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Volume 1. Issue 1. February 2012. Rs 50

HOTELSCAPES A L L A B O U T H O T E L S & H O S P I TA L I T Y

• Hotels woo guests with executive floors & lounges • Keshav Suri talks about his plans for The Lalit Group • The Oberoi Gurgaon is the World’s Leading Luxury Hotel 2011 • Madhya Pradesh to focus on building infrastructure to boost tourism

Nakul Anand charting the road ahead at ITC Hotels


CONTENTS/EDITORIAL Volume 1 Issue 1 FEBRUARY 2012

New Developments 4 6 8 10

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Chatwal Hotels to invest Rs 2,000 crore in India Vivanta by Taj opens 5th hotel in Hyderabad Royal Orchid eyes wedding market with Regenta The Pllazio Gurgaon aims to stand our with its architecture

Hospitality Report 12 HVS reports on sustainability in global hotel industry

EDITOR’S NOTE

International Report

Hotelscapes is our endeavour to bring an in-depth analysis and initiate a dynamic dialogue within the industry. We work closely across segments and ensure that we inform intelligently and report objectively on issues that matter. The magazine combines a range of current news stories, ongoing trends and features dedicated sections for analysis. You’ll read columns from experts talking about concerns as well as developments and trends shaping the industry. In this issue, our Interview of the Month is with the man at the helm of affairs at India’s iconic ITC Hotels. In an exhaustive dialogue, he tells us what makes ITC the game changer that it is; the much awaited ITC Grand Chola in Chennai; and key trends in the Indian travel and tourism industry. In the Forum of the Month, we take a look at the upcoming trend in hotels: lounges and exclusive floors to woo high-end business travellers. Club or executive lounges offer a host of facilities to provide conveniences and exclusivity to the guests. Leading hoteliers in the country reveal their strategy on this front. Noted Indian-American hotelier Sant Chatwal recently made headlines with his announcement of an investment of Rs 2,000 crore to open 52 hotels in the country. In our section on ‘New Developments’, Chatwal father and son, tell us all about the group’s plan for the Indian market. We also update you about other launches across the country. We trust you find the magazine informative and we invite comments and feedback from you.

16 Europe’s Hospitality Results 2011

Interview of the Month 18 Nakul Anand on what makes ITC a game changer

One-on-One 24 Keshav Suri talks about plans for The Lalit Group

Forum of the Month 28 Hotels strategise lounges & floors to woo business travellers

Chain Analysis 34 Best Western plans 100 hotels by 2017

Hotels Luxury 42 The Oberoi Gurgaon sets new benchmark in luxury

Social Media 46 Hotelier Virat Varma blogs his views on Lebua, Bangkok

Destination Analysis 48 Madhya Pradesh to focus on infrastructural development

Events & Happenings 50 ITC’s cuisine charms all at world economic forum

Products 51 New launches this season

People 52 Our industry track on movements across the country

Corporate Social Responsibility 54 Emerging CSR trends in the hospitality industry

Last Page: Responsible Tourism 56 ‘High Value Low Impact Tourism’ debate at PATA event in Bhutan Editor: Navin S Berry Assistant Editor: Purva Bhatia Business Development: Sudhir Sood Advertising: Saurabh Shukla Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani Go Now is published and printed monthly by Navin Berry on behalf of Cross Section Media Pvt. Ltd. and printed at Rakesh Press A-7, 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 This issue of hotelscapes contains 56 pages plus 4 pages cover

Guest Columns 23 Pune Hyatt Regency’s winning formula in a highly competitive market 38 Dining out culture is evolving 40 Changing trends in spa culture 45 Critical issues facing hospitality today February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Chatwal Hotels & Resorts have announced their intention to invest Rs 2,000 crore in India to open more than 50 hotels over the next five years.

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ampshire Hotels & Resorts, the management arm of Chatwal Hotels & Resorts has announced a more pronounced entry into the Indian market, this time riding on the distribution and brand power of Wyndham Hotels. The group has existing properties in Hyderabad and Kochi; this renewed thrust is meant to signal a major expansion for the Indian market. Chatwal Hotels, which has given the franchise and management rights of its 5-star

deluxe brand Dream and 4-star brand Night to Wyndham Hotel Group, plans to expand them in India through the franchise model and develop them with the help of local partners. At a press conference in the capital, both father and son Chatwal reiterated their strong India connection, and their interest in tracing their roots here with establishing a network of hotels, under the brands of ‘Dream’ and ‘Night’. Their plans to launch fifty two hotels – 40 Night hotels and 12 Dream hotels – in the next five years will be pursued with help

Announcing a Renewed Return, Hotelier

CHATWAL Ties-up with the Wyndham Group

L–R: Seen at the press conference: Vikram Chatwal, Eric Danzigner and Sant Chatwal

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from Wyndham Hotels, who have been given exclusive rights to franchise and manage both these brands. Wyndham is the world’s largest hotel operator, even though a relatively recent brand in India. Wyndham made an early exit from their Dwarka property in New Delhi, now being relaunched as Lebua. It also exited its Ramada branded hotel in Connaught Place in New Delhi (what was formerly Ashok Yatri Niwas and now Royal Plaza). This partnership should provide a boost to both parties. The press conference announcement said that the initial launch sites will be a Dream resort in Goa and India’s first location for Night will be in Chennai. These will be followed by New Delhi, Mumbai along with Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jaipur and Udaipur. “For me, India has always been the ultimate hospitality destination”, said Sant Chatwal, Chairman & CEO, Hampshire Hotels & Resorts. “The multifarious lifestyle, culinary and cultural opportunities that this great country offers to the hospitality industry are immensely untapped. With our two brands, we aim to give consumers, both International and Domestic, an eclectic experience that will be both memorable and enjoyable”, he added. The Chatwal Hotels & Resorts, as stated in their press release, have already made invest-


Dream Hotel Pool Overhead

Electric Room at Dream Hotel

ments worth Rs 1,000 crore in India and have additional equity investment of Rs 2,000 crore planned that will go towards setting up of initial infrastructure towards operation of the large chain. The Night brand, which Chatwal plans to develop in primary and secondary markets, will be positioned as an ‘affordably chic’ hotel option featuring innovative designs and services such as guest deejays in lounges and gourmet quick-serve food and beverage options. The Dream brand is positioned as a full-service, lifestyle brand for gateway cities and resort destinations. The brand’s personality is light-hearted and fun, embracing the use of vivid visuals and trend-setting design. The progressive service offerings will emulate those of luxury hotels, but with a more relaxed point of view. The Dream brand ethos is defined by its tagline “It’s your dream, we provide the room service.” Dream and Night hotels are currently in operation in New York, Miami, Bangkok, Thailand and Cochin, India and its international expansion plans include hotels in Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czechoslovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Berlin (Germany), Zagreb (Croatia), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and 10 other properties in USA including Los Angeles. ■ February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Vivanta by Taj Opens, takes Taj Group to 5 Properties in Hyderabad With the launch of this hotel, the overall Vivanta by Taj portfolio goes up to 23 hotels. This will be the first hotel under the Vivanta banner in Andhra Pradesh thereby increasing the brand's footprint in the country.

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aj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has recently opened Vivanta, a five star hotel at Begumpet in Hyderabad. It is the first hotel under the Vivanta banner in the State. This will be Taj's fifth star hotel in Hyderabad after Taj Krishna, Taj Banjara, Taj Deccan and the Falaknuma Palace Hotel. Speaking on the launch of the new hotel, Raymond N Bickson, MD & CEO, Indian Hotels Company Limited said “With the launch of Vivanta by Taj – Begumpet, Hyderabad we have expanded our footprint in Andhra Pradesh. It supports the company’s objective of achieving growth through domestic dominance Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has had a long-standing relationship with Hyderabad. This is our fifth hotel in the city. The mix of work and play; a stylish urban oasis is what Vivanta by Taj – Begumpet brings to the city of Hyderabad.” Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, India’s largest hospitality group, plans to open 17 new hotels under ‘Vivanta by Taj’ and ‘Gateway’ brands across the country this year. “We opened one new hotel every six to seven weeks last year and in 2012 we will open one every three weeks,” Bickson added. Speaking on the launch of the hotel, Veer Vijay Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Vivanta by Taj – Hotels & Resorts said, “The Vivanta brand is growing at a rapid pace. Vivanta by Taj – Begumpet, Hyderabad is the fourth Vivanta property to be launched since the last year. With its strategic location and the Vivanta brand features; this hotel has 6

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Highlights… ❏ 1st property by Vivanta by Taj and 5th by Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces in Andhra Pradesh – located in the connecting corridor of Hyderabad and Secunderabad – Begumpet ❏ A spanking new property with 181 luxuriously rooms and suites ❏ Spacious, contemporary, stylish and edgy, offers guest with the pleasurable side of business travel ❏ Differentiated experiences: diverse selection of cuisines, gourmet rejuvenation and relaxation outlets, offbeat meet and celebrate opportunities been created for the global traveller looking for a unique and contemporary experience.” Vivanta is a five-star hospitality brand in the Taj portfolio positioned in the upscale segment. The name ‘Vivanta’ draws inspiration from the term ‘bon vivant’, signifying sophistication and appreciation for the good things in life and also from the attributes of vividness and vivacity. The brand exudes style and a strong sense of living life to the full…It is a brand with a contemporary, energetic and vivacious twist,” said Deepa Misra Harris, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. Vivanta by Taj – Begumpet, Hyderabad is

located at the intersection of Hyderabad and Secunderabad in close proximity to the city centre and the fast paced business district of the twin cities. The hotel is centrally situated, and is a short walk away from Hyderabad's central business districts, tourist attractions and shopping destinations. “Vivanta by Taj is the latest brand in the Taj portfolio and we are proud to announce its foray into Begumpet – the fast paced business district of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad,” quipped Harris. The hotel has 181 rooms and suites that perfectly blend delightful comforts with smart technologies. In the land of rich cuisines, the hotel offers a kaleidoscope of culinary experiences. Viva, the all-day diner, is a fresh take on Mediterranean, Italian and European cuisine, fused with Creole and Cajun culinary styles with innovative cooking techniques. Guests can enjoy live interactive cooking on convection trolleys right at the table. The Grill is a romantic poolside al fresco restaurant serving Italian, Moroccan, Greek, Lebanese and Indian cuisines, cooked in shaslik, rotisserie, brochettes and Indian grilling styles. Giving dining an imaginative twist, the hotel presents an exotic in the pool dining experience, where guests can enjoy a fine selection of grills, which will be served inside the pool on a specially-designed glass table. Ask for Chef’s Table at Viva to dine with the Executive Chef and get valuable insights, attention and enjoy one of the most remarkable meals of your life. Catering to the needs of meetings, events and conferences, the hotel offers over 7000 square feet of well-defined, contemporary meeting spaces suitable for power meetings, memorable brand lunches, upscale weddings and other events. The banquet halls have been designed with modern technology, integrating style and elegance, suitably wired for hi-tech conferences and meetings. The hotel also offers guests a rejuvenating and relaxing experience ranging from several alluring natural spa treatments, an energizing workout at the 24-hour gym to a refreshing dip at the swimming pool. ■ compiled by PURVA BHATIA


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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Royal Orchid Opens Regenta in New Delhi, Eyes the Wedding Market

The chain says it wants to cater to the growing domestic demand for branded hotels for weddings and events.

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angalore-based Royal Orchid is eyeing a share of the fast growing wedding and events pie. For this it has unveiled its ‘Regenta’ brand specifically designed for hosting Indian weddings, conferences and events. The chain has launched Regenta Hotel & Convention Centre, the second property by the group in Delhi NCR region aiming to establish a stronger presence in the northern part of the country. “For Indians, wedding is a very important event so they don’t mind spending on it. With the launch of ‘Regenta’, we are prepared to take on the weddings and events market in India. The region sees large numbers of corporate footfall, but has very few professionally managed convention centre-cum-hotels,” says Chender Baljee,

Regenta Hotel & Convention Centre, Gurgaon The six-acre property, owned by Anant Raj Group, has been taken on lease by Royal Orchid. It features 50 deluxe rooms and two suites. Located alongside the Delhi Gurgaon Express Highway, the resort is close to the airport and railway station. Conference and banquet halls at the property have areas ranging from 8506500 square feet, and capacity of up to 300 guests. It also has an extensive lawn that can host up to 1000 guests. The Food & Beverage offering include a multi-cuisine restaurant – Pinxx. 8

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Chairman and Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels. The next Regenta property will open in Faridabad. When asked about the opportunities the group sees in Delhi NCR, Baljee said: “New Delhi has seen a steady growth in the past few years with foreign investment taking place in the city. This has been coupled by the boom in various sectors and hospitality has remained one of the biggest sectors.” The company currently operates 20 hotels with 1,800 rooms across India in Bangalore, Mysore, Hospet, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Goa, Mussorie, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Delhi and Baroda. These are in upscale and mid-scale segments under joint venture, ownership, lease, revenue sharing and management contract models. The company’s other brands are Hotel Royal Orchid (fivestar), Royal Orchid Central (mid-market) and, Royal Orchid Suites and Resorts. It also operates one hotel in Bangalore under the Ramada brand through a franchise agreement with Wyndham Hotel Group. The chain is optimistic about the growth in the mid-market segment. “In the next three years, we expect to touch 5,000 rooms inventory by launching new hotels. Today, we have 20 hotels and in the next one year, we hope to have 30 hotels with total inventory of 3,000 rooms. The focus will be on management contracts,” he said. The chain is also eyeing international presence. “We had put the plan to enter Tanzania (East Africa) in 2008 on hold due to market conditions. But in the next two years, we should have a presence in that region,” he said. ■ by PURVA BHATIA


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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The Pllazio Gurgaon Aims to Stand Out with its Architecture & Design In a market that is increasingly getting cluttered with hotels in all categories, The Pllazio aims to build a market for itself in Gurgaon.

