HOTEL Business Review
HOTEL B u s i n e s s
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An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry
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These days, single women travellers are becoming a potent market force in the Indian hospitality industry. With more and more single upwardly mobile ladies with high disposable incomes travelling across the globe, which also includes to and within India, for work and leisure, their huge potential in terms of revenue generation for the Indian hospitality industry cannot afford to be overlooked. No wonder, the hotels have geared up to tap many of these upwardly mobile single lady travellers by offering a host of facilities tailor-made for them. Hotels in India, especially the five-star and four-star properties are becoming increasingly women-friendly. The facilities some of these hotels are offering to their single female guests not only address their safety and other assorted needs, but are also geared to pamper their feminineness. There are exclusive women’s floors in many of the hotels, and women’s floor or wings in some of these properties have only female staff for housekeeping and are also equipped with lady butlers on call round the clock. The range of amenities and services in many of these rooms demarcated for single women travellers also have a feminine focus. One can infer that with the passing months and years, this trend towards women-friendly hospitality would gain further momentum in Indian hotels. This in turn would give a fillip to the sanitation exercises in the property, as women are more hygiene conscious on an average, than men. We have attempted to explore various facets of this interesting trend in our Cover Story, which we hope would give our readers some food for thought. The adventure tourism in India is another growing trend. India with its amazing array of natural splendours has immense potential for adventure tourism. In the same breath, we must concede that adventure tourism options and infrastructure conducive to adventure tourism are still, by and large, not of international standards in the country, though they both are displaying some variety and creativity. The hospitality industry of India must undertake some innovative measures on a continual basis in order to harness the adventure tourism potential in our country and channelise it creatively towards revenue generation. The time is now, for now we are seeing a growing breed of domestic and inbound travellers who want to experience travel in a different way. We have attempted to examine the potential of adventure tourism in India, and explore some of the creative measures with which it would receive a much needed impetus, in our Business Story. Besides exploration of these trendy issues in the realm of Indian hospitality industry, we have covered a gamut of other topics under our regular as well as new sections, which we hope would interest our valued readers. I hereby sign off while wishing a better fiscal than its previous one, for the hospitality industry at large.
HOTEL B u s i n e s s
R e v i e w
An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry
inside COVER STORY
With increasing number of single women travelling across the globe – on business or on leisure – it has become imperative for the hotel sector to ensure their safety. It is heartening to see that the hospitality industry of India, especially in the five-star and four-star segments, is making sincere efforts to go the extra mile to give women travellers unescorted by males, a welcome atmosphere.
Nowadays, the hotel’s health and fitness market is substantial in size and the hoteliers are also choosy when it comes to special features in the fitness equipment that they purchase. Their expectations from the supplier are on the rise.
To counter high attrition rates, the Indian hospitality industry has come up with innovative HR and management practices, which are not just cool but also offer a lesson or two for other industries of the corporate world to emulate, for effectively tackling attrition related issues.
A great many of India’s fascinating destinations of natural splendour have potential to develop adventure tourism options and properties.
These days the hotel bathrooms are becoming source of great importance to the Indian hospitality business at large. This is more true for the five-star and fourstar properties. Many guests tend to develop an impression about a hotel after just a cursory glance at the sanitary facilities of the property.
Vyoma Spa at Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar offers rejuvenating treatments by trained international masseurs to pamper every element of your body and soul. Set in a calm and serene environment, this spa boasts of well-appointed spaces and facilities where the stream of wellness can effortlessly rinse your being.
Sofitel Mumbai BKC recently opened its doors in the new Central Business District of Mumbai, at The Bandra Kurla Complex, affording easy access to major highways and tourist attractions in North and South Mumbai.
Cover Pix: Eros Hotel Managed by Hilton New Delhi Nehru Place
HOTEL Business Review
Aahar 2012: The Right Podium for the Industry Aahar 2012, the 27th international exhibition for food, food processing, hotel and restaurant equipment & supplies attracted a plethora of visitors and exhibitors from India and abroad. The mega event took place at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, during 12th-16th March 2012. Aahar 2012 took place in halls 7, 8,9,10,11,12,12A, 14, 15 & 18, spread over a gross area of 38,214 sq.m. The show expected impressive visitor participation from both India and overseas. The comprehensive show had something to offer for everybody in the food & beverage and hospitality business. Top decision makers and buyers visited this significant event for the food & beverage, bakery, and hospitality industry. The fair was being organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), with the support of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, and Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The other organisations supporting the show were Association of Resource Companies for the Hospitality Industry of India (ARCHII), All India Food Processors’ Association, and Hotel and Restaurant Equipment Manufacturers’ Association of India (HOTREMAI). The premier exhibition was divided into two independent shows viz. ‘Food India,’ which covered food and processed foods sector, and Hospitality India, which represented hotel & restaurant, bakery & confectionery equipment and supplies. Anand Sharma, the Union Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles inaugurated the 27th edition of AAHAR. Speaking on the occasion Sharma said, “India’s food market is estimated at over $182 billion USD, accounting for about two third of the total retail market. The per capita packaged snack food consumption may be low in India presently but is growing, hence there is a huge market waiting to be tapped. I am sure that AHHAR will be the driving engine of economic growth.” Sharma stressed on creating an integrated value chain in the food processing and hospitality sectors for increasing India’s shares in global exports and to face future challenges. He said that extensive efforts must be directed to save agricultural produce through creation of integrated value chains, food processing parks and institutions for maintaining global standards for processed food. The Aahar 2012 featured 565 exhibitors, including 72 foreign exhibitors from 19 countries. The foreign countries from where companies displayed at the AAHAR 2012 are Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan,
Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE., USA, and Vietnam. The range of products on display included food products and processed food including beverages; a wide range of bakery and snack products; smill machinery and equipments; machinery related to food processing and packaging of food products; poultry, farm equipments and supplies; dairy and confectionery equipments; airconditioning, refrigeration and cold storage systems; air and waterpollution control equipment and accessories; hotel and kitchen equipment and tableware; laundry and interiors and housekeeping; health fitness equipment; consultancy services and miscellaneous products related to food industry and hospitality supplies. AAHAR 2012 emerged as a popular event with business visitors that included foreign buyers, importers and wholesalers, overseas trade delegations, policy makers, media persons, equipment and machinery suppliers, marketing and direct selling companies, government agencies, etc.
The Excellence of Venus
During AAHAR 2012, Venus Industries won the Gold Award for the best product display and stall at AAHAR 2012. Venus won this award among more than 550 participants in the India’s biggest food and beverage fair. Here it deserves a mention that Venus Industries is a Delhi-based company engaged in the manufacturing and exporting of stainless steel cutlery, tableware, hotel ware, barware and lifestyle products.
