaluru and New Delhi in India. The group says it is in second phase of development from where it wants to grow through an asset-light route. “Our approach has been realistic. In the first phase, we invested in this market to showcase and establish our brand and so we decided to own and manage hotels. Now, we plan to follow an asset-light model. We target to open seven to eight hotels a year,” said Aly Shariff, managing director, Premier Inn India. The group has so far invested Rs 300 crore in the market. It says it has identified some locations in metros, Tier II and III cities in India to take up management contracts. There are three hotels under construction in Pune, Goa and Chennai. The Pune hotel at Kharadi with 113 keys will be operational by July 2013; hotel at Anjuna in Goa will have 130 rooms, which will open by March 2014 and the Chennai property located at OMR with 108 keys will be operational by September 2014.” ■ by PURVA BHATIA

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NEWS SNIPPETS

SIX SENSES RESORTS & SPA TO BE ACQUIRED BY PEGASUS CAPITAL

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he Bangkok based Six Senses Resorts & Spas have been acquired by Pegasus Capital advisors L.P., a US based private equity fund manager for an undisclosed sum. According to the terms of the deal, Pegasus will acquire all of the Six Senses and Evason branded resort and spa management contracts and related intellectual property rights and operate them under a new company managed by Pegasus and its affiliates. Bernhard Bohnenberger, currently the president of Six Senses, will be continuing in that role and heading the Six Senses' Bangkok office. “Six Senses is known around the world for providing a unique and innovative guest experience,” commented Craig Cogut, founder, Pegasus Capital Advisors. “The brand has a great heritage, and we believe it is strongly positioned to grow. We are confident that our strong management team will continue to build on its legacy as a recognized leader in luxury hospitality.” The Soneva brand and resorts, as well as the company’s real estate assets and holdings, are not included in the transaction, and will continue to be led by Sonu Shivdasani, the former founder and

CEO of Six Senses, who will serve as chairman and CEO and principal shareholder of The Soneva Group. “This transaction will allow me to focus solely on the development of the Soneva portfolio of resorts and real estate assets, and allow the Soneva and Six Senses brands to flourish independently of each other,” said Sonu Shivdasani. ■

GOCO HOSPITALITY TO DEVELOP WELLNESS RESORT IN INDIA

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BESPOKE SPA: A JOINT VENTURE OF TREEPIE AND ORIENTAL SENSES

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reepie Hospitality Private Limited (Treep ie) and Oriental Senses Spa (Oriental Senses) recently announced a joint venture to set up an exclusive line of luxury spas – Bespoke Spa – pan India. Sumant Batra, the founder of Treepie, said that with this venture they want to develop something unique and exclusive. “We want to create our own definition of wellness. For us, it’s all about making the guests feel good, he added. Bespoke Spa boasts a very unique design and concept and promises personalised experiences on two levels – location specific and guest preferences. Talking about the

new brand Ahoi Haolai Sitlhou, the founder of Oriental Senses Spa, said “Oriental Senses is all about Asian therapies but Bespoke Spa will focus on western therapies as well. There is a lot of stress on training of the staff, which I will do myself. More than luxury we want to concentrate on service and quality. Ultimately, we want Bespoke to be known as a spa destination”. The first spa of the brand will open in hotel Te Aroha, a Treepie property. The launch will make Te Aroha the first hotel property in Kumaon hills to have a luxury spa. ■

hailand-based GOCO Hospitality, a consulting and management company is looking for “the right partner” to open a wellness resort in the country. “We want to create a destination like Ananda. It will be a wellness resort. Right now we are looking for right partners. While we eventually would like to invest in real estate, at present we are only looking for management contracts,” said Ingo Schweder, CEO, GOCO Hospitality. The company already provides spa management services in India at The Claridges, Surajkund, Delhi NCR. GOCO will also offer its services at the upcoming MGM Bellagio Mumbai property set to open in 2015. It is currently working on 23 projects in 14 countries around the world for both individual clients and international hospitality groups such as MGM Hospitality and Moevenpick Hotels & Resorts. According to Ingo, the group’s USP lies in the expertise it offers. The group will also invest in opening training schools to build a talent pool for the industry. ■ April 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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EDITOR’S PAGE

Hospitality Sector Needs More Forums

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he eighth annual HICSA has been reviewed extensively in this issue. In fact, we have pronounced it eminently successful – with high participation from global CEOs of international hotel chains. Having said that, it wouldn’t be startling to say that the industry needs more forums like these. For all our growth, with every company announcing aggressive growth and expansion plans, there are grave issues that need to be consistently addressed. One annual HICSA, for all its success, is not adequate enough. We probably need many more industry-building forums round the year, throughout the country, bringing many more stakeholders together to discuss and deliberate on numerous other concerns. Shortage of skilled manpower is one of the key concerns the industry is battling with. Is the industry drawing the best talent? Are we able to retain the talent that we have? How often is the trained talent going to other service industries or to other countries within the hospitality zone (fortunately, some of this talent is coming back). But HR remains a big issue. If we have a hundred thousand rooms under construction, and even if we assume only half of them will materialise, where will the manpower to service this additional supply, come from? There is a dire need to manage the talent available within the country.

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Building a hotel is not getting any simpler. The cost per room is difficult to manage while the land and construction isn’t getting any cheaper. How and when will we be able to build more affordable hotels? Again, there are different verticals in which hotels exist – in golf courses, theme parks, wildlife resorts, convention centres, wellness spas – each of them have their own distinct challenge. There is a huge demand for each, waiting to be tapped. Furthermore, there are scores of permissions and approvals required, which take a lot of time. Those in governance need to be explained how the machinery works in developed countries, where the rules are simple, defined and transparent. Taxes may remain a matter of concern but then we can’t wish them away. But we can hope for a government regime that is more appreciative of the industry in the given economic framework of our country and therefore, we can wish for simplification, if not lowering, of taxes. Unfortunately, hospitality is considered an elitist sector, whereas hotels must be accepted as ‘essential’ infrastructure. Whether it is 1-star property or deluxe, they are all equally essential because each has a market of its own. The industry needs more platforms to voice these concerns and many more and look for solutions. ■ by NAVIN S BERRY


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Hotelscapes April 2012