a cross section publication
Volume 3. Issue 4. May 2014. Rs 50
ALL ABOUT HOTELS & HOSPITALITY
CAPT KRISHNAN NAIR PASSES ON
Volume 3 Issue 4 MAY 2014
Volume 3. Issue 4. May 2014. Rs 50
a cross section publication
ALL ABOUT HOTELS & HOSPITALITY
CAPT KRISHNAN NAIR PASSES ON
Editor: Navin S Berry
Managing Editor: Priyaanka Berry firstname.lastname@example.org
Features Desk: Anupriya Bishnoi, Nikita Chopra Advertising: Saurabh Shukla email@example.com
Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani Circulation: Chandra Tamang HotelScapes is published and printed by Navin Berry, printed at Tara Art Printers Pvt. Ltd. A-46-47, Sector - V, Noida - 201301 (U.P.) and published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002. Editor: Navin S Berry, Tel: 91-11-43784444; Fax: 91-11-41001627. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This issue of HotelScapes contains 68 pages
Dear Reader, As we close this issue, we have learnt of the sad demise of the legendary Capt Nair, founder chairman of the Leela Hotels. We bring you a few glimpses of this proud son of India, always a nationalist at heart, and always lending a helping hand, while building some of the most iconic hotels in the country. Not just the Leela Hotels, his family, but also the entire hospitality and tourism industry will miss his towering presence for a long time to come. This issue of HotelScapes coincides with the formation of a new government in the country. These elections generated much heat and now there is abundant light, with huge expectations for almost every activity, not the least for tourism and hospitality. HotelScapes joins the hospitality industry in felicitating the new government which has promised much to this sector. It must now not hesitate to take steps to implement its tourism and hospitality agenda which means so much for the economic development of the country. Separately, we show how the fourth estate ref lects the hospitality industry in our feature on hotels in the media. Of interest is FHRAI President Shervani’s opinion of the challenges facing the hotel industry. We also bring you two key discussions that took place at HICSA 2014 that explore in depth some of the issues before industry professionals. Our conversation with Dhruva Rathore of Hyatt highlights the development strategy for the group, and their roadmap into the immediate future. In GM Speak, we reveal some operational concerns in the industry, while our feature on human resources looks at what lies ahead while another feature on the same topic elaborates the concerns of serious manpower shortage in hospitality. We look at a hotel’s website as an essential marketing tool in our feature on technology. CSR remains of importance and we see what individual hotels are doing in this respect. In our MICE segment we share the perceptions of hotels which hold upscale weddings. We look at hotel gardens in our design segment. Of interest is our feature on INDeco’s sustainable rural tourism. Besides interviews with chefs, and other than our guest column on the NCR’s hospitality business, you will enjoy our section on updates and news. So happy reading.
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 3
In The News 6 Park Inn by Radisson’s 1st hotel opens in Bilaspur, Gurgaon
8 Hilton Jaipur now open Hotels in the Media 10 Glance through hospitality industry in the media
New Horizons 12 Clear road for hospitality industry In Memoriam 14 Capt. C.P. Nair passes on Highlights from HICSA Supplement 16 FHRAI President Shervani on
5 challenges facing the hotel industry
HICSA 2014 18 How to solve development woes! 22 Brands and owners: Managing Expectations!
One-On-One 26 In-conversation with Dhruva Rathore
GM Speak 28 “The guests in smaller cities now are as flamboyant as in metros”
Human Resource 30 What lies ahead in HR Trends 32 Keeping guests entertained Technology 36 A hotel’s website – an essential marketing tool
CSR 40 Responsible and sustainable business: Making an impact
Industry Watch 43 Where are the people? Industry must grapple with this issue
Chef’s Page 44 Alcohol – A Prime ingredient MICE 46 Celebrated hotels which hold upscale weddings
4 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Chef’s Interview 48 Talking ‘sweet’ with Javed Merchant
Design 50 Building hotel gardens Photo Feature 54 Showers and Faucets
64 Movements in the industry Last Page 66 When INDeco went rural
34 NCR’s Hospitality business for 2014
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IN THE NEWS
Park Inn by Radisson’s 1st hotel opens in Bilaspur, Gurgaon
his is the first property of the next generation Park inn by Radisson hotel in India. The hotel is bright, bold, fresh and energetic and offers affordable luxury to its guests. Their service goes by the tagline ‘adding colour to life’ and are designed to make stays fun, comfortable and uncomplicated. Going off the clichéd mindset, Park Inn by Raddisson Gurgaon Bilaspur turns budget hotels from dull to lively. “We had signed a joint venture with Bestech Hospitality last year to build 49 Park Inn hotels in India over the next set of years, of which eight have been signed and are in different stages of construction. The next one will be opening in Indraprastha in New Delhi within a couple of months. Across the world we have around 209 Park Inn by Radisson operating and in different stages of construction. This type of hotel will always be a new-built hotel,”
6 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
said Raj Rana, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. L ocation is a delight for business travellers as the hotel is conveniently placed in the Nationa l Capita l Region of New Delhi. Right on National Highway 8. Guests can move around the business and manufacturing hubs of Manesar and Gurgaon with ease. It is less than an hour’s drive away from the airport and nearby tourist attractions including Sheetala
Mata Temple, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and Damdama Lake. It is surrounded by a multitude of leisure options for guests who opt for extended stays to relax at the end of the day. “This new generation hotel is based on a much defined set of standards and a defined colour palette. We have four different colours in this hotel forming the whole design concept, which are Red, Blue Green and Yellow. The technology and service that goes into each hotel of this brand is
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much defined. They are going to be consistent across India. The colours are intentionally kept bold. The reason behind this is that Park Inn by definition is an aspiring brand. It provides great value for money, it charges you three star rates but the experience that it provides is at par with the four-star level in terms of food and beverage offerings, cleanliness, room layout, the wooden flooring and the overall look and feel. The colours have been brought in to create identification, and a change from other hotels,” Rana adds. He says that generally in locations like this around India, the mid- segment hotels are operating at a cost ranging from ` 2,800 to `3,000 and in their first few months of trial business, they have already achieved this rate. HS by NIKITA CHOPRA
IN THE NEWS
Hilton Worldwide enters Rajasthan with Hilton Jaipur
ocated in the heart of Jaipur in Rajasthan, the newly launched Hilton Jaipur is minutes away from the famous attractions of the city like, Hawa Mahal, City Palace and Albert Hall Museum and various other entertainment centres like, Johari and Bapu Bazaar. “We are excited to open our fifth Hilton brand hotel in India, extending our presence in one of our most important growth markets,” said Rob Palleschi, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “Every aspect of this hotel was carefully designed to ensure our guests enjoy a worldclass experience throughout their stay with generously-sized accommodation, a range of dining outlets, extensive recreational facilities and versatile meetings and events space. The hotel is well suited to quickly become the first choice of travellers in the city.” 8 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
The hotel is owned by Fruitful Buildcon and managed by Hilton Worldwide. It offers its guests with rooms and suites that range in size from 360 square feet to 650 square feet, offering large living spaces and the complete range of facilities and services including signature Hilton Serenity Beds, ergonomic work areas and en suite four-fixture baths. The hotel features 10,000 square feet of flexible meetings and events space that includes a 21-foot high ballroom and an open-air patio, Hilton Jaipur also provides the ideal setting for exclusive business meetings as well as social gatherings and grand weddings. Talking about the future plans of the brand, Daniel Welk, Vice President, Operations – India, Hilton Worldwide says, “ We a re t hr illed to ex tend our network to include Jaipur. Later this year, we anticipate
opening a hotel in Agra as well, and we will be delighted to be able to offer our guests the opportunity of experiencing the Golden Triangle with us. India is a key strategic growth market for Hilton Worldwide.” Dining options at the hotel are extensive as guests can enjoy a theatrical culinary experience with live cooking stations and a spectacular specialty Tandoor kitchen at Aurum, the stylish gold and copper themed all-day global cuisine restaurant. The recreational options at the hotel range from a plush swimming pool, 24-hour fitness centre, and a 2400 sq. ft. spa and fitness centre that includes three treatment room, steam and sauna facilities. At present, Hilton Worldwide is operating hotels and resorts in the country under their two full-service brands, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by
MEET THE TEAM GENERAL MANAGER
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
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Hilton, and two focused-service brands, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton. R itesh Derewala, Managing Director, Fruitful Buildcon expressed his delight over joining hands with Hilton Worldwide in Jaipur, he says, “We are delighted with this opportunity to bring Hilton Worldwide to Rajasthan. We are excited with the prospect of foraying into the hospitality industry with a brand that is synonymous with ‘hotel’ across the world. We are confident that with Hilton Worldwide's international hotel management expertise and our strong local knowledge a nd ne t work, Hilton Jaipur will become the preferred hotel for domestic and international leisure and business travellers.” HS
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HOTELS IN THE MEDIA
Glance through hospitality industry in the media The national newspapers in India keep their readers updated with the happenings in the hospitality sector through their dedicated segments. Hotelscapes bring to you snippets of various newspapers from different parts of the country who have been talking about the significant happenings in the hospitality industry.
Indian hotels ranked third in the global best value list
fter hotels in Thailand and Malaysia, the third slot is taken by the hotels in India when it comes to the best value room rates, said a survey carried out by an online travel portal. That is to say, when they travel domestic, Indians gets the third best hotel value rates. Then again, Indians travelling abroad were found to have spent close to twice as much as they spend at home. “At `5,254 a night Indian travellers stood third in terms of getting the best value hotel room rates domestically in 2013. Travellers from Thailand took the first place at `5,160 a night followed by travellers from Malaysia in the second place at ` 5,198 a night,’’ said the survey carried out by Hotels.com, an online travel portal. The latest edition of their survey also said that Swiss travellers paid the most on hotel rooms at home averaging `12,400 a night. Travellers from Norway came in second at `10,834 and Singapore third at `10,722 a night domestically. When it comes to spending on hotel rooms abroad, Indian travellers were listed in the middle of the most generous travellers with average payments of ` 8,751 a night. Travellers from Switzerland once again paid the most when travelling outside their borders with an average of `10,642 per night. Times of India, Mumbai, 7th April 2014
Hotel industry sees sharp fall in new room supplies
upply of new hotel rooms in India is set to slow sharply in the next few years because of capital starvation and a shift in investment from hotel projects to other real-estate assets that offer quicker returns, say industry executives. The supply of rooms hitting the market now is from projects announced between 2009 and 2011. Most hotel owners are in a wait-and-watch mode. The supply of hotel rooms in India has grown 150 percent during the sevenyear period through 2013, and the industry is looking at about 1.05 lakh rooms by the end of this fiscal. The growth is projected to be 13 percent in 2015 and thereafter 9 percent and 7 percent in 2017, says Achin Khanna, managing director, consulting and valuation, at HVS Global Hospitality Services South Asia. India’s economic slowdown has been a factor hurting the industry in tier-I cites. Growth in gross domestic product softened to less than 5 percent in fiscal 2013 and 2014, after expanding at near double-digit pace for several years. This has affected demand for rooms as well as made fundraising for new projects difficult. PR Srinivas, director of hospitality at Cushman & Wakefield India, says the exuberance seen in the market between 2009 and 2011 is missing now. “We are currently in the down cycle and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai have seen a lot of supply come in a short period of time.” There is a positive side to the development as, with fewer new suppliers, hoteliers are hoping for a bounce back in occupancies and room rates. Economic Times, New Delhi, 24th April
10 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
ID proof must for hotel stay in Puri
otels in Puri have made it mandatory for tourists to furnish their identity proof to check-in. It followed the visit of two top Indian Mujahideen operatives to the beach town and some other places in Odisha in January this year. The state government announced that hoteliers must accept identity cards from their guests before allowing them to stay. Puri that attracts more than 80 lakh tourists, including 65,000 foreigners every year, has over 400 hotels. “All hotels must abide by the guideline. The local tourist officer will regularly inspect compliance of the order. If any hotel is found flouting the norm, we will cancel the trade licence,” said tourism director MR Pattnaik. But the moot question lies whether the practice would actually pay off. Hoteliers are sceptical of its outcome. “We welcome the move. But how will we know whether the tourist shows the original identity proof. We lack the expertise to ascertain the real and fake identity cards,” said Srimant Kumar Dash, owner of Hotel Santana. Police said the hoteliers should inform police if they suspect the activities of any tourist. Police also advised the hoteliers to upgrade their security apparatus. “They should install CCTV cameras and baggage scanners,” said SP (Puri) Anup Kumar Sahoo. Times of India, Bhubaneswar, 24th April 2014
HOTELS IN THE MEDIA
UK firm plans to set up 100 eco- Hotel industry sees no signs of revival: India Ratings friendly hotels in India
n NRI-founded hotel company plans to set up 100 ecofriendly hotels in India in the next eight years, its founder and Chief Executive said here last night. Noting that the Eco Hotels UK Plc has developed the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand, The Eco and Ecolodge, Suchit Punnose, the CEO of Red Ribbon Asset Management said: “The first market we are targeting is the growth market of India which has one of the largest demands for hotel rooms in the market. It is the intention of the company to develop an inventory of 10,000 rooms by 2022 which will amount to 100 hotels with 100room average,” he said. Red Ribbon Asset Management, the owners of Eco Hotels UK, is setting up India’s first steel modular buildings factory in Indapur, Pune. The Eco and Ecolodge will represent premium value budget pricing across all properties. The properties will have solar roof tops and wind turbines to generate green energy and the buildings will have high LEEDs rating as it is built on modular technology, he said. Deccan Herald, London, 27th April 2014
otel industry continues to face a muted revenue growth, stagnated profitability and elevated credit risk in FY15, driven by lower demand growth and supply-side pressures, an India Ratings & Research report said. The agency expects major hotel companies to register revenue growth of 5 to 10 per cent in FY15 due to sluggish demand in the near term. This is in line with the trend in 9MFY14 and FY13, where weak macroeconomic conditions led to muted growth in business travellers and foreign tourist arrivals. Corporate travellers are key demand drivers for hotels as they account for around 60 per cent of guests. Ind-Ra also expects profitability for major companies to remain stagnant at around 20 percent as the demand slowdown has stressed occupancy and average room rate (ARRs), limiting the ability of hotel companies to pass on an increase in input costs. Ind-Ra’s analysis indicates that profitability of hotel companies declined by 1-3 percentage points in both 9MFY14 and FY13 primarily due to inflationary pressures, mainly higher food and fuel costs, and the inability of companies to pass on such pressures due to weak demand. Several companies which have implemented aggressive debt-led capex in the past are finding it difficult to manage their overleveraged balance sheets. Deccan Chronicle, Mumbai, May 05, 2014
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 11
Hotel industry expects much from the new government As the new government takes charge, the tourism and hospitality sectors have hopes and expectations from it and suggestions for it.
Dr. Jyotsna Suri
“With the BJP in its election manifesto identifying tourism as a key sector to drive socio-economic progress and identifying it as one of the five pillars of India’s future growth, it shows the new government’s commitment to develop the tourism and hospitality industry. This was further evident during Narendra Modi’s election campaign wherein he spoke about the importance of developing tourism. Under the new government, the tourism and hospitality industry is expecting major initiatives in favour of tourism. Also, BJP’s commitment to create 50 affordable tourism circuits will give a big boost to the domestic travel market with Indian travellers getting more options to explore new destinations within the country. Under Modi’s leadership, Gujarat has already shown the way by emerging as a major tourist destination amongst domestic travellers. We are positive that the tourism and hospitality industry will get a great fillip under the new government and India will not just see an increase in the number of domestic travellers but also a surge in international arrivals.”
The infrastructure status should be such that hotels should get lower rates of interest on loans and long term debts over 15 years to pay back. l We should also get a single window clearance for all licences and permissions to start a hotel. There are over 100 permissions required that delay projects by over two years. l It should be affordable for people using hotel services. If vat, luxury tax and service tax can be rationalised to a reasonable level, as it adds up to a large percentage of hotel expenditure, then larger number of people will make use of hotel services. There will be an increase in demand. l Tour is t locat ion connec t iv it y a nd infrastructure to tier 2 cities for example Hampi, has to be attended to. It takes a good six hrs drive with no wayside facility like toilets and other such amenities. Basic infrastructure needs to improve. l Tourism will provide employment as well as foreign exchange.
Given that Modi has made tourism one of his five pillars of development and growth certainly augurs well for the industry. With most new supply having entered the market in the last few years and the cyclical upswing due for the industry combined with a new government( and a stable one we hope), there is every reason to believe that the next few years will be very favourable to the hospitality and tourism industry. The clear expectation is that interest cost will be lowered allowing hotel developers to access cheaper capital as also that the rupee strengthens and inflation is brought under control. Investments in infrastructure providing better connectivity and accessibility will also be a huge demand generator. So, all in all, this is really the first time after a general election that I see a clear road ahead for the hotel industry to recover and boom. HS
Chairman & Managing Director The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group
12 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Chairman & Managing Director Royal Orchid Hotels Limited.