HOTEL Business Review
National Restaurant Association Announces 2012 Kitchen Innovations Award Recently the National Restaurant Association announced the recipients of the 2012 Kitchen Innovations™ (KI) Award, which recognises cuttingedge kitchen equipment in the food service market. An independent, expert panel of judges comprising internationally recognised food facilities’ consultants, multi-unit executives and design experts selected KI Award recipients for significant innovations that improve quality, productivity, service, and sustainability. The KI products are expected to make food service operations to run faster and more efficiently by increasing productivity, quality, safety, costefficiency and environmental sustainability. This would result in facilitating food service operators to deliver better customer service and high quality meals to their customers. Award recipients will be showcased in the interactive Kitchen Innovations Pavilion, in its new central location, on the exhibit floor (booth 2440) at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which would take place during 5th-8th May, at Chicago’s McCormick Place. One of the award recipients was Alto-Shaam, Inc.— Combitherm® Automatic Grease Collection System. This new system is electronically activated during cooking, to segregate grease from water. Grease is pumped to sealed containers and water goes down the drain. Another of the several award winners was the CookTek Induction Systems, LLC - SinAqua™ Waterless Food Holding System. Here SinAqua induction warming replaces steam or dry holding with consistent temperature control to extend food quality and holding time. Combining induction technology with gentle infrared radiant heat and LED lighting
dramatically reduces energy costs, and eliminates the need for complicated plumbing systems. “The independent panel of judges selected these products based on the forward-thinking approach to commercial kitchen equipment demonstrated by their innovative creators,” said Jack Crawford, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2012 and President and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. “These truly groundbreaking products will have a substantial impact on the efficiency and success of restaurant kitchens, as well as on the profitability of the restaurants. As the largest restaurant and hospitality trade show in the United States, the NRA Show offers the perfect forum to explore trends and find new products to enhance restaurant operations,” he added. Here it deserves a mention that as the global restaurant and hospitality industry’s premier trade show, the NRA Show brings together more restaurant and hospitality buyers and equipment manufacturers than perhaps any other industry event. NRA Show attracts over 58,000 attendees and visitors from over 50 states of the US and over 100 countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, upto-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities than perhaps any other industry event. Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 970,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, this association works to lead the USA’s restaurant industry into an era of greater prosperity, prominence, and participation, thereby contributing towards further enhancing the country’s quality of life.
E V E N T S’ C A L E N D E R FHA 2012 17-20 April 2012 Singapore Expo, Singapore www.foodnhotelasia.com SIAL China 2012 9-11 May 2012 Shanghai New International Exhibition Center www.sialchina.com NRA Show 2012 5-8 May 2012 McCormick Place, Chicago, US www.restaurant.org Espana Original 2012 8-10 May 2012 Ciudad real, Spain www.espanaoriginal.com Thaifex- world of food ASIA 12 23-27 May 2012 Impact challenger, Thailand www.worldoffoodasia.com Vinexpo Asia Pacific 29-31 May 2012 Hong Kong www.vinexpo.com MIFB 2012 12-14 July 2012 PWTC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia www.mifb.com.my Hong Kong International Tea Fair 16-18 August 2012 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong www.hkteafair.com Ahara International Food Fair 2012 23-25 August 2012 Chennai Trade Centre www.aaharchennai2010.com Food Tech / Bakery Tech & Hotel Tech 2012 7-9 September 2012 Milan Mela Exhibition Complex, Kolkota www.kolkatafoodtech.com Fine Food India 2012 17-19 September 2012 Pragati Maidan, New Delhi www.finefoodindiaexpo.com Hotel Expo 2012 10-12 October 2012 The Venetian Macau, www.hotel-exhibition.com SIAL Paris 21-25 October 2012 Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris, France www.sial.fr
HOTEL Business Review
Swissôtel Grand to Open in Radisson Blu Hotel Mumbai Paschim Vihar Recognised Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, the international hotel group of Swiss by EarthCheck origin, is heading to open its second property in India, in Mumbai, named Swissôtel Grand Mumbai. The first Swissôtel in India was debuted in Kolkata, in 2010 and the Swissotel Grand Mumbai is due to open in 2014. In this regard, Swissotel Hotels & Resorts has signed a management contract with Litolier Group. The business hotel will offer a total of 300 guest rooms, executive rooms and suites. The hotel’s conference and banqueting facilities will occupy a total area of around 1600 sq m, including the main ballroom measuring 500 sq m alone. The hotel will also have a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation — the Pürovel Spa & Sport center. The hotel is in close proximity to a number of new grade A offices; occupied by numerous multinational companies. Swissôtel Grand Mumbai is located in Andheri Kurla Road in the heart of the new business district in the north of Mumbai. Meinhard Huck, the President of Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts said, “This exciting project at the heart of Mumbai’s commercial centre will drive forward our expansion in the highly promising Indian market. We see considerable potential for our hotel group and are pleased to be working with a renowned partner, the Litolier Group, which appreciates our Swiss values.”
In an important development, the environmental performance of Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar has been recognised by EarthCheck; the travel and tourism industry’s leading environmental management, benchmarking and certification company. EarthCheck operates a scientifically rigorous benchmarking program and measures key indicators such as energy and water consumption, total waste production, and community commitment to provide a holistic picture of operational performance. Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar was rated at or above the Best Practice levels for water savings rating, waste sent to landfill, community contributions rating, cleaning products rating, and pesticide products rating. An elated Preet Inder Singh, the General Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Paschim Vihar, New Delhi said, “We take pride in being recognised by an illustrious environmental management program, Earthcheck. Being associated with the Carlson brand, we share the responsibility towards achieving the excellence in the hospitality business as well as contributing towards our society and the Earth.” “I am delighted that Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar has benchmarked their operations,” stated Stewart Moore, CEO, EarthCheck. “They have recognised the need to be responsible for the impacts of their operations and transparent in their environmental statements,” he added.
Prospect of Dearer Hotel Rooms with High Service Tax This year’s budget is likely to take a heavy toll on the Indian hospitality industry, as the Finance Minister has announced to hike service tax from 10 percent to 12 percent. The 12 percent service tax would make hotel room tariffs more expensive and it may affect the room occupancies, hotel companies and hoteliers. Carlson Hotels’ President South-Asia KB Kachru said, “We were expecting rationalisation of taxes for the hospitality sector, but instead the Government has increased service tax, which will have a direct impact on our businesses. By doing so, we are making India even more costly; compared to other destinations in the Asia such as Bangkok and Singapore.” On the tax hike, Dilip Puri, the Regional Vice-President of Starwood Hotels and Resorts said, “Since input costs are rising and margins are thin, the company will have to pass on the burden on to the consumers. But yet we need to conduct a study on it.”
Union Government to Add 100 Budget Hotels on PPP Basis The Union Government is envisaging to set up hundred budget hotels with the objective of giving a fillip to the hospitality sector. The Tourism Ministry is planning to have these hotels through public-private-partnership (PPP) by 2016, in one, two and three-star categories. The PPP agreement will be signed on a build-operate-transfer basis for a period of 20 years. According to the norms set by Government, companies with a minimum experience of five years in running budget hotels will be allowed to bid for these. According to the tourism ministry’s working group report on the 12th Plan, the land for building these hotels will be allotted through a “transparent bidding process.” On taking heed of this plan, Prabhat Pani, the CEO of Roots Corporation, said that this was an encouraging development. “Availability and affordability of land at the right location is becoming a challenge. This is impacting the roll out of hotels, especially in the budget category,” he said.