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he Pllazio Hotel stands apart in the deluge of hotels in Gurgaon because of its aristocratic design and European architecture. According to Varinder Sahni, Joint Managing Director of The Pllazio, the USP of the hotel is the structure itself. Sahni said, “Our hotel is not a regular box hotel, a lot of planning has gone into it, the rooms have been tastefully done and the structure on the outside is inspired from the European style architecture.” The hotel has a neo-classical ambience and boasts an inventory of 8 rooms and 2 suites. The Pllazio is essentially being positioned as a hotel for the business traveller. A high upscale category hotel, Pllazio is targeting a market mix of 80% business travellers and 20% leisure travellers. Gurgaon being a business hub and with more industries and corporate houses moving there, the demand for business hotels is on the rise. Pllazio has filled the gap of a business hotel to the tee. In spite of many hotels mushrooming in the satellite town, Sahni feels that there could not have been a better location for the hotel than Gurgaon. They were targeting Gurgaon from the beginning and this choice has not disap10

HOTELSCAPES February 2012

pointed them. Being close to the main business district and comfortably close to the airport, Gurgaon seemed to be the ideal location for The Pllazio. Talking about the décor of the hotel, Sahni stressed that every detail in the rooms, restaurants and bars has been very tastefully chosen and suits the pleasing ambience of the hotel. The rooms and suites have been divided between The Aster and Iris Suites, The Neo-Classic Rooms and The Contemporary Rooms. The rooms are stylishly designed for the modern business traveller and Sahni clarified that they were looking at year round sold out position. According to him, “Having

The Pllazio, Gurgaon Set amongst the Manhattan like towering glass structures of the millennium city provides a welcome change while in close proximity to acres of landscaped gardens, walkways, courtyards, reflection pools and fountains. Its neo-classic ambience includes 80 rooms & 2 suites.

a small inventory of 80 rooms and 2 suites, there will be a lot of movement all the year round. Business is conducted all 365 days a year and filling up 80 rooms isn’t a big target to achieve.” Being positioned as a business traveller's hotel, Sahni is very optimistic about the MICE opportunities offered by the hotel. “It is perfectly placed in terms of MICE opportunities because there are three board rooms with seating capacity ranging from 12 to 200 people and offers state-of-the-art technology vis-à-vis internet access, audio-visual support and other such amenities”, he said. He mentioned that The Melange World Cuisine Restaurant offers Italian, Oriental and Indian cuisines and The Scruples Bar, which is a double deck bar with the upper deck being used as an exclusive venue for a private party of 35-40 people. “We are not looking at any competition. We are positioned differently and we want to make our own market. Ours is a niche product and we are promoting ourselves as different.” Although on being prodded further, Sahni did confess that Leela, Oberoi and Westin are healthy competitors. ■ by APRAJITA SHISHOO


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HOSPITALITY REPORT

HVS Report on Sustainability in

GLOBAL HOTEL INDUSTRY 2011-2012

Market Trends and Opportunities The concept of sustainability has gained momentum in recent years within the global investment community – resulting in significant financial implications for new and existing hospitality assets, according to a recent report by HVS.

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he past several decades have seen a growing awareness amongst hoteliers and investors regarding the environmental and social impacts of hotel development and operations – to the extent where sustainability issues have permeated nearly every aspect of the hospitality industry. This has been driven by multiple factors including owners’ and operators’ desires to reduce operational costs, changing investor attitudes toward the environment (and the coinciding emergence of corporate

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social responsibility programs), increased regulatory focus on facility operations and development, and a general shift towards the paradigm of ‘sustainability.’ While other aspects of the hospitality sector are relatively straightforward to record and interpret (e.g. occupancy percentages, capitalization rates, RevPAR, etc.), sustainability has remained intrinsically difficult to quantify. Sustainability issues touch on nearly all aspects of hotel ownership and management, necessitating the alignment of environmental,

social, and financial factors to promote responsible business operations over time.

Current Trends in Facility Management Current thought in facility management, and specifically hospitality operations, is largely focused on optimising operational efficiency (and the resultant cost savings) in primarily three areas: energy, water, and waste. Energy. Hotels consume energy for HVAC operations, lighting, cooking fuel, and other


HOSPITALITY REPORT miscellaneous power requirements. From a facility management perspective, the majority of focus is placed on reducing energy intensity, which can be accomplished using a technical, engineering-based approach known as commissioning. Front of the house energy efficiency measures include lighting retrofits, minimisation of plug loads, and sealing of the building envelope. Back of the house energy efficiency measures include improved equipment and equipment scheduling, proper sensor calibration, elimination of simultaneous heating and cooling, and maintenance of proper building ventilation. Recent advances in technology relating to renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have improved the economics of using these alternative energy sources at the individual facility level. Water. Hotels consume water on a domestic basis (bathrooms, F&B, laundry), as well as ‘process’ water for facility operations (HVAC, irrigation, cleaning and maintenance). Hotels also collect and in some cases treat greywater (i.e. water generated from domestic activities) and blackwater (i.e. sewage) generated by guests and back of the house operations. Typical water conservation measures employed by hoteliers include fixture retrofits, towel and linen reuse programs, HVAC and plumbing system improvements, and use of recycled/rain water for process and irrigation use. Wastes. Waste streams generated by hotels include wastes from construction and refurbishment, consumables (e.g. paper, toner, batteries), durable goods (e.g., furniture, office equipment, appliances), F&B wastes, hazardous materials (e.g. cleaning solutions, fluorescent bulbs), and recyclable oil. Hoteliers employ variety of strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle wastes to minimise processing and hauling costs. Vendors are increasingly providing 'waste-to-energy' processing services, whereby wastes are processed into alternative energy sources such as natural gas or biodiesel fuel and sold back to hoteliers at reduced prices. In addition to the three core areas of facility development and operations, other emerging areas of focus include sustainable procurement, indoor environmental quality (focusing on air quality and chemical/cleaning product use), and staff training programs (which can facilitate improved performance and higher levels of employee satisfication/ retention).

prevalent certification programs that are relevant to the hospitality sector.

Energy savings of 10 - 20% (or greater) can be achievable through a technical review of plant equipment and operations and resulting implementation of energy conservation measures (ECMs).

The number of resources to assist hotel owners and operators in understanding and implementing sustainability measures is vast. These resources are provided by international organisations, public agencies (national and local governments), environmental firms, architectural & engineering consultancies, energy firms, utilities, trade organisations, and other entities. Additionally, a growing number of environmental certification programs have arisen that are targeted towards the hospitality sector. These programs can be divided into several broad categories, including: 1) Environmental programs targeted toward the hospitality industry; 2) Programs targeted toward green building design and operation; and 3) Green product certifications and standards. Table 1 on the following page lists some of the more

Drivers Toward Sustainability In today's economic climate, there are multiple factors that encourage business owners and managers to adapt sustainability measures into standard operational procedures. While the more obvious drivers include cost savings and demonstration of corporate social responsibility to investors, a number of more subtle reasons – such as employee retention and enhancing the guest experience – are also coming increasingly into play. These motivations are explored below. Cost savings. The realisation of a bottom line financial return from implementation of sustainable business practices is arguably the strongest motivating factor to encourage private sector participation. Energy efficiency and conservation measures have been studied in depth over the past several decades, leading to assessments that the majority of building stock throughout the world is consuming more energy than necessary. There are also potentially significant opportunities for cost savings in the areas of water consumption and waste handling/recycling. From a financial perspective, many of the cost reduction strategies can be achieved with no-cost or low-cost measures focused on optimisation of the performance of both equipment and personnel. Given the comFebruary 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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petitive nature of the lodging industry and associated difficulty of increasing revenue, the potential for reduction of operating costs provides a compelling incentive for hoteliers to evaluate investment in environmental technologies, as well as more efficient operational procedures. Fiscal and economic incentives. In an effort to encourage the development of environmental retrofits and the construction of 'green' buildings, a variety of fiscal and economic incentives have been enacted by numerous governments, agencies and organisations around the world. These benefits range from tax write-offs to outright grants, and can also include more novel concepts such as insurance premium discounts, expedited regulatory permitting, and grants to cover development soft costs for sustainable projects. Regulatory affairs. Existing environmental regulations targeted toward the hotel sector are largely focused on various aspect of facility operations such as stormwater management, hazardous materials handling, and environmental health and safety. However, a wide range of present and future legislative activities will impact hotel design, construction and operations. This legislation ranges from the broad and long-term (e.g. cap and trade legislation regarding emissions) to the specific (e.g. U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which applies phased efficiency standards to incandescent light bulbs). The concept of Life Cycle Assessment for products (i.e. the review of environmental impacts from raw material extraction through disposal) has gained significant acceptance as a policy instrument and basis for evolving regulatory mechanisms – most notably in the European Union. Stabilised utility prices and availability. Going beyond simple cost savings and regulatory regimes, hoteliers can deploy more efficient equipment and alternative forms of utility production to hedge against future price increases in utility costs. This approach is especially important in geographic locations with developing or unreliable infrastructure, to prevent a compromised guest experience in the form of power cuts or substandard water quality. Marketing/Brand image. Most of the major hotel brands have incorporated some fashion of sustainability platform into their brand definition. Sustainability initiatives are 14

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PIX COURTESY: HONEYWELL FILTERS USA

HOSPITALITY REPORT

With challenging economic conditions still existing in many markets, hoteliers often lack the time and resources to properly evaluate the business costs and benefits of investment into environmental technologies and sustainability initiatives. HVS contends that these potential investments require the same pragmatic, analytically-based evaluation as any other business decision – focusing on the minimisation of risk and optimisation of return on investment. routinely demonstrated in both marketing materials and annual reports (for publicly traded entities). Several brands have been repositioned to cater to a younger generation of more environmentally and socially-conscious customers. The effectiveness of environmental certification programs to impact facility selection at the consumer level

has been less successful to date - based on HVS' recent conversations with hotel executives, most guests still select lodging based on location, amenities, price, and brand reputation. There has been somewhat greater market penetration for certification programs within the corporate travel sector, especially relating to the growing field of green meetings and conventions. Guest experience. Hoteliers are increasingly understanding that investments in environmental technology can have a direct positive impact on guest experience, which can affect both occupancy and ADR. The new generation of ‘intelligent’ HVAC systems and energy management devices, coupled with a properly managed maintenance regime, can result in significant improvements in thermal comfort and indoor air quality for both guests and employees. Improvements can also be realised in the indoor acoustic environment, where noise from building equipment such as fans, boilers and compressors can negatively impact the guest experience. Employee retention. The adoption of a sustainable corporate culture can provide a distinct advantage in terms of attracting and retaining talent. A 2007 survey conducted by the U.S. employment website Monster re-


HOSPITALITY REPORT vealed that 80 percent of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92 percent would be more inclined to work for a company that is perceived as “environmentally friendly” (Source: Monster.com, 2007). Anecdotal evidence within the hospitality sector points toward higher employee retention rates amongst corporations where ‘green ethics’ are prominently displayed and adhered to within the workplace. Investor requirements. Investors in both public and private companies are increasingly looking for quantifiable indicators of sustainable performance, which has led large public corporations such as IBM and Walmart to adopt strong sustainability programs with measurable performance indicators. Sustainability has emerged as an investable concept, with the underlying assumption that “corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market's potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks.” (Source: Dow Jones Financial Indices website).

Needs of the Hospitality Sector Based on the growing number of factors that will drive sustainability efforts within the hospitality community, a coinciding series of needs will have to be addressed to provide hoteliers with the resources to implement environmental and social initiatives at their facilities. HVS identifies several of the most pressing of these needs as follows: Access to financing. For asset managers and property-level decision-makers, lack of financing is often cited as the main reason many hotels are unable to take advantage of energy-efficiency opportunities. Hoteliers are generally more willing to take on CAPEX projects when third-party funds are available. The use of alternative financing mechanisms such as energy savings agreements (or similar novel investment vehicles) will be essential in encouraging a critical mass of environmental improvement projects at the global level. Vetting and confirmation of technology. Within the past decade, a tremendous number of green technologies have been introduced into the marketplace. With numerous vendors and differing technologies (including emerging forms of alternative energies), hospitality owners require vetting

Sustainability attempts to balance financial, social, and environmental factors to facilitate responsible business decision making over the immediate and long term.

and confirmation of these technologies as being cost effective and contextually appropriate for hotel and lodging use. Benchmarking and Auditing. Benchmarking provides a means to evaluate facility performance against similar facilities to preliminarily ascertain the potential for operational performance improvements (and associated OPEX savings). Benchmarking can be utilised to support basic facility management decisions such as whether to invest in a facility audit and/or building commissioning investigation. Detailed, investment grade audits can provide a fundamental tool to assist owners and operators in understanding the technical and financial implications of environmental retrofits and employee training initiatives. Financial analysis to facilitate informed CAPEX decision making. Although significant technical information exists, verifiable information regarding the financial aspects of environmental investments is much more difficult to find. To effect proper decision making, hoteliers require simple life-cycle based analyses of potential investments, ideally classified or ordered according to capital outlay and ROI criteria. Simplified procurement and project implementation. Another complicating factor in the lodging industry is the fact that there is often no central procurement authority for environmental equipment and technology – each project and property is bid out separately by different vendors and consultants. The design/bid process can be tremendously detailed and time consumptive, and is therefore not prioritised by owners. Streamlined procurement and project implementation processes would likely result in a significantly greater number of retrofit projects. Operational training. Even after investment is made into environmental

Representative Fiscal and Economic Incentives Provided for Development of Green Buildings ☛

Tax credits ☛ Waiver of development fees ☛ Cash incentives for achieving certification ☛ Public investment in new or improved infrastructure ☛ Grants to cover the soft costs associated with green design ☛ Low interest loans ☛ Expedited plan review by building departments ☛ Permissions for additional density technologies (whether from a newbuild or renovation perspective), efficient design decisions do not always equate into efficient operational practices. It is critical that a transition be made between the design teams and the actual building operators. This can be accomplished via detailed, technical training of relevant staff, which can facilitate improved environmental performance while reducing resource consumption.

Opportunities HVS believes that sustainability has penetrated the market to the extent where it impacts nearly all aspects of hotel ownership, including both development and operations. The numerous drivers toward sustainability that were identified in this article indicate a growing correlation between sustainability and financial performance – we anticipate that this connection will continue to strengthen over the coming years. The hotel and lodging community is poised to embrace sustainable operation and development as a means not only to preserve our environment, but also to optimise efficiency, realise cost savings, improve employee morale, enhance guest satisfaction, and manage investor expectations. ■ February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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INTERNATIONAL REPORT The city of London beats all records with an OR of over 85%.