MD India and Regional VP, South Asia for Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts
by NAVIN BERRY
Capt. C.P. Krishnan Nair, Founder, Leela Group, passes on He will be remembered as among the greatest of Indian hoteliers. He had a passion for building only the best. A man of endearing personal qualities, he touched every life he came across.
aptain Nair passed away, after going in and out of hospitals over the last few months, at the ripe age of 92 years. A late starter into our industry, the Captain proved to be the quintessential hotelier, the stuff of which dreams are made of! Over thirty years he built the most iconic hotels, wherever he set his footprint, starting with Leela in Mumbai, then moving onto Goa, and then Bengaluru, and finally into Kovalam, Udaipur, New Delhi and finally Chennai. Each of these vied with the best, and wherever there were existing big brands in operation, his vision and passion was to outdo them and build only the best. He exemplified only the ultimate in hospitality, never compromised, and outdid the competition, with an eye for the minutest detail. Many of his peers remained sceptical when he built these â€“ the Mumbai property was seen too out of town, the Goa property was too expensive to build and uneconomical, while the Bengaluru hotel was too grand for the city and a white elephant. He proved them all wrong, the visionary that he was. More than his hotels, it is the man who will be remembered among the greatest of Indian hoteliers in the annals of history. Awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan by the Government of India, PRS Oberoi being the only other, the Captain was known for his sense of modesty and self-effacing charm. He had an unhurried pace, never ruffled, always reaching out with a helping hand. My last meeting with him must always remain etched in my memory. Last November I was staying at Leela Mumbai, doing an international golf promotion. He must have come to know I was staying there (proof that he kept his ear to the ground, even at this age). The front office called me at 8.00 in the morning, conveying the Chairman would like to invite me for tea by the poolside. We spent almost 100 minutes till Rajiv Kaul, his company president, who had joined us towards the end, politely reminded him that he had work with him, was carrying a file with him to discuss, of utmost importance. During this encounter, for one more time, I was reminded of every little habit, typical of the man. He had a child-like fascination to go into detail. He fondly recalled his first meeting with the Japanese Emperor 60 years earlier, and was looking
14 HOTELSCAPES â€˘ May 2014
With President Obama and his wife
With His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, with whom he shared a deep bond
forward to meeting the present Emperor during the Republic Day celebrations; believed that relations between India and Japan should have been better, were it not for lack of understanding on the part of our policy planners; lamented the fact that Indian tourism had not met its promise, when there was so much to see and sell for Destination India; lamented that since the days of Amitabh Kant, the marketing effort had slackened and come to a halt; was sad but not challenged by the fact that his company had fallen on bad times commercially, saddled with huge loans. On the last point, he was philosophical to the extent of saying ‘there must be and will be a solution’ and confident that his sons will soon discover it – they were both at that time in Dubai, meeting a consortium of financial companies. His passion for building only the best, his conviction that he needed
Receiving Padma Bhushan award from President of India, Pratibha Patil
A moment from his Army days, with his wife Leela
a hotel in the capital, and his vision for the ultimate in local design for Chennai left him out of pocket – coming as they were at a time when the world economy took a beating and corporate India saw a tumbling in confidence and in travelling numbers. The fall of the rupee did not help. We also understand that while the business took a turn for the worse, the cost of their projects also went through the roof. So, what would be his legacy? This would be his unwavering passion and belief in the hospitality business, his solid belief in destination India and its tourism potential. He touched every life that he came across, had a sharp memory and never forgot to say a good word for others. HS by NAVIN BERRY
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 15
HIGHLIGHTS FROM HICSA SUPPLEMENT
FHRAI president Shervani on 5 challenges facing the hotel industry Saeed Shervani is an outspoken industry figure who has been guiding FHRAI, the premier hotel industry body, in the last year as its president. Shervani, here, lists some of the industry challenges.
The hospitality industry is currently subject to a labyrinth of central and state levies such as Service Tax, VAT, Excise Duty and Luxury Tax amidst other. These have an adverse cascading effect on India’s price competitiveness as an international tourist destination and also discourage discretionary spending by domestic tourists. Hotel Accommodation and Restaurants must be included in the negative list of Service Tax since the same base of F&B and room revenue is already subject to VAT and Luxury Tax by the State Governments. There should be a uniform and moderate rate of Luxury Tax across the country, which is applicable only on actual and not published tariff. The composite tax rate for the tourism sector under the proposed GST regime must not exceed eight percent.
Lower cost finance
The hotel industry is inherently highly capital intensive with a long gestation and payback period. We require an additional capital investment of ` 1,25,000 crore over the next five years, to augment our existing inventory by `1,80,000 classified hotel rooms in order to bridge the projected demandsupply gap. However, the prevailing lending norms and debt-funding structures for hotels are not suitable for the cyclical nature of the hospitality industry. In most countries, the term period of the loans to hotel projects ranges from 20-25 years, with average interest rates of 6-8 per cent, whereas in India the industry is forced to borrow at high rates of 12-16 per cent and for relatively shorter tenures of 8-10 years. In our country, hotels typically have a construction period of 3-3.5 years and, with such short loan tenures, the project only has 5-6 years to pay for the debt service, which is unrealistic. We have proposed that all hotels, irrespective of star category and geographical location, with a minimum project cost of 16 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
President FHRAI and Managing Director, Shervani Hotels
rupees 50 crore should be included in RBI’s Infrastructure Lending List.
In some states, hotels can require as many as 100 approvals, licenses and permits to set up and commence operations. The presence of multiple agencies, archaic laws and rigid guidelines invariably lead to significant time and cost overruns for projects, causing additional financial burden and great anxiety for entrepreneurs. The Central and State Governments must move towards the introduction of a uniform approval and licensing system across the country, with minimal local/regional permissions and sanctions required for hotel development, which can bring about homogeneity, reduce delays and result in an investment friendly environment.
‘Industry’ status to tourism
The Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-89), had proposed that tourism should be accorded an
‘industry’ status. The implementation of this decision, was however, left to the discretion of individual State Governments. It is indeed disappointing that even more than two decades later, many states are yet to adopt this progressive policy measure. We believe that all states should recognise tourism as an “industry” and ensure that hospitality establishments are entitled to avail tangible benefits such as lower rates for property tax, industrial tariff on inputs like electricity and water instead of paying high commercial charges, avail interest subvention schemes and exemptions/moratorium on payment of certain local and state levies amidst others. This will lower the operating cost structure and enhance the overall competitiveness of the tourism industry.
Availability of land
One of the main factors which is impeding the industry’s growth is the scarcity and exorbitant price of land, especially in metro cities. In India, land alone can often account for as much as 40-60 per cent of the total development cost of a hotel, as opposed to 15-20 per cent which is the norm internationally. In FHRAI’s view, Urban Local Bodies and other land-owning agencies of the Government in States and Union Territories, should earmark hospitality development sites which are provided at concessional rates with incentives such as higher FSI/ FAR to make hotel projects financially viable in the long-run. Instead of paying a heavy amount up-front, allottees should have the flexibility to make staggered annual payments as lease charges to keep the overall project costs down. We have also suggested that surplus land which is available with various Government departments and PSU’s can be deployed for construction of budget and mid-market hotels under the Public-Private Partnership model, particularly in areas which are being developed as integrated tourist circuits/ clusters. HS
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L-R: Uttam Dave, Industry Expert; Cyril Jacob, MD, Archetype Group; Alan Benjamin, President, Benjamin West; James B Salter, CEO & President, CM&D; LN Sharma, Director & CEO, Golden Jubilee Hotels; Omer K Isvan, President, Servotel Corporation and SC Sekhar, Senior Executive Vice President Hotels Division, ITC Ltd
How to Solve Development Woes! This session of HICSA 2014, on April 3, 2014, was moderated by Uttam Dave, an industry expert with more than 29 years of experience. On the panel were Alan Benjamin, President, Benjamin West, Cyril Jacob, Managing Director, Archetype Group, James B Salter, Founding Partner, Construction Management, LN Sharma, Director and CEO, Golden Jubilee Hotels, Omer K Isvan, President, Servotel Corporation and Omer K Isvan, President, Servotel Corporation and S C Sekhar, Sr. Executive Vice President, Hotels Division, ITC Limited. Projects on time and budget and the single window
The moderator observed at the beginning of the session that, in terms of development, everyone wanted projects on time and on budget but nobody had ever achieved that in India as far as he knew. He noted that approvals were a big issue as development approvals could take anything between six months to a year and a half and even more. So the question he asked was whether single window clearance would come through in their lifetimes or whether it would come through but with multiple closed doors behind that single window. The panelists noted that the discussion about the single window had been going on for the last 20 years. They discussed their experience with a couple of state governments that have already made provisions to implement a single window clearance system for projects, including hotel projects. They noted that most of the development issues were controlled by state governments and not the centre. An example was Andhra Pradesh which has a single window clearance system. Yet there were problems. The developers tended to make certain mistakes when they started the process. A panelist said that, “They try to feed an elephant into a mouse cage.” The panelists felt that the single window was, in fact, there but 18 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
when you enter the window you find multiple doors inside, as Andhra Pradesh’s experience showed. On being asked what the solution was, it was suggested that the local regulations had to be understood well first. It was observed that there was, for instance, a tendency to massage the FSI to get the approval for more rooms. So the question before the panelists was whether they thought approvals come faster if regulations were followed? The panelists noted a change in the last seven-eight years in India and doing it by the book brought faster results, which was a good thing. The panelists felt that the single window may not be visible immediately but some kind of an escort service that sees you through every government department may come through. It was also felt that, now, with the Right to Information Act and with general transparency, people were following regulations more carefully.
Are hotel budgets realistic?
Hotel budgets next came up for discussion. The moderator wanted to know how realistic hotel budgets were when they prepared for projects. He suggested that things were generic in the beginning and budgets
in India were out by 10 to 30 per cent, higher than the initial estimate. There was inflation, currency devaluation and wrong assessment. The moderator wanted to know what kind of a contingency amount should be provided in a project budget. It was noted by the panelists that, traditionally, there was an estimate at the outset. It was suggested that, unfortunately, this was quite generic in nature at the initial conception. When someone came in late to projects, when the investment decision has been made, they found that the budget was extremely generic as much as the feasibility, so the minute you start pulling in the vision, and creating the touch and feel of the property and putting real substance and meat into it, it was a completely different kind of scenario. So what can be done is to advice the owner not to jump the gun by trying to estimate the cost before. Benjamin suggested that what could be done is to first ‘visioneer’, that is engineer the vision. How it worked in practice was to take a feasibility study and you knew what the cost was but you had to break it up into a itemised budget. “With visioneering , you take the land, take the FSI or whatever it is, take the outer boundaries of what you can stretch to or what you can do on the one hand and on the other hand from the market dynamics angle look at the micro location and look at what an ideal property there actually is in term of touch, feel size and a lot of the esoteric terminology that goes into defining a hotel rather than the generic terms that we are all used to. Without the concept there is no brand, there is no operator, there is nothing. So we actually create that brand, there is no nothing before you actually visioneer.” So, as to the percent of the project to be allocated to contingencies, it was suggested it be in the high tens, which meant upwards of 15 per cent. This was if you were very well aware of construction costs and friction costs and other such costs with the investor always told that this was a dynamic process.
The 15 per cent took care of time delays and financing costs and project management costs and corporate overheads which eat away unless there was a major change of half way costs which is seen in projects where there is no visioneering. Then a lot of diversity was seen along the way and 15 percent becomes a joke. Then doubles have even been seen. More than doubles have been seen even in renovations. It was suggested that one more danger when the product isn’t visioneered well was that “you cost it to the vision rather than costing it to the generic”. What happened very often was that the discipline for the developers and the discipline for the investors were guided by the budget. It was felt that it was crucial to go for re-visioneering or it became a generic budget. There were a lot of challenges to address and there were a few key issues. The budget was only one of them. You had to have the discipline and design in the budget for some time later. Shekhar said that ITC had had projects with seven to 14 per cent overruns in the last few years with hyper-inflation and with the minimum wage having gone up by 200 per cent and with it being extremely difficult after MGNREGA to find labour.
Bringing discipline to a project
Salter, who specialises in bringing discipline to a project and with there being projects in India where he was involved in fixing what was wrong, talked about how he brought about discipline and what that discipline which he brought about was. He said that the first thing that had to be recognised was that in the pre-development period, up to the time construction commenced, people were what we call penny-wise and pound foolish. They didn’t have the proper team up front in the planning stages. He said he really agreed with the visioneering concept though he used a different term. Before a project gets started his company went into details with the developer to create what they called a May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 19
HICSA 2014 design brief and it was backed up by the HVS report. He said he was representing large banks, hedge firms and his own capital and the biggest problem was that the developer won’t deliver what he’s promised. So he thought that, the developer could get a better team together up front with the key team members not being just the architect and the designer. He felt that there should be a world class financial modeller who can really produce models which you can test and you can get an immediate response. One other aspect that he noted about the Indian market was that it has differentiated work for different components – in different compartments. There was no leader. Each sub-contractor was doing what he wanted to do. He gave the example of a prominent projects in India where his company came in and the best thing it could do to save that project was to stop it. There was no logistics plan and that’s really critical prior to the commencement of the project. He said that it was a big mistake to leave it to just the developer as it was your property and you should put a team together with a leader.
empowered was important. It was suggested that one stand up and look them in the eye and explain why the change was made – explain the entire history of the project. The participants were asked if they would say the scope changes and whether this was very much a part of hotel development because this was a key factor that changes cost and time. Was it a given that there were changes as you went along? The participants noted that projects were started in a hurry. People get a piece of land and thereafter commit all sorts of mistakes in a hurry. For example, people go to the banks without checking what the equity funds are. A participant felt that the 15 per cent for contingencies was quite less – it was more than 15 percent.
Executing the project: Issues and solutions
The discussion next turned to the methods of execution for projects. You assemble a team of contractors and they have their sub-contractors and others and they have their daily labour – that’s the way projects get The calibre of the professionals executed but there were labour problems. The calibre of the professionals on It was suggested that pre-cast, off-site projects next came up for discussion – STEEL WAS BECOMING A MAJOR construction was a way to go. That would the consultants, architects, structural be one of the key solutions to jump a ISSUE. IN THE NEW SYSTEM engineers and others. generation. However, people had to be BEING USED IN EUROPE AND A panelist said that there as a wide careful about thinking that it was a fix-all. range of professionals in India but there People must be very sure that they had THE UNITED STATES, THERE IS was a lack of benchmarking and in contractors who could deliver. We see A STRUCTURAL SYSTEM WITH assessing the performance of the people. some foreign contractors coming into the PRECAST SLABS AND THE Others felt the calibre of professionals country and sooner or later entrepreneurs in this country had improved and there would respond to the market. SPEED AT WHICH PEOPLE CAN were quite good people around. A panelist suggested the problem BUILD IS IMMENSE. THE REASON wasAofparticipant felt that scientific methodology was not keeping escalation to 45 per cent if WHY THIS WOULD HAVE SOME followed so there was a problem when it the project gets delayed by 100 per cent. came to how to implement and how not MERIT HERE IS BECAUSE OF THE There were new trends in technology to implement. Another panelist felt that but from the time you do a mock up of MONEY. STEEL AND PREFAB IN the availability of the professionals had the project to the time you execute it, it NEW YORK IS NOT ALWAYS USED went through five kinds of changes. It was improved quite a lot in the last 20 years and there were good project management not sure that a foreign contractor, in the BECAUSE IT COSTS MONEY, companies now. current stage of the industry, was really SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE It was suggested that a fractured there. However, there were larger and TIGHT CONDITIONS OF WORK. leadership was an issue in hotel budgets. larger contracting outfits who may finish T here were developers who were the electrical parts, the bits of plumbing IT MAY WORK HERE AND IT’S individuals, there were development but it was not sure that they could go SOMETHING PEOPLE SIMPLY companies, and sometimes there was into hotel interiors. A lot depended on HAVE TO LOOK AT. the owner’s wife, mother and sister who the nature of the hotel and the room size. wanted to be an interior designer and Steel was becoming a major issue. In there were investors. There were so many people, each one pulling in the new system being used in Europe and the United States, there is a different direction. So the question discussed was how to meet the a structural system with precast slabs and the speed at which people problem and bring in the discipline and how to make sure there was a can build is immense. The reason why this would have some merit here person calling the shots. is because of the money. Steel and prefab in New York is not always It was noted that unfortunately there wasn’t one person calling the used because it costs money, simply because of the tight conditions of shots. It was felt that it was the process that was put in place to arrive at work. It may work here and it’s something people simply have to look decisions that was critical. The project manager had to be empowered at. There has to be a good cost engineer and the team has to be world to deliver the vision. Besides, there has to be a communication system class and you can actually save. Steel costs more but the question was down the channel. It was also important to have a person on each floor what prefab took off the schedule. Somebody has to be able to provide to create an atmosphere in which people really wanted to work. People that data. The largest home builder in the United States has over 40 can be given a training program. Keeping your investment banks percent of homes pre-fabricated. 20 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
HICSA 2014 In projects 99 percent got done, 98 percent got done, but the last bit never gets done and this was a huge issue in hotels in India – the last leg of completion – people thought it was going to take three months. 90 percent of the project takes 90 percent of the time and 10 percent of the project takes 90 percent of the time. You are seeing better and better contractors. Contractors who earlier did not have professional people on the ground are recruiting more qualified people so that they can complete the projects on time. The last requires supervision. There is a need to restructure the organisation so that there is an interim handover team to handover. When the people are not able to handle a construction there is an operation hand-holding team which is pulled out and becomes the operating team and they come and work six months before the opening of the hotel. It was suggested that the people who did the last 10 percent of the time very often did substantive work. People had to invest the right time and effort in this process, which had to be instituted, so that it was not seen as a nuisance. It was suggested that there were some structural issues in India about finishing a project. One was how contractors get jittery about the last bit so a way had to be found to have the trust of the contractors. It was suggested that, unfortunately in India, even after assuming that a project had built up time and had build up budget it was back to approvals because that’s when the government agencies hold a gun to your head. “You are fully staffed, your air conditioning is running, your interest is ticking
away and you have to find your way through an approval.” The panelists felt that you had to make sure you have a budget and keep it flexible and make sure you plan for a contingency and, most importantly, provide the leadership and the synergy in that leadership that can drive the project and hopefully things would improve. It was noted that in the Asiad 82, they made a cabinet minister incharge of the projects and it worked. If there were hiccups he had everyone from every administrative department sitting there and he got an answer right there and then. He was authorised to take decisions so it is not that this country hasn’t done it. It’s capable of doing it. It was noted that the Punjab government had recently similarly nominated one bureaucrat – it was the single window bureaucrat that had to be dealt with. The participants felt that governments were evolving. They hoped that these things will be settled over a period of time. Leadership and management throughout the soft side of design and concept was a predictable element, the government element seemed to be a wild card. The difference in India had more to do with the predictability and the clarity of the process rather than the actual process itself or the headaches associated with it. Certainly India was not unique in that but it was a lot less predictable. It was suggested that if there is a change in budget then there is a legitimate change in scope. However, a way the variances could be controlled was if the architect and the designer were brought on board. HS Transcripted by AMIT JETLEY
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 21
L-R: Kapil Chopra, President, The Oberoi Group; Sumit Guha, Deputy Managing Director, Tata Realty and Infrastructure; Paul Logan, SVP Development-AMEA, InterContinental Hotels Group; Ashish Jakhanwala, MD & CEO, SAMHI; Ranjit Batra, President, Panchshil Realty and Dhruva Rathore, VP Development-SA, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Brands and Owners: Managing Expectations! This session of HICSA, on April 2, 2014, the first day, was moderated by Kapil Chopra, President, the Oberoi Group. The panelists were Paul Logan, Senior Vice President – AMEA InterContinental Hotels Group, Rasesh B Kanakia, Chairman, Kanakia Spaces, Dhruva Rathore, Vice President Development – South Asia, Hyatt Hotels Corporations, Ranjit Batra, President, Panchshil Realty, Sumit Guha, Deputy Managing Director, Tata Realty and Infrastructure and Ashish Jakhanwala, MD and CEO, Samhi
he discussion started on the question of analysis, whether this should be from the brand perspective or from an owner perspective. Rathore noted that during discussions, when one engaged with owners, it was important to guide them. It was important to look at the market, the relevance of the site, the group market and other such factors. Logan felt that fundamentally India needed hotel rooms and the market was cyclic and volatile, so the requirement was of pride and ownership and not ego.