Park Hyatt Hyderabad Becomes a Reality In Hyderabad, the upscale Banjara Hills skyline can now witness the newly launched Park Hyatt Hyderabad, the latest property of Hyatt Hotels. Centrally located in the heart of upscale Banjara Hills, Park Hyatt Hyderabad offers an unforgettable experience to business travellers and discerning local guests who appreciate contemporary luxury and seek personalised service. The eight-storied Park Hyatt Hyderabad showcases 185 guestrooms and 24 suites on the first six floors that feature the latest in-room technology for the corporate traveller. Above the sixth floor, the two uppermost floors in the hotel are offering 42 fully-serviced luxury apartments — The Residence. Besides, it claims to be the first hotel in the ‘City of Pearls’ to have fully serviced luxury serviced apartments. The guests can also marvel at the stately design of the hotel, designed by the renowned architecture firm, John Portman & Associates. Sven Hoffmeyer, the General Manager of Park Hyatt Hyderabad said, “Park Hyatt hotels are the premium offering of luxury hotels designed to cater to the discerning guests in quest of privacy, personalised service and luxurious elegance in a contemporary hotel.
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HOTEL Business Review
Winterhalter Wins an Award in Warewashing Technology Warewashing specialist Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH won the Readers’ Choice Award BEST of Market 2012, in the category of warewashing technology, which was presented at the Internorga trade fair, in Hamburg, Germany. The award is based on the market research conducted by the three German specialist journals, FirstClass, 24 Stunden Gastlichkeit and GVmanager on the market and buying behaviour in the out-of-home market in 2012. “We are very proud to be have been selected for the award BEST of Market in 2012 by our readers”, said a delighted Ralph Winterhalter, the Managing Partner at Winterhalter
Gastronom GmbH. In a survey carried out at the end of 2011, around 2,400 decision-makers from the hotel, the gastronomy and the commercial catering industry were
asked to assess 400 manufacturers of the gastronomy supply industry regarding price/performance ratio, quality and service. The awards went to the three best in categories including cooking technology, warewashing technology and coffee machines (amongst others). “This year’s results show once again that the market leaders have retained their position within the industry for a reason,” asserted Annemarie Heinrichsdobler, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at B&LMedienGesellschaft, while summarising the results. “The award serves as endorsement for us and motivates us to continue on our successful path and to improve it, especially with regard to price/ performance ratio, quality and service, always for the benefit of our customers,” elaborated Ralph Winterhalter.
HOTEL Business Review
India Showed a Modest Lebua Set to Leap in India Thailand-based Increase in Hotel Room Rates The luxury hospitality major, The year has started positively for travel enthusiasts, as Indian hotels have showed only a modest rise in room rates in the second half of 2011, as compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. According to the latest Hotel Price Index (HPI) Report by Hotels.com, room rates in India have increased by just 2 percent, while globally, room rates have risen by 4 percent. The Hotels.com’s HPI report is a regular survey of hotel prices in major travel destinations across the globe. It is based on bookings made through the Hotels.com websites and prices shown are those actually paid by customers (rather than advertised rates) in 2011. The latest HPI report features 27 countries including UK, USA, UAE, Canada, Singapore, Greece, Italy, Japan, Australia and others. Among these, India is the lowest priced country, with an average room rate of Rs. 4,226 per night. Switzerland, with its currency remaining strong, is the most expensive country in the survey, experiencing a 19 percent rise in room rates, with an average room rate of Rs. 10,496 per night. UK is next with a rise of 7 percent and with an average room rate of Rs. 8965. Speaking about the HPI report, Abhiram Chowdhry, the Senior Marketing Director, Asia Pacific, Hotels.com said, “Hotel room prices in India have shown only a marginal rise and Indian hotels continue to be attractive for both domestic and international travellers.”
Lebua Hotels & Resorts is set to stretch its wings in India, after opening its first property in the country, in Delhi. Lebua Hotels & Resort is setting up a 14room, 40-villa property in Goa that will open its doors to guests in May 2013. The hospitality major is also scouting for land, for its third property in India, which is likely to come up in Cochin. The deal pertaining to this is expected to be signed next year. The Delhi property of Lebua, which has been opened partially after a soft launch, will have a formal launch in September of this year. At the same time, there is good news for aspirants to career in hospitality as Lebua is also envisaging to hire about 700 employees for its current and upcoming properties in India. It has already hired some top head hunters and international search firms to cater to this HR need.
Design Makeover at Le Meridien Presently, all the eight Le Meridien hotels in India are going through renovation in order to bring them in line with the innovative design concept that is part of the international hotel chain’s brand transformation on a worldwide basis. All the Le Meridian hotels in India want to do off with the traditional lobby concept and endeavours to bring new socially interactive ‘Living Room’ kind of space in place of a lobby. Besides setting up a ‘Living Room’ concept, the hotels will also start off with a new coffee house structure named ‘The Hub.’ Some of the other appealing initiatives being taken by the company are to fit-in art forms at various touch points of the hotels, which include adorning the doors with artwork, and specially designed key cards which besides acting as a souvenir will also provide guests access to the contemporary cultural centres across the globe, without any additional charge. Besides, the hotel chain has also come up with a special soundscape for elevators, teeming with 1600 sounds including those of birds and crickets. These mélange of sounds is created by Grammy Award winning composer Henri Scars for the purpose of activating conversation and curiosity. The company has come up with a group named LM 100, which has 28 members presently from diverse fields like art, architecture, music, filmmaking, cuisine, etc for the purpose of developing original and interactive programmes for Le Meridien hotels across the globe.
HOTEL Business Review
Allergy-Friendly Rooms to Fit-in at ITC Hotels
Now, an ITC Hotels’ guest can experience allergy-friendly rooms at all destinations. ITC Hotels has partnered with PURE Global, the innovator and market leader of allergyfriendly rooms worldwide to provide allergy-friendly rooms at its properties. The award-winning and patented PURE Room program is an innovative program that thoroughly cleans, sanitises and seals all surfaces in a room, while filtering all the air with medical grade air cleaners produced by HealthWay. ITC Maurya, the company’s flagship property in Delhi, has introduced 80 allergy-friendly rooms while also equipping
the heating ventilation and air conditioning systems with state-of-the-art inline commercial air cleaning systems by HealthWay, which have been proven to eliminate up to 100 percent of all ultra fine particles known to cause illness. “Not only the PURE Rooms are great for people who struggle with respiratory issues, they provide the next generation’s musthave amenities for leading hotel companies worldwide,” stated Vinny Lobdell, the President of PURE Global. Here it deserves a mention that PURE Global is committed to providing the healthiest, safest and most enjoyable indoor environments worldwide. Located in Pulaski, New York, PURE operates in over 20 countries and has installed PURE Rooms in some of the world’s most prestigious hotels. Thorough before and after studies have been conducted on PURE Rooms, and after being treated with the patented PURE program, rooms have been shown to have 90 percent less airborne allergens and particles. Each room is updated every six months and monitored to ensure that it meets strict allergy guidelines for healthy spaces, with a re-certification process every two years. ITC Hotels has plans to add PURE Rooms at several more hotels across India.