European Hospitality Results for 2011: Between Satisfaction and a Question Mark Europe is facing the challenge of renewing its hotel supply and of taking back comfort over distribution by the hotel operations.

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he year 2011 closes with positive indicators for hotel business throughout the European Union, with an average of 5.6% growth in the RevPAR as a result of increased occupancy combined with growth in average daily rates. And yet, the dynamic that was seen until Spring 2011 slowed in the last quarter. It is important to observe that for the 27 countries in the European Union plus Switzerland, the results of the hotel business for 2011 are positive. No country closed the year with a downturn for its reference indicator the RevPAR1 – even if there is a broad range between stagnation in Switzerland (+0.4%) and strong improvement in Poland (+9.4%). While on the one hand Switzerland is already positioned among the highest levels of performance, on the other Poland occasionally benefited from its six-month presidency of the European Union. The European countries with the strongest hotel activity – United Kingdom, France, Germany or the Beneluxare positioned within a tighter range: between 4% and 6% growth, which better reflects the state of Europe's marketplace. With an average European occupancy rate higher than 66%, hotel occupancy gained 2 16

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The prize goes to the gateways, capitals and business cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Ghent, Hamburg, London, Munich, Paris and Zürich, which flirt with or surpass an OR2 of 75% across the year. With an OR close to 85% London beats all records, and is close to saturation.

points over 2010, which was already in a strong recovery over the crisis of 2009. The prize goes to the international gateways, capitals and business cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Ghent, Hamburg, London, Munich, Paris and Zürich, which flirt with or surpass an OR2 of 75% across the year. With an OR close to 85% London beats all records, and is close to saturation. At the bottom of the table, Spanish cities (Saragossa, Seville) and Italian ones (Bologna) reflect the difficulty of the national markets. Even cities with highly seasonal business that depends on exhibitions and fairs

(Cannes and Hanover) progressed in 2011. The rare drops in occupancy with respect to 2010 are minimal, largely less than 1 point. This strong demand justified a significant improvement in the average daily rate (for many cities around 4% and more), an indicator of the shift of the vast majority of European cities into the upper part of the hotel cycle. Only a few German cities (Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg), Italian cities (Florence, Turin) and Spanish ones (Bilbao, Madrid, Saragossa) activated the rate dynamic to boost or relaunch demand. The question mark bears on the prolongation of the slump observed in year-end business. The degradation of national economies, the concern about the impact of debt, and austerity measures have an evident effect on the average slump observed in Europe where the OR and ADR3 fell into the red last December. Past experience taught that the midscale and upscale segments reacted more visibly to the change in economic climate. In cities where the weight of these categories is preponderant (Central Europe, Scandinavian countries, Spain and Italy…), the stabilizing effect of the economy hotel segment was impotent. ■


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INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

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Yes, The ITC Grand Chola is slated to debut shortly in Chennai. The concept of the hotel weaves in the strongest elements of the culture of Tamil Nadu to provide to the city its first iconic hotel, both in architecture (product) and experience. ITC Grand Chola will be Chennai’s first 600-room integrated super premium luxury hotel complex with 10 food and beverage destinations, 1.0 lac square feet of convention and banquet space, Kaya Kalp – ITC Hotels’ signature spa brand and a preview theatre amongst other facilities. It is located close to key business districts of Chennai, in the direction in which the city has been developing over the years. The hotel has been built to cater to the needs of a diverse audience be it the MICE segment, dining featuring ITC’s signature culinary brands and novel concepts in international cuisine, among others. Our unique value propositions, including the differentiated character of our hotels, coupled with indigenous Indian experiences is what makes every ITC Hotel part of a unique collection of hotels and an archetype of the culture and ethos of the region that it is located in. Take the case of Bangalore for example. Both the ITC Windsor and the ITC Gardenia each capture and symbolize distinct characteristics of the city. The introduction of the ITC Grand Chola is in many ways a culmination of an experiential tourism offering, beyond providing mere accommodation.

There is fresh supply to Chennai, from Grand Hyatt, Leela and also from hotels like Lemon Tree? Are we moving towards being over built? How do you see the hospitality scene in Chennai in the near future? We are of the belief that supply drives demand. The hospitality industry in Chennai is not being overbuilt, as it has the least number of five star rooms compared to other major metros in the country. So whereas it may momentarily seem that a large injection of inventory would create an imbalance of supply and demand, we are confident that the equation will even out.

What happens to the Chola, the first ITC property? We believe this is meant for a new avatar? The Chola is rebranded as ‘My Fortune’, a first, within the Fortune brand portfolio catering to the upscale business traveller.

What impact did Gardenia have on Bengaluru? What kind of values did this hotel bring to the hospitality 18

HOTELSCAPES February 2012

NAKUL ANAND

e understand the next big step for ITC Hotels is the Grand Chola opening in Chennai? What will this property mean for the city of Chennai? What value proposition would this bring to travel and tourism to the South?

charting the road ahead at ITC Hotels

In an increasingly competitive environment where international and domestic hotel chains are trying to outdo each other, Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Ltd, appears confident and bullish. He talks about ITC, expansion plans and travel and tourism in the country...


INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

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s Executive Director on the board of ITC Ltd., Nakul Anand is in charge of the hospitality, travel & tourism businesses of ITC. He has been entrusted with the mantle of fructifying ITC’s expansion plans for the hotels business. In the summer of 1978 this young, enthusiastic Economic (Hons) graduate from Delhi University, holding a distinction of an AMP Degree from Bond University, Australia, joined ITC Hotels’ Management Training Programme. Recipient of the ‘Green Hotelier’ award by the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), a United Nations officially recognized worldwide industry body; his commitment to the environment is evident in the contemporary green practices adapted at ITC Hotels. He pioneered the concept of ‘Responsible Luxury’ in the hospitality industry.

ITC Hotels has been a game changer since its inception. We may have been the youngest among Indian chains, but we were recognised as the fastest growing chain the country within the first decade of inception.

With a career spanning three decades with ITC, he is widely recognized as a ‘Man of Action’ with a strong emphasis on creating a result-oriented work culture. He is widely recognized for excellent people management and team building abilities besides infusing the spirit of action and a result oriented work culture. He is a firm believer in value based strategies and has created a unique quality control model of Operational Excellence and also introduced Six Sigma quality standards. Nakul Anand has initiated some very innovative concepts in hoteliering making ITC’s hotel business synonymous with the best in the world. February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

The Many ‘FIRSTS’ from ITC Hotels When ITC made its foray into the hospitality industry it introduced many ‘firsts’: ☛ ITC Hotels was the first hotel chain to introduce branded accommodation and room categorization in the country based on market segmentation with the introduction of the ‘Executive Club’ ☛ ITC Hotels was the first chain to enter into an international franchise agreement on a chain wide basis. ☛ We launched the country’s first frequent guest loyalty programme. ☛ The first to recognize food and beverage as part of a hotel experience we conceptualised brands that are today’s internationally acclaimed, like Bukhara, Dum Pukht and Dakshin. These brands truly put India on the global culinary map. ☛ We were the first to introduce airport lounges on a nationwide basis. ☛ The first to introduce concept hotels with architecture that was unique to the region. ITC Mughal, Agra was the country’s first recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architectural Excellence. ☛ In the service industry where you cannot patent service, the only way to stay ahead is innovation…ITC Hotels went on to introduce the concept of ‘hotel within a hotel’ with the ‘Towers’ category. We soon followed this up with the ‘ITC One’ category. ☛ We were the first chain to be accredited with British Safety Council Five star rating for our hotels. hal Agra a at The Mug Kaya Kalp Sp

Bukhara

☛ We also pioneered the concept of laboratories – WelcomLab with microbiologists in our hotels, to ensure the highest standards of hygiene. ☛ A special wing dedicated to and catering to the specific needs of the single lady traveller – EVA, was a first in India, over a decade ago. ☛ As an organization we practiced sustainability much before it became the buzz word. The WelcomEnviron programme was introduced over two decades ago manifesting into the ‘Responsible Luxury’ ethos at ITC Hotels. We took on the ardous challenge of imbibing our learnings on sustainability into our older properties and in a short span of one year we secured LEED Platinum ratings for all ITC luxury hotels. A distinction that paved the way for a global recognition; the ‘Greenest Luxury Hotel Chain in the World’.

Dakshin

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INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH scene in that city, and also to the south in general? ITC Gardenia was the first to embody ITC Hotels’ ‘Responsible Luxury’ ethos, amalgamating luxury and sustainability to usher in a new era in the global hospitality industry. The impact therefore has been more global than regional. Its recognition and accolade for being the finest luxury hotel in the country and for the World’s First and Asia’s largest LEED Platinum rated hotel, bears testimony to this fact. The hotel’s unique architecture (eco embedded product), its indigenous experiences and its location has made it the preferred hotel for discerning travellers into the city. The dining experience at the hotel is in keeping with ITC’s culinary excellence with brands like Kebabs & Kurries, West View and the latest addition to ITC’s international cuisine portfolio; EDO Japanese restaurant & bar, have created an indelible impression on the city with numerous accolades to their credit.

Resort. On the anvil is also an ITC hotel close to Mahabalipuram. Our strategy is to clearly focus on a few niche areas and provide unique and differentiated value propositions to our guests. We have leveraged the unique advantages that India has to offer in terms of diversity and heritage. Our different brands will cater to the emerging needs of travellers in different parts of the country. ITC Hotels is pioneering the concept of providing luxury accommodation in cities like Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar and Amritsar which were hitherto not considered as sought after markets in this category. What is also special about India’s growth story is that it is not limited to the big metros. What we are seeing is inclusive development that is taking place through superior connectivity and better infrastructure in the Tier II cities.

What next after Chennai? And how will these forthcoming projects make the difference? How will they break new ground?

How do you see the travel and tourism scene developing both in terms of business travel and also in terms of tourism? We have noticed that most of your growth has been in the business and metro cities and not in tourism areas?

The growth trajectory will be across our four brands with close to

1. India’s economic growth story is here to stay. This will continue

5000 rooms in the next 5-7 years. There are as many as 40 hotels under various stages of development, which will be either owned or managed by us under one of the four brands. In addition to ITC Grand Chola, in the immediate future we have 2 ITC hotels planned in the super premium luxury segment; a 400-room hotel adjacent to the ITC Sonar in Kolkata and a luxury resort at the ITC Classic Golf

to drive international and domestic business travel for atleast the conceivable future. 2. The growth in the economy is driving an unprecedented growth in business travel which is fuelled by the almost decade old Indian growth story....This has spurred the demand for premium luxury hotels for business travel. This is evident in the fact that as much as 70% of the occupancy in the luxury segment today denotes the business traveller – a segment that was at 10-15%, a decade ago… 3. The economic growth in the country is empowering a large section of the Indian middle class. We are seeing an unprecedented growth in domestic tourism. 4. Although some of the developed economies that are currently experiencing recessionary trends are not likely to recover overnight, the awareness of India as a destination and the devaluation of the

What is special about India’s growth story is that it is not limited to the big metros. What we are seeing is inclusive development that is taking place through superior connectivity and better infrastructure in the Tier II cities.

February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH rupee will offset some of the drops that we may experience in inbound tourism. ITC Hotels vision at the time of inception was to be positioned as the preferred chain for the discerning business traveller. This vision has driven our investments and growth plans over the last three decades. With the introduction of our new hotels we will, in the course of the next few year, consolidate our position in main metros and Tier II cities with critical inventory across our multiple

brand portfolio. While pursuing this, we are constantly evaluating potential opportunities in leisure destinations as well like Goa and Kerala to name a few.

India is yet to make its mark as an international tourism destination. Much debate has happened. But we are yet to get started. What do you think is the real problem? India is still probably known, from the tourist point of view, more for the Taj Mahal than anything else. Whereas this must continue, we need to start developing and marketing new tourism assets that will help us market the country to a more diverse group of global tourists. This in my opinion is the single most important priority for us. Demand is predominantly seen for destinations like Agra, Rajasthan, the Himalayas, Goa and Kerala. We have adequate appeal in other parts of the country as well. What is called for is a change in mind set that looks at tourism in a holistic manner and experiences that go beyond our monuments. This coupled with better Air, Rail, Road and Hotel infrastructure is what will make travel within the country not just possible but also pleasurable. We have to develop in a structured manner so as to be able to accommodate the demand than will arise from marketing India as a destination.

It is generally believed that the Indian experience is getting more and more westernised and has lost the Indian touch. ITC was the first to start the ‘kitchens of Hindustan’ concept. We had the paan shop and 22

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The international traveller is today seeking international experiences in an indigenous environment and I believe the hospitality industry in this country is rising to this challenge.

the Mithai shop. Where have these relics gone and why? What do you feel about the Indian experience? I do not believe that India is compromising on the Indian experience to the foreign guest. In fact the contrary may hold true. The India of today is not limited to its monuments and rural culture. The international traveller is today seeking international experiences in an indigenous environment and I believe the hospitality industry in this country is rising to this challenge. Infact, this is what has driven ITC Hotels’ strategy right through of offering indigenous experience benchmarked against the best in the world.

Is the Indian hospitality industry sufficiently alive to trends in the international marketplace? I mean the industry, not the top 4 or 5 players. How can the industry contribute more effectively to India’s tourism efforts? The hospitality industry in India is highly evolved not only on the service front but also in product design, features and technology. Because of the international nature of our business, the industry not only stays abreast but is also recognised as setting benchmarks in the global hospitality industry. The budget segment of the industry in our country is also coming of age with leading hotel brands adding structure and substance to this huge area of opportunity that existed for many decades. This is however a continuous process and the Indian hospitality industry will have to continue to keep pace with evolving trends. ■ by NAVIN S BERRY


GUEST COLUMN

FORMULA FOR THRIVING IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET Hyatt Regency Pune recently won Travellers’ Choice Award by TripAdvisor. General Manager, Gadi Hassin talks about the hospitality market in Pune and what makes the hotel a traveller’s choice, and more...