Are owners interfering?
Chopra asked if the owners were a bit too interfering. He said that he knew it was their money but there was a lot of effort coming in from the brands. The owners were tying into their distribution networks. If you looked nationally, most of the hotels were owned by funds or there was a single person ownership or a consortium ownership or a real estate ownership. So the question was whether the panelists thought that Indian owners could be too interfering Jakhanwala said that he took the question personally and said that he was interfering. He said it was his fiduciary responsibility to be interfering. He managed third party capital. He was told not to sleep till the capital was 22 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
not respected for whether you interfered with the operator or anybody else. But he thought you needed to follow certain decorum. He said that you don’t give people any leverage but you follow decorum. So he would not stop paying fees because he was contractually obliged to pay fees. He thought when you stop honouring the contract you are breaking decorum but within decorum he would do whatever it took. He thought that between institutional ownership and quality operator you had build a relationship of trust. “Where sometime you are saying, hey listen.” Logan was asked about his experience with political ownership. Chopra said that in India a lot of owners were not paying management fees to operators. He asked if this phenomenon was seen internationally, in, say, China. Logan said that, contrary to what Chopra had said before, globally there was single unit ownership or family ownership. Institutional ownership was not the predominant form. So, in partnering with a family or a single unit there was an education process. It was a matter of education with owners and teaching owners that we have certain rights under the contract and to defer payment was not developing a partnership between us.
Guha said that basically today in India the largest chains were developer-owned chains. The Taj group or the Oberoi group or the ITC were the largest and they own their own assets. And if one was looking for institutional real estate capital basically, then there was not yet legislation in India. One was looking at institutional capital to come in a big way into hospitality. There are certain changes that need to be pushed with the government. People were going to Singapore to set the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). The introduction of a REIT has been languishing with the government for the last four-five years. So, if the developer-manager kind of chains tie-up with real estate companies, such institutional capital can come into the market. And completely change the face of institutional real estate. Some of these smaller owner-driven kinds of situations might actually change. This requires a lot of push with the regulatory authorities. Similarly the FSI for a hotel is different from a different asset class. That’s not the case everywhere else. So, typically if you use a hotel – a luxury hotel – to build value for real estate development like in a mixed use complex then it would be sensible to do that if you’ve got land for better FSI realisation. If the FSI norms change and we are able to push the local governments to change the norms of FSI that also will make a big difference to bringing in institutional capital into real estate, for the growth of the hotel business.
Investment in learning and developing talent
Chopra asked Rathore if he had any thoughts on investing in learning and development in the country. Chopra said that all the three – ITC, Taj and Oberoi have substantial investments in the country. Maybe because they are developer-operators. He asked if there were any plans that Hyatt was looking at? Putting in money? Rathore said that Hyatt would continue to have a very robust training programme. They invested a lot of time and resources into management development. Leadership programmes. And most of their general managers and top management in India were groomed from Hyatt. So he thought that spoke a lot about how they invested in people and developed them to take up key positions in the hotels.
Batra noted that, if he remembered correctly, two of Hyatt’s general managers were hired from the Oberoi or the Taj. He said that what they were doing was basically hiring from any of the chains operating. So, he asked how did the investment in human capital actually come in? Rathore said, “Sometimes its interesting… to answer you question, you get a mixed bag, it’s a melting pot, you do sometimes have a private conversation and you get the chef from ITC, you get the secret recipe from chef Qureshi, may be the second cousin has been hired, or sometimes you get the Oberoi Christmas, so you benefit, sometimes you get the sales and marketing expertise from the Taj and the florist from the Leela.” Chopra asked, “Finally, really as an owner, at the end of the day are you signing only for distribution?” Jakhanwala said, “We don’t care. We need the bottom line”. Chopra asked, “Only for the bottomline, that’s distribution only, no?” Jakhanwala said that when he started the company, 90 percent of his capital was US capital and in the US it was unheard of that this type of operator will manage these hotels. So the first question was why his company did not manage these hotels themselves. And their answer was very simple. Their name could not attract talent. So if they went to a hotel school to recruit, the talent would go to Hyatt or Marriot for lesser money and not come to them. They were very aware that in the end this business was run by people. And brands were not just magnets for the customer. They were a bigger magnet for the people who ran these hotels. So for them it was a conscious call to always be with a brand. At least for the foreseeable future, till the time the talent pool in the country matures, it will be catapulted towards a name. As an institutional owner their biggest complaint about hotel companies was that they had actually not invested in the brands. He said that when we go to a grocery store you can buy a flower from a bag and you can buy a branded flower. The difference is hundred percent, sometimes more. But the person who sells a bag with a brand, he does advertising before because the product is the same. What we find with hotel companies in India that come to India – and India is a billion people so please respect that – it’s a large population that needs May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 23
HICSA 2014 to be told about the brand. They expect to open 10 hotels before a challenge. We think “it is the market that is driving this but actually they put in an advertisement. What happened to the first 10 owners? it’s the brands that are driving the market, it’s the other way round”. So And therefore what was happening when you look at the pie chart of the problem is that we are in a situation that is hard to get out of. And the demand that they got, they got a lot of demand from corporate I see no difference in any international brand below `3,000 or `3,500 contractors. Which was, in his opinion, guest house business. The retail below which they operate. And that’s a fact. I think the lesson is that business which looks at an advertisement in a newspaper or online, and this Alka is a really good brand. books online, that investment had not been made. Jhakanwala said that across the country, he heard a lot of stories Chopra said that in the end it was always a demand and supply about misfit products built and it’s easy to blame the Indian economy game. Owners out here were only talking to him about distribution. and we’ve got a prime minister Manmohan Singh who’s a great excuse So, if he was running an international brand in this country, there was for everything wrong we do in our 9-5 job. But we have to stand no reason to invest in talent management or talent capital because the and take accountability for the wrong positions that we took as a best was to go for the three major chains and acquire them. They were community. Our personal acts add to the distress which has been bothered about what was the bottom line and at the end of the day it caused by the market. Not just one, there are dozens of hotels that was only a financial game and that was it and everybody was happy. should never have been there, honestly. And India still needs more Logan said that they had just announced the 15th academy in India. hotels. But not that hotel at that place. They had taken a different model. They had invested in education. They had got a number of high quality educational institutions in Time for a luxury hotel to settle down India and they had chosen to be part with those institutions setting Chopra asked Guha how long he thought was the time for a luxury up academies. The one they had just announced was a vocational hotel to really settle down. In his perspective because now he was on training one, taking people from rural areas into basic training. There the other side of the fence. were programmes at other institutions for supervisory staff and senior Guha said that when you looked at it from a developer’s perspective, management staff. There were 15 in India it wasn’t just gestation, the period of to date and over three hundred globally. INTERNATIONAL CHAINS WILL development is also important. So it A panelist said that he’d seen first hand takes about five years – five to six years HAVE TO DEVELOP TALENT how GMs operate the Oberois and now to develop a luxury hotel – lets say it he saw a lot of GMs who operated other MANAGEMENT OF THEIR OWN takes six years from when the investment international brands. He said they get actually starts. And let’s say it takes about BECAUSE THE MARKET WILL far more independence and they do get three years of stabilisation to come to a KNOCK THEM OUT BECAUSE ownership and the ability to take a lot more GOP which was reasonable. Which again decisions. That’s what they really enjoy. depended on the supply-demand situation. THEY DON’T WANT THEM TO Chopra said his only point was that POACH THIS TALENT WITHOUT The market obviously if it’s a very luxury if you have to develop capital, owners hotel it might take slightly longer. Lets say BUILDING THEIR OWN TALENT. that this takes three years which means can’t really be short term in outlook in the running of businesses. That’s very that it takes eight years from the time you important as owners, you have to have some responsibility because all have actually made the investment to the time you start getting some he had here was bottomlines. The Oberoi could train people, the Taj kind of a stabilised return. Now for any private equity player or any could train people and the ITC could train people. You can keep taking fund or any investor who has come in at this point of time, right at them away. At one point you have to ask the brand that please, you need the beginning, normally they look to exit within seven or eight years. to have some skill in the game. Like you want some skill in advertising for Maybe 10 years, so it’s very difficult to get institutional capital into this example. In terms of people. And its not that they were not paying fees kind of business. So, with this long gestation the question is how long for it. Over a period of time international chains were poaching primarily did you want the owner to be patient. from the major chains from India. They will have to develop talent It really depended on the nature of the owner, if the owner capital management of their own because the market will actually knock them was from an institution then what was the problem? If it was a hotel out because they don’t want them to poach this talent without building chain like the Taj group or the ITC then they can afford to wait much up their own talent. Owners will always be interested in financial returns longer. Time horizons and perspectives were completely different. because that’s what their capital is being used for. The panelists noted that if a hotel opened in 2003-2004 the payback on that hotel was 2-3 years. Today, when you are opening a hotel you Accountability for decisions carrying people saying ‘let’s be patient, let the market develop. It’s a very Chopra asked Batra about the Pune market, where some of their rates volatile market. And it’s going to be volatile for some time. We are at were below ` 3,500 on key marquee brands. The GMs have a lot of the bottom of the cycle as well and we expect to come out of it in the independence to operate, but there was something called a hotel Alka next couple of years. So it’s bad timing at the moment. in Pune which had a higher rate than them and that can be seen on Jhakanwala said that his assets were not luxury assets. The reality makemytrip.com so what was his view of what was happening there? was that if a luxury hotel was built in a location it should never have Batra said that the supply in Pune came all at one time. And put been built there was no question about its GOP. a lot of pressure. On a particular road there were more than eight A panelist wanted to know why you should give this luxury to an brands. And the average rate there was `3,000 to `3,500. So that was operator to have two years before you start firing. 24 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
HICSA 2014 Chopra said that those who opened in 2004-05 made tons of money equity is looking to exit. When strings are attached and no termination but today it was different. He asked how long would they wait now. of contract, it makes it more onerous. There is a conflict of interest A panelist said he won’t wait for a single day. You had to take action between operator and owner. As far as they were concerned, they had about the reasons why you were not making money. You are not playing a skin in the game. In the project and in every hotel and, because it was waiting game here. The bank was not waiting but the market itself was soft. the brand, their skin in the game was the brand. Batra said they’d got a different product and they should believe in that product. They should believe that the market should have the Hotel contracts ability to pay for it. And if they didn’t there was a problem. Chopra asked what they felt about hotel contracts. The question was of the stabilisation of GOP. The market had Jakhanwala said that he didn’t know which year the basic drafts changed. Everything had evolved. In terms of the new reality of the were written but they need to be rewritten now. This was because market, it was really important for owners also to have a level of times had changed. Hotel contracts needed to bring far more alignment patience. It has been said in another discussion that you opened a hotel between the operator and the owner. And, he said, he was keeping the and made tons of money in the first year; that was the business model. brand away from this. Most of the brands internationally were just the Then the cycle changed. Hotels started taking a bit of time. And some brands and the operator was somebody else. When the brands become great luxury hotels were now facing a bit of a challenge in a particular an operator, they need to start talking like an operator. He said he would market. So the important thing for development people was to give pay them for the flag on top of the building but for him to pay them as owners a message and say that can you wait a couple of years till the an operator, the interest has to be far more aligned. cycle improves. You know its going to happen, it sometimes takes time. Batra said that he felt that in general one of the things he Jakhanwala said owners build luxury hotels in shallow markets and wished hotel contracts would do was to bring transparency in the Indian cities other than Delhi and Mumbai were very shallow markets reimbursables that constituted about five per cent on top line. He didn’t and, with a luxury hotel in a shallow market you should be ready to see much transparency there. This was a big issue from the owner’s wait five years. Ready to support the asset. perspective. The other was understanding Chopra asked, “What happens in the the performance test flaws. You needed to THE QUESTION WAS OF THE be a mathematician. He thought they were meantime, do you drop your rates? How do you pay your bills?” STABILISATION OF GOP. THE designed not to be used. A panelist said they had no tolerance. MARKET HAD CHANGED. IN They needed that money from day one. The one thing to do TERMS OF THE NEW REALITY Chopra asked Rathore if there is one thing And the banks were not waiting Rathore said that it was very market that he would like owners to be doing, what OF THE MARKET, IT WAS dependent and it depended on the timing. would that be? Rathore said build hotels on REALLY IMPORTANT FOR Five to seven years ago you opened a hotel time. Open hotels on time. I think that’s a OWNERS ALSO TO HAVE A in Gurgaon, the hotel stabilised in two years. very valid point. But in more developed economies it takes Chopra asked Batra what was the one LEVEL OF PATIENCE. much longer. And the overarching lesson thing he’d like hotel operators to be doing? over here was that it was not a short term gain. You didn’t build a hotel Batra said that he thought they should combine their fee as per the for two years or three years, or four years. It was a long-term prospect and market conditions. The story they always had was that the market that’s the fundamental answer to the question. Sometimes it took six years. conditions were not conducive. But you are looking at way beyond that. And so should an owner. Chopra asked Jakhanwala if there was one thing he’d like operators Logan said that they had investments in a joint venture. There were to do? Jakhanwala said that he would like them to respect the various forms of skin in the game. Some times equity was not the ideal brand. Let the Indian consumer know the brands. Hyatt Park, Hyatt way to put skin in the game. There were a whole lot of other structures Regency and Hyatt. He didn’t know if the Indian consumer knew too, such as structure fees, stand asides fees and others that could be far the difference. So he thought he would request them to respect what more effective to support the owner. they were very proud of. The brands. And put the money behind the Chopra said that Taj was an Indian hotels company which has 100 brands now. Advertise, put it out for the consumers to know. Let per cent ownership. A very large number of its assets were owned in them know what these brands are. joint ventures with developers. So he thought there were four or five Logan said he was all for respect for the brands and for what the brands large companies which could be stand alone companies on their own meant but he thought the one thing was moving from an adversarial in which the Taj had some stakes. He asked if this ever became an relationship to a true partnership in contracts. He thought both the owner influencing factor. He asked Jakhanwala if as a private equity player he and the operator had knowledge and experience to contribute. wanted the brand to invest or not. Chopra said to Guha that he was on a rent company business right Jakhanwala’s answer was no. Brands were there for a business which now. He wanted to know what he would like if he wanted to give his is to run hotels. There may be specific deals. They had joint ventures hotel out to an operator, it could be Taj or anybody, even Oberoi? What with Accor and Marriot. He thought there were different reasons is the one thing that he would ask? Guha said look at the nature of the for those investments. As a private entity you were a fund. It was not contract. The revenue went out on a flat basis whether the business conducive to have an operator make an investment because usually the was good or not. HS investment would come with strings attached. And usually the private Transcripted by AMIT JETLEY May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 25
“We have established our presence in all the key markets of India” Dhruva Rathore, Vice President, Development, South Asia, Hyatt Hotels Corporation reveals in a candid conversation, Hyatt’s concerns, challenges and strategies. He also talks about the role that the Indian market plays in the growth of the business and the significance of the economy and tourism for the same.
Q &A Dhruva Rathore
Vice President, Development, South Asia, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
here have you arrived so far in India? What is the portfolio, overall and in terms of your sub-brands?
Our strategy for India is the same as for every market: to operate the mostpreferred brands in the lodging segments we serve. We have been doing business in India for 30 years and built great relationships here. We currently have 19 operational hotels in the country, with over 5,000 keys. We have established our presence in all the key markets in the country and have hotels representing five of our brands. We currently have 39 hotels under development in India across different brands.
ow does this compare with your competitors in the business?
Hyatt’s goal is not to become the largest hospitality company; we are focused on operating the most-preferred brands in the lodging segments we serve. We have always maintained a long term focus for India – with the opening of Hyatt Regency Delhi in the early 80s, we have enjoyed an uninterrupted 30 year tenure in India. We have experience in this complex market and have built strong relationships with local developers and owners.
ow do you see the India story panning out in terms of
economy, tourism and whatever else it takes to grow the business?
India is extremely important for Hyatt in terms of growth and we are very optimistic about the long term prospects and opportunities of this country. Having established our presence in the key metros, we are very keen to expand to the tier II and III markets, thus keeping pace with the urbanisation being witnessed in the country. We believe domestic tourism and MICE present a significant opportunity in this country.
hat are your challenges in the business?
Two of the more significant challenges our industry faces in India are the time taken to build hotels and the availability of qualified manpower.
re there others? Like a falling economy, owners’ expectations – what has been your experience with these challenges?
These challenges are more universal in nature – I have mentioned the ones specific and most relevant to India
ou have also grown on conversions, some of them very formidable, like the takeover of the Ista brand. What will be the strategy in the coming months?
With the Ista conversion, we were
Hyatt’s goal is not to become the largest hospitality company; we are focused on operating the mostpreferred brands in the lodging segments we serve. With the opening of Hyatt Regency Delhi in the early 80s, we have enjoyed an uninterrupted 30 year tenure in India.
26 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
TWO SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES OUR INDUSTRY FACES IN INDIA ARE THE TIME TAKEN TO BUILD HOTELS AND THE AVAILABILITY OF QUALIFIED MANPOWER. Andaz at Aerocity Delhi and Hyatt House in Mumbai.
an you elaborate upon these brands – at what level, when expected and with whom?