Coveted Awards for Ananda The multi awardwinning Ananda in the Himalayas has once again grabbed the headline in the wellness segment by being voted as the ‘Number One Spa in the World’ at the tenth annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Spa Awards 2012, held in London. Adding to the glory, the readers also voted Ananda as the ‘Best Overseas Spa Retreat’ at the 10th annual awards. The overall favourite Ananda in the Himalayas was awarded top marks for its ambience and design, its body treatments and individual approach. Ashok Khanna, the Founder and Managing Director of Ananda in the Himalayas said, “The Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award for Ananda as the ‘Number One Spa in the World’ makes us immensely happy and motivates us to keep evolving and raising the bar. This is the recognition of our high quality wellness programmes that incorporate the best of traditional Indian wellness principles and contemporary international spa technology. I am proud of my team and the excellence they strive for continually in making Ananda a magical and blissful retreat for its each guest.”
HOTEL Business Review
HHI Debuts in Pune One of the forerunners of the hospitality industry in Kolkata since 1969, Hotel Hindustan International (HHI) has launched its new property in Pune. With this new hospitality
property, HHI marked its presence in Maharashtra. It is the fifth hotel of HHI Group. HHI Pune is superbly designed as a contemporary business destination whilst also offering exciting leisure opportunities for relaxation, dining and entertainment. “The Pune property is stylish, upscale and is set to cater to India’s fast growing business travel market. It is created to achieve the best world class standards in hospitality, comfort and luxury. Guests can look forward to HHI’s unique offerings in more cities as we continue to expand our brand presence in
News Scan India.” said DK Jaiswal, the Chairman & Managing Director of the HHI Group. With its comprehensive range of leisure and business facilities, the HHI Pune will offer fifty elegantly designed guest rooms to start with. The interiors and facilities in these world class rooms —Colony and Colony Premium — sets an ideal fusion of leisure and luxury. To meet the needs of the discerning business travellers, the hotel has two well- equipped banquets, Crystal I & Crystal II. The banquets offer an assortment of amenities of international standard, ideal for an array of meetings, seminars, business event and social gatherings. Like other HHI properties, culinary magic will be created at the HHI Pune with The Eye Club (resto bar & lounge) and El Fresco (open air restaurant).
Starwood Hotels & Resorts to Showcase New Culinary Benefits Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its awardwinning Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program have announced a mix of new culinary benefits at over 500 restaurants and bars for SPG members globally, to enjoy at home and on the move. In conjunction with this announcement, SPG launched a new website, where SPG members can take advantage of these exclusive discounts at more than 500 restaurants and bars worldwide. The website will also feature an opportunity to register and win an around the world VIP culinary journey with an SPG member only sweepstakes ‘Around the World in 5 Meals’. Members can earn Starpoints for these dining experiences and turn a night out into a weekend getaway. Through the SPG Moments program, SPG members will have access to VIP culinary experiences with world-renowned Chefs such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Masaharu Morimoto. “We are thrilled to present a platform that showcases our award-winning portfolio of restaurants and Chefs from around the world,” said Jean Luc Barone, Vice President of Global Food & Beverage for Starwood. “Through proprietary programming, content, special access and discounts, we have created a resource that is ideal for the mobile traveller,” he pointed out. SPG members will have the opportunity to explore new restaurants and bars in their home market, or discover new venues to experience while travelling. SPG members can receive discounts ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent, at over 500 participating restaurants and bars globally, as well as continue to earn Starpoints on all eligible food & beverage spends, in order to get even closer to their next dream vacation. “In addition to uniting an amazing collection of Chefs and cuisine with SPG members, our dining moments provide members with the opportunity to indulge in memorable culinary experiences with some of the best Chefs in the world,” said Chris Holdren, Senior Vice- President of Starwood Preferred Guest.
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HOTEL Business Review
Pamper a Puff with Smoke Solution Smoke Solution India, the all India distributor for Denmark-based Smoke Solution, has recently installed their smoking cabins at Bangalore International Airport, which caters to 12 million passengers annually.
The airport did not have a designated smoking area earlier but have now placed Smoke Point cabins at strategic locations. These cabins have a capacity of 14 people and are specially designed for high traffic areas. The airport has many bars, cafés and restaurants and the customers were facing problems with smoking. After installation of these cabins the passenger experience is better. Smoke Point Smoking Cabins is the only solution that works 100 percent in airconditioned areas as it stops the spread of harmful nicotine and annoying foul odour. Since there is no ducting required, there is no need to throw the smoke filled air in the atmosphere and the cooled air after purification is re-circulated in the same area. This saves energy cost in re-cooling and there is no pollution to the environment, thereby making Smoke Point a green product. The Smoke Point Smoking Cabins are ideal for airports, hotels, restaurants, offices, bars & pubs, etc. They make socialising for non -smokers enjoyable with smokers without the risk of passive smoking. Smoke Solution India already has installations in hotel chains like Radisson Blu and Wyndham Hotels, and premium bars and pubs all across the country, such as Rockman’s Beer Island, F Bar, etc.
MEIKO Ushers a Dishwashing Revolution Named M-iQ On 16th April 2012, the world premiere presentation of MEIKO’s new M-iQ series before an international industry audience took place. MEIKO unveiled an entirely new definition of professional dishing technology for the cleaning of crockery, cutlery and glassware. Known as M-iQ, it has the potential to radically overhaul the global dishwashing industry. M-iQ is based on a platform concept that yields previously unheard of levels of flexibility while enabling high costeffective production. By assembling MiQ machines from individual modules and adjusting their height and width as necessary. MEIKO can adapt the system to cater to the needs of virtually any location. By switching the conveyor system in the modules, an M-iQ machine can be employed as either a conveyor or basket transport system. M-iQ provides all round maximum cleaning performance while keeping consumption to a minimum. MEIKO has packed its M-iQ appliances with innovative technology and cleaning techniques, allowing it to meet bold, future oriented requirements such as providing superb, hygienic cleaning results while consuming minimal resources, thanks to a raft of new processes coupled with its unique M-iQ M-Filter active wash water filter system. The brain of the M-iQ is the BlueVision control software. All the cleaning operations can be controlled from the CCTouch glass display.
The Lalit Legacy Tower Unveiled at The Lalit New Delhi The brand new The Lalit Legacy Tower has spaced in the LaLiT New Delhi — the flagship property of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, after its restoration. The Lalit Legacy Tower will be swanked by 53 designer suites and 25 luxury rooms. The Lalit Legacy Tower offers The Lalit Luxury Room; The Lalit Business Suite; The Lalit Executive Suite; The Lalit Luxury Suite and The Lalit Legacy Suite. Here it deserves a mention that The Lalit Legacy Suite embodies ultimate luxury. They are spread over 3116 sq ft, with two large bedrooms, opulent and commodious living and dining spaces and a private kitchenette with a butler. For the guests residing at The Lalit Legacy Tower, there is The Lalit Lounge, which brings a wonderful lounge experience on 20th floor. The refurbished suites have been inspired by the works of artists like Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman and Satish Gupta. An ecstatic Jyotsna Suri, the Chairperson and MD of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group said, “In 1988, we pioneered the concept of creating an exclusive tower of suites for the discerning business traveller. After twenty- three years, the tower gets a makeover. I myself led the transformation process which included refurbishing existing furniture, restoring art and recycling the artefacts, inspired by the group’s core value of minimising wastage.”