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yatt Regency Pune has managed to get on its first year of operation a significant share of the market business.With strong support from our worldwide sales office as well as our national sales team and cross sales from our sister hotels in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa and Kolkata we are placed in a strong position to lead Pune's market both on rate and occupancy in 2012. Our mission to be recognised as the preferred hotel and residence in Pune and to establish an international high standard of operation, has recently got rewarded with the prestigious. Trip Advisor, Travellers’ Choice 2012 Award as one of the Top 25 Hotels to stay at in India. We have put Pune on the hospitality map of India as we are the only hotel in Pune and the only Hyatt in India to be in this prestigious ranking. USP of the Hotel: At Hyatt Regency Pune, the combination of hotel guest rooms and fully serviced luxury apartments in one hotel together with large, high end banqueting and conference facilities combined with international operations standards of the Hyatt brand and exceptional food and beverages outlets, are surely a unique model in the city and as such offer an unmatchable product. Pune Hospitality Market: In terms of hospitality, the significant growth in room supply in the premium segment of hotels has been absorbed by the market demand to a large extent. The occupancy rate has seen a minor drop year on year for 2011, nevertheless, the last quarter of the year has seen a slight increase in occupancy (for example in December 2011 the occupancy rate in the premium segment was 54% Vs 53% in Dec 2010). The increase in demand was mainly due to two factors: First, the growth of

An opportunity to develop Pune as a leisure market mainly on the weekend is also on the rise where more and more people travel from Mumbai to Pune for a retreat during the weekend or holidays. .

individual business travellers to Pune, driven by the strong growth of the city business in general. Second - significant growth in the MICE (meeting, incentive, conferences and exhibitions) business, mainly from feeder markets like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, that are looking for attractive, new destinations to conduct their meetings. With our state of the art conference and banqueting facilities, easy accessibility and competitive rates compared to tier-1 cities, we are a preferred destination for corporate clients to conduct their annual meetings and seminars. As room supply is not expected to grow any further in the next 18 month, as opposed to the demand that will continue to grow (both in MICE and individual business traveller segments), it is most likely that the occupancy rate in the premium segment hotels will see an increase in 2012 and likewise an adjustment of the room rate upward compared to 2011. An opportunity to develop Pune as a leisure market mainly on the weekend is also on the rise where more and more people travel from Mumbai to Pune for a retreat during the weekend or holidays. Experience in India: I have enjoyed the experience of working in India and believe India is the place to be in the next decade in terms of the potential growth in general and in the hospitality segment in particular. Hyatt has recently opened new hotels in Chennai and Goa and will open a few more during 2012 in Hyderabad, Hampi, Chennai and even one more in Pune (Hyatt Place Hinjewadi). The company is focusing on India which means many more opportunities to develop and grow for any talented, driven, young individual that sees his career and future in the hospitality industry. ■ February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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ONE-ON-ONE

The Lalit Group’s

KESHAV SURI ON GROWTH PLANS

Lalit Suri’s son, Keshav Suri, the executive director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group shares with Hotelscapes his future plans, the current execution and his slow metamorphosis from being a creative thinker to a thorough entrepreneur.

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hat are some of the changes you have brought about at The Lalit, New Delhi ever since you took over? The biggest change is Kitty Su (the nightclub) of course! Apart from that, I have been greatly involved in the Suites Tower that The Lalit New Delhi is going to launch shortly. Also, the entire music selection in the hotel is by me, I introduced the i-pod docking station in the rooms. All the rooms and back areas of the hotel have hand sanitizers, which is once again my input.

What are your current expansion plans across the country? We are quite excited about The Lalit Jaipur, which would be launched in next 1-2 months. After that, would be The Great Eastern Kolkata in 2012. Also, we are looking at setting up our mid-segment budget hotels with the brand name The Lalit Traveller. The first in the series will be rolled out by next year. In the next three to four years, we plan to set up around 25 mid-segment budget hotels across India with inventory ranging from 25 to 90 rooms. The destinations we have finalised so far are Drass, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Bhuj, Jamnagar, Mundra, Kandla, Vadodara, Maninagar, Pune and Mangalore.

Tell us about The Great Eastern Hotel in Kolkata and the progress on that front. When can we expect it to launch? The renovation work for the hotel is on full swing. We are planning a soft launch by Nov 12, 2011 and the complete launch by 2013. 24

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ONE-ON-ONE Your first pet project that got such wide media publicity is a nightclub. What inspired you to launch Kitty Su? I was disillusioned with the existing party scenario in the city, so I decided to give myself and Delhi a chic nightspot to party. I have travelled around the world, and thus, I have been able to develop Kitty Su as a truly global destination, at par with international standards, offering the definitive in modern club culture experiences. No stone has been left unturned to ensure that the club offers the definitive in contemporary nightclubbing and partying experience. It confidently sets new standards and raises the bar for the rest to follow.

Kitty Su with its much talked about

the club by renowned contemporary artists. We’ve also given special attention to the lavatory experience unlike other night clubs where washrooms are never a pleasant site. Washrooms are a part of the dressing room area, wherein, one can go inside sipping champagne. Also, the washrooms showcase the Club’s inimitable range of branded merchandise including chic t-shirts and footwear. Another first is the access controlled VIP area – The List. The A- listers and their privacy are taken care of; the who’s who of the society never have to worry about paparazzi here. Especially made electronic key cards have been presented to all of the select A List members to enable them free access to and from the ‘The List’ area. Kitty Su can play different va-

and not just hotels and in Kashmir too we have taken lot of initiatives to promote tourism opportunities in the region. We organised ‘Valley of Legends’ last month where crowing jewels of Indian cinema were invited to relive their memories in the Palace and to bring back the lost glory to the local people. We also organised Shikarathon few days back on Dal Lake in Srinagar, where we encouraged local Shikarawalas to participate in the race.

Now that you have talked about developing destinations wherever you have developed hotels, could you tell us about the work done in specific places, for example Khajuraho. How do you propose to

Kitty Su, Keshav Suri’s brain child, is the largest nightclub in the Capital

bathroom lounge is still another nightclub at the end of the day. How do you think it’s going to make a mark in that category? There are many things that differentiate Kitty Su from rest of the nightclubs: The club’s name itself is an innovation. It is the first and the only club in India that takes inspiration from a character and has its soul. The décor of the club is a subtle amalgamation of ancient and modern. It is the largest night club in New Delhi with an area of 13,000 sq ft. For instance, on one hand the club has Khajuraho sculptures giving it a temple-like feel while on the other hand there are unique art installations in

rieties of music at one point in time. Also, one can plug his/her own i-pod in The List and the Main Club area to play the music of their own choice.

You just celebrated 100 years of The Grand in Kashmir. How do you feel about a family project being part of a historic moment? Are there any plans around carrying on extended celebrations? I feel extremely proud. I am happy that my father took over the Palace in 1998 – I feel this is one of his best investments. As the group ethos goes, we develop destinations

expand on this in future? Keeping in mind the philosophy of “promoting destinations & not just hotels”, the group conceptualised the idea of organising Polo match in Drass, the second coldest habitat on earth. After the Kargil War in 1999, Polo was abandoned in Drass. Determined to put the destination and the sport on the map once again, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, in August 2009, organised for the first time, the match of Polo between The Lalit team and the Drass local team, under mountain rules. Since then, The Lalit Suri Polo continues every year, with around 5000 locals gathering every year to watch the match. The February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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ONE-ON-ONE Lalit Art Festival is another step taken by the group towards developing Khajuraho as a tourist destination and providing employment to local people. This started with the commencement of The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho in the Year 2008. During the festival, renowned artist like Raja Radha Reddy, Shubha Mudgal, Shoving Aryan, Sharon Lowen, Sharmishtha Mukherjee are invited for a cultural program that provides opportunity to the locals to display and present local handicrafts, jewellery, handmade pottery art works from the village and local flavours. Another innovative initiative by the group is The Lalit Utsav at The Lalit Resort & Spa

Luxury house boat, Kettuvallam at The Lalit Resort and Spa Bekal

Bekal. A platform dedicated to promoting the local culture and tradition, the 2-day festival offers locals an experience to explore things like the sumptuous Delhi chaat, colourful bangles, bindis, traditional mehandi, exquisite duppatas, handmade suits from Jaipur and Lucknow and Kasargod sarees. Another initiative in Bekal is The Lalit Suri Kabaddi Tournament. To energize youth and to give impetus to the local game Kabaddi, the group is organising the second season of The Lalit Suri Kabaddi Tournament this year in association with District Kabaddi Association. Every year the group kick-starts its yearend festivities with The Lalit Suri Football Cup, part of the group’s Festival of Canacona, at The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort Goa. The group endeavours to involve the local population as it feels that the benefit of the prosperity that comes along with the opening of a luxury hotel can act as an economic multiplier for that region. Also, a part of the 26

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festival are The Lalit Suri Beach Exhibition Polo Goa, which brings people together for Polo as entertainment and a spectacle of a glorious Indian Equestrian Heritage and The Carnival Ano Novo celebrated on January 01st every year with colourful floats, over 200 costumed folk dancers of the region, lots of music and a spectacular parade.

What about Rajasthan, where hotels play an important role in the tourism map of the country? The group under its “Unified Celebrations of India” initiative, organises Holi Party at The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur. The core

night. Similarly, the Baluchi revamp was another milestone. We introduced the concept of Indian Food & Wine Pairing which no other outlet has done so far. We have the Indian Bread Bar at Baluchi where you get breads like nowhere else. Besides these, I encourage my F&B teams to constantly innovate the food that we are serving to our guests. That’s why we bring different cuisines to our restaurant like Czech, Spanish which interest people.

You also have many other interests in art, cinema etc. Are these areas that the Lalit as a group is looking to promote in a big way

Satish Gujral at Nai Umeed at The Lalit New Delhi

objective to organise this three day festival is to let the guests and local people experience and appreciate Indian culture and also participate in the festival. All these initiatives have grown bigger with each passing year. With support from locals and encouragement from authorities in each region, we hope to take these events to greater heights and accomplish our objective of developing destinations.

Tell us more about your interest in F&B. What are the changes you are bringing about in that area? Since today’s customer is well travelled, I have made sure that we provide in our hotels the best food and beverage, at par with both international and Indian standards. I have been greatly involved with setting up 24/7 Restaurant & Bar. It was my thought to equip the bar with a wine cellar and have the coffee shop open all night since most people these days get time to go out only late at

apart from the ongoing projects? We have always been committed to promoting art in India. My mother Dr. Jyotsana Suri, and I are avid art lovers. We have Art Junction at The Lalit New Delhi, with which we aim to give a platform dedicated to promoting talent from across the country to share their visions through the medium of innovative interpretations. It has till date displayed works of over 5,000 artists and exhibits a collection ranging from paintings (oil; water colours; charcoal etc), sculptures and installations to photographs. Recently, we organised the second season of “Nai Ummeed – The Art Festival” at the hotel. The two-day art festival provided a cultural bridge between Indian artists and art galleries, art collectors and connoisseurs with an objective to create a dialogue that would introduce a fresh perspective and buoyancy among art collectors. ■ as told to SANGHITA SINGH


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FORUM OF THE MONTH

Wooing Guests with

CLUB FLOORS & LOUNGES

Executive Lounge at Jaipur Marriott rewards the most loyal customers 28

HOTELSCAPES February 2012


FORUM OF THE MONTH

It’s passé for hotels to entice guests with room upgrades. Lounges and exclusive floors are among the attractive fringe benefits which the hospitality industry is offering these days. While rooms on a club floor are often the same size as rooms on other floors, the floor itself is usually located higher, affording better views and a quieter ambience. Club or executive lounges (which typically require upgraded room bookings or frequent guest program memberships), offer a host of add-on facilities aimed at providing convenience and exclusivity. Perks include private meetings with clients, free meals, private parties and concierge services among others. Here’s a brief look at these new value-adds that hotels around the country have on offer. Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon Rajneesh Kumar, Manager, Food & Beverage

The concept of club floor with happy hours is meant for the comfort of our guests who, after having a long day at work, would like to relax and unwind themselves over cocktails while enjoying the selection of appetizers. The guests can also catch up with their emails using the complimentary wi-fi service and feel like being at home in the cozy atmosphere that gives you a feeling of home away from home. The concept helps the guests to mix business with leisure in a homely atmosphere. We have a wide selection of spirits, wines & cocktails, along with a huge spread of appetizers which keeps changing everyday of the week. A selection of soft beverages and mocktails is also available for guests who are teetotallers. We have extended happy hours till 8 pm

RAJNEESH KUMAR MANAGER, FOOD & BEVERAGE, COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT

“We have extended happy hours till 8 pm at Bar Zen for our resident guests wherein they can enjoy 2 drinks at the price of one.”

at Bar Zen for our resident guests wherein they can enjoy 2 drinks at the price of one. We keep changing our offerings frequently and periodically at the club floor for our guests to find it exciting, this year we also plan to introduce happy hours on imported beverages for the guests at Bar Zen. We have well designed marketing tools such as inhouse collaterals which helps us to reach out to travellers.

Jaipur Marriott Animesh Barat, Director, Food & Beverage

Executive Lounge is a dedicated venue designated for all Executive Floor and VIP customers of the hotel. This venue is designed to meet the needs of a business traveller and also to provide them an exclusive venue to engage and entertain their customers and clients. An executive Lounge would have the best possible view of the ho-

❏ A room on the hotel club floor (or executive or VIP floor) is an upgraded room. Whatever the term the hotel uses, these accommodations enhance guest's stay. Hotel VIP room and club floor guests can anticipate early check-in and late checkout, rooms with extra amenities, and – best of all – a club floor lounge with complimentary food, liquor, business center, and other welcome perks.

ANIMESH BARAT DIRECTOR, FOOD & BEVERAGE, JAIPUR MARRIOTT

“An executive Lounge would have the best possible view of the hotel along with an option of American Breakfast and evening cocktail hours. Executive Floor guests would also get an opportunity to host private meetings for 2 hours for their company or for self.” February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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The Regency Club Lounge at Hyatt Regency, Pune is perfect for a private party

ONKAR SINGH DIRECTOR, FOOD & BEVERAGE, HYATT REGENCY PUNE

“The Regency Club Lounge is a perfect venue for an afterhours rendezvous, a private party or an evening after a tiresome workday. We offer the choicest selection of complimentary evening cocktails and canapes for Club Room guests.” 30

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tel along with an option of American Breakfast and evening cocktail hours. Executive Floor guests would also get an opportunity to host private meetings for 2 hours for their company or for self. Executive Lounge is a concept to recognise and reward our most loyal customers. At Jaipur Marriott, we shall be soon launching our Executive lounge that shall be a privilege offered to guests staying in the Executive room category and above. The perfect environment to work at ease or just sit back and relax. On offer shall be complimentary buffet breakfast, hi-tea and happy-hour services daily. The buffet breakfast includes Continental breakfast with a variety of fresh cut fruits and fresh fruit juices, choice of breads, cereal, cold cuts, pastries, cheese, tea and coffee. One can also enjoy sandwiches and pastries during hitea along with a choice of tea, coffee and juices. During the Happy Hours, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are offered on-the-house with canapés and hors d’oeuvres. Besides this, the Executive Lounge shall be well equipped to take care of photocopying, sending faxes and arranging for private meetings in the multiple meeting venues.