Hyatt Regency Hyderabad
Hyatt Regency Gurgaon
able to substantially increase our footprint in India, launch the Hyatt brand in the country, and offer our guests Hyatt hotels in new markets such as Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Amritsar. We continue to actively seek conversion opportunities that fit within our brand portfolio and enhance our presence in key markets.
re there other similar bulk deals that you may be negotiating – like conversion of a group’s portfolio?
We are not in a position to comment on potential deals.
hen do you reach 100 hotels in India, and on which brands, and
We have 19 hotels in India today and will continue to grow. However, at Hyatt, we always emphasise that our goal is not to be the largest, but the most preferred brand, for our guests and other stakeholders. We take a lot of care to ensure that we expand with the brand/ product that is most relevant to the market’s needs and best suited to cater to customers travelling to that market. In the near future, we are looking at introducing two more brands in India –
Andaz Delhi is owned by Juniper Hotels Private Limited and expected to open in 2015/16. Andaz is a boutique-inspired hotel brand with properties located in lively urban neighborhoods and leisure destinations such as West Hollywood, London’s Liverpool Street and New York City. Inspired by the cultural and social life of the locale, each Andaz hotel is unique in design, amenities and cuisine, but all share a friendly attitude and warm, personal service. Signature elements include a lobby so inviting it’s like walking into your living room, an open kitchen, and studio-like meeting spaces and event services that reflect the personal spirit of Andaz. Hyat t House Mumbai is owned by Atul Resorts & Hospitality Private Limited and is expected to open in 2016/17. Hyatt House, an upscale extended stay brand, is a distinctive hotel concept that will evolve the extended-stay model into a social and modern environment where guests feel like residents of an upscale apartment community. Inspired by extensive research of guest experiences, Hyatt House is designed to surprise and delight with form and function that will remind guests of home. Featuring contemporary, residentially inspired Studios, One and Two-Bedroom K itchen Suites and Den Guestrooms, Hyatt House boasts unexpected amenities and services, including indoor and outdoor social spaces, a Lounge that resembles the living space of today’s modern home with an adjacent H BAR and Social Sectional, as well as other multi-purpose areas to do everything, or simply do nothing. HS by NAVIN BERRY
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 27
“The guests in smaller cities now are as flamboyant as in metros” Marriott reaches deep into the subcontinent with a new property in Bilaspur Chhattisgarh. While Bilaspur is considered to be a fast growing tier 3 city, some challenges awaits Marriott. We talked to Amit Midha, GM, Courtyard by Marriott Bilaspur, about this recent property, his set goals and his ways of tackling foreseen challenges.
Q &A Amit Midha
General Manager Courtyard by Marriott Bilaspur
xplain the evolution in the role of a GM in the recent times?
In my understanding, unlike a few year ago, today a General Manager has to work like an outright business owner, especially because in today’s day and age most hotel companies and brands wish to manage hotels for the owners instead of investing in them. A GM is now equally responsible for owner, associate and maintaining guest relation. One cannot disregard any of the three or it can be fatal for the business. Though the biggest responsibility is to constantly achieve and exceed revenue targets, strategic leadership is necessary for augmenting sales, operations as well as cost management which need to be managed effectively simultaneously. A GM is expected to even revert to Tweets and Facebook and Tripadvisor guest feedback in no time, “With Great Power comes Great responsibility” is such a true statement for any General Manager.
eing the first Marriott property in Chhattisgarh, what clientele you are looking at and how are you planning to serve your guests better?
The hotel will cater to all our guests, be it business, leisure or for events. From the most contemporary 106 rooms and Suites that we offer to the finest indoor event and meeting spaces, we will redefine hospitality in Chhattisgarh. We have 14500 sq. ft. of banqueting space to cater
to weddings, corporate meetings and other social events. We are positioning it as a preferred choice for a business meet or a celebration with friends and family. In order to serve our guests’ better we are evolving every day in terms of customising our guest offerings based on the feedback and criticism received from the local guests patronising the hotel.
hat are the challenges that you can foresee in running a hotel in a state like Chhattisgarh?
Chhattisgarh is a rapidly growing state and has an enormous untapped business potential. So ideally it’s an opportunity but at the same time it is a challenge as the city lacked the presence of branded international hotels. So getting guests used to our distinguished approach may take a little time. The major challenge for a developing state like Chhattisgarh also includes the unstructured tourism segment and limited leisure locations due to which the domestic holiday-makers don’t travel much to the state but the social do’s and business travel makes up for it. In the last decade the state of Chhattisgarh has seen many industries, including hospitality progress at a fast pace. I am certain that with the sizeable number of discerning travellers based in Bilaspur and Chhattisgarh, who have welcomed us with warmth, we will grow and evolve rapidly in the months to come.
General Manager has to work like an outright business owner, especially because in today’s day and age most hotel companies and brands wish to manage hotels for the owners instead of investing in them. A GM is now equally responsible for owner, associate and maintaining guest relation.
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hat has been your work mantra over the years?
Knowing what I need to achieve, transparency and communication with my team about the vision the organisation and I have and having an absolute hands-on approach, is how I like to work. Raising the bar as I hit the target is what I believe in.
hat are your group plans for India? Where do we see the next new hotels?
Marriott International is one of the biggest hotel chain in the world with almost 4,000 hotels around the globe. Marriott has a strategic growth plan to open new hotels in India and the sub-continent. With quite a few hotels planned for opening this year there is a strong pipeline in place for the next couple of years to strengthen the brand portfolio. With an approach of introducing the new Marriott brand in India the group plans to open hotels in developing cities or as you say, “B and C” tier cities. The group will have various new locations explored this year and year after while consolidating its presence in the metro cities. Some of the next few hotels will open
in cities that include Agra, Mussorie, Kolkata with another one in Mumbai.
hat will make guests want to stay at your hotel?
Undoubtedly the belief our guests have in Marriott hospitality standards and quality is what will make us stand much above the other hotels in the locality. The distinctive product and service levels our associates deliver at Courtyard by Marriott Bilaspur is an obvious reason for us to be adored. We offer rooms, varied food, extensive event spaces apt for weddings, corporate meets and other social celebrations and our various loyalty programs like “Marriott Rewards”, “Club Marriott” and “Rewarding Events” Marriott Bilaspur houses almost everything for our guests.
hat are your ways of promoting your property?
Like any other dynamic organisation we utilise all the promotional platforms and mediums starting from the conventional methods like the print and electronic to online social media. We have introduced the hotel in the region using a combination of all these mediums.
We work on a marketing plan to promote the hotel locally, nationally and internationally. Marriott’s wide presence in India and around the world helps a lot. In Bilaspur we be adopt several traditional ways like sending fliers to create awareness and putting up a few hoarding around the city too.
hat will you say about branded hotels moving to tier 2 and tier 3 cities?
The guests in smaller cities now are as or even more flamboyant and selective than the ones in metros sometimes. The smaller cities with less competition in business are a great opportunity to establish a brand presence too. I have met guests travelling to Mumbai or Delhi only to shop and stay in a good hotel. An awesome compliment we have received from a guest is that they now are getting the meal experience as good as Mumbai or Delhi in Bilaspur. Increase of branded hotels in upcoming cities is driven by disposable incomes and a need for a better lifestyle. Luxury is fast becoming a necessity in the smaller cities too hence tier 2 and 3 are the way to go now. HS as told to ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 29
Q &A Saurabh Bakshi
General Manager Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway
What lies ahead in HR The fast changing business landscape means that there are currently many human resource management challenges which will continue to evolve for years to come. Hiring a right candidate for a right designation accomplishes half the business motive but how one can go about it? Saurabh Bakshi, GM, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway gets into a conversation with us regarding the challenges related to HR and trends in the recruitment processes for this year.
hat are candidates’ preferences when they are looking for a job?
Candidates are looking at employers of choice. Someone who can meet their requirements professionally and offer the satisfaction they desire as well as growth opportunities. Starwood Careers Day 2014 was an Asia Pacific-wide effort aimed at attracting passionate individuals to explore a range of employment opportunities in Starwood properties. It encapsulates Starwood’s talent strategy that goes beyond talent attraction, to building meaningful long-term careers for talent who join the organization. The event consolidated the strengths of Starwood’s nine hotel brands and offered talent the unique opportunity to explore a career with Starwood that is broad-based in terms of portfolios and one which offers highly sought-after regional and global exposure.
hat are the trends across properties during the recruitment process?
A trend that we noticed this recruitment day was that most candidates were looking at joining the industry in the operation departments – mainly culinary and front office.
hat is the most famous job position/specific position in demand?
Guest service associate for front office
was the most applied for job position. Everyone wants to be there on the floor and interact with the guests on a one-toone basis. The position of a guest service associate is a great first step in this direction and excites candidates.
hat are the challenges that you face when hiring a person?
T he on ly cha l lenge probably is to understand what the candidate is truly looking for in a job position, what he/ she doesn’t disclose. It is important to ensure a perfect match between the skill sets, interest and passion at every level and therefore especially when there are too many applicants, ensuring the most appropriate match is selected is a challenge.
ow do you ensure that right person is appointed for the right designation?
We u s e b e hav iou ra l i nte r v iew i ng techniques, which aids us in selecting the right person for the right designation. Sometimes a candidate might apply for a certain position but his behavioural skill sets may make him/her suitable for a different department altogether. Behavioural interviewing techniques help us understand the best interest-skill match. HS as told to ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
The only challenge probably is to understand what the candidate is truly looking for in a job position, what he/she doesn’t disclose. It is important to ensure a perfect match between the skill sets, interest and passion at every level and therefore especially when there are too many applicants.
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TRENDS Hotels have no limit when it comes to ensuring the comfort of their guests or to providing them the best in entertainment. Some hotels have hired the finest musicians. Some conduct DJ sessions from time to time to keep their patrons amused. HotelScapes talks to some hotels in India which have done something meaningful in terms of providing entertainment choices to their patrons which lure them back.
Keeping guests entertained
o tels have thought-
provoking ways to keep their clientele intact. One is providing wide entertainment options to guests in different parts of the hotel encompassing various musical forms. Gagandeep Singh, General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre says “there are various special initiatives that hotels across the globe have undertaken in order to ensure guest entertainment. In the public spaces of our hotel such as the lobby, front desk, food and beverage service areas, brandcustomised music is played. This is an interesting offering by the hotel. The music belongs to genres like classic soul, upbeat jazz, pop, soul, traditional jazz, swing vocals, pop hits. Sometimes in our coffee shop MoMo Café and our rooftop bar Evviva Sky Lounge, we have DJs and other live music elements.” For instance, at the Sunday Brunches at the coffee shop, they conduct a live band 32 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
p er for ma nce to add to t he ambience for the guests. “At festivals like Holi, we get dhol players to add to the fun and vibrancy of the celebrations at the hotel for our guests. For weddings, we also invite shehnai and dhol players – these traditional music instruments create the buzz and excitement around the ceremony”, adds Gagandeep. Also customisation of music is one such sphere that has been paid heed to by Hyatt Pune. Vishal Singh, General Manager, Hyatt Pune says “At Hyatt Pune, we have professionally designed custom music for each of our public spaces such as lobby, restaurants, bar, spa and gym. The music is designed keeping in mind the time of the day, meal period and the theme of the space. For example, the spa music would be soothing whereas the bar music would be lounge in the evenings and go on to upbeat as the evening progresses.” Aloft brand has curated “Live at Aloft Hotels” a live music
platform series, showcasing the hottest on-the-verge artists. Dilip Puri, Managing Director India and Regional Vice President, South Asia for Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts says “Taking place at the brand’s signature w xyz bar ‘Live at Aloft Hotels’ serves as a programming plat for m t hat features live acoustic performances from emerging artists. It also drives hotel exposure, generating buzz through social media channels, including videos, blogs, and social networking sites. For artists and bands, the performance series promises a venue to connect with new audiences, as well as provides them access to thousands of music fans worldwide. Aloft Hotels in India have been sponsoring the Chennai Live Band Hunt for the last three seasons helping their guests to engage with them through the brand’s passion point of music.” A lso it is a t a sk for t he hotel to decide which form of
entertainment they want to give to their guest to match their expectations. Gagandeep says “The brand-specified diverse music playlist for the public spaces in our hotel allows for a vibrant and lively experience for our guests when they visit our hotel. For instance, in the morning our guests are treated to very upbeat music at the coffee shop during the breakfast buffet – this kind of music starts their day on the right note and also helps set the pace for the rest of their day.” The live percussions at Evviva have been a hit with the guests. “The percussionist uses a mix of Indian instruments like the tabla and western instruments like the congo, and plays his beats in tandem with the DJ’s mix. Also, each night of the week has a dedicated genre of music that is played by the DJ such as progressive, tech house, techno, Big Room sound, Deep House and Rock ‘n’ Retro Music”, adds Gagandeep. Also he believes that entertainment elements
Gagandeep Singh General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre
At festivals like Holi, we get dhol players to add to the fun and vibrancy of the celebrations at the hotel for our guests.
We have professionally designed custom music for each of our public spaces such as lobby, restaurants, bar, spa and gym. It is according to time of the day.
played in our public spaces complimented by the ambience and the sound of water flowing through various cascading water bodies”, adds Vishal. A break from the daily chores is all you need according to Vishal. “At Hyatt Pune, we believe in giving our guests unique tailor made experiences. It could be an intimate dinner at Baan Tao next to 15ft high waterfall, family time at the alfresco dining area, a late night out with friends at Fishbowl with some high energy DJ music or a relaxing Spa experience with its soothing music”, he explains. Eve r y bra nd c a te r s to a different set of audience and each guest expects something different for their individual experience. “For example, with Aloft, leveraging the brand’s passion for music, ‘Live at Aloft Hotels’ aims to attract a larger audience beyond in-house guests, positioning Aloft Hotels as the local go-to hangout to mix and mingle. It also activates Aloft public spaces with the brand’s signature fun-loving social vibe, making Aloft hotels an exciting, interactive destination beyond a traditional hotel experience.
The music played at Starwood’s Westin is in sync w ith the hotel’s contemporary theme of Well-Being. It seeks to uplift guests mentally, physically and spiritually by engaging and stimulating each of the five senses. The Westin Gurgaon has an Evening ‘Unwind’ Ritual, which transforms the sensory aspects of the hotel’s common areas as the day progresses, to better fit its guests’ moods. Relaxing piano music best matches this transformation”, elaborates Dilip. For guests at Westin, the soothing piano music sets the perfect match to charm them by creating a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. “Le Meridien Hotel’s music selection links to the French lineage of the brand while the W Hotels DJ music connects with the trendsetters and the trend seekers who want to know what’s new and what’s next in the world of music”, adds Dilip. So the hotels now are not just limited to providing their guests entertainment, they are connecting them too with what is the latest buzz in the world of music. W hatever the mode of entertainment these hotels have
like music and dance appeals to guests. “Having live music is a big contributing factor to driving footfalls into the property”, he says. “The idea is also to provide our guests a public space audio experience that reflects our brand voice. Music at our hotel and restaurant is styled by Marriott – approved experts who ensure the music defines what kind of a restaurant we are. It is targeted to match the guests’ preference”, adds Gagandeep. Hyatt Pune is a hotel catering to business as well as leisure travellers. Either it is after work hours or a relaxing weekend; the hotel indulges their guests in a relaxed and tranquil surrounding. “Our guests love the music
AT DIFFERENT TIME AND PLACES IN A HOTEL, VARIOUS ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS ARE OFFERED TO THE GUESTS
General Manager, Hyatt Pune
MD India and Regional VP, South Asia for Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts
Le Meridien Hotel’s music selection links to the French lineage of the brand while the W Hotels DJ music connects with the trendsetters.
opted for they have made sure to keep it indigenous. “On New Year’s last year, we organised a grand bazaar set up where the theme of the food and décor was localised. Traditional food including Indian street food was a big part of the food set up. Hence our entertainment element also had to be localised. To represent the diverse culture of ou r count r y, we inv ited traditional folk dancers and singers to perform. This is a good example of how localising enter ta inment can be a big win for the hotel as the guests get to experience something different, new and enjoyable”, says Gaga ndeep. W hile our guests might be staying with us for work purposes, experiential elements like the music they hear in our lobby or restaurant for instance, should help them unwind, feel good and energetic. The music played at Hyatt Pu ne is more lo cat ion a nd ambience oriented rather than local region. The chosen music is international global music which blends with the location, time of the day and occasion. HS by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 33
Federico Mantoani, General Manager Hyatt Regency Gurgaon
NCR’s hospitality business for 2014
urgaon initially gained prominence as an outsourcing centre for major international companies that found it cheaper to locate their back-end operations in India due to the availability of high-quality but cost-effective employee resources. GE Capital initiated this trend and was the first multinational company to enter Gurgaon in 1997. Over the last 15 years or so, Gurgaon has established its presence as an important commercial centre of India. However, the nature of companies in Gurgaon has somewhat evolved from being business process outsourcing (BPO) focused industries to including major multinational companies across a variety of industry sectors at present. Telecommunications: Gurgaon is home to major telecommunication companies like Bharti Airtel, Nokia, Motorola, Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson. Information Technology (IT): IT majors such as Siemens, Microsoft, International Business Machines (IBM), Sapient, HewlettPackard (HP), Hewitt, Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) , Canon, SAP Labs, Dell, Convergys and Tata Consultancy Services
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(TCS) are part of the multinational business environment in Gurgaon. Manufacturing: Traditionally, manufacturing had been the base of the Gurgaon economy. The city has grown as an established manufacturing hub, with automotive and garment Manufacturers being the major contributors to this sector. Maruti Suzuki and Hero Honda are the existing prominent auto manufacturing players in Gurgaon. Real Estate : World-class real estate is supported by private real estate giants like DLF Limited, Unitech, Emaar Properties, Parsvnath, Omaxe, Ansal, Ambience, Shipra, Vatika and Vipul. Development has taken place in the form of office spaces, residential complexes, shopping malls and hotels, with the development format typically comprised of high-rise buildings with superior quality construction. Retail: Gurgaon has become an epicentre of the growth of organised retail in the Delhi/NCR area. Multiple shopping malls have sprawled along MG Road, offering high-end shopping and food and beverage (F&B) experience. The hospitality industry is spreading its wings in Gurgaon. The city is seeing the
growth in all hotel segments, be it in budget or luxury properties. The expansion plans of existing hotels, newer projects, and large-scale investment surely is marking the golden period of this industry in Gurgaon. T he G u rgaon – Ma nesa r reg ion ha s important commercial centres. With the growth of Gurgaon shifting towards Manesar, the newer development areas are along the Golf Course Extension Road, regions of Sohna, the Dwarka Expressway and the development of the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor. Hotels and upcoming service apartments are also tapping into the medical tourism industry and have realized that a huge population of people apart from visiting the city on business comes for medical treatment. This development will support further requirements of hotel rooms in the medium to longer term, across segments, catering to various micro markets. However, there are and there may continue to be short term blips in demand for rooms, with a potential supply and demand mismatch, as demand takes time to catch up with the supply coming in. NCR has a robust pipeline of upcoming hotels with approximately 18,000 keys expected to enter the market over the next five years. The majority of this new supply is expected to be in Delhi (34 per cent). A total of over 4,200 keys are expected to open in the next five years in the Hospitality District alone. The opening of a number of new hotels in this area has been delayed by a few months because of safety and security concerns raised by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). Noida has a share of about 25 per cent, Gurgaon with 21 per cent, Greater Noida 13 per cent, Manesar four per cent, and Faridabad three per cent of the total upcoming supply in the NCR. The Hotel USP – With the second largest event space available in Delhi NCR and the highest number of room inventory in Gurgaon the hotel is targeting to establish itself as the preferred destination for MICE events for domestic and international events. Online Business Mix – Although in the long term the hotel will be positioned as a MICE destination it has been our endeavour to establish the hotel as a preferred option for transient guests. The hotel currently has a mixture of 65 percent to 35 percent of group and transient business. The hotel has seen a huge surge in online business over the last one year of its operation with 35 percent of the Transient business being booked through online channels like OTA’s, GDS and the hotel brand website. HS
A Hotel’s Website An essential marketing tool The official website of a hotel is the social face of the brand in today’s online world. Along with providing details of the brand and its properties, it plays many roles. People are now moving online to book their airline tickets, their movie tickets and even their hotel rooms. The hotels have now felt the importance of this and are making their online booking efficient and easy. But a customer doesn’t only book rooms via the official website of the hotel; he has more options like other travel agents’ websites.