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Murlidhar Rao Viswavasu Murlidhar Rao Viswavasu has been appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer (COO), of Lemon Tree Premier. Murli has over 25 years of experience in the hotel industry and prior to this appointment, was the Vice President —Operations of Alila Hotels and Resorts, based in Singapore. He is an IHM Mumbai graduate and began his career as a management trainee with the Leela Kempinski Mumbai, where he rose to be the Senior Sous Chef and later the F&B Manager. Following this, Murli worked as F&B Manager at the Four Seasons Resort, Goa. He later led F&B at the Four Seasons Resort, Maldives and at the Oriental, Singapore. During his illustrious career, Murli was also the GM of Alila, Jakarta and later took over as the Regional GM of Alila Villas, Maldives before assuming his last role as the head of Alila’s operations across Asia-Pacific.
Samir Avasthi Samir Avasthi has been appointed as the Director of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) for Marriott India. Associated with Marriott India since 2008, he has recently been elevated to his current role. Having worked in the industry for over eight years for renowned hospitality brands such as The Grand, InterContinental, Taj, Avasthi has extensive experience in handling diverse portfolios, driving revenue and mentoring sales teams. His responsibilities in the current position entail creating unit synergies with all Marriott hotels within India to increase rotational association business and improve networking opportunities. He will also be responsible for convention sales of all the Marriott hotels in India.
Patrick Reul-Smekens Patrick Reul-Smekens has been appointed as the new VicePresident, Operations of 32nd Milestone. He brings with him 15 years of experience in the luxury hotels segment, including several years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, most of which has been earned in the food and beverage division. He has
worked in multiple locations such as Los Angeles, Bahamas, Hong Kong, etc. Patrick’s responsibilities at 32nd Milestone are to streamline, standardise and restructure the operations, in order to maximise the efficiency, quality and success of the business. A graduate from the Glion Hotel School in Switzerland, he enjoys travelling, golf and football.
Pranay Verdia Jaipur Marriott Hotel has announced the appointment of Pranay Verdia as the new Director of Operations. In his new role, he will be responsible for daily operations including rooms, housekeeping, front office and banqueting, and F&B operations. Verdia is a knowledgeable hotelier with over 13 years of experience in the industry, most of which were spent with the Marriott Group of hotels. He possesses extensive operations knowledge, and is expected to bring great vision to his new assignment as the Director of Operations. Verdia was nominated for Marriott International’s ‘EDGE’ Excellence Award, given to high performing Rooms Division personnel in 2009. He brings with himself vast and inspiring knowledge and expertise to Jaipur Marriott. Verdia has a diploma in hotel management from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Pusa, New Delhi.
Balan Paravantavida Balan Paravantavida has been appointed as the General Manager for JW Marriott Hotel Aero City, New Delhi; a 540room property. Paravantavida has invested over 10 years at the Marriott Marquis and handled over six leadership positions at this fast-paced luxury property. With over 28 years of experience in handling preopenings, conversions and takeovers of hotels in six countries, covering three continents, Paravantavida brings with him a multitude of assets; strong operational background, expertise in cost control and concept development, multi-property experience, MVCI property management, and experience in business, convention and mega luxury resort properties. Paravantavida is also well-versed with dealing with constructions, renovations and project management. He has been a member of The American Culinary Federation and American Management Association. Mar-Apr ’12
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Eves Take the Floor Horror stories about single females trying to go alone in a new city do abound and are abounding. But it is admirable that undeterred by such adversities, more and more women are seen travelling across the country and the globe. And with increasing number of single women travelling across the globe – on business or on leisure – it has become imperative for the hotel sector to ensure their safety. It is heartening to see that the hospitality industry of India, especially in the five-star and four-star segments, is making sincere efforts to go the extra mile to give women travellers unescorted by males, a welcome atmosphere. The facilities some of the hotels are offering to their single female guests not only make sure of their safety but also pamper their feminineness. The hotels have special rooms designated for them which offer them added services, ranging from broadband Internet on a wide work desk to a satin robe. The women’s floors or wings in some of these hotels have only female staff for housekeeping and are also equipped with lady butlers on call round the clock. Ashok Malkani finds that most of the five-star hotels in the country have undertaken various steps to ensure the safety of single female guests and satisfy their other feminine demands. He takes a look at the facilities for women travellers, offered by some of the hotels.
aking the big bucks often come hand-in-hand with frequent travelling; be it for work or for leisure. This statement is true for men as well as for women. These days, a miniscule section of affluent and upwardly mobile Indian women, whose numbers in absolute terms are in no way insignificant, are seen jet setting across the world, be it for business meetings or lazing on the beach. In fact, it would not be an overstatement to say that the modern Indian woman is heading out into the world of her own. If you look at the number of women who are travelling alone — not with family or friends — you would find that the number has gone up from 2 million in 2010 to 2.7 million in 2011, which is a 30 percent escalation. It is difficult to ignore the statistics showing increase in women travellers and you can be sure that this phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by the Indian hospitality industry. In this age of increased incidences of globe trotting single women, for the hospitality industry of India single women travellers are becoming a great source of revenue. No wonder, hotels
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across the country are making earnest efforts to make their single women guests not only feel secure, but also pampered with special services when they are out in the big bad world on their own.
Hospitality Enters Feminine Age As discussed, the trend towards feminine friendliness is concentrated more among five-star properties of India. Many of these high-end women travellers in these properties – comprising of business and leisure tourists – not only seek security and comfort in their hotel rooms but also expect a good amount of pampering, wellness and finer things in life. Yoga mats, diet friendly dinner salads and room service menus featuring manicures and pedicures are the sign of the times that five-star hospitality in India is entering the feminine age. The premium given to the safety of single women travellers is reflected by the fact that some of the hotels in metros and even in tier-II cities have an exclusive floor devoted exclusively to women travellers. In fact the elevator, in some of the hotels, halts at this floor
only if you have a swipe card. Take the case of Hyderabad. Even a decade earlier, guests at star hotels of this historic and modern city mainly comprised of men or families. Thankfully, the situation is not that dreary now, with single women business travellers accounting for 25 percent of their guests. No wonder, many of the three to five-star hotels in the city have a dedicated floor for women.