We shall have signage and posters for the Executive Privileges places at strategic points in the hotel like the front desk, elevators, F&B outlets etc and also our team shall be trained to apprise the guest of the same.

Hyatt Regency, Pune Onkar Singh, Director, Food & Beverage

At Hyatt Regency Pune, we pride ourselves on the myriad of facets guests experience every time they visit our hotel. Right from the rooms and delectable cuisines in our multispecialty restaurants to our spa and fitness centre, our guests quite literally add varying facets to their stay whilst with us. What’s unique to Hyatt Regency Pune is our sprawling lounge area. The Regency Club Lounge, as it is called, primes as the perfect venue for an after-hours rendezvous, a private party or an evening of pure indulgence after a tiresome workday. We offer the choicest selection of complimentary evening cocktails and canapes for Club Room guests. Located in the emerging hub of Pune, the hotel is home to multi-specialty restaurants that offer a delectable range of Indian, Italian, Asian and International dining options, a wonderful bevy of desserts


Relax and unwind at the upscale Sheraton Club Lounge

as well as intimate bar settings with live entertainment. The unique ‘Hyatt Experience’ is renowned world-over. Hyatt Regency Pune leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that guests and patrons are provided with every comfort and luxury. With the latest technologies available to the business and leisure traveller, private check-in and check-outs, Gold Passport offerings and many other exclusive Hyatt special features go a long way in giving our guests an indelible ‘Hyatt Experience’!

Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Rajan Bahadur, Regional Director, Sales & Marketing

The Club Lounge experience is integral to our luxury and upper upscale hotel brands. Club Lounges provide an exclusive space and come with enhanced and upgraded amenities. Our global powerhouse, Sheraton Hotels, has recently injected $108 million into upgrading 120 Club Lounges around the world, including high-profile properties across the world. The enhancements to Sheraton Club Lounges – one of the most popular Sheraton signature amenities – are a key component

of the brand’s recent $6 billion revitalisation effort. Sheraton Club Lounges brand-wide are open seven days a week in response to increased demand from premium corporate and leisure guests. Sheraton Club guests have special access to the Club Lounge. A relaxing, upscale space, the Club Lounge offers complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and a variety of beverage options. Take advantage of the private Club Lounge where you can connect with friends, meet with your team, or simply relax by catching your favorite TV show. Need to get some work done? A copier/fax/printer and complimentary office supplies are ready to go. Sheraton Club Lounges are rated as one of the top two benefits of staying at a Sheraton by Starwood Preferred Guest members, who account for half of all Sheraton hotel bookings. In addition, 50% of Sheraton loyalists like the option of purchasing an upgrade to the Sheraton Club experience, which is available for an average of $75 extra per night. Sheraton boasts a greater percentage of hotels with Club Lounges than its rivals, with the majority offering spectacular views, in addition to upgraded Club amenities: complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, beverage service, flat-screen television, Wi-Fi, a selec-

RAJAN BAHADUR REGIONAL DIRECTOR, SALES & MARKETING, STARWOOD ASIA PACIFIC HOTELS & RESORTS

“At a time when our competitors have scaled back their offerings, Sheraton has done the opposite. We decided to invest even further in our global portfolio with significant enhancements to our Club Lounges.”

February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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The Executive Floor Lobby at Hilton Hotel, New Delhi-Noida-Mayur Vihar

T P SREEJITH DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, HILTON AND DOUBLE TREE BY HILTON NEW DELHI NOIDA-MAYUR VIHAR

“In order to pamper our executive guests, we offer them ‘The Executive Floor rooms’. Located on the 13th floor, it offers an enhanced level of service, comfort and convenience for business and leisure travellers.” 32

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tion of daily newspapers and more. As stated by Hoyt Harper, Global Brand Leader, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “At a time when our competitors have scaled back their offerings, Sheraton has done the opposite. We decided to invest even further in our global portfolio with significant enhancements to our Club Lounges in order to deliver a higher level of productivity and luxury to our guests, not just on weekdays, but every day of the week. And our timing couldn’t be better. Travel has returned to pre-crisis levels and travellers are once again focused on upgraded amenities and services as key elements of the guest experience.”

Hilton Hotels T P Sreejith, Director of Operations, Hilton and Double Tree by Hilton New Delhi Noida-Mayur Vihar

Hilton has always moved with time and believed in providing the most advanced services and facilities to its guests. From being the first hotel that offered a telephone in the guest rooms till date, we continuously strive to deeply study the needs of the traveller and, in return, fulfill them in the best possible way. In order to pamper our executive guests

at Hilton New Delhi-Noida-Mayur Vihar, we offer them ‘The Executive Floor rooms’. Located on the 13th floor, it offers an enhanced level of service, comfort and convenience for business and leisure travellers. There is a 24hours service at the executive floor, which gives them access to its services at any convenient time. At DoubleTree by Hilton New Delhi-Noida-Mayur Vihar, we welcome our guests with a warm chocolate cookie. For 25 years the brand DoubleTree by Hilton has been baking these signature chocolate chip cookies for travellers all over the world. It says “Welcome” in so many ways. There is something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie and that is why we give one to every guest as they check in. It’s our way of showing you how much we care. Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton New Delhi-Noida-Mayur Vihar are two, modern and advanced technologies equipped five star hotels. For a smart business traveller, keeping in consideration vital requirements, both the properties have wireless high-speed internet access throughout the hotel. When the basics are met, we believe in providing maximum comfort and luxury to our guests through remote guest room printing, remote controlled


The Upper Crust Lounge at The ITC One hosts the popular Champagne Ritual

curtains in their rooms and blinds in the bathrooms. The hotels are well equipped with 24 hours business centres in the respective properties that enable a futuristic business traveller to be on top of his work at any given time.

ITC Maurya Anand Rao, General Manager

ITC Maurya’s exclusive lounges (Presidential Summit Lounge, ITC One Upper Crust Lounge and Towers Club) are the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a drink after a long day’s work or to simply relax while you catch up on your book reading while some find the calmness of the lounge conducive to hold a quick meeting. Each lounge is in harmony with the premier accommodation bloc it services. Presidential Summit Lounge (On The 14th Floor): A private haven for Heads of the State and other distinguished guests, the lounge has multiple features to suit your every need. The state-of-the-art businesss centre comes with the finest video conferencing facilities and full secretarial support. You can discuss important events within its silent environ or nurse a drink as you view the magnificence of Delhi’s great green ridge from the summit windows. It hous-

es a state of the art business centre with video conferencing facilities. The Upper Crust Lounge at The ITC One: Elegantly furnished with wood panels and thick carpeting, the plush Upper Crust Lounge is exclusively for guests staying at the ITC One annexe, Mauryan Chambers and Suites. The lounge offers you the comfort of your own private living room with tea, coffee and cocktail hours in the evenings. It offers 14 varieties of teas along with the Chef’s signature snacks served on a Tea Charlie to guests. The Champagne Ritual is what all guests at the Upper Crust look forward to. By tradition this is timed around 6:30 pm. The ritual has to be seen to be believed. Towers Club Lounge at The Towers: The Towers Club, reserved exclusively for the Residents of the Towers, houses a bar, a library, 3 board rooms and a restaurant offering total privacy which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also has a private terrace with outdoor seating. A perfect place to mix business with pleasure! Choose to reserve the exlusive meeting rooms or choose your book from the library and relax, The Towers Club has a very loyal following and is also seen as a perfect venue to host a private dinner. compiled by PURVA BHATIA

ANAND RAO GENERAL MANAGER, ITC MAURYA

“ITC Maurya’s exclusive lounges are perfect place to sit back and enjoy a drink after a long day’s work or to simply relax while you catch up on your book reading or hold a quick meeting. Each lounge is in harmony with the premier accommodation bloc it services.” February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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CHAIN ANALYSIS

Best Western

100 HOTELS IN INDIA BY 2017 Best Western is on an expansion spree in India. As the chain plans to add 66 new hotels in the country within the next five years, we tell you all about Britain’s biggest independent group of hotels.

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CHAIN ANALYSIS

“B

est Western, lead mostly by Indians, knows the market well. We are confident of meeting the hospitality needs across all segments of travellers in India,” says David Kong, President and CEO, Best Western International Inc, USA. Kong is here to announce the company’s expansion plans in the country. The company plans to open 10-15 hotels every year in India. The focus will be on metros as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. “We are committed to grow by increasing our market presence in the country, focusing on new areas of growth, investing in local partnerships, communities and people,” says Best Western International Inc chairman Devang Amin. Brand segmentation is the order of the day in hospitality sector. Following the trend, the chain recently segmented into three brands in order to cater to meet the different market needs: Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier. The three tiers have been, apparently, developed on extensive guest feedback. Six key areas define the tiers: welcome, food

and drink, customer service, bathroom, sleep and work and entertainment. The Best Western tier sets the standard for these key areas of hotel experience and Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier build upon this with additional amenities and personality driven offerings. Best Western Plus: These hotels are everything you would expect from a Best Western hotel with extra style, comfort and service. This includes bigger beds and top quality bedding, extended breakfast range with local specialities, little treats on arrival 24 hours a day, bathrobes, additional complimentary toiletries and increased comfort and technology to make working and relaxing in the room even more enjoyable. Best Western Premier: The finest of the group’s hotels with a focus on luxury, style and outstanding service, these hotels are specifically chosen for their memorable quality, design and impressive facilities and consist of nine British hotels and 134 hotels.

Presence in India The chain has 30 properties in operation and under development in India, spread across the key business, leisure and religious Metro as well as Tier II destinations of the country. The seventeen operational properties in India are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Baddi, Gurgaon, Manesar, New Delhi, Zirakpur (Chandigarh), in the North. Bangalore, Hyderabad, in the South. Goa, Neral (Near Mumbai), Pune, Shirdi & Surat in Western India and Kolkata in Eastern India. Best Western in India recently set up its Best Western Centre For Hotel Management and Training at Bhubaneshwar. The two BW Premier properties in India are operational at Bangalore and Kolkata and two BW Plus Properties are going to be operational in Lucknow and Jaipur by December, 2011.

Upcoming/Under Construction Hotels ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛ ☛

Signet Hotels Private Limited, Navi Mumbai Best Western Dream Hotels, Kolkata Best Western Madhuban Inn, Aurangabad Best Western Celebrity Hotel, Hyderabad Signet Hotels Private Limited, Bhubaneswar Best Western Bahri Beautiful Country, Kodaikanal Signet Hotels Private Limited, Bangalore Best Western Zamboligalli, Goa

DAVID KONG PRESIDENT AND CEO, BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL INC., USA

“Best Western, lead mostly by Indians, knows the market well. We are confident of meeting the hospitality needs across all segments of travellers in India. The company plans to open 10-15 hotels every year in India. The focus will be on metros as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.” Best Western: This remains the backbone of the group and showcases what the brand represents – a group of hotels with their own personalities, offering quality standards, comfort, personal service and great value.

History of Hospitality Excellence The chain, having started operations in 1946, has an experience of over 65 years. “It has more history than any hotel chain,” says Kong. With this history and experience, the chain hopes to have competitive edge in the business. Best Western was founded by M.K. Guertin, a California-based hotelier with 23 years of experience in the lodging industry. It began as an informal referral system among member hotels. By 1963, Best Western was the largest chain in the industry, with 699 member hotels and 35,201 rooms. In 1964, when Canadian hotel owners joined the system, Best We7stern took the first step toward global expansion. Best Western entered Mexico, Australia and February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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CHAIN ANALYSIS

New Zealand in 1976, further establishing its international presence.

Special Programs for the Best Western Guest

SUDHIR SINHA PRESIDENT & COO, BEST WESTERN INDIA

“Discerning high-end travellers are unable to find suitable accommodation in Tier II cities. With BW plus, we endeavour to fill this gap in the market. We have made commitments to our partners in India and helped them set-up world class properties in each category.” 36

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All Best Westerns around the globe provide a guaranteed standard of 17 (14 internationally) of the most frequently requested guest amenities and services. They include: free high-speed Internet access, continental or hot breakfast, free local phone calls (up to 30 minutes) and long distance access, iron and ironing boards, hair dryers, coffee/tea makers in all rooms, 50 percent designated nonsmoking rooms (20 percent international), complimentary toiletries available upon request (razors, toothpaste, shaving cream, sewing kits), bottled or canned water available on-site, photo copies available onsite during business hours, king-sized beds in a minimum of 10 percent of rooms (queensize bed international), clock in all guest rooms, in-room music, upgraded shampoo size and at least one English speaking TV channel at international locations. All Best Western hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean offer free high-speed Internet access to guests. This was implemented in 2004.