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TECHNOLOGY Website – An Essential Marketing Tool
The official website of the hotel can be used as a very effective marketing tool. Talking about the role that the hotel’s website plays in today’s scenario, Gopal Rao, Regional Vice President, Sales and Marketing, South West Asia, IHG, says, “A good website is like a shop window at a minimum. Either it is inviting, assuring, and comforting, or it is alien, unfriendly and uninviting. And like a good store front, it builds trust, that the potential shopper feels comfortable. In a world that is becoming increasingly uncertain it is the comfort of trust that travellers are looking for. Trust will become one of the most valuable currencies a brand can have in the emerging new Kinship Economy. Brands that build trust reduce uncertainty while cementing enduring connections.” The Indian hospita lity industry started using online booking technology at a later stage as compared to the rest of the world. Due to this, various hotels, specially mid-segment and economy hotels are still lagging behind. Highlighting this, Sharad Bhargava, Associate Director Development, Louvre Hotels said in a panel discussion, “In India we are under-utilising the potential of online distribution. That goes more-so for the mid-scale, budget and economy hotels and there are a lot of un-branded hotels which are
THE FASTER THE PROCESS IS, THE MORE MONEY YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE. SPEED COMES THROUGH ONLY SEAMLESS ONLINE CONNECTIVITY.
Regional VP, Sales & Marketing, South West Asia, IHG
Associate Director Development, Louvre Hotels
Operations Manager, Marriott Hotels
A good website is like a shop window at a minimum. Either it is inviting, assuring, and comforting, or it is alien, unfriendly and uninviting.
In India, we are underutilising the potential of online distribution. That goes more-so for the mid-scale, budget and economy hotels.
I believe all the bigger chains would want their customers to go online and book the rooms through their official website.
not utilising it currently. There are various ways of doing it but I think what I have seen in various other countries is how they are using the distribution and how they are benefiting. This is still to be seen in India. We have just about started it. It has been just a couple of years. There is a lot that needs to be done in these terms in India and the mid-scale and economy scale hotels will greatly benefit from it but technology has to be known and understood by various people and brands.” Taking the practice of promoting the website and encouraging bookings on the official website of the hotel a step forward, Marriott Hotels has been launching various campaigns and activities linking then back to the website. Elaborating, Prasad Iyer, Operations Manager, Marriott Hotels, says, “A big chunk of our annual marketing budget is dedicated to our official website along with other social media marketing activities. Our global distribution system is the most common medium of bookings for our B2B customers, but our hotel’s website is the common point of purchase for the consumers. In coming times, I believe all the
bigger chains would want their customers to go online and book the rooms through their official website. This is because it is an easy mode of bookings. Also, the customers receives all the required information at one place, including details of the hotel, location, type of rooms and loyalty programmes.” He adds, “From the Marriott’s point of view, we are world leaders in online marketing. Our official website is our primary point of sale, and we link all our marketing campaigns to our website. We are spending a lot of money on our website and social media marketing. We use search engine optimisation, social media marketing and other tools to promote our website.” Emphasising how essential it is to use this technology, Sajid Mahmood, Vice President – Marketing, Sarovar Hotels says, “Using these channels is inevitable. It is no longer a USP but is a question of survival. So, we’ll have to get on to it. The faster the process is, the more money you are going to make. Speed comes through only online connectivity, seamless connectivity. I don’t know of any single chain in India that has got absolute seamless connectivity.
Even the big ones don’t have it the way it is required today. But I am confident enough that it won’t take much time for the industry to reach there.” Rishi Puri, Associate Vice P r e s ide nt , O p e ra t ion s a nd Development, Lords Inn Hotels & Resorts believes that the brand website has to be the brand ambassador, he says, “At Lords we maintain this very religiously, yes people who want to book can book from any of the channels available but if they book through my brand’s website, my yield gets higher, and it looks healthier. So promoting of the brand’s own website is something very important. Most of the chains in India have realised the fact and they are trying to ensure how they can get more and more hits on their own website. So that their website’s ranking goes up, their revenues go up and people solely visit their websites.”
Maintaining Rate Parity
The websites of other travel agents helps a customer in comparing different hotels at a particular destination and provide a variety of options of hotels available May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 37
TECHNOLOGY at that place in one window. Such facilities are not available at a hotel’s website. Therefore, sometimes the customer prefers making bookings from there only, because the rates available there are better than the ones on a hotel’s official website. Iyer believes that the customer these days, if travelling to a new place first goes to any OTA’s (Other Travel Agent) website to see which all hotels are available in that destination and the price comparisons. Then, at the end, he lands up on the hotel’s website to make the final booking as he needs to go through the details of the hotel and what all it offers. “We have an LNF guarantee, known as Look No Further guarantee, through which we ensure that customers booking through our websites get the best rates. If someone finds a better rate anywhere else, then we make sure we compensate that guest accordingly and give him a better rate. But our Marriott reward customers are an exception to this as they are a part of our loyalty programme,” he adds. Taking the role of the OTAs in a positive way, Mahmood believes that the focus should be on the business coming in. “According to me the brand website is one of our marketing tools which promote you. When people are hunting for a hotel, they usually go to websites which provide multiple choices, which will never be available on
Vice President – Marketing, Sarovar Hotels
According to me, brand website is one of our marketing tools which promote you. When people are hunting for a hotel, they
your website. In our organisation, the SEO that we are doing to give our website the required visibility, we are using non-brand words rather than brand-specific words to lead it there. If people come to your site, gain a lot of information, go to an OTA’s site and book, I am okay while the business comes to me. That’s one purpose. The brand website can be used for another purpose which is to keep the OTAs on a check,” he says. Rao from the InterContinental Hotels Group says that most brands have what is called “Best Rate Guarantee”. In its simplest meaning, it means that if a customer finds a cheaper price anywhere than that is quoted on the brand website, (for the same room type, day and number of guests) then the room is free, or there is some other similar incentive. This is designed to give confidence to guests that they will always get the best rate, guaranteed, when they book on the brand website.
WE DRIVE TRAFFIC TO OUR WEBSITE THROUGH OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS AND ENGAGE THE CUSTOMER THERE ITSELF AND Driving traffic to your website PROVIDE WHAT HE Driving traffic on the website is an important activity which IS LOOKING FOR. requires to be done aggressively
38 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Associate Vice President, Operations and Development, Lords Inn Hotels & Resorts
Somebody coming to a brand’s website would look at ‘A’ city and may look at other cities and plan a visit
to encourage bookings on the official website. Iyer talks about how Marriott does this, “We drive traffic to our website through other social media platforms and engage the customer there itself and provide what he is looking for. If the first time the user books on any other travel agent’s website, we ensure that the second booking that he does is through our own website. Until we deliver an unsatisfactory experience, the user comes back to us. Also, we use portals like TripAdvisor for bookings as it sends the traffic directly to our website. Rather than pushing the sales, this is the time of pulling the demand. We make sure an even point of sale at all mediums, “online or offline.” Pointing out the positive effects of someone booking from the hotel’s official website, Puri says, “If somebody comes to a brand’s website he will probably look at ‘A’ city and may also look at other cities and may plan a visit to one or two locations at a later time. So, the hammering effect is there. He understands they have locations in all the places and probably he would come back at a later stage. A Brand’s website has to be managed very meticulously and it has to be
handled very delicately where you maintain rate parity with other online channels also.” Driving traffic on a particular website is a matter of education. You need to take care of few things during the promotion and educate your team accordingly. Elaborating on this, Rao says, “The best prices available online should be on the hotel site. Also, rather than lowering and increasing your prices depending on the season or offering huge discounts when the occupancy is low, offering special promotions to returning customers or to other deserving customers on the hotel’s booking engine will increase loyalty and brand perception. The Hotel’s website shou ld ref le c t t he experience customers will have when going to the hotel. The website must also provide easy navigation, engaging photos, and relevant content to increase conversations. Listing the basic contact information and URL on relevant websites will generate more traffic to the hotel site. Hotels that have interactive pages on social media websites open up a different channel of marketing. Social media allows hoteliers to speak to customers and market special offers at a low cost. The interactive customer service experienced on social media results in consumers feeling appreciated and valued. Many hotels focus strongly on location search results like ‘Hotels in San Francisco’ that can be extremely competitive and expensive. Instead, hotels can focus on their niche like ‘Hotels with free breakfast in Gurgaon’ or ‘Hotel pool party in Mumbai.’ This will help them in speaking to a wider range of people and boost perception of the hotel. Mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) are here to stay! If hotel sites are not optimised for mobile devices, many consumers will abandon the site.” HS by NIKITA CHOPRA
Responsible and sustainable business: Making an impact
Individual hotels are not lagging behind when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility
t is not just about profits in hospitality’s corporate boardrooms. It is also about philanthropy. Demands on corporations to play a greater role in furthering the overall welfare of society has driven many organisations to voluntarily subscribe to codes of ethics and engage in social issues. It is of interest to see that the hospitality sector in India has not lagged behind as far as corporate social responsibility is concerned but shares in the fine Indian traditions that go back to the philanthropic activities of pre-independence Indian corporates and even earlier. CSR activities are widespread in the hospitality sector, not just at the level of the group or chain but even at the level of individual hotels which realise the value of giving back to the community. This CSR activity takes many forms and can vary from outright donations to engagement with non-profit organisations.
CSR at the Hyatt Regency Delhi
Hyatt Regency Delhi, for instance, has been active in contributing to NGOs. It shared the joy of giving on the 25th Anniversary celebrations of Salaam Balaak Trust in December, with a grant to further the organisation’s efforts in education and personal advancement. The $ 15,000 grant is one of this year’s 26 awarded to non-profits nominated by Hyatt hotels in their communities around the world as part of Hyatt Community Grants, a philanthropic program that empowers Hyatt associates to 40 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
select local nonprofit recipients for charitable donations. “Through the Hyatt Community Grants program, we are able to recognise nonprofits in our city that are committed to addressing the greatest needs in our community,” says Aseem Kapoor, Area Director North West India and General Manager of Hyatt Regency Delhi. “We have been associated with
Salaam Balaak Trust for a while now, and we know this gift will help them continue the important work they are accomplishing.”
Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa: Making a difference
In 2013 Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa fanned the desire to “create a thriving community”.
Hyatt Regency Delhi’s gift to Salaam Balaak Trust
Environment cleaning drive by Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa
They made a difference to the lives of the people of Cansaulim, the village in which the hotel is located. Swetlana D’Costa, daughter of a taxi driver who succumbed to injuries af ter a tragic incident outside the hotel premises was presented a cheque, as funds towards her education. To lay emphasis on the importance of education
CSR and encourage young talent, the hotel commemorated the ‘World Science Day’ along with t he s tudent s of St T homa s School, Cansaulim. To enable the differently-abled, elderly and sick to conveniently enter and exit the St. Thomas Church and St. Thomas School, the associates built ramps at the entrance of the church and school premises. The hotel gifted two less privileged families, who have a physically challenged child i n t he i r r e sp e c t ive home s , special cycles that are designed particularly for the differentlyabled. It organised a drawing competition for the students of St. Thomas School on the occasion of
Children’s Day celebrations. Says Vishal Singh, General Manager of Hyatt Pune, “We empower our associates to use their energy and passion to make an impact in their own backyards throughout the year.” In December 2013, Hyatt Pune hosted a bakery workshop called Santa’s Kitchen. The workshop was open to public and the proceeds from the passes sold were donated to Make a Difference, an NGO that works towards empowering children. T h e Ch e f s a t Hya t t P u n e demonstrated some scrumptious baked items and encouraged participants to try their hand at baking.
Courtyard by Marriot, Pune City Centre gives back to the community
The Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre along with its NGO partner Hope for the Children Foundation (HFCF) supports the Atmanirbharata Group - HFCF’s initiative for empowering single mothers and suppor ts their livelihood. This group of women were kick-starting a small-scale catering business. The Marriot’s expert team of chefs thought it would be great to give them a class on pickle and chutney making and packaging; this know-how could then facilitate the group in their catering venture.
Pickle Making CSR - August 2013 - Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre
Social Workers from Pune felicitated on Women’s Day by Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan
This hotel has done several CSR activities over the past three years since its inception. In October 2013, it participated in t he Joy of Giv ing We ek by displaying a Wish Tree in the hotel lobby. Guests were encouraged to donate in cash or kind. Sponsorships were welcome for wishes as small as a school bag or a pack of crayons. The donations received were handed over to Community Aid and Sponsorship Programme committed to the welfare of children and women. In the same month, the hotel also ran another initiative for HFCF. It ran a donation drive hand-inhand with a corporate client and the proceeds raised were donated to HFCF. In December, through a cash donation, the hotel supported Prem Joseph, who wo rk s w i t h M a r r i o t t hotels in Hyderabad and who did a cross country solo ride on his Royal Enfield visiting all Marriott properties across India in an attempt to raise funds from each property towards Marriott Home, which is the Group’s adopted orphanage in Chennai and takes care of children whose parents are affected with leprosy. This year, on the occasion of Republic Day, the hotel invited the kids from HFCF to the hotel for an art competition and Sunday Brunch. The hotel’s Executive Chef judged the contest and the winners were given some special goodies. The kids had immense fun at the brunch where they ate candy floss, played on the jumping castle, enjoyed the magician’s tricks, learnt pottery making and got face painting done. Says Ayesha Ba rse, HR Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre , “Marriott as a group is a big believer in giving back to the community. Marriott’s ‘spirit to serve’ makes our culture more vibrant, our business stronger and the world a better place. Investing May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 41
CSR in the communities where we do business is at the core of Marriott’s Spirit To Serve (STS). “
Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan makes a diference
“The motivating factor is seeing the community around you develop” say Hemant Tenneti, Hote l Ma na ge r, Cou r t ya rd by Ma r r iot t Pu ne Cha ka n . Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan in association with Sarva Seva Sangh held an educational e mp o w e r m e n t a n d c a r e e r counseling session for children between 15 to 18 years of age. The initiative was attended by 30 children. The hotel also celebrated Diwali with a difference. A
team from Courtyard Chakan spent their day at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre where they served lunch for 80 residents of the institute. The hotel also joined hands with Steria India Foundation for their ‘One Day Challenge’ and gave the kids from municipal schools a platform fo r t he i r a n nu a l Cu l t u r a l Evening. The hotel allowed the complimentary use of a venue and gave complimentary food along with giveaway to all the kids.
The Oberoi New Delhi finds the time to do right
The Oberoi New Delhi believes in the slogan, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.” As an ongoing CSR activity it supports
The Oberoi New Delhi
Moevenpick Team at ‘Pinkathon’, a run to fight breast cancer
42 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
the Blind School. T he well trained masseurs from the Blind School are invited to the hotel. These masseurs provide head, foot, neck and back massage to the employees, who in return pay a token fee to them for their services. A Blood Donation Camp was organied in the month of August in collaboration with the Indian Red Cross Society. A penny drop box was installed in the hotel to collect loose change from employees, with the sum collected to be used for a noble cause. A box of joy campaign was carried out which is essentially a Clothes Donation Camp to help the under-privileged section of society against harsh winters. Employees volunteered to donate and collect the material. The
hotel has adopted the concept of recycling as part of its initiative towards green practices. For instance, the used cooking oil from the hotel kitchen is supplied free of cost to the railways. This is used by them as an important raw material for the manufacture o f b io - d ie s e l f u e l u s e d i n locomotives.