A Floor of Their Own ITC Hotels was probably the first hospitality chain in India to offer facilities for single female guests when it came up with the EVA concept, over a decade ago. At that point of time, it was merely an idea that seemed to have a lot of potential. Today, the floor has 75 percent occupancy all year round. The hotel chain has designed these rooms in tune with the women’s needs in order to induce them to return again and again. “The EVA concept arose from the demand from the single lady travellers to have facilities and amenities tailored to their needs. Our hotels have been accredited with the ‘Women Aware’ certification, making it the preferred
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foreign nationals or even an Indian woman may not know how to drape a saree/ salwar kameez; hence a lady associate may be sent to assist for the same. “Assigning women in adjoining rooms is also a practice. It has been often noticed that they like to socialise and network,” added Vaid. Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai, Vashi also emphasises on the safe and comfortable stay of their single women guests. “If they check-in during late hours, the single lady travellers are escorted by the guest relation executive or a female associate. Moreover, all their incoming calls are screened before they are put through, and their room numbers and identity are kept confidential,” informed Sumit Kant, General Manager of the hotel. The rooms of the single lady guests at the hotel are usually serviced by a female attendant or a lady butler. choice for single lady travellers from across the globe,” explained Dipak Haksar, COO – ITC, Hotels Division. He also added that the option of staying in an EVA room rests with the single lady traveller. “The choice of amenities and services in these rooms has feminine focus. Also the colour and upholstery are more suited to women’s choice. I may mention that more and more travellers, especially women travellers, are choosing to be eco conscious and they prefer to endorse green hotels. This gives us an added advantage as most of our hotels adhere to sustainable practices, in line with the ITC ethos,” added Haksar. Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel is another of the multitude of properties which invests special care in addressing the need of their lady clientele. “More and more women are nowadays travelling to places for business and leisure where they have never been to before and they need to have a sense of security wherever they go and stay. Nowadays lady patrons give utmost importance to the security factor. Hence we make sure they feel comfortable and secure in the hotel. For the lady guests we preferably block the higher floor which is closer to the elevator,” informed Raghu Sapra, Director of Rooms, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Center Hotel.
Detail and Privacy, Not Isolation At Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport, a special sort of women enclave is created for single female guests, which affords privacy without entailing isolation. It is designed to cater to the needs of women travellers, who are growing faster than the male travellers. At Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport, on request, the hotel has lady butlers/housekeepers to cater to the demands of their female guests. Also, a room close to the elevator is blocked for the lady a day prior to the lady’s arrival. All ladies travelling alone are preferably placed close to each other, completely avoiding the corner room allocation. When a lady is checking in late at night, a lady associate (staff ) escorts the guest (lady) till her room. “Since lady travellers tend to use make up; a lot more attention to detail is given while making and also servicing the room (eg: extra cotton swabs, ear buds, moisturiser, conditioner, blow dryers, vanity mirrors, extra soft socks, green tea sachets, etc). For ladies carrying their own kits/toiletries a special arrangement (space) in the room is given for the kit to be placed,” elaborated Nishchint Vaid, the Director of Rooms, Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai International Airport. Also, at times
Sanitation and Hygiene Besides security, finer details and privacy, sanitation and hygiene are other prime factors for lady guests. It is a wellknown fact that ladies are more sensitive to hygiene and sanitation than their male counterparts. With female travellers increasing by manifolds, the hygiene factor among the housekeeping department of the hotels is gaining more importance, which includes impeccable air quality and sanitation in rest rooms and elsewhere of the hotel, among others. The clean & hygiene drive in hotels is not only limited to extensive use of santisers, detergents, and other cleaning agents that protect against microbial attack. In five-star properties, you would find commodes fitted with sanitary bands which ensures that only the occupant guest breaks the seal and uses a fresh bacteria free toilet. Emphasis on feminine hygiene is gaining ground in hotels. For example, keeping disposable bags along with sanitary bins is a practice conducive to feminine hygiene.
Going the Extra Mile At Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad, the lady guest is tracked with a special VIP code right from the moment the reservation is made to her arrival and thereafter through her stay to the time she departs. “Complete patrolling of the
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floor through day and night is being ensured. Especially when a single lady checks in, the list is shared with Loss Prevention Department so as to ensure the complete patrolling of the floor, especially in the night,” informed Shashank Sinha, Front Office Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad. Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad also ensures that single lady guests have added amenities like floss, nail polish remover, nail filer, scrubs, bath salts, extra moisturiser along with regular bathroom amenities. The room check is done away from the counter for the single lady travellers with bouquet on arrival. Also, their rooms are serviced by a lady associate from housekeeping and guest relation associates keep in constant touch with them during their stay to cater to their needs. The reception also does not permit any outsider to her room without getting appropriate clearance from her end. Moreover, the rooms for single lady travellers are not interconnecting, and are closer to elevators (as per individual preferences),
and not in isolated corners of the floor. At the Royal Orchid, a lady customer relationship executive receives the female guest at the airport. “Rooms for ladies are usually blocked away from elevator unless the lady guest requests for room close to elevator, as per preference. We also handle all their telephone calls with discretion. We take down caller details, inform guest and check if she wants the call connected after which we connect the call. Else we inform the caller that a call back will be organised. The room number is not disclosed,” averred Hari Sukumar, Hotel Manager, Royal Orchid Bangalore. The Westin Hotels also adhere to certain concepts to ensure safety for their female guests. In fact, recently The Westin Mumbai Garden City became the 1st runner up in the category of Best Business Hotel for Women Travellers at the first ever Travel & Leisure India’s Best Awards 2011, organised by Travel & Leisure India & South Asia. “We pride ourselves on recently being awarded the 1st Runner Up in the
category of Best Business Hotel for Women Travelers at the first ever Travel & Leisure India’s Best Awards 2011. The award is a testimony to the fact that we are one of the most preferred hotels for the female travellers,” elaborated Sunil Kumar, Rooms Division Manager, The Westin Mumbai Garden City. “Industry trends have shown time and again that today’s lady traveller is not travelling only for leisure. Today, women are more independent and travel on business as well. We feel that going the extra mile in order to make these independent female travellers feel special is what sets us apart from the rest,” he added. The hotel pampers the guests with special treatment. “We reached where we are, by taking extra care of our female guests. We make arrangements to ensure that the female guests should leave the hotel feeling special,” informed Kumar. “For starters, we offer them the option of In-room or In Car check in. They are welcomed in the hotel with a personalised welcome letter presented by the guest relations manager. Extra care and attention to details are given to ensure complete comfort and see that they have a memorable experience. Furthermore, as the female guest enters her room, she is greeted with the fragrance of fresh flowers placed especially for her. The usual magazines in the room are replaced with the ones that are of interest to females exclusively. Moreover, every female wants to feel and look beautiful and we help them do that by offering an extended 20 percent discount on SPA services,” Kumar elaborated. Speaking about the safety aspect to the lady guests, he firmly stated, “Security is a priority and therefore rooms for the female guests are allocated near to the elevators and preferably on lower & non smoking floor. Lady Housekeeper/associates are appointed to attend to all their requests. Also, a concept of one point contact – single lady to single lady – is assigned for the guests.” Here it deserves a mention that The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi is the only hotel in Gurgaon to have seven dedicated rooms for single women travellers named after the Greek Goddess of breeze – Aura. These rooms
Cover Story combine unmatched comfort in modern luxury with thoughtful service. Generous in size, the Aura rooms are conveniently located near the elevators for easy access, and are serviced by female associates only. The rooms also feature ‘Forest Essential’ amenities in the washrooms. Each of the Aura rooms’ oversized bathrooms feature a dedicated makeup table as well as a luxurious rainforest shower and separate bathtub for soaking away stress or relieving sore muscles. At Le Sutra — the Indian art hotel in Mumbai, the rooms are elaborately furnished with paintings and decorative pieces, celebrating Indian art, concepts and characters from Hindu mythology which offers a rare experience to all women travellers to live amidst the best of the past and the present. The personalised services and female staff serving at the boutique hotel make the women travellers feel extremely comfortable, where they can feel at home. To pamper the ladies further, the management of the hotel has designed special packages to honour womanhood. Called ‘Senorita – Single Lady Traveler’s Package’, it includes special bathing and spa pampering. The other facilities for the single lady travellers include allocating room with bathtub, airport pickup & drop, In room check-in, personalised stationary, and satin bathrobe in the room. The single lady guests also receive a welcome drink in the room, and orchid flowers along with morning newspaper!