Hotels in India Currently, Best Western India has 34 properties in operation and various stages of development. The chain is planning to add hotels mostly in the four and five-star categories in the country within the next five years, entailing an investment of Rs 1,600 crore. These hotels will be spread across the country in the metros, other cities and small towns with a focus on key manufacturing and trading cities. “Discerning high-end travellers, used to staying in 5-star hospitality, are unable to find suitable accommodation in Tier II cities in India at the moment. With BW plus, we endeavour to fill this gap in the market. The company has made commitments to its partners in India and helped them set-up world class properties in each category they operate in,” says Sudhir Sinha, President & COO, Best Western India. While the chain primarily targets business travellers, the hotels also cater to the needs of leisure travellers. Best Western India hotels in Bangalore, Gurgaon, Mathura, Moradabad, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune feature stateof-the-art meeting rooms that can comfortably accommodate up to 100 to 600 attendees. ■ by PURVA BHATIA


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GUEST COLUMN

THE DINING OUT CULTURE IN INDIA IS EVOLVING With increasing spending power, Indians are increasingly becoming discerning about what they eat and how they eat, says Manish Choudhary

I

f there’s hope, optimism and growth, it is in the hospitality industry and it comes as no surprise that even in times of global recession, this is one sector that continues to rake in the profits. Part of that success is attributed to falling rentals, decreasing prices of raw materials and therefore, lesser investments towards that end. However, rentals have jumped back to normal and inflation hasn’t quite helped the situation, but sound fundamentals in structure and operations are separating the quality products from the ‘splash for a while and die’ ones. This is one sector that will continue to grow, and is also going to play a major role in swinging tourism favourably towards India. Industry-talk aside, it is good to see a great number of people heading out for lunches, dinners, special and regular evenings and for just about any reason. The number of pubs in Bangalore is close to 2000, Delhi is witnessing a spurt of almost 3-5 new place per week and cities considered typically tier 2 or tier 3 – like Lucknow, Jaipur or Mysore – have plenty of grand hotels and strong stand-alone restaurant and players to talk about. We have recently opened up TC in Jaipur; we were quite apprehensive about how the market would react to a Delhi product, which has Thai, Oriental and European cuisine and is rock music driven. Jaipur surprised us with a massive positive response. Our sales in Jaipur make Delhi look weak, almost on a daily basis and that in itself says a lot about people’s spending patterns and tastes. From a pub point of you, we are also pleasantly surprised by our guests’ evolving drinking preferences. The imported alcohols are now a norm, not an exception. Guests know exactly what they want and the reason they prefer certain tastes. And if you thought pubs were all about the beerdrinking culture, then that’s not the case – wines are also quite popular. While the In38

HOTELSCAPES February 2012

The imported alcohols are now a norm, not an exception. Guests know exactly what they want and the reason they prefer certain tastes.

dian knowledge of wine is not quite up to international standards and we still carry a French Chardonnay hangover, the growth and understanding is slowly taking place. Guests also want their dining out to be an ‘experience’ – so even if its Indian or typical Chinese food, they want something special in what the F&B offer for that evening is.With Indian food, they’d like a flair in the ambience or concept to round off their experience with Chinese, they want more specialised cuisines so its now in the realm of Sichuan, Huanan, Cantonese and even Dimsum specials. Even with pubs, the comforts of the chicken tikka are out – from sports bars serving Mediterranean and European cuisine, to TC serving only Thai and Chinese to others specialising in molecular gastronomy, there’s a lot to offer and guests are lapping it up with pleasure. Guests also like well-done concepts. Rainforest café, Planet Hollywood or Buddha Bar are passé, because India is developing its own unique versions. Hinglish in New Delhi is a Colonial café that doesn’t serve Anglo-Indian and that also remains popular with the youngsters despite being colonial in its food preference. Route04 comes equipped with every last element of the ‘American diner’ – from muscle car designs on the walls to a ‘Bumble Bee’ from transformer occupying the space. And there’s a new Indian restaurant – Rang de BasantiDhaba – that even comes with a tractor inside to add to the fun. What’s the most important trend in the hospitality sector today is that the product has to be thorough in its F&B and design, it must also make sound financial sense and have complete backing from a marketing and public relations point of view. Flash in the pans, incomplete products and those that make huge investments to be the flavour of the month won’t last too long. ■ The author is owner, TC – Adhcini And Jaipur (Director, Adaab Hotels Ltd)


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GUEST COLUMN

CHANGING TRENDS IN SPA CULTURE The traditional system of wellness, Ayurveda has made a comeback supported by the scientific techniques in the form of Spas, says Pooja Puri

T

here was a time when spas treatment done from any spa were limited to getting a located in the city but what makes body massage done, but them come back to the same now the changing trends in location is the experience which spa culture have widened the should ideally exceed the horizons of treatments offered by expectation. Customer satisfaction spas. Spa now means a sense of depends upon a number of different perfect balance and harmony of factors like the quality of services a body, mind and soul. It not only spa provides, the quality of products offers a feeling of calmness and being used, the ambience of a spa, serenity but also treatments for a among other. It may even depend number of diseases; a skin, or a upon how knowledgeable is the spa mental disease. professional. Say for instance, if we We all can see that the trends in talk about a therapy called India are changing with each day. ‘ShiroDhara’, how much a customer The spa culture is satisfied with it will depend upon The spa culture has gained a great significance over the years. They are different factors like the quality of has gained a great no more restricted to the people the oil used, height of the bed, the significance over the distance between the pot and the from high socio economic status but have also spread its root across forehead. Most spas collect the oil years. They are no society. I personally feel that the used in shirodhara for reuse. This is more restricted to increasing stress hectic schedules not right – shirodhara oil is for one and busy routines have given the people from high time usage only as it can spread humans a very lethargic lifestyle. But various dermatology related socio economic at the end of the day every human infection. All these factors determine wants to get relaxed and refreshed to status but have also the level of customer satisfaction regain the charisma of their body. the success of a spa in the spread its root across and They want to get rejuvenated and competitive market. relieved from the stress they come The growth of spa culture in India society. across in their day to day life be it at has even driven spas to homes. work or on the home front. Treatments People now desire getting their own like oriental, Balinese, Swedish, ayurvedic etc are some home spas at their place. Due to lack of time they can’t of the treatments that help you to get refreshed and re- afford to visit the spas but at the same time increasing energized. These treatments help to relax muscles, stress demands a need of spas. As a result they find it aching joints and calm the fatigued nerves. The therapist quite convenient to get their own home spa. A place that applies intense pressure concentrated on areas of is secluded and has minimum disturbance and noise tension and pain to relieve your body from stress. Spas level and ample amount of natural light is used to create also offer treatments that can help you to regain the a spa like environment. charm of your body. The most common treatments that According to me spa industry is one of the booming the spa offer like berries hydrating glow facial, organic industries. It can be a lucrative platform for the aspirants. clean up of champagne, anti ageing facial etc help you One can have a good scope of career in this emerging to get a healthy glowing skin. field. Due to demand of spa goers, a number of spas are The success of a spa depends highly upon how mushrooming all over the city which can give mileage to pleased your guest is and his overall experience post the ones who want to opt for being a spa professional. ■ and pre treatment. Anyone can go and get a spa The author is Director, Mystic – Lifestyle Spa

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GUEST COLUMN The spa culture in India has gained increased significance over the years.

February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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LUXURY

THE OBEROI GURGAON

Sets New Benchmark for Luxury Hospitality

I

n less than a year of its launch, The Oberoi Gurgaon has already won the ‘Oscars’ of the travel and tourism business – the World Travel Awards. It has been named World’s Leading Luxury Hotel for 2011. The Oberoi Gurgaon is the first Indian luxury hotel to make it to the prestigious list based on votes cast by 210,000 industry professionals around the world. “This is indeed a very proud moment for 42

HOTELSCAPES February 2012

us. To win this accolade is an affirmation of The Oberoi Group’s unwavering commitment to offering guests world class facilities and unsurpassed service standards. I accept this award on behalf of my entire team who work passionately to give our guests warm, personalised and caring service,” said Kapil Chopra, Executive Vice President, The Oberoi, Gurgaon & Trident, Gurgaon. “Awards such as these will encourage more interna-

tional corporate brands to have their board meetings at The Oberoi Gurgaon,” he added. The awards, given out at a ceremony at the Katara Arts Village in Doha last month, also recognised India as the world’s leading destination (staving off the competitors -- London, New York, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney), Dubai’s Burj al-Arab as the leading all-suite hotel, Etihad Airways as the leading airline (for the third year in succession), and


LUXURY

‘We have Redefined the Hospitality Landscape of the City’: Kapil Chopra Just after winning the prestigious award, Hotelscapes catches up with Kapil Chopra, Executive Vice-President, The Oberoi Group on what it takes to create a successful and winning formula Tell us what was this award for? The ‘World’s Leading Luxury Hotel’ award recognizes and acknowledges an iconic hotel that has set new benchmarks in luxury hospitality and offers a unique experience to guests. The world travel awards are considered the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry. This year votes were cast by 213,000 travel professionals including travel agencies, tour operators as well as discerning consumers in more than 160 countries across the globe. Changi as the leading international airport. Launched in 1993, World Travel Awards acknowledge and recognise excellence in the global travel and tourism industry. Now celebrating its 19th anniversary, it is regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel produce could hope to receive. Votes are cast by travel professionals including travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organisations in more than 160 countries across the globe.

Who were the competitors? There were 22 leading luxury hotels who were nominated along with The Oberoi, Gurgaon for the awards in 2011. These include The St. Regis New York, USA; Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE; The Dorchester, London, UK; Raffles Makkah Palace, Saudi Arabia; Bulgari Milano, Italy; Bulgari Resort Bali, Indonesia, and Ritz Carlton Santiago, to name a few.

Comment on the success of The Oberoi, Gurgaon since opening? The Oberoi, Gurgaon opened in April, 2011 and redefined the hospitality landscape of the city and National Capital Region. With its stunning new contemporary design, spacious accommodations and best-in-class amenities and service, the hotel has won accolades and positive reviews since its opening. If we look at the business side, The Oberoi, Gurgaon has been the only hotel in recent times to have topped the RevPar charts in the country in just 6 months since its opening. In November, 2011 the hotel clocked occupancy of 73% at an average room rate of Rs 17,502 and a RevPar of Rs 12,888, the highest in the country. This has been a record of sorts. The hotel has won awards at every prestigious awards function since its opening. We were chosen as the ‘Hotel of the Year’ by Hindustan Times (October, 2011). We were February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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LUXURY also chosen by Virtuoso network as the ‘Hotel to watch out for’ in their Best of the Best Awards (August, 2011). We also won the Times Travel Awards in October, 2011 and were voted Asia’s Leading Luxury Hotel by World Travel Awards, October 2011. Our restaurants, Threesixtyone? and Amaranta, have both won the best restaurant awards by Hindustan Times.

The Trident Gurgaon has been a trend setting hotel for many years. What has the addition of The Oberoi meant to the complex? Trident, Gurgaon has been Asia’s Leading Hotel and India’s Leading Hotel in 2011. With its scenic, resort-like setting, it is a relief to the Gurgaon landscape as well as an attractive destination for business and leisure travelers. Trident has been a market leader in the

What is this ‘luxury’ quotient that you are courting? Luxury is something you experience, something intangible. The Oberoi, Gurgaon is a hotel that offers a distinct hospitality experience to guests. It is designed on 3 tenets of Height, Light and Space, which we believe, offer a luxury experience. Let me give you an example of space. In Delhi and Gurgaon, you look at any 5 star deluxe hotel and the ratio is 100 rooms over 1 acre. If you look at The Oberoi, Gurgaon it has 202 rooms over 9 acres. This is what I mean by exclusivity and the luxury of space. Some other luxury features include: ■ The most spacious, naturally-lit accommodations along with efficient and personalized service. ■ An urban oasis – a serene setting with over 3 acres covered with a forested driveway,

tasting sessions are also offered at the wine library. ■ Threesixtyone?, our all day dining restaurant features five show kitchens and offers a dramatic dining experience. Our chefs from Sichuan and Canton in China offer authentic fare from their regions while our Japanese masterchef carves platters of sushis and sashimis at the Japanese kitchen. The Teppanyaki grill adds to the element of culinary drama while the large ovens serve hot and freshly baked bread to your table. Guests can also dine on floating teakwood decks over the vast water body lit by fire torches in the evenings. All this makes threesixtyone? an experiential gourmet destination. ■ Amaranta, our contemporary Indian coastal restaurant serves cuisine from nine coastal regions of India. The restaurant also serves fresh seafood flown in daily from the port cities along India’s vast coastline. For a landlocked city of Delhi, this is a unique, luxury experience in dining.

How much is India ready for luxury?

city of Delhi/NCR in Occupancy and Revpar terms. With the success of the Trident, it was felt that there is a growing demand for a luxury experiential hotel in Gurgaon. That is how The Oberoi, Gurgaon was conceived. We now have a 16 acre hospitality destination with two iconic hotels – one with its charming resort ambience and the other a stunning and contemporary hotel with the very best of amenities for the discerning traveler. The two hotels complement each other well. Between both properties, we now have 338 rooms, 11 banquet venues and 5 restaurants. We are able to offer our guests more price points and a choice of room categories, including the most spacious rooms in the city. Within the 16 acres, we are able to enhance guest experience. It is almost like a guest paying for one hotel, but enjoying the experience of two. 44

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gardens and water bodies. Each room and bathrooms offer stunning views of either the reflection pools or the landscaped gardens. ■ Each room has a personal butler service. Our butlers are trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, UK. They also train butlers at Buckingham Palace. ■ The City’s first 24-hour spa ensures you always have flexibility of time. ■ Luxury transfers in BMW 7 Series fleet of cars, owned and operated by the hotel. ■ A luxury retail arcade which houses leading international brands, an international salon featuring a hair spa by Italian maestro, Rossano Ferretti and a Pedi:Mani:Cure studio by French Podiatrist, Bastien Gonzalez. ■ We offer amongst the largest wine-by-glass programmes in the city in our restaurants, patisserie and the bar. Complimentary wine ■

Statistics say that luxury market in India is constantly expanding. It is expected to grow at an average of 5 to 10 percent between now and 2013. But if we look around, it seems its growing faster than that! It is just not about the luxury goods market or the brands; it is also about recognizing luxury as something unique and distinct. Something that enhances one's experience and may not be tangible. Also, we must understand that luxury need not be expensive. Discerning guests appreciate ‘value’ more than cost. The Oberoi, Gurgaon, for instance, has all the luxury amenities but it is priced rationally where guests see it as a value proposition. If you compare it to other major cities around the world – New York, London or Paris, you are paying much less (USD $450 a night) at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, for larger rooms, better facilities and a much more unique stay experience. Today, at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, when we quote for international business, we do not compete with hotels in Delhi or Gurgaon. Our global clients have the choice of doing their board or strategy meetings across Asia in Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo. We compete in this market and hence this award of the ‘World’s Leading Luxury Hotel 2011’ by World Travel Awards vindicates our positioning further. ■ by NAVIN S BERRY


GUEST COLUMN

CRITICAL ISSUES FACING INDIAN HOSPITALITY There are several concerns that the hospitality industry in India is currently grappling with. Biswajit Chakraborty lists out the key issues that need immediate attention… Talent Crunch Retaining a well-trained and astute workforce is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. As competition mushrooms in the form of both five star deluxe properties as well as stand-alone brands that are now entering the Indian market, poaching the crème of the lot who have been moulded into a persona that matches the caliber of the brand is rampant. Measures including a well-thought career path for star performers, intensive training for those who require an extra nudge and constant team building exercises are only some of the measures adopted to counter the challenge of increasing talent turnover.