The Movenpick Hotel and Spa Bangalore sustains CSR
T he Mövenpick Hotel a nd Spa Bangalore has supported several CSR activities in the year. Children from Snehasadan were treated to an afternoon of games and an elaborate banquet buffet to share and spread Christmas Cheer. The hotel helped the local jurisdiction’s police station in creating awareness about responsible drinking and safe revelry during New Year’s eve. The hotel hosted the Harley Bikers’ fund raising initiative. The hotel also hosted an art and theatrical show in association with HCG foundation for raising funds and awareness about cancer. Says Neha Gairola, Rooms Division Manager, Mövenpick H o t e l a n d S p a B a n ga l o r e , “Mövenpick as a brand has always strived to operate its business in a sustainable manner. As a hotel, we are here to stay and it is critical for us to create that connect and recognition within the environment— whether business or social--we operate in” She says, “It’s a learning experience every time. I believe this is primarily because of the opportunity to interact with people from diverse background and understand some complex issues that society as a whole is dealing with. Also it helps us network with various corporate and not for profit organisations which provides an insight into their organisational ethos and how they operate.” HS by AMIT JETLEY
Where are the people? Industry must grapple with this issue
The mismatch between the rapidly rising number of hotels and the supply of trained manpower, besides turnover and poaching, is a cause for concern.
here is a shortage of skilled manpower in the hospitality sector at a time when it is perhaps set for unprecedented growth. While the demand for manpower is growing, the supply is restricted. With the number of rooms set to more than double in the next five years the issue of quality personnel in sufficient numbers may become crucial unless handled adroitly. The government had estimated in late 2012 that there were only 52,000 trained people available against the hospitality industry ’s need for 583,0 0 0 professionals, which would go up to 754,000 by 2016. A report by Cushman and Wakefield and the Confederation of Indian Industry had noted at about the same time that the “current supply of professionally trained manpower is estimated to be very dismal at 8.92%” of the total requirement. The Indian hospitality sector is likely to take off with major i nte r na t iona l ho te l c ha i n s knocking at the country’s doors despite the global economic crisis. The global consultancy company Deloitte has said more than 400 projects offering over 70,0 0 0 branded rooms were
likely to be commissioned by 2015-16 across the country. Many companies such as ITC Ltd, Indian Hotels Co. Ltd and Hotel Leela Venture Ltd are planning to add a total of some 10,000 rooms within the next five years. International companies such as Fairmont, InterContinental and Carlson are planning to open a large number of hotels in the same period. Their activities will trigger a major shortage of qualified trained and competent manpower in the hospitality i ndu s t r y i n I nd ia . T he big question is whether the present training institutes will keep up with the growing demand. To some extent companies blame the shortage of manpower on high attrition rates across the industry. This is evident even at the earlier stages of careers. It has been seen that a majority of fresh hotel management graduates prefer to move to allied industries, joining even the banking sector, travel and tour operators and smaller restaurants. Students of ten choose ot her se c tors because of better pay packages, working hours and conditions of work. According to a Ministry of tourism study, close to 28 per cent of the students opt for careers in
other sectors than the hospitality. As it is, too few people are being trained for the industry with many of those who have received the training choosing greener pastures as well, causing a rapid turnover. Those within the hospitality industry are not averse to poaching from one other. T he late 19 8 0 s a nd t he early 1990s also saw a hotel bo om but at t hat t ime t he hotel management and catering institutes were able to cope with the demand. This time, the industry may not be that well prepared. The estimated additional 100,000 staff that the hotel industry may need within four years is difficult to meet as only a fifth of this number is in the training institutes and many will not join the industry any way. This crunch in manpower has a cascading effect. It causes pressure on the existing talent pool rendering it precious. Even top-flight hotels have to rely on fresh talent which may be of indifferent quality. There is a mismatch between t he rapid ly r i s i ng nu mb e r of hotels and the ability of training institutes to supply the manpower. The current capacity
BESIDES, THE INDUSTRY COMPLAINS THAT THE TRAINING PROVIDED BY QUITE A FEW OF THE INSTITUTES IS INADEQUATE. MANY HOTELS ARE FORCED TO SUPPLEMENT IT WITH EXTENSIVE INTERNAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES TO BRING THE PERSONNEL UP TO THE DESIRED LEVEL.
of the 51 institutes accredited to the National Council for Hotel Ma na ge me nt a nd Cate r i ng Technology is insufficient with them training less than 10,000 students at the graduate and diploma level. There are 129 hote l ma na ge me nt s c ho ol s affiliated to the All India Council for Technical Education as well which supply close to another 10,000 personnel. How the hospitality sector copes with this manpower crunch remains to be seen. HS by AMIT JETLEY
Factoids Tourism generated INR 6.4 trillion or 6.6% of the nation’s GDP in 2012. It supported 39.5 million jobs, 7.7% of its total employment. (World Travel and Tourism Council) The tourism sector is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023. This gives India the third rank among countries with the fastest growing tourism industries over the next decade. (World Travel and Tourism Council) India has a large medical tourism sector which is expected to grow at an estimated rate of 30% annually to reach about ` 95 billion by 2015.
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 43
CHEF’S PAGE Many ingredients in food are incomparable and have such peculiarities that there is no alternative to them. One of such prime ingredient is alcohol. Chefs worldwide use alcohol in their food to develop a particular taste, which perhaps adds to the authenticity of the food. We asked few chefs from around the country about the upside and downside of using alcohol in food and if there is any alternative to this matchless ingredient.
Alcohol – A Prime Ingredient
lcohol is considered to be like any other ingredient by chefs around the world. While some might refrain from consuming dishes with alcohol, chefs find a lcohol to be an irreplaceable ingredient. Dha rmen Ma kawana , Executive Chef, The Leela Palace, Chennai shares the reason for the important role of alcohol in food. “Alcohol like all other ingredients has its own pros and cons when being used in a particular recipe. There are a vast number of wonderful recipes in which alcohol is used as an ingredient like, sauces, marinades or as a main flavour ingredient. The positive note is it enhances the flavour of the food, tenderises meat and preserves it longer. Just like salt, alcohol brings flavour to a dish and flavour in food is important because most of the great flavour in food comes from aromas in the nose rather than 44 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
tastes in the mouth. A common misconception is that you burn off the alcohol content and the flavour becomes a concentrate. This is true for some dishes when making sauce reductions. How much is retained in a finished dish is determined by several factors – the amount of alcohol added, the amount of heat applied, the cooking and standing time, and the physical dimensions of the cookware. However, when it comes to say soaking fruits in alcohol for a Christmas pudding this would still retain about 80 percent of the alcohol content. Beer contains yeast which leavens breads and batters and some alcoholic beverages can help break down tough fibres via marinades. Other dishes use alcoholic content to provide entertainment, such as flambés and flaming dishes ‘’, he explains. Raheel Ahmad, Executive Che f, B e nga lu r u Ma r r iot t , Whitefield, considers alcohol
like any other ingredient used to cook food. “Usage of alcohol in any dish should be viewed in the same light as enhancing the soul and character of a concoction by adding spices. The concentration of the residual alcohol, which provides a unique tart to the dish, depends on the time and method
of cooking involved. But if you are just putting your first stake with wines and food, my word is to keep it simple. Initiate with young bold wines and graduate slowly to more intense, full bodied and robust wines.’’, he explains. The Executive Sous Chef at Taj Lands End Mumbai shows his
Executive Chef, The Leela Palace, Chennai
Executive Chef, Bengaluru Marriott, Whitefield
Usage of alcohol should be viewed as enhancing the soul of the dish.
Alcohol has its own pros and cons when being used in a particular recipe.
CHEF’S PAGE concern on how a miscalculated amount of alcohol ruins a dish. “The only downside of using alcohol in food is, if it is not used in the right quantity, it can really change the taste of the food in a not so positive way. The taste of alcohol might get too prominent and we all know anything that’s in excess severely damages the authenticit y of a cuisine. I understand that we have to use alcohol (we can’t do without it), but we can’t use it in excess. It has to be used intelligently and in due measure’’, says Sahil Sabhlok, Executive Sous Chef at Taj Lands End Mumbai. The use of alcohol in food ha s b e en a rou nd for ma ny years. According to Complex Executive Chef, Deepak Bhatia, Westin Gurgaon “Alcohol is used in many preparations and in various forms – in marinating, flavouring, flambéing meats as incorporated in sauces, in the boiling of meats or sausages in beer, for preservation and for using alcohol flavoured fruits for desserts, sautéing vegetables in wine, Teppanyaki flambe cookingand so much more”. There are many different types of cooking that use alcohol, be it a specific cooking process or a recipe that uses alcohol
as one of the main ingredients. ‘’Adding wine or other alcoholic beverages to a recipe helps enhance the flavour of the dish, and in the case of meat it helps it to tenderise. For some recipes, like a fondue, for instance, which is my personal favourite alcohol contained dish, the flavour of the dish is accentuated by the alcohol content in the fondue”, says Marin Leuthard Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. The right quantity is also a matter of concern for Leuthard just like Sabhlok. “As long as you will follow the perfect measurement practice while making a dish one can never go wrong. For that matter, the taste and flavour of the dish remains per fec t . Ta s te ma lf unc t ion happens if you manipulate the measurement of the ingredients”, adds Leuthard. However, religious concerns restrict the use of alcohol in food. According to Dharmen Makawana “the downsides of using alcohol are very few but they do concern us. The use of alcohol restricts you to serving certain food to children or those who have religious believes thereby limiting your target audience somewhat.’’ Bhatia says “the only downside
is that if the use of alcohol in cooking is an absolute no-no for certain guests, then creativity su f fe r s a nd we ne e d to b e prepared with other alternatives to the dish’’.
Alternatives to alcohol- if any
We also asked these chefs about the alternatives to alcohol as an ingredient. While some suggested a few, according to some alcohol was just an irreplaceable ingredient. According to Makawana alcohol cannot be completely replaced but some ingredients can just work fine. “Alcohol is a toxic inhibitor, meaning it prevents the spoilage of preserved foods. In fact, nothing can grow in pure alcohol and depending upon which kind of alcohol you use, it can blend wonderfully with just about any ingredient. From rum to brandy to vodka, alcohol has earned a place as one of the most useful and versatile of all food preservation ingredients. Depends on your target market. Having worked in the Middle East for several years I have been able to experiment with various vinegars like apple cider, balsamic reductions and grape juice as substitutes to using alcohol in cooking , marinating and dressings. They come close but are
Executive Sous Chef Taj Lands End Mumbai
Executive Chef Hyatt Regency, New Delhi
Complex Executive Chef, Westin Gurgaon
In case of meat, alcohol helps in tenderising the dish.
Marinating, flavouring, flambéing are different ways of using alcohol.
If alcohol is not used in the right quantity it changes the taste negatively.
unlike the real stuff’’, he says. “Red wines tend to bring colour, clarity and a distinctly dry characteristic to the foods they are used to cook with”, says Ahmad. “These blend best with robust red meats. On the contrary, white wines are known to bring an acidic tart with a bit of pucker. They complement fish and shellfish. The best alcohol to go with food should be the alcohol that you can drink with that food. It is only the alcohol that diminishes during the cooking process, not the flavours. So a cheap, non-pairing alcohol might leave behind its flavouring congeners and that in turn would affect the taste of the final dish’’, he adds. According to Sabhlok, “Wine is like a saviour in marinating tenderloin. It is like a theatre for buffet where it attracts the diners. The flambé creates a stunning visual representation. Practically there is no replacement for alcohol. Whatever alcohol does to food is unmatchable. Some would say vinegar can’t be used as an alternative and I will say alcohol is unmatchable.” For Leuthard those against alcohol simply should replace that particular dish from the menu with something that is free of alcohol. “According to me there is no substitute ingredient that can actually replace the flavour that may be accentuated by the use of a particular alcoholic beverage in a recipe”, he adds. “It is not imperative to use alcohol in cooking. However, the authenticity of certain dishes and cuisines only enhances with the use of such alcohol as red wine just, brandy sauce, liqueur sauces and others,” says Bhatia. “For such preparations, there can be no alternatives. Further, for a unique ingredient such as alcohol, there is no available alternative as such that would do justice to the dish’’, he added. HS by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 45
Celebrated hotels which hold upscale weddings Some hotels in India are famous for conducting the country’s most lavish weddings, where they provide tailor-made services to the clients, while taking care of the every minute need. HotelScapes talks to spokespersons of some of these hotels where the most luxurious weddings take place, asking them about how weddings are adding to their business and what customers look forward to today.
Vice President, The Grand, New Delhi
n today’s time and generation families do not want conventional weddings. They want their weddings to be grand and exclusive. The planning starts months in advance in order to organise a hassle-free event with elaborate arrangements. In Amit Modi India, where customs, rituals and Vice President, The Grand, New Delhi colours are so luring, everybody Most of our clients prefer wa nts to splurge more t ha n to shift with their families ever on their wedding. Some families plan to have a royal and friends to our hotel. destination wedding and some desire a wedding in a luxurious environment of a five star hotel where they get the feel of the hotel pool and lawns to do various events. Irrespective of any downturn, wedding remains a stable business, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime event in India. Due to huge and multiple options, to hold various events at different locations, we get a clientele which wants a combination of destination, royal, lifestyle and luxurious wedding. Most of our clients prefer to shift with their families and friends to our hotel and organise events in our various venues on all three to four days. In fact we host a lot of international weddings where clients want a taste of India in their celebrations.”
46 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
General Manager Alila Diwa Goa
oa has a lways been India’s premier choice for destination weddings. Thankfully, the allure of the state has only increased in recent years with more couples choosing to tie the knot here. In their response, service providers in the state have stepped up with Siddharth Savkur attractive offerings and packages at General Manager Alila Diwa Goa different price points. Alila Diwa Goa has made strong inroads into Today’s guest is very well the destination wedding segment informed, has experienced ever since we opened four years ago, the best. and we continue to innovate based on trends and feedback. Today’s guest is very well informed, has experienced the best the world has to offer and is usually very clear about her requirements. Young couples today are increasingly picking wedding dates based more on practical considerations like work schedules and holidays. They choose auspicious dates less than the norm. This augurs well for both the industry as well as the guest. Hotels have the opportunity to pick up business during lean periods and the guest benefits by getting better deals. In this era of increasing inventory in most destinations and the resulting stiff competition, it is imperative for hoteliers to communicate with each other and agree on pricing and discounting thresholds.”
YOUNG COUPLES TODAY ARE INCREASINGLY PICKING WEDDING DATES BASED MORE ON PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS LIKE WORK SCHEDULES AND HOLIDAYS. THEY CHOOSE AUSPICIOUS DATES LESS THAN THE NORM. THIS AUGURS WELL FOR BOTH THE INDUSTRY AS WELL AS THE GUEST. HOTELS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PICK UP BUSINESS DURING LEAN PERIODS AND THE GUEST BENEFITS BY GETTING BETTER DEALS. IN THIS ERA OF INCREASING INVENTORY IN MOST DESTINATIONS AND THE RESULTING STIFF COMPETITION, IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR HOTELIERS TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER AND AGREE ON PRICING AND DISCOUNTING THRESHOLDS.
General Manager, The Leela Palace, Udaipur
n a city like Udaipur, which is famous for weddings, we certainly have seen growth in the last few years and will keep seeing acceleration. Last year the growth rate which we saw in the number of weddings was 65 percent. Now we do not see people getting married Graham Grant only in the months of November, General Manager, December, January and February. The Leela Palace, Udaipur Now people are getting married We have seen growth in in months like July and April as well which are not so popular the past and will keep among Indians for getting married. seeing acceleration. We already have a booking for these two months. Also, I believe auspicious dates are important and have always been dominant but I will say they are not absolute. Also, our clientele is basically domestic. They wish to get married in a royal place. For such people Udaipur is more suitable. I would say there has been a relevant increase in the number of weddings in Udaipur and in The Leela, Udaipur.”
General Manager, ITC Rajputana, Jaipur
he experience of weddings that we provide is where everyone, including the host, can be a guest even hosts and especially at a destination which offers great settings and backdrop. Above all, the ability of a good venue is to make every wedding unique and Sunil Gupta memorable. ITC Rajputana has a General Manager, unique position of being “rooted ITC Rajputana, Jaipur to the soil”, paying tribute to local heritage and culture, evident in The ability of a good venue is to make every wedding the architecture, interior design unique and memorable. and services of the hotel. The hotel also houses ITC’s internationally acclaimed indigenous Spa brand, Kaya Kalp. ITC Rajputana gets a judicious mix of both, the fascinated international traveller and the India traveller who has once again discovered Jaipur. The NCR generates weekend getaways. These are a big hit. Jaipur is a city that has kept pace with the modern Indian.” HS
by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 47
Talking “sweet’’ with Javed Merchant With Juhu’s first French Patisserie at Novotel, Péché Mignon, the city is all set to try some revolutionary, traditional and modern freshly baked products. While the wide array of options in menu will take care of the guests’ palette, the ambience, reminiscent of a Parisian Café, will be a prime reason for its popularity. HotelScapes interviews its Executive Pastry Chef, Javed Merchant, on some of his personal preferences and how is he making his desserts a success.
hat is the best part of being a pastry chef?
Executive Pastry Chef, Novotel, Péché Mignon
The world in general and India in particular is moving towards a simpler and natural life style that will reflect in its foods and desserts.
Pastry and confectionery is the most dynamic and creatively evolving field in today’s kitchens, besides being around sweet ingredients that I believe lend a positive vibe to the environment. It is very gratifying to create and give shape to people’s ideas and thoughts in the form of cakes. Another gratifying part is the scientific nature of the discipline which allows both the analytical and the artistic mind to at work.
hat are your top three tips for a dessert success?
My top three tips for making a dessert successful are – follow the recipe correctly with the best ingredients available, use the correct method and lastly, be patient – give time to your desserts bake or set.
Meringue based desserts involving elements of Pavlova macaroons are exciting to make because there are so many moving parts involving time and temperature that allow me to learn some thing new, with a minor tweak, every time. Also the neutral nature of egg whites allows experimentation with flavours and their combinations.
The world in general and India in particular is moving towards a simpler and natural life style that will reflect in its foods and desserts. Chocolate awareness with respect to its treatment and origin will grow further resulting in higher demand for couverture. Food morphing and molecular gastronomy will definitely be around in the desserts arena particularly because people like experimenting with their sweet tooth.
hich dessert do you like making the most and why?
hich is the most important pastry equipment you can’t live without? And why?
Hand Whisk – because two processes are key – 48 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
pastry air incorporation and effective mixing. If used well, a whisk can accomplish both.
an you tell us a few trends in pastry art for 2014?
hat are your personal favourite desserts?