Tapping a Great Business Potential In order to deal better with their single female guests, many of
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the five-star hotels in India are also making an extra effort to sensitise their staff. Some are also conducting special training sessions to better cater to this segment of highly evolved travellers. The service associates at the hotels are being sensitised through training to cater to the needs and luxuries of all guest profiles, but more particularly of the single lady travellers. In some of the hotels if a lady guest falls sick, a lady executive of the hotel is designated to accompany the doctor to the guest’s room. Succinctly, with the corporate sector booming, and with it the number of single women travellers increasing by huge numbers, the Indian hotels are cashing in on the trend of assigning separate rooms and even separate floors for single women travellers and are making every effort to cater to their security, safety, hygiene, personal needs and luxuries. In fact, hotels now cannot afford to ignore the tremendous business potential generated by affluent single women travellers, who always deserve and often demand the very best in terms of safety, security, privacy, hygiene, and pampering. In this age, every star-rated hotel should have a customised plan for its single lady travellers, depending upon the number of single lady travellers it caters to on an average day. This would not only uplift their corporate image but also has great possibility of increasing their bottom lines. Going by the current trends in the Indian hospitality sector, it seems we are headed towards a woman’s world. Thankfully… ■
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India is Ready for
Adventure India always had a great many destinations for lovers and flirters of adventure. Thankfully, despite rapid ecological degradation and environmental erosion, some of these wonderful destinations still retain their wild thrill and pristine charm. The country with its boundless and diversified natural beauty ranging from tall sombre mountains to bewitching sun-kissed and wave-caressed beaches, to lonely golden deserts and dense green jungles teeming with enticing range of flora and fauna, provides a wonderful backdrop for the intrepid tourists and travellers to indulge in their essential adventurous spirit. And now the country also has a number of exciting resorts and retreats and adventure tourism options where the adventurous spirit can thrive, to complement these destinations. From tree top houses and jungle lodges to jeep safaris through the wild game, and from idyllic beach resorts to surfing on the waves or scuba diving, from camping in the mountains and luxurious desert camps to glacier treks, and camel safaris through the golden sand dunes, all are available in this country. Whether a tourist prefers to opt for heli-skiing or paragliding or river rafting she/he neednâ€™t go out of the country. However, this is not to say that the adventure tourism options and properties conducive to adventure tourism have enough diversity in India. Yes, there are lots of scope of development in this regard. With the increase in the number of adventurous domestic and inbound travellers, the hospitality industry must make earnest effort to fully harness the adventure potential of India, through both properties and packages. Here Swarnendu Biswas explores the exciting realties and the potential of adventure tourism in India.
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ndia has a plethora of tourist attractions having spellbinding and ethereal beauty. Whether you want to talk to the hills or have a passionate affair with the sea waves; whether you prefer to explore the solitude of the vast expanse of desert and thereby explore the solitude within amidst the hustle-bustle of life, or whether you want to listen to the call of the wild within you through the chirping and roars of wildlife abounding around the dense foliage, India can easily be the preferred destination of your choice, irrespective of the fact whether you are an Indian, NRI or a foreign tourist venturing into this exotic land, an ancient civilisation and a modern nation.
Destinations and Options A great many of India’s fascinating destinations of natural splendour have potential to develop adventure tourism options and properties. Trekking and skiing in the Himalayas, water sports, scuba diving and windsurfing in Goa and Lakshadweep, camel safari in Rajasthan’s desert, paragliding over the scenic greenery of Himachal, white water river rafting and glacier treks in Uttaranchal are some of the adventure tourism options which can be explored in India. Moreover, there are wildlife sanctuaries and national parks strewn across the country where you can have unforgettable jeep safaris and shoot the wildlife with camera. According to the great adventurer and the internationally known travel writer Sumitra Senapaty, the Founder of Women on Wanderlust (WOW), a travel club that organises all-women trips the world over, “The hills of Himachal and Uttaranchal are great destinations for trekking, camping, rafting and mahsheer fishing besides rock climbing, rappelling and such other activities. The deserts of Rajasthan are great for camel and horse safaris as well as dune bashing. Kashmir is also a great destination for skiing, trekking and camping, fishing, cross country snowmobiling and sledging.” Sumitra has travelled across the globe and explored every conceivable adventure tourism options which include kayaking the South China Sea, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea, sailing the seas of Seychelles & Maldives, and rafting the Zanskar in Ladakh, among others. Yes she has also self-driven through New
Zealand, cruised the Mediterranean, toured Alaska, camped out in the African bush, and much more. According to the estimates of the industry, domestic adventure tourism is witnessing an impressive growth of about 30 percent annually, while inbound adventure tourism to India is growing by up to seven to 10 percent annually. However, the fact that no state other than Sikkim spends even 1 percent of its total expenditure on tourism doesn’t speak very well for the adventure tourism of India. “Overall, adventure tourism in India is growing tremendously. A vast and diverse country like India has great potential for adventure tourism. Mushrooming of many exclusive adventure tour companies and resorts in the last few years’ shows that this branch of tourism is growing in a big way,” asserted Prema Lakshmi, the Director of Femmes en Voyage, a travel club exclusively for women, which organises diverse travel options for women travellers in India and abroad. The company is based in Bangalore. “India as an adventure tourism destination provides with a plethora of choices, ranging from trekking, wildlife, safari tours, camping, mountaineering, Himalayan/mountain biking, and skiing. The diversity offered is indeed fascinating,” confirmed Sunila Patil, the Director of Mumbai-based Strawberi Holidays, an FIT division of Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd. that specialises in catering to the inbound and outbound FIT traveller and offer specific tailor-made holidays around the world. Strawberi Holidays has covered a plethora of adventure tourism destinations across Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Ladakh, Andamans and many other areas of the country.