Technology

showcase our product better. We have also forged preferred partnerships with TMC’s on a global level thru our GHA programme.

Competition

Although based in the heart of the city’s new commercial district, one of the most common grouses I hear from almost all our guests is the time it takes to get to our property.

At a time when new media such as the web has overtaken all other channels as source of information, we are constantly tasked with monitoring our performance and the contribution of these online channels towards our revenue objectives. In addition, guests are now tuned into websites such as TripAdvisor to read guest reviews of any hotel they are scheduled to check into. Hence, constant engagement with guests on social media such as these is also important. We are actively involved in responding to guest comments and queries on such websites. This is an important measure taken by us as other guests make their decisions of staying at hotels based on these comments and posts. We are also in the process of launching our new website, which will help address this dynamic environment.

Sources of Business For the same reasons as mentioned above, the sources of business for the hospitality industry is rapidly evolving. While with the evolution of much developed OTAs and GDS systems, brand visibility is enhanced, the challenges faced are also multiple such as the OTA demanding a higher commission model than the traditional travel agents, thus leading to a dilution of hotel revenue. It is also a time when we are reviewing the role that the traditional travel agents play in our business and ways of deepening that engagement. We are currently looking at tying up with Meta search sites that direct the guests to the Hotel’s official website, giving us the opportunity to

In a market that is gradually rising up to the horizons thrown open by global brands and opportunities entering the country and the potential that it holds, competition comes in the form of not just international hotels but also global restaurant brands. With a reach across continents, multi-brand culinary portfolios, a plethora of offerings in terms of chefs and opportunities for employees pan-India, and pan-global, this is today one of the biggest challenges even from a guest loyalty point of view. With a constantly evolving F&B offering, whereby we review our menus bi-annually bringing in international chefs to present a different experience for our patrons, globally well-known concepts to our guest’s table, opening up regular channels of communication with our food aficionados to keep them abreast of developments at the hotel.

Infrastructure

Although based in the heart of the city’s new commercial district, one of the most common grouses I hear from almost all our guests is the time it takes to get to our property. The ongoing construction on the arterial roads, the traffic situation at most crucial junctions have only compounded the problem. This has not only hampered movement of potential guests in the vicinity, but also deters investment into the area. As far as possible, we have tried to factor the situation around to improve our offering to the guest. From amenities such as a fully equipped business centre, wireless internet connectivity, meeting rooms to conduct one's business discussions in peace and a culinary experience par excellence to entertain one’s clients in, we have tried to ensure our guests have to step out as little as possible. And when they have to, our all-new BMW fleet will make their journey comfortable. In addition, The Leela Mumbai is also considered as an oasis of tranquility in this bustling city, where guests can come and unwind after a long day amidst 11 acres of lush landscaped gardens, cascading waterfalls, the lotus fountain and the calm poolside. ■ The author is General Manager at The Leela Mumbai

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Discovery of a New Galaxy

LEBUA, BANGKOK Hotelier Virat Varma Blogs his Views Being a hotelier I have spent most of my life and money visiting and eating out in various hotels across the world but my experience with Lebua was really an eye opener.

B

DEEPAK OHRI CEO, LEBUA HOTELS AND RESORTS

With his disarming smile and positivity Deepak appeared to be the perfect picture of a man on a mission. He tried to sell me the product, but what excited me more, was his exalted vision, attitude and determination. He was sure that what he had created was the best and was very clear of his journey and direction.

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ack in 1999 it was indeed a matter of pride to become the first Indian ever to be approved by Regent Hotels for the post of General Manager of their hotel which they were planning to open in Mumbai ��� It is besides the point at this juncture that I was then working for the promoters of the Regent property as Chief Operating Officer. The Regent Mumbai when launched was considered as a brand which re-wrote the service standards for the country, and was rated as the Best New Hotel by the Conde’ Nest. All what I say is because I am quite in a position to make such a statement freely and unhesitatingly as I am not only aware of the world service standards but also of various aspects that are involved in developing these services. My Story about ‘Lebua’ begins with a phone call from Samir Puri – a very dear friend and owner of Lotus Pond and many other restaurants in Delhi – requesting me to meet a friend of his named Deepak Ohri who represents a fairly large and reputed Hotel chain from Bangkok, who were keen to come to India, and whether I could be of any help in the process. This meeting with Deepak Ohri was arranged in Mumbai at Grand Hyatt. As for me, it was more of a courtesy call, simply because Samir wanted me to be present in the meeting for the reasons of my understanding of the hotel industry at macro level and awareness of the dominance of Indian Hospitality Industry by the American Hotel Chains and that the brand world was already crowded – Under such circumstances how viable it would be for a lesser known brand from South East Asia to venture into the Indian market, was the issue. With his disarming smile and positivity Deepak appeared to be the perfect picture of

a man on a mission. He tried to sell me the product, but what excited me more, was his exalted vision, attitude and determination. He was sure that what he had created was the best (He reminded me of my times when I was setting up the Pizza Chain with Dr. Vijay Mallya) and was very clear of his journey and direction. Our fifteen minute meeting lasted for more than two hours as I really wanted to know more and more about this young man and his discovery. To be frank, I was pretty much impressed by him rather than the Brand and I wanted to be a part of what he was doing and also of his future plans. Convinced with Deepak’s presentation, I made up my mind to get him a hotel and as the luck would have it a 400 room property in Dwarka Sec 10 was looking for a brand. As I had a very convincing case, we decided to visit Bangkok to assess the brand and rest is history. We drove from airport with flashing police escort all the way to the hotel. On arrival Special Ladies escorted each and every guest to their particular room, explaining everything about the Hotel and Bangkok. The wondrous ‘Lebua’ started hitting us very slowly. The late night flight landed early morning Gaurav (Director in Dwarka Hotel) and I decided to take a little tour of the hotel and have breakfast. The hotel was very busy and bubbling with activity, as expected breakfast room with nearly 175 cover was full. Two smart hostesses were attending to all the guests, trying to accommodate them. One of them – very politely – asked me my room number more as a conversation and with a fleeting look gave some instruction to her associate. Next, we saw the Restaurant Manager; a lady executive was with us in a jiffy she took us to a table about 15yards from where we were standing. I


SOCIAL MEDIA could see the guest leaving the table, but before we could reach, the table was cleaned and properly laid out – a lesson in efficiency. The BF buffet was unbelievably the most elaborate spread I had ever seen – and we would not do justice to even one third of it. Being a hotelier I have spent most of my life and money visiting and eating out in various hotels across the world but my experience with ‘Lebua’ was really an eye opener. I thought Regent Hotel s were the ultimate, but for me ‘Lebua’ redefined the service standards. May be it was wonders of Southeast Asia or was it Deepak’s vision. Over a period of time I made several trips to Bangkok and stayed at ‘Lebua’. Each of my stay was a unique experience, for one I

I never saw the house keeping staff tidy up the room, yet every time I returned, the room was fully serviced. Every staffer, every executive was completely dedicated towards a singular goal to serve the guest.

always saw the staffers fully prepared to greet the guests. While dining we never had to call a waiter for pouring water or clearance. They were there but not noticeable. I found them monitoring movement/development of the guest on the table from behind the pillars in a very subtle way. I never saw the house keeping staff tidy up the room, yet every time I returned, the room was fully serviced. Every staffer, every executive was completely dedicated towards a singular goal to serve the guest. As for the food, four Michelin star chefs were working in unison to control the quality and presentation of food. I never saw food better presented, their Breakfast Buffet was one of the largest I saw. It reminded me of Sunday brunch at a well-known US hotel resorts. Usually, I avoid making predictions but when I do, God is kind, and they do come true and very confidently I can predict that Deepak Ohri and Lebua hotel is next best thing that will happen to the world of hospitality and soon enough it will make its presence felt and will become a milestone in terms of service, food and hospitality. ■ by ANIL CHAK & VIRAT VARMA

February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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DESTINATION ANALYSIS

Madhya Pradesh Needs

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT State and private players are hopeful that Madhya Pradesh will be one of the best tourist destinations in India soon. However, is the infrastructure ready for the tourism boosts the state is aiming for?

“M

P ajab hai, sabse gajab hai”: a campaign that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Madhya Pradesh, the heart of Incredible India. But the big question is, how incredible is it? The campaign is but what about the tourism opportunities in the state?

Although, MP tourism has pumped in a lot of money to advertise and market its tourist destinations, the investment scene in the state still leaves a lot to be desired. The government and private players agree that a lot has been achieved but there is a long way to go. Comparisons with Rajasthan and

Kerala are unfair as MP is still taking baby steps as far as the infrastructure is concerned. Private players feel that there are many areas of concern like, infrastructure, affordable rooms, connectivity to the tourist destinations, branding of the state has to be done better and more activities have to be

JYOTSNA SURI

PANKAJ RAG

ROHIT KOHLI

CHAIRPERSON, FICCI TOURISM COMMITTEE AND CHAIRPERSON & MD, THE LALIT SURI HOSPITALITY GROUP

MANAGING DIRECTOR, GOVERNMENT OF MADHYA PRADESH

JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, CREATIVE TRAVEL PVT LTD

“The government is looking at land bank investments, developing water bodies and islands, converting forts and palaces into heritage hotels, ecotourism and adventure sports… various stretches of land have been earmarked that can be acquired by private investors.”

“Tourists have to suffer because there are no proper guides to take you through the monuments and places of interests. Sanchi, one of the most important Buddhist heritage sites in India has no guides, it would be a great idea if the concept of audio guides could be introduced.”

“The average occupancy rate in The Lalit Temple View hotel in Khajuraho, is just 14%. Talking specifically about Khajuraho, insiders say that it is a one day destination and there are not enough activities around to hold the tourists.”

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DESTINATION ANALYSIS developed around the heritage sites. Speaking at Tourism Conclave in Khajuraho, Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson & Managing Director, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group said the average occupancy rate in The Lalit Temple View hotel in Khajuraho, is just 14%. Talking specifically about Khajuraho, insiders say that it is a one day destination and there are not enough activities around to hold the tourists. Hotels are occupied for a day and then tourists move back to Jhansi or Orchha for more sightseeing. The government insists that it is trying hard to put a plan in place and improve the infrastructure in the state so that more investors get involved. But the travel agents and tour operators insist that MP does not even have proper roads and rail connections to join the main tourist attractions. For e.g. the distance between Jhansi and Khajuraho is 172 km and ideally it should take 2 hours 30 mins but due to the bad road it takes around 3 to 31/2 hours to reach Khajuraho. It has an airport and though it has direct flights from Delhi and Varanasi, there is no connectivity from Mumbai or other important cities like Bangalore or Kolkata. Railway links to the temple town are although good, connecting it to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi. Rohit Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel Pvt Ltd says that, other than infrastructure, corruption is another major issue that needs to be tackled in the state. Tourists have to suffer because there are no proper guides to take you through the monuments and places of interests. He mentioned that Sanchi, one of the most important Buddhist heritage sites in India has no guides, it would be a great idea if the concept of audio guides could be introduced so that it is more informative, enjoyable and pleasant for the tourists. Adding to the infrastructure bit, Kohli also said that, government needs to better the signage network in the state. There are no proper markings that can make the travel easy for tourists.

The state on the other hand is keen on inviting more private investment in the hospitality sector. Pankaj Rag, Managing Director, Government of Madhya Pradesh detailed out government’s plan for developing tourism and increasing investment opportunities in the state. According to Rag, “The government is looking at land bank investments, developing water bodies and islands, converting forts and palaces into heritage hotels, ecotourism and adventure sports.” He further added that various stretches of land have been earmarked that can be acquired by private investors on a long term lease freehold or PPP basis through a

Two other very ambitious plans of the government are to convert the forts and palaces into heritage properties, something that the Rajasthan tourism has done successfully and is reaping benefits and developing water bodies for tourism development. The properties have been identified that would be suitable for conversion and most of them would be leased out to a private investor on a long term, with a clause for renewal in place. Indra Sagar, a huge stretch of water comprising of more than 50 islands is being developed by the government for whole lot of fun tourist activities. Bidding for Indra Sagar has already been put into process and the government is The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho

transparent process. Land is available in districts like Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Satna among others. One of the pioneer ideas that MP tourism has initiated is the Caravan Tourism. It is the first of its kind in India and right now the caravan plies on three routes, BhopalPanchmarhi, Jabalpur-Bandhavgarh and Indore-Mandu-Maheshwar. Caravans are a luxurious way of travelling and equipped with state of the art technology and safety measures. Madhya Pradesh state Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) has future plans to promote caravan tourism in Public Private Partnership mode, wherein the corporation will provide capital investment sharing upto 25% of the cost of the vehicle. Government also plans to provide camping spaces to the Caravans in the selected hotels of the state corporation.

hopeful of positive results. Although the state is keen on inviting private investment in the hospitality sector, the private players want a more pro-active and energetic approach in terms of marketing the whole state. According to Tejbir Singh Anand, Managing Director, Holiday Moods Adventures, “MP needs to have a larger vision vis-a-vis marketing. Destinations are being advertised in pockets and the state as a whole is being ignored and that is a disadvantage.” Campaigns according to him should be done in a bigger way and packaged more aggressively. Though the government and private players have a whole lot of exciting ideas for developing investment opportunities and in turn boosting the tourism sector in the state, it remains to be seen how these are implemented. ■ by APRAJITA SHISHOO IN KHAJURAHO

February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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EVENTS & HAPPENINGS

ITC’s Cuisine Charms All at World Economic Forum

F

ood brings people closer! And this was evident at in the midst of the Swiss Alps at the World Economic Forum 2012 where business leaders and diplomats exchanged ideas over steaming hot masala chai and Indian snacks. The food was courtesy ITC Hotels, the hospitality partner, has been an integral part of the India Adda ensuring there was great food for thought as minds connected over matter. While fluctuating economies may have been a subject at the summit, one thing that did not fluctuate was the big appreciation for Indian Cuisine served by chefs of ITC Hotels… the Dal Bukhara certainly seems to have gathered maximum following from Delhi to Davos. ITC food packets and exclusive ITC Coaster sets were gifted to guests while many delegates were introduced to ITC Hotels Credo ‘Responsible Luxury’ and were given the green brochures. ITC Hotels gathered appreciation for its ‘First on Earth’ Initiative, being the first to receive LEED Platinum certification for all its premium hotels, making it the greenest luxury hotel chain in the World. Indian Cuisine kept the India buzz alive through each day of the conference as ITC Chefs presented the “Best of India” specialties. These ranged from the Gujarati Dhokla to the Sarson ki Machhi, a Bengali specialty and the popular Punjabi Pindi Chole with Masala Kulchas, Dal Palak with mixed vegetable parantha, the Subz Shaami Kebab, Jhinga Ajwaini, and Seekh Kebabs and India’s traditional Boondi ladoos and Gajar Halwa. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron halted at the Indian Adda for samosa and masala chai while Ms Lady Judge, Chairperson, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP Group and the Mayor of London, Borris Johnson could be seen enjoying the Indian delicacies. India Inc witnessed the presence of YC Deveshwar, Chairman, ITC; Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman-Bharti Enterprises; Rahul Bajaj, Chairman-Bajaj Group; Onkar S Kanwar, ChairmanApollo Tyres. ■

Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Anand Sharma

British PM David Cameron enjoyed samosa and masala chai

India ies at

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ITC

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Y.C. D eveshw

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, ITC


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FHRAI Annual Convention will be held in Goa from September 6-8, 2012; Vivek Nair is the Chairman, Organising Committee, FHRAI Convention and Sunit Kothari is the Co-Chairman for the same February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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People… Zinc InVision Hospitality Rakesh Mathur has been appointed as Director and Principle Advisor of Zinc InVision Hospitality. Prior to this, he was the President of WelcomHeritage. Mathur has won various awards for developing and promoting heritage tourism. He also founded the Ecotourism Society of India. Mathur is the initiator of ‘Safe and Honourable Tourism’, a code of conduct for Tourism Service Providers. An active member, he is also the Vice President of the Rotary Club of Delhi South End Chapter.

The Grand New Delhi Shrikant S Wakharkar has been appointed General Manager of The Grand New Delhi. With an experience of over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he will be responsible for overseeing and implementing high operational standards at the hotel. Located in Vasant Kunj, the property is popular for conferences, seminars and social functions. He has previously worked as General Manager of InterContinental The Lalit Goa Resort, Goa and as Resident Manager of Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has also worked with Taj President Mumbai and Taj Mahal Palace & Towers, Mumbai.

InterContinental Hotels Group Pascal Gauvin has been promoted as Chief Operating Officer for India, Middle East and Africa region of InterContinental Hotels Group. Starting 1st April 2012, Pascal will succeed John Bamsey who has decided to retire. Pascal will be responsible for the overall operations and growth of the region. He will be reporting to Jan Smits, Chief Executive, Asia, Middle East and Africa. Pascal has been working with the company for nearly 19 years and has held various operational roles, including Vice President Operations. 52

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Le Meridien Kochi Sreekumar Sekhar has been appointed as the Director of Sales and Marketing of Le Meridien Kochi. In his new role, his sales efforts will be directed towards the achievement of the operational goals for the Le Meridien Kochi property. He has an extensive expertise in the development and implementation of sales strategies in sync with prevailing market conditions. He has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has previously worked at the Regant Lake Palace Hotel and Resorts, Kollam.

Hilton Worldwide Scott Thomson has been appointed as the General Manager of Hilton New Delhi-Noida-Mayur Vihar and Double Tree by Hilton-New DelhiNoida-Mayur Vihar, operated by Hilton Worldwide. With over 20 years of extensive experience in the hospitality industry, Thomson was previously working as the pre-opening General Manager of Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, which is the company's first property in India. He has worked with some of the leading hotel brands of New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and India including Grand Hotels International, Park Royal Queenstown and Auckland and The George Christchurch.

Four Points by Sheraton Vishakhapatnam Patanjali Sharma has been appointed General Manager of Four Points by Sheraton Vishakhapatnam. He brings with him 26 years of experience in strategy planning, profit sharing operations, sales and marketing, business development, client relationship management and people management. His last experience was as an Independent Hospitality Consultant with Sanskriti Tours. Sharma has worked with various leading international brands, including Le Meridien, Al Sondos group – Dubai, Radisson, Ankara Hotel and Towers, Almaty – Kazakhstan.


People… Le Meridien, Coimbatore Amit Mitra has been appointed Director – Business Development, Sales & Marketing at the newly opened Le Meridien, Coimbatore. With an experience of over 15 years in the industry, Mitra will bring to the hotel his expertise in Sales and Marketing. Previously, he was working as Director of Sales and Marketing, India with The Ascott Limited. He has also worked with Park Inn, Radisson Hotels, Chennai and Le Royal Meridien, Chennai. He holds the PATWA International Award for “Young Achiever Award-Marketing” from the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA) in ITB Berlin.

Marriott International Paul Rushton has been appointed Regional Director of MICE Sales Asia Pacific of Marriott International to capitalize on the MICE market in the Asia Pacific region. Responsible for design and implementation of sales and marketing strategies for all Marriott branded hotels in Asia Pacific, Rushton is based in Singapore and reports to Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Neelima Chopra. Having worked with some of the leading hotels in Jakarta, Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney and Singapore, he brings 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry to the table.

Goa Marriott Resort & Spa Arti Raghava has been appointed as Director of Human Resource at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa. She joined Marriott as Human Resource Manager in 2009 at the pre-opening of the Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon. Having started her career in the hospitality industry as Front Office Associate in Radisson Hotel Delhi, her first Human Resources assignment was at The Bristol Hotel Gurgaon. Raghava has also worked as Assistant Human Resource Manager at Park Plaza Gurgaon. She

holds a Master Degree in Human Resources from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach Ranveer Brar has been appointed as Executive Chef of Novotel Mumbai. His previous assignment was with One World cuisine hospitality group, Boston as Corporate Chef. With a professional experience of more than 15 years, he has led culinary teams of brands like Taj, Radisson, Oberois and Claridges in India and USA. He has contributed to a number of cuisines and has received recognition for the same by AIWF, AICA, James Beard House New York City and Mayor of Boston. He also represented India at WPF.

Jaipur Marriott Vazid Ali Shaikh has been appointed Assistant Director of Food & Beverage at the Jaipur Marriott. His role is to spearhead and manage complete food and beverage operations, including menu structure, marketing, planning and service. In his nine years in the industry, Vazid has worked with leading brands such as Taj Lands End and JW Marriott Mumbai and holds expertise in the field of Food & Beverage. He holds a Diploma in Hotel Administration and Food Technology from Sophiya Polytechnic College, Mumbai.

Goa Marriott Resort & Spa Dr. Manjula Shettigar has been appointed Spa Manager of Goa Marriott Resort & Spa. Previously, she was working as Assistant Spa Manager at Hyatt Regency Pune. She has worked at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa as an Ayurvedic Doctor. Here she was awarded the World’s No. 1 Spa by Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Award 2006, Best Spa in Asia 2009 and 2010. She has also worked as a Duty Doctor in Manipal and a General Practitioner in Karnataka. February 2012 HOTELSCAPES

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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Emerging CSR Trends in Indian Hospitality Industry From environment to helping the under-privileged, hospitality industry in India is increasingly dedicating itself to the cause of CSR and trying to do its bit for the society. harity begins at home; business hous es indulge in Corporate Social Re sponsibility (CSR). The corporate houses are going all out in making a difference to the society and adding their two bit to the moral fabric of the country and consequently helping in nation building. CSR practices are not only expanding but hotel companies are marrying their CSR policies to their daily practices. While some are going green, others are supporting differently-abled people and also trying to help a section of society that belongs to the disad-

C

country and the numbers would just increase in the coming years,” says Pandit. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts have worked towards CSR in five key areas, most importantly being environment, healthy and safety, supply chain, stakeholder relations and employees. All these initiatives have been incorporated under the label of “sustainability” and every two years, a sustainability report is issued to track the significant changes in the CSR programmes. According to the latest report, the most significant milestone has been that 77% of

vantaged group. Although, there are many other CSR activities that hotels are involved in, here we have discussed a select few. Lemon Tree Hotels, for instance, is bringing the differently-abled into the mainstream. According to Rahul Pandit, Chief Operating Officer, Lemon Tree Hotels Pvt Ltd, the hotel focussed on this group of people because this was one area which promotes inclusiveness. Disability cuts across society; it can impact anybody and employing such people also ends the unending debate on talent. “There is so much dormant talent that is never utilised, by employing these people the talent crunch is tackled and the people get benefitted. There are about 134 people that have been employed in our hotels across the

Oberoi hotels have supported the cause of education through programme “Embrace” and approximately 3,370 children have been helped through it in the year 2010. There is no denying that there is an increased awareness towards protecting the environment. Although, the concept of going green comes from the west, it is fast picking up in India and hotels are trying to plug in the green initiatives as much as possible. Even though, it is not directly aligned to their business motives, environment friendly CSR activities are much appreciated by the hotel customers and are thus given a big thrust by the hotels. According to industry experts, youths are the next generation customers of these hotels and if they are concerned about

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an issue, then the hotels are keen on concentrating on them. The Leela Palace Udaipur has gone one step ahead and aligned with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and supports the ‘Billion Tree Campaign’, a global initiative that encourages tree planting. Capt. CP Krishnan Nair, Chairman of The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts was earlier reported saying that “Environment is no longer about being green, reusing towels and recycling paper. Today, the main focus is on corporate responsibility by practicing environment protection and sustainability.” The Leela Palace Udaipur also aligned itself in other initiatives which were for the local community, like development of a public garden at Gulab Bagh, cleaning of Lake Pichola and other such initiatives that were not directly linked to the hotel but were environment themed CSR activities that hotels aligns itself with. These acts are in turn seen as acts of nation building and bring in a lot of goodwill to the corporate entity. Similarly, the legendary hotel chain in India, Taj, Hotels, Resorts and Palaces is also active in the CSR arena. Taj is synonymous with the culture and heritage in India and that has been their thrust as far as CSR activities are concerned. Their program ‘Building Livelihoods’ extends a helping hand to the thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The hotel in association with ‘Paramparik Karigar’ (association of craftsmen founded in 1996) recognises the talented artisans and craftsmen in and around the Taj hotels and then the hotel trainees are assigned the role of identifying the projects that can be taken up by the hotel. It is an innovative way of developing a bond between the hotel and the people who are living around it and trying to impact their lives in a positive way. Looking at the positive and encouraging ideas that the hospitality leaders have for CSR, the future seems bright and promising. ■ by APRAJITA SHISHOO


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LAST PAGE: RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

‘High Value Low Impact Tourism’ Debate at PATA Event in Bhutan

T

he Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) held its three-day Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart (AT&RTCM) in Bhutan, the first ever international travel trade event to be held in the country. Under the theme “High Value Tourism, Low Impact Footprints,” AT&RTCM addressed key issues facing responsible and sustainable travel. The AT&RTCM attracted 232 delegates, 51 sellers from 35 companies who arrived from eight destinations including Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. From among 48 international buyers from 18 destinations, 88% were first time buyers. Martin J Craigs, CEO, PATA said: “PATA is proud to be part of this historic event in Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Bhutan’s ethos of high value tourism with a low impact footprint is one that many destinations would like to follow. All of us can learn from the Bhutan example and the high value-low impact debate it attracts.” It was an appropriate theme for the destination that has taken a very cautious route to develop the tourism industry, ensuring that its fragile environment and heritage remained undisturbed. AT&RTCM started with a complimentary tour of the Paro Valley and a full-day trip called the “Pursuit of Happiness,” to Thimphu, organised by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and the Association of Bhu56

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tanese Tour Operators (ABTO). An E-Tourism – New Media Boot Camp was held the fourth in the series after Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Jens Thraenhart, President of Dragon Trail, and organiser of the boot camp session in Bhutan, said it was designed to help local tourism businesses better leverage the Internet, mobile, and technology. Kesang Wangdi, Director General, Tourism Council of Bhutan and Hiran Cooray, PATA Chairman officially welcomed delegates during the opening session in Bhutan on the first day. Anna Pollock, CEO, DestiCorp UK Ltd, while delivering the keynote address, said: “Adventure travel operators will survive and prosper over the next decade if they understand and harness the powerful forces for change occurring throughout the world. Achieving higher yields and making less negative impact requires a shift in the operating model of tourism. The industrial model on which tourism is based is collapsing. As it matures, it produces diminishing net returns to all participants, and relies on volume growth to compensate for yield declines.” During the Plenary Session panel debate Rick Antonson, President and CEO, Tourism Vancouver, said: “Success with low impact tourism that brings high value requires shared attitudes of ‘good guests and good hosts’. Visitors that offer high value and low impact are becoming among the most treasured guests in

our industry. As tourism becomes the world's largest industry, there will be ever more respect placed on those visitors who offer high value and low impact.” In the same session, Thuji Dorji Nadik, Director (Specialist), Tourism Council of Bhutan said: “By targeting high value tourism, tourism benefits are being distributed more equitably. In Bhutan, our challenge is to spread the benefits equitably and ensure regional balance in tourism development.” Isabel Sebastian, Sustainability Advisor, Yangphel Adventure Travel & Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan said: “Many visitors to Bhutan can attest to the fact that this is a country of ‘happy coincidences’. The Bhutan experience will only keep attracting high value/low impact tourists as long as tourists continue to meld into life in Bhutan and only as long as the authenticity of this experience is protected.” David Wilks, Director, Commercial Business, Department of Conservation – Te Papa Atawhai, New Zealand, addressed Plenary Session II on best case studies from New Zealand, “100% Pure You”. He said: “From a tiny country at the bottom of the world has emerged one of the most recognised tourism brands globally. 100% Pure New Zealand wasn’t just clever marketing; it was also a bit of good luck. In an increasingly well wired world, delivering on an aspirational brand promise can be tough.” ■ Excerpts from the PATA Report


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Hotel Scapes February 2012