Crème Caramel, because it is a true classic. HS by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
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Developing Hotel Gardens We can’t build a property without bricks, but what beautiful landscapes do to a palatial property is incomparable. Designing and developing beautiful landscape is more than just maintaining ornate beauty. For many there are ecological concerns. HotelScapes talks to those hotels which house the most beautiful and exquisite landscapes asking them about the kinds of garden they exhibit and more. Gardens at a glance
A landscape is more than just scenery. It is the interaction between people and place; the bedrock upon which atmosphere is built. It supports our health and well-being by encouraging physical outdoor activity and is an antidote to stress. Rohit Tanvade, Horticulturist at Grand Hyatt Goa explains that the Grand Hyatt Goa’s design celebrates free landscaping and combines it with eco-friendly techniques. “What’s unique about the landscape design at our hotel is that we have maintained and restored a vast variety of flora. We never prune our trees to give
them an ornamental look. This is the reason why one won’t spot special patches of rose beds or other shrubs in the garden too. Instead we let plants and trees grow naturally in their habitat. The idea of free landscaping is what influenced the tropical look that the Grand Hyatt wears.” Imposing Regency architecture, Victorian décor, spacious grounds and efficient service of an unobtrusive, even colonial nature, ITC Windsor, B e nga lu r u i s whe re g ra nd , opulent glory comes to life. Also here old world charm blends effortlessly with the international standards of luxury. This hotel
is situated in the heart of the city, overlooking the spectacular greens of the golf course, and a stone’s throw away from the Bangalore Palace, the hotel is conveniently situated for both business and leisure. Virender Razdan, General Manager, ITC Windsor says “Our unique terrace garden is an important element of ITC Windsor. Discreetly located and only accessible through rooms at the same level, we find that the demand from guests for accommodation on this floor is steadily increasing.” The garden at The Leela Palace, Bangalore displays cascading waterfall, water lilies, stream,
lagoon, colourfull fishes and artefacts and includes a Bomanite garden pathway. “Apart from just flower-bearing trees our hotel has fruit and herb trees. The garden at The Leela, Bangalore is one of the desirable gardens the town has. Such a huge and complex garden is a huge responsibility and that’s why have well-trained gardeners to take care of it. Also, The Leela Palace, Bangalore exhibits seasonal plants that change over every two months”, says Mahesh Vasu, Horticulture Manager, The Leela Palace, Bangalore. The entire garden area has been designed by Kishore Pradhan, who is a known architectural and landscape consultant from Mumbai. Sarat Valsraj, GM, The Zuri Kumarakom, Kerala Resorts & Spa says “Lying in the tropical belt,
Rohit Tanvade Horticulturist, Grand Hyatt Goa
We have maintained and restored a vast variety of flora at our gardens. We never prune our trees to give them an ornamental look.
50 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Virender Razdan General Manager, ITC Windsor
The Lancelot Garden at ITC Windsor comes complete with a gazebo, arches and pink and white climbing roses. This is accessible through rooms at same level.
a tropical garden was identified to be best suited for the resort. Situated on 18 acres, with five acre of man-made lagoon (water body) and 2.5 acres of built up area, the scope for landscaping was enormous. The concept is of the tropical plants with Mexican grass carpet.” The architect of the property was Mahesh Iyer; the major effort in landscaping came from Priscilla Kamani, co-owner of The Zuri Global. “Once the landscaping was done, Kamani made sure that any deviation from the set garden did not happen without her consultation, which is being followed till date. Her vision with regard to landscaping is definitely reflected in the Guest feed-back systems”, says Valsraj.
Varieties in flora and fauna
Grand Hyatt Goa is home to 14 magnificent banyan trees where some of which have been in existence for over 150 years. Three
large and beautiful banyan trees stand proudly along the poolside with its branches spreading out majestically, thus offering a unique scene which is hard to match. The structures were designed and built around the trees to ensure that the beauty of the trees remained intact. Vasu says, “Talking about varieties of plants and trees, we have more than 50 varieties of rare palms and more than 40 varieties of rare trees. The total number of all plants species is up to 42,000. 50 percent of the hotel area is a landscaped garden which is tended using only organic manure, recycled water and herbal pesticides (Eco-friendly). At Zuri well cleaned and algae free water lily pots all around the property are quite an attraction. Another attraction of the garden are the white pebbles at various locations. Rock pebbles can be seen in the rooms’ balconies, Presidential Pool Villas and rain shower area
in cottages. The cleanliness of the same is ensured regularly. “In our Garden, one can see 14 varieties of palms, ornamental plants like ixora, 20 varieties of heliconia, gardenia, pleumereia, lantana, botiliqua, hibiscus, orchid etc. fruit plants like guava, mango, jackfruit, sapotta and lemon. Ayurveda plants like veppu (Azadirachta indica), Asoka (Sa raca a soca) , tulsi (basilicum) , and kanikonna (Cassia fistula). Medicinal plants like shankupushpam, kacholam, shat hava r i (i n su l i n pla nt) , Indian borage, black pepper, pomegranate, and turmeric etc. our organic vegetable garden which includes long bea ns, tomato, snake gourd, drum stick, chillies, tapioca, cabbage, and cauliflower. Red wax palms and yellow palms and phylotendron are the major attractions widely used outdoor and indoor. We a l s o have a nu r s e r y whe re propagat ion of or na menta l and medicinal plants are being
done for indoor and outdoor transferring purpose. Citronella grass (Cymbopogonnardus) has been grown near dwellings as a natural mosquito barrier”, says Valsraj. Hidden from public view and accessible only from the guest rooms on this floor, ‘The Lancelot Garden’ at ITC Windsor comes complete with a gazebo, arches and pink and white climbing roses. Guests enjoy reading their newspapers and drinking their morning ‘cuppa’, while seated on cast iron benches. The gazebo at ITC Windsor is also the perfect place for a f ternoon tea . The origina l garden was designed by UK based interior designer, Francesca Basu. There are lawns and hedges on either side of the central path, including clumps of a wide variety of ferns. There other trees as well, including the Areca Palms and the tropical Masanda with its deep peach-coloured flowers. Among the flowers that flourish in the garden are the bright red Ixoras, adding a splash of colour, next to the steps of the Gazebo. There are also seasonal flowers such as the Marigold and May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 51
DESIGN Zenias that are added from time to time, while a range of colourful Croton leaves add colour all the year round. The wild white Calla lilies are plentiful and during the monsoon season can become as dense as a hedge.
Why current design?
The resort landscaping at Zuri Kumarakom is on a tropical garden design. “Usage of tropical pl a nt s h e lp s i n a b s o rb i n g hazardous poisonous substances that may be present in the air. Placing horizontal and vertically growing trees in the same area will stun each other’s growth and serves no purpose. Plants should be planted in odd numbers, in order to enhance the harmony of the relationship”, says Valsraj behind his thoughtfully designed garden. Va su of L e ela Ba nga lore believes that one is required to carry out a site analysis which includes an assessment of the current design and they need to consider everything within
that garden at present and look at what will impact on the new design for this garden. This will include: Direction or aspect N which determines the sun or shady areas, location, buildings surrounding the gardens, traffic, soil type, drainage problems, slope and levels and climate. Once the site a na lysis is complete one needs to decide what in the current garden you may wish to keep and the how you want to change the design for the future, for example, adding features, changing positioning of existing items or re-designing the whole garden. Zuri spend almost 2.4 lakhs every month for maintaining the landscaping (including labour and Manure). ITC Windsor needed to bring the charms of the garden city of Bengaluru into their property. “As the city of Bengaluru was undergoing a transformation into the IT Capital so also was the landscape of the city into brick and mortar... therefore we
needed to bring the aesthetics of the Garden City Of Bengaluru into this white edifice... and so was conceptualised the Lancelot Gardens between the 23rd floor of the Towers and the Second Floor of the Manor Block. Lancelot Brown was an English landscape architect and was acclaimed as “England’s Greatest Gardener”, says Razdan.
Approach before planning the garden
At Zuri, placement is a major concern while planting trees. “It has been ensured that all aspects have been looked into prior to the planting, as a wrong placement of trees might lead to the generation of negative energy. Landscape is more than just scenery. It is the interaction between people and place; the bedrock upon which our atmosphere is built. Criteria for planning include climatic conditions, environment, view, health, prosperity, creativity and general luck. Plants placement was done with these concerns kept in
mind”, adds Valsraj. An organic vegetable plot was also provided for some vegetables cultivation for kitchen use. Another thing we kept in mind was that the plant should be well taken care off, trim regularly; see that dried leaves are removed etc. “That is the only way of ensuring an aura of happiness in the property. Let the trees grow according to their natural abilities. A well planned landscape design is pleasing to the eyes and enhances the value of our property while including the ideas and needs for the area”, he adds. At The Leela Bangalore the property is the replica of Mysore palace, based on that theme trees and palms where selected, schematic 3d drawings where given before the approving the final drawing. “ La ncelot Ga rden was conceptualized to create the nua nces of the ga rden cit y Bangalore to ITC Windsor which was fast depleting and also to reinforce the ‘garden’ aspect of Bengaluru”, says Razdan. Flaunting some of the fabulous fauna and flora the Garden City is famous for. The Lancelot
Horticulture Manager, The Leela Palace, Bangalore
Such a huge and complex garden is a huge responsibility and that’s why have well-trained gardeners to take care of it.
52 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
GM, The Zuri Kumarakom, Kerala Resorts & Spa
Usage of tropical plants helps in absorbing hazardous poisonous substances that may be present in the air. Plants should be planted in odd numbers.
Gardens is an idyllic location for a ritualistic high tea, a suave cocktail party or just a simple tête-à-tête with a loved one.
Significance of housing huge gardens
“A well planned landscape design is pleasing to the eyes and enhances the value of a property while including the ideas and needs for the area’’, says Tanvade. ‘’Not only do the trees enhance the beauty of the property, but the flowering plants also contribute to the décor and beautification of the resort. Flowers from the garden like Michelia champaca, Plumeria and Heliconia are used at the Shamana Spa to add to the beauty and sanctity of the place,’’ he adds. Grand Hyatt Goa also maintains a small kitchen garden which grows fresh herbs which contributes to the Grand Hyatt kitchen. These include lemon grass, basil, cinnamon and other aromatic fresh herbs which complement salads and other dishes prepared
in the kitchen. The 314 coconut and 14 mango trees stretched out over an area of 28 acres contribute to the lip smacking creations. One can relish on mangoes ranging from Alfonso, Piri, the Goan Mancurad, Totapuri and local mango varieties which make delicious salads, pickles, desserts and refreshments specially created to beat the heat in summers. The Lancelot Garden at ITC Windsor created in the style of gardens in English Country Manors with arches and climbing roses, ref le c t s t he colon ia l influences that have contributed to the growth of this beautiful city and also reinforces the ‘garden’ aspect of Bengaluru. At The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort & Spa the concept for the landscaping was developed beautifully in liaison with the local ecosystem. Also, Valsraj b e l ieve s t hat L a nd s cap e is more than just scenery. It is the interaction between people and place; the bedrock upon which
our atmosphere is built. “A good garden supports our health and wellbeing by encouraging physical outdoor activity and an antidote to stress. A well planned landscape design is pleasing to the eyes and enhances the value of our property while including the ideas and needs for the area’’, he clarifies.
Taking care of gardens through eco-friendly ways
Maintaining the vast gardens is not an easy task and that’s why at The Grand Hyatt the water from the resort’s Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is used to watering the gardens. “We use the sprinkle irrigation system during the day or night for grass depending on area available and the drip irrigation system is used at night for shrub plantation”, says Tanvade. The Leela Palace Bangalore is ISO 14001, 22000 and 18001 certified hotel where recycling of pla s t ic pot s, use of ST P
water, rainwater harvesting and many eco -friendly practices a re u nde r t a ken by va r ious departments. Re-use, Recycle, Reduce and Resource saving for tomorrow are some of the key initiatives in the hotel. 50 percent of the hotel area is landscaped garden which is tended using only organic manure, recycled water and herbal pesticides (Ecofriendly. Also we spray harmless chemicals at regular intervals, which is beneficial to the ecosystem of our garden. “Maintaining a garden in Bangalore is not difficult as its soil is so fertile that any plant grows. However since this is a terrace garden, open to the sun throughout the day, there is a need to water the plants every morning. On the really hot summer days it might be necessary to also sprinkle some water on the lawns in the evening,” says Razdan. He also believes there is a regular need for manure, since the garden has been created on a roof and has no access to the natural food provided by Bangalore’s fertile soil. HS by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 53
SHOWERS AND FAUCETS
Self-cleaning shower by Jaguar
The majestic GROHE Grandera Collection
The free-standing bathtub – NOIR by Caroma
54 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Transparent crystal basin with free flow taps by Boffi
Addison Bath Collection by Delta Faucet Company
athrooms are a place to relax and rejuvenate, they are a place to de-stress and soothe nerves with a quick bath, and any bit of luxury makes the experience more enthralling. We bring to you a collection of latest showers and faucets and other bathroom accessories from various luxurious brands around the country. GROHE introduces their Grandera™ collection, which is both a homage to an age of grandeur long past and an affirmation of a modern sensibility, combining the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship with a love of detail and comfort. This collection is available in two colours – chrome and chrome/ gold. And with the GROHE StarLight® technology, not only do the fittings retain their shine in the long term but they are also extremely resistant to dirt and scratches. On the other hand, Caroma introduces their elegant freestanding bathtub, NOIR 1700. You can place this glorious beauty anywhere in the bathroom. It need not be with the wall. The product comes in two tone colour, black and white, and has a seamless look. Its organic shape with a subtle high and tapered design gives it a trendy yet elegant look. The combination of a black exterior and the white inside coating helps NOIR to fit well in any bathroom setting. Delta Faucet Company introduces their Addison Bath Collection which is inspired by the scalloped shape of seashells. The collection bridges the gap between form and function in the bathroom. It offers the options of hands-free and Touch2O® Technology. Jaguar presents, India’s first self-cleaning shower, which prevents the growth of germs, deposits in shower nozzles and uneven water spray. It is a oneof-its-kind hassle-free shower for your bathroom. HS compiled by NIKITA CHOPRA
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 55
PRODUCTS Thermaline M2M - Made to Measure by Electrolux Professional
Bittel’s new interactive peephole viewer system
ittel has recently launched its Interactive Peephole Viewer System with integrated peephole and doorbell function. It overcomes the shortages and security risk of traditional optical peephole and adds monitor function. It is also easy to install. As a new generation peephole product, the Interactive Peephole Viewer System definitely would become the substitute of traditional peephole product. Some of its advantages are- Safety- Users can check the out-door status at any time. When visitors come and push the button, users can know the situation in time from the screen, Flexible system components option that support up to five in-room screens, enable hotels choose appropriate system components structure according to different room type and user habits. The price is on request. For more information visit: www.bittelcom.com
he simple, but stunning design of this extraordinary cooking line, grants it an appearance that can only be matched by its unrivalled quality. The extremely functional glass control panel has been designed to increase visibility and precision in temperature setting, which can be fixed with an accuracy of up to 1°, making the user’s life much easier. The price is on request. For more information visit: professional.electrolux.com
GAIA launches Crunchy Muesli Real Fruit
aia Crunchy Muesli Real Fruit, which is a delicious combination of healthy multi-grains and succulent pieces of papaya, apple, pineapple and raisins. While the rolled oats, wheat flakes and corn flakes provide you with a good dose of fibre, the added chunks of fruit give nourishment and bursts of flavour in every bite. Enjoy Gaia Crunchy Muesli Real fruit with milk, yoghurt, ice-cream or simply munch on it as an all-day guilt-free snack. Add it to baked preparations like cakes and cookies or blend it into your favourite smoothie for added nutrition and taste. Gaia Crunchy Muesli Real Fruit is available in two pack sizes of 1kg and 425gm priced at `380 and `185 respectively. For more information visit: www.gaiagoodhealth.com 56 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
Arise introduces new range of mixer grinders
rise’s Juicer Mixer Grinder range features the Super Plus, Super Smart and Super Shine Juicer Mixer Grinder. All the three models feature an overload protection for motor safety, 30 minute rating, 3 speed operation capacities and have a power 500 watts motor. While Super Plus & Super Smart comes with 2 jars of 1.5 ltr and 1 ltr. Capacity and Super Shine comes with 3 jars which includes chutney jar also. All the products are ideal for all kinds of grinding as well as making juices. The entire range offers a 2 year warranty. The Juicer Mixer Grinder’s MOP range is `2,090 – `3,000. For more information visit: www.ariseindialtd.com
PRODUCTS Soyer launches its new range of toasters
arking its entry into the breakfast and snacking segment, the Soyer classic series toasters bring hygiene, flexibility and ease of use. Designed keeping in mind functionality, aesthetics and needs of Indian hospitality business and homes, Soyer’s latest offering, comes with seven levels of browning control , so that you can make, just that right, crunchy, crispy toast as per your taste. Its wider slots fit any size of bread, adding to its flexibility and appeal. A removable crumb tray makes cleaning easy, while a hygienic stainless steel casing provides protection against rust. Unlike conventional toasters which heat up on the outside, the Soyer Classic series is safe to touch, as the outside surface stays cool. The Classic series toasters are priced at `1,490. For more information visit: soyer.in
Wego reveals the best hotel
beds in India
ego reveals the top ten hotels with the best beds, rooms and service in the country, according to travellers. The top ten rooms are situated in popular destinations of historical significance such as Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur, which also attract many international visitors. Indian travellers are also treating themselves to some luxury as the popular destinations of Shimla, Coorg, Kabini and Cochin which are popular domestic travel destinations, were also included in the top ten rooms list. Some of the hotels are- The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, The Oberoi, Bangalore, Jaipur Marriott Hotel amongst others. These beds are priced on request. For more information visit: www.wego.com
Wonderchef brings “Nutri Blend”
onderchef launches another very innovative and advanced technology based super mixer/ blender/juicer “Nutri Blend” first time in India. It is designed by country’s renowned nutritionist Swati Thoda. Nutri Blind completely breaks down ingredients into their most nutrition, most absorptive state. It extracts every last drop of immunity enhancing antioxidants, pain relieving Omega 3s, proteins, vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat and drink every day and delivers them to you in their most digestible form. It is priced at `5,000 For more information visit: www.wonderchef.in
Northmace & Hendon launch the Valette Hotel Safety Ironing Centre
orthmace & Hendon has the latest addition to their range, the Valette Hotel Safety Dry Ironing Centre. Its space saving design is complimented by a quality steel build for long life which is backed up by a three year guarantee. The Hotel Safety Dry Iron, which comes as part of the ironing centre, has an integral safety timer ensuring the iron automatically switches off when left horizontal for 30 seconds or left vertical for eight minutes – a must for any professional hotelier. In addition, the Non-stick “easy glide” stainless steel sole plate ensures a wonderful ironing experience for the guest. The price for this is on request. For more information visit: www.northmace.com
May 2014 • HOTELSCAPES 57
NEWS SNIPPETS: DOMESTIC
‘My Fortune’ Hotel comes to Bengaluru
stylish hotel that offers spirited service to savvy travellers, My Fortune, Bengaluru provides a range of accommodation options allowing the travellers to choose the one that is best suited to their needs, be it business or leisure. This is the second property of the new brand, ‘My Fortune’, with the first being in Chennai. Commenting on the launch, Suresh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Fortune Park Hotels Ltd., said, “There was a need felt for creating hotels that are contemporary, smart, young and vibrant with focus on technology, yet warm and caring. We are extremely happy and proud that ‘My Fortune’ has been introduced under the Fortune banner and are confident that it would be firmly established as a successful brand with a strong identity in the times to come.” The hotel is located at the epicentre of the commercial business district, on Richmond Road. With its elegant exterior, the hotel features well-appointed rooms including 79 Standard Rooms, 32 Fortune Club Rooms and 4 Suites.
Lemon Tree Hotel debuts in a new avatar in Whitefield, Bengaluru
e m o n Tr e e H o t e l s h a s announced the opening of their new hotel in Whitefield, Bengaluru. Refurbished and renovated into a fresh and vibrant avtaar, the hotel opened in all its splendour, unveiling its many exciting facilities and services. This latest addition to Lemon Tree makes it the group’s third hotel in Bengaluru (Lemon Tree Premier, Ulsoor Lake, Bengaluru and Lemon Tree Hotel, Electronic City, Bengaluru, being the other two). This stylish business hotel with its vibrant and breathtaking atrium lobby is set around swirling stain glass instillations. Set in its heart is the popular multi-cuisine restaurant- Citrus Café that elegantly flows into a lush green alfresco area, offering guests a beautiful vantage point to enjoy the outdoors while relishing the restaurant’s delectable cuisine. The fun and spirited hip-recreation bar-Slounge along with the fully equipped fitness
58 HOTELSCAPES • May 2014
centre and outdoor swimming pool all sport a vibrant new look aiming to delight and rejuvenate guests. This hotel boasts of 130 upgraded stylish rooms spread over five floors of which two are new deluxe floors.
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NEWS SNIPPETS: INTERNATIONAL
Marriott expands its brand with the opening of Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo in Korea’s new Technology Hub and Jixian Marriott Hotel in China
ocated in the hear t of the Pangyo Techno Valley, a rising information technology cluster in Seongnam city, the 282-room hotel is just a three minute walk away from the Pangyo subway station which gives direct access to Seoul Gangnam in just 16 minutes with easy access to all southern Gyeonggi areas. The complex is a 19-story building, with the hotel occupying the eighth
floor and above with offices, retail shops, restaurants and coffee houses situated in floors below. Guests and locals can experience the healthy, international flavours that all-daydining restaurant MoMo Café showcases in the vibrant open kitchen and live cooking stations. The adjoining MoMo Bar serves a selection of snacks, beverages and spirits with an outdoor terrace
overlooking the Pangyo Techno Valley. Moreover, seven multifunctional meeting rooms are ideal for a business meeting or social purposes with a dedicated Event Manager to coordinate the event from start to finish. Jixian Marriott Hotel is located in Jixian which is in the northern part of Tianjin and also close to Beijing. With its proximity to a
Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas Reopens on its 25th Anniversary
rand InterContinental Seoul Parnas has recently reopened, marking its 25th Anniversary as a leading luxury hotel in the heart of Korea’s capital city, following an extensive 10-month refurbishment by internationally acclaimed design and construction organisation, Rockwell Group. The refit of the 424-room and 92-suite property focuses on an exciting ‘Western magnificence and Eastern fluidity’ theme that incorporates elements of traditional Korean features and modern Western styles, which can be seen in the new lobby, banquet halls and exterior façade. The hotel’s location within the central business district and proximity to the COEX Convention and Exhibition Centre makes it popular among guests attending the many international trade shows in Seoul. Business travellers can also continue to stay connected at the Business Centre or use one of our state-of-the-art meetings rooms.
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variety of leisure travel attractions including the Pan Mountain, Great Wall, golf courses, ski parks and natural parks, Jixian Marriott Hote l i s a n idea l c hoice for incentive conferences, meetings and exhibitions, wedding couples and honeymooners. It is a lso appealing to individual or family guests from nearby areas such as Tianjin, Beijing and Tangshan who want to take a short leisure break away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Jixian Marriott Hotel offers 282 spacious guest rooms, inclusive of eight suites and eight villas, that are equipped with luxurious furnishing, state-ofthe-art amenities and picturesque views of the Jixian resort area. Guests can enjoy distinct food and beverage experiences within the hotel. Man Ho offers classic, authentic Cantonese cuisine in a stylish, contemporary Asian design envelope and is considered excellent, regionally relevant and accepted by the local community. A l s o dubb e d a s “ T he G r e a t Room”, The Lounge has a feature bar that transitions from a coffee and pastry focus in the day to alcoholic beverages and snacks in the evening.
NEWS SNIPPETS: INTERNATIONAL
Bodegas Torres enhances its presence in Rueda with the purchase of facilities from Bodega El Albar Lurton’
iguel Torres has consolidated his company’s presence in the Rueda appellation by purchasing the winery of Bodega El Albar Lurton, the Spanish subsidiary of the French company François Lurton, SA. The sale includes all the facilities located in Villafranca de Duero (Valladolid), consisting of a building divided into two separate wineries, with a total area of 3,025 m2, and the surrounding vineyards, 42 acres of Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc vines and 17 acres of land suitable for planting. The operation does not include the brands, which are still the property of François Lurton. The agreement will allow Bodegas Torres to
European inspired Sips and Sounds arrive at Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
e Méridien Hotels & Resorts has announced a global partnership with French Bossa Nova band, Nouvelle Vague, to curate a 24-hour soundtrack for every Le Méridien hotel around the world. Additionally, the band will embark on a live tour to select destinations worldwide throughout the year. The partnership coincides with the launch of Le Méridien brand’s new global beverage program, Le Méridien Sparkling, inspired by the European aperitif culture. Both initiatives further elevate the signature Hub experience, a reinterpreted lobby space where curious-minded travellers and locals converge for creative exchange. The curated soundtrack, combined with effervescent spritzers and cocktails, will transition Le Méridien Hubs from day to night, offering a modern twist to the social ritual of cocktail hour.
gradually increase the production of Verdeo, a 100% Verdejo wine that the company has been making since 2011 in this winery, incorporate new products and control the entire vinification process starting with the vines. Lurton will continue to occupy one of the buildings for another year in order to make their white Verdejo wines. Miguel Torres views this operation as the culmination of a process of establishing the company in the Rueda appellation, where their Verdeo wine has been well received, and reflects the company’s strategy of securing a presence in the major winemaking regions of Spain.
Taj Hotels announces the upcoming opening of Taj Dubai
aj Dubai, located in the prestigious Burj Khalifa downtown area, is surrounded by a futuristic vision of architectural landmarks like the Burj K halifa, Dubai Mall and Business Bay. The hotel will comprise of 296 guestrooms, including the Taj Club rooms with a host of benefits, 20 junior and 14 luxury suites. The two lavishly appointed theme suites -The Tata Suite and The Maharaja Suite, occupying the top floors will comprise of their own private dining, living areas and panoramic views overlooking the downtown area. With a selection of seven F & B outlets, Taj Dubai will provide exceptional dining experiences through refreshingly varied culinary offerings, ranging from Indian to Peruvian fare.
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Fashion and Art met Gastronomy at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC this Mother’s Day
ashion and art met gastronomy at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC this Mother’s Day with an exclusive showcase of Couture by Rocky S and a stunning art exhibition. Coupling its renowned and lavish Sunday brunch with paintings for the art lovers and designs crafted for the clotheshorses, Sofitel Mumbai BKC known for its French Hospitality got its in-house and walk-in guests delighted with the spirited show. With packages tailor made to suite one and all, the hotel celebrated a chic and stylish Sunday brunch
for its gourmand visitors. The ‘Canvas & Couture’ concept with Rocky S was crafted keeping in mind the principle beliefs of Sofitel Mumbai BKC, which not only enhanced the afternoon but gave it a warm touch as well. Bold, elegant and chic is the basic style statement of this collection. Delicate fabrics give an incredibly outrageous and feminine feel to the entire ensemble. The contemporary yet chic silhouettes add a startling finish to each garment making the fashion line unforgettable.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts hosts 8th Starwood India Expo
tarwood Hotels & Resorts successfully held their annual Starwood India Expo 2014 from 21st to 26th April across five key cities in India. In its eighth year, the expo was held across Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata. This year’s expo showcased over 50 hotels from across Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa and Middle East and North America. The Starwood India Expo is an annual sales mission organised by Starwood Hotels & Resorts to bring together primary contacts across all market segments with Starwood associates, to update them on the company’s developments worldwide, to strengthen existing relationships, en rol cus tomers into t he r ich loya lt y programmes, and discuss performance for the previous year and opportunities for the year ahead and beyond. It offers a great opportunity to meet industry partners and potential customers from various business sectors. It also provides an apt platform for customers and the representatives from the individual Starwood Hotels to meet and discuss business opportunities. Starwood has always received great support from its customers every year who look forward to this annual event.
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PEOPLE PARMEET SINGH NAYAR General Manager DoubleTree by Hilton Gurgaon-New Delhi NCR and India Regional CoordinatorOperations Effectiveness, Hilton Worldwide Parmeet has assumed additional charge as India Regional Coordinator - Operations Effectiveness, Hilton Worldwide. Parmeet will report to Daniel Welk, Vice President, Operations – India, Hilton Worldwide. In his regional capacity, Parmeet will champion a number of initiatives at trading and pre-opening hotels in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio in India. The areas he will focus on include guest satisfaction, energy conservation initiatives, organisational structure and pre-opening support, among others.
JACO LE ROUX General Manager Grand Hyatt Goa With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, he has worked with the Hyatt group world over as General Manager, Director of Food and Beverage, and Executive Assistant Manager and is aware of the hotel’s strategies and policies. He started his career in the year 1994 after which his impeccable skills have taken him across the globe, where he has worked with some of the most revered names in the hospitality industry. He is now all set to handle the responsibilities at his new position.
VIJAY SETHI General Manager The Lalit Mumbai His thirty one years of experience spans industries like Hotels, Airlines, Travel & Tourism and Healthcare. Prior to joining The Lalit Mumbai he was associated with the Keys Hotels - Berggruen Hotel as the Chief Operating Officer. He started his career with the Clarks Group of Hotels and has worked with brands such as Centaur Hotel, Sofitel Surya and Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza and Leela Kempinski in hospitality sector, Jet Airways in Aviation, Thomas Cook India in Travel & Tourism and the Asian Heart Institute in Healthcare.
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NICHOLAS DUMBELL General Manager Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield Nick at his current position will be responsible for operations and steering of the overall management of the hotel. With a proven record of implementing strategic initiatives that deliver financial success and significant customer service improvements, he will be actively involved in employee training. He will be applying well thought strategies at his new position. His key responsibilities will also include holistic supervision of various departments to drive performance and strengthen the hotel’s reputation as one of Bengaluru’s iconic hotels.
JENS PETER CORDER General Manager Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru He brings with him more than 25 years of experience having held executive positions in the hospitality industry, specialising in all aspects of hotel operations and with an avid interest for food and beverage. He has been successfully holding executive hotel management positions for over eight years across different Shangri-La properties in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and now in India. Having begun his career in kitchens, he holds a Diploma in Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Management from the University of Southern Queensland.
HEMANT TENNETI Hotel Manager Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan With a career spanning over 15 years in the field of Food & Beverage and convention business, Hemant undertakes the reign of Courtyard Chakan from Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments where he was the Director of Food &Beverage. In his new role, Hemant will be overseeing the daily operations of the hotel along with brand management and positioning strategies; strategy development, delivering the revenues and costs and last but not the least, ensuring rewarding relationships with the associates.
PEOPLE MICHAEL GARDNER Director Food and Beverage The Westin Sohna, Resort and Spa Michael has a long standing relationship with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, having previously been a crucial member of the pre- opening teams at The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Guangzhou. Before his appointment at The Westin Sohna, Michael worked as Restaurant Manager at CVOC Gastronomia Italiano. He brings with him a strong foundation in hospitality and specifically, food and beverage industry, his professional understanding of which makes him more than capable as Director, F&B.
RUBAN DAS Director of Food and Beverage Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach Ruban joins this prestigious hotel with more than 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry. As a Director of Food and Beverage he will be responsible for the overall vision and future direction of Food and Beverage Department. His role and responsibilities will be to ensure efficient and effective operations of Food and Beverage Outlets to ensure maximum customer satisfaction through the delivery of innovative and high quality products and services offerings within the property. Ruban started his career with the Hyatt Hotels in 2002.
DONALD A. WINGELL Director of Food & Beverage IHG, South West Asia In his new role, Donald’s key responsibility will be to drive Food & Beverage performance in the region while working closely with hotel General Managers and F&B teams to maximise revenues and service delivery across this critical part of the business. He will also be working as part of IHG’s Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) F&B leadership team to ensure new initiatives, concepts and standards. He has held quite many influential roles at various organisations in the past.
NIKHIL GANDHI Director of Food & Beverage Hyatt Regency Chennai Well known for his dynamic ways and outstanding leadership Nikhil has excelled at Hyatt Regency for over a decade now. He started his stint in the hospitality industry with Hyatt Regency Mumbai as an associate in 2002 and ever since has been dedicated in providing outstanding service and momentous experience to the guests. Nikhil joined Hyatt Regency Chennai as the Assistant F&B Director in 2012 and has been promoted as the Director Food & Beverage at Hyatt Regency Chennai in March 2014.
JIT BOSE Director of Sales & Marketing Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru In his new role, Jit will head Sales, Events, Revenue Management, Reservations and the Marketing & Corporate Communications division of the hotel. With over two decades in the hospitality industry, Bose’s last assignment was with Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts for over six years as Director of Sales & Marketing, where he also managed their global sales for over a year. Brands like Hyatt and Le Royal Meridian also add to his successful career stints.
NEHA MISHRA Director of Communications Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru In her new role encompassing the unit’s Digital Marketing, Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility functions, she will manage the communications team, overseeing day to day contact with the media as well as driving and developing strategic marketing and communications Having seven plus years of experience, she brings a wealth of expertise and broad perspectives gained from industries like FMCG, Media and pre-opening hospitality especially in sales, brand building, partnerships and marketing.
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When INDeco went rural
Sustainable tourism is the watchword for INDeco as they propagate rural tourism, offering an authentic Indian experience even as their hotels emerge as guardians of local traditions, culture and ecology.
NDeco Leisure Hotels in Tamil Nadu was founded by Steve Borgia, an indologist who has created a unique heritage hotels concept. ‘INDeco’ was inspired by Indian ecology. The crisis in rural India gave rise to the concept of rural tourism to ameliorate it and INDeco was part of this endeavour. In 1996 it set up Hotel Swamimalai in an old villa in an ancient village in Tanjore amidst culture, tradition and the arts. This hotel, a confluence of leisure, health nature, spirituality and fine arts, is India’s only winner of the Global Eco Tourism Award. It offers each guest an authentic South Indian experience. Sustainable tourism is reflected in this project. The hotel emerges from the existing village framework, its heritage, culture, traditions, lifestyle, knowledge and talent. The conservation of the villa makes it a museum object in itself, the very design emerging from what existed on the land. It uses no plastics or alien materials but only used wood. It is a hotel created by local craftspeople using local materials and not by architects or engineers. Most
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guest supplies are sourced from the vicinity benefitting rural suppliers. Hotel Swamimalai has emerged as a lifestyle product and a destination in itself. It provides a local flavour to a global market and is serviced by the neighbourhood while it entertains through local talent. Other heritage hotels have been developed by INDeco across Tamil Nadu on the same pattern offering low impact, educational, ecological and culturally sensitive tourism that provides livelihood benefits to communities in rural areas. These hotels also protect, preserve and conserve local neighbourhoods, nature, heritage, art, culture, belief, lifestyle and practices. Close to the legendary Mahabalipuram Shore Temple is the Mahabalipuram hotel property, at a 1920 British camping site. The hotel is set in an antique museum, ‘Steve Borgia’s Indian Heritage Museum’ and is within walking distance of all tourist attractions. The Lake Forest Hotel Yercaud is on The Eastlynne Farm Estate on this hill station and has 70 odd English bungalows
hidden in a live coffee estate and is on the banks of the Yercaud Lake. It is a signature project for reuse and recycling. The Fortune magazine noted this concept as the sixth of the top 10 ideas to green the world. INDeco is in the process of establishing similar hotels in Chettinad, Madurai and other destinations in Tamil Nadu. Each hotel has a relationship with the rural environment in which it exists, which includes the villages, the neighbourhood and its people. Locked in a symbiotic relationship, each hotel absorbs all that the local community has to offer. Nothing has been imported and nearly 60 per cent of the project budget was spent locally on wages and labour while 70 per cent of the operations budget is similarly spent in the vicinity. While the museums integrated with the hotels redefine them as centres of research, the hotels also address local social evils, even as they have emerged as guardians of local art, culture, heritage, ecology, lifestyle and practices. HS by AMIT JETLEY
Date of Publication: 19/05/2014
RNI No. DELENG/2012/47318 Posting Dt. 16-21/05/2014 Licence No. U(C)-105/2013-2014 W.P.P. at NDPSO Postal Reg. No. DL(C) 01/1353/12-14