The Resorts for the Intrepid Now the country also has a number of exciting resorts and retreats, camps and gateways to give the necessary hospitality infrastructure support to adventure tourism. A case in the point is the Green Magic Treehouse in Vythiri, Kerala, is a case in the point. There are two tree houses at the Green Magic Treehouse; each of which has two double rooms. These tree houses are located amidst 500 acres of forest. Half an hour drive by jeep from Vythiri through coffee and spice plantations leads to the location of the resort. Both the tree houses have been constructed completely with environment friendly materials. Local craftsmen, local materials and the indigenous tribes were actively involved in the construction of these luxury tree houses at the Green Magic Treehouse in Vythiri, Kerala. The first tree house has two double bedrooms with an attached bathroom and flushing toilette, telephone, shower, wash basin with running water, carpeted veranda and sit-out. Access to this tree house is by an indigenous cane lift working by a unique counter weight of water. This house is at a height of 90 feet. The second tree house has two double bedrooms one above the other, at a height of 100 feet. Each has an attached bathroom with flushing toilette, telephone, shower, wash basin with running water, carpeted veranda and sitout. The access to this house is by a hanging bridge. Then there is Diphlu River Lodge in Kaziranga, Assam, which is one of the favourite resorts of Prema for indulging in adventure tourism activities in India. It is located in the vicinity of the Kaziranga
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National Park, and the jungle views are exceptional. Here it deserves a mention that the Kaziranga National Park is spread across 430 sq kms, bordered on the north by the mighty Brahmaputra River and on the south by the Karbi Anglong hills. It is the home to the one-horned rhinocerous an awesomely rich variety of wildlife and feathered species. The resort has eight individual cottages and four semi-detached cottages, raised on stilts above the ground. These air-conditioned cottages are made of bamboo and thatch. All the cottages are well-appointed and can accommodate two people each. They have been beautifully designed to make full use of local materials and artifacts, and they perfectly blend in with the scenic natural surroundings. Each of the cottages has a seating area with comfortable cane furniture, a writing desk, mini-bar, safe, small fridge and tea & coffee machine as well as top-quality beds and mattresses. The semi-detached cottages all have equally attractive large balconies from which one can savour the magical surroundings in the open air. All shower bathrooms are en-suite with roomy dressing area and fitted wardrobe. However, despite many such wonderful facilitative infrastructure for adventure tourism we must add that the adventure tourism options and as well as the hospitality infrastructure in terms of adventurous resorts and retreats are still highly limited in diversity as compared to that of the Europe and the US, though they are developing fast. It would be apt to say that adventure tourism in India, though a fast developing field is still in its nascent stage. But that in no way compromises on its huge potential in the country. Sumitra, however, is not happy about the status of hospitality properties pertaining to adventure tourism. “None of the resorts catering to adventure tourism that I visited are up to the mark, except for wildlife resorts in certain parks, but even they do not give the adventure in the true sense due to too many governmental restrictions or due to the crowding of too many people. The true wildlife lovers in India, if they can afford, go overseas to Africa to satisfy their passion for the wild,” explained Sumitra. She believes that “Basically each and every component in the adventure tourism chain in India
needs immense improvement to bring it to that of the world class level.” However, according to this compulsive adventurer and dynamic entrepreneur, “If we can deliver the same quality as overseas, we can see appreciable growth in the adventure tourism segment.”
The Growing Sense of Adventure Thankfully, adventure tourism is gaining momentum in India, due to the efforts by the Union and some state governments, the hospitality industry and also some enthusiastic domestic and inbound travellers who want to explore beyond the obvious and also beyond their limits. But still a lot needs to be done.
According to Sunila, “A sure shot way by which we can further the growth of adventure tourism in India is by effectively improving the infrastructure and involving individuals who are specially trained, skilled and experienced in this segment. This will also increase among the adventure tourists a sense of having a ‘secured’ and yet adventurous holiday.” Prema believes that adventure tourism in India can receive a fillip if hotels start organising more adventure activities in and around their precincts, if adventure activities are promoted among corporates for team building and motivational training, and if more tour operators began organising adventure tours.
“Furthermore, if we promote the concept of adventure tours to test one’s fitness level, the adventure tourism would garner more popularity as people want to challenge their fitness level and be happy about it,” said Prema, while adding that there is a need to “Promote adventure tourism in schools and colleges, which would encourage more youngsters to take up adventure tour packages.” According to the visionary entrepreneur, who together with her business partners Janaki Devi and Deepika, are creating success stories every day since they began their innovative venture in tourism in 2007, whether be it in terms of mental satisfaction, thrill and as well as profits, “Setting up more resorts, camps and tents exclusively for adventure tours, and taking adequate measures for safe adventure tours by all stakeholders are other important ways to give a boost to adventure tourism in India.” “In order to give a fillip to adventure tourism in India, among many other areas, the Union and the state governments and as well as the hospitality industry of India should particularly promote the trekking routes in Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra, the white water rafting options in Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Zanskar Valley, and Dandeli in Karnataka, motorbike tours in Himachal and Ladakh, soft adventures like hot air ballooning in Jaipur, Karnataka, and sand dune bashing in Jaisalmer,” Sunila prescribed. The super successful entrepreneur and adventurer also believes that mountain biking needs to be promoted in India. Sunila cites white water rafting in Uttaranchal, sand dune bashing in Jaisalmer, and scuba diving in Andaman among her favourite adventure activities in India. The need of the hour is also a national adventure tourism policy which should be endorsed by all the states, as tourism is a state subject. At the same time, much greater investment on tourism in general and adventure tourism in particular by the states is required. The quality of our adventure tourism infrastructure, in most cases, is also a cause of concern. Some tailor-made courses specifically for adventure tourism are also welcome from the part of the government and the Indian hospitality industry.
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Catering to the Adventurous Women India experiences close to one million adventure tourists every year, and as a group, the upwardly mobile women with high disposable incomes has great potential to play a decisive role in bringing more revenues to the Indian adventure tourism industry. “Today, more and more women want to go on adventure vacations so that they can meet new people and challenge themselves by learning a new skill or activity. They want a vacation that is out of the ordinary. Women are more enthusiastic about adventure and they would not mind a go at anything. Moreover women are more enduring and consistent than men. These traits make them better adventurers than men, on an average,” explained Prema. Here it deserves a mention that the woman traveller phenomenon is the inspiration behind Sumitra led Women on Wanderlust (WOW), which has been a super successful venture from the word go, achieving 100 percent year-on-year growth since its inception. “It has been an extremely satisfying journey, mentally as well as in terms of enjoyment, “pointed out Sumitra, while discussing WOW. “My first exclusive tour for women had about 17 ladies and this trip was to an eco resort to the interior part of Nilgiris next to a Toda tribal village in Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, I never had to turn back. We have organiSed more than 100 tours in the last five years to domestic and international destinations. It not only makes a good business sense but also gives me tremendous satisfaction of meeting very inspiring and talented ladies across
female adventure tourists would be a very good target segment for India’s adventure tourism if we can provide a secure environment.” She believes that in order to attract more female adventure tourists, hotels need to have a dedicated floor for single female travellers. “There is also the need for ‘Women Special Rooms’ with extensive vanity mirror, hairdryers and spa bathrooms, which Sofitel in some regions do have,” stated the power lady.
The Future is Here
India. Many ladies have joined our club and we organise innovative activities and tours every month to our members,” detailed Prema. There is no denying the fact that India needs to also gear up to attract the growing number of women adventure tourists across the world. It makes sound business sense for hotels and resorts to cater to female travellers by adding up facilities and activities to pamper them. “In order to attract more female adventure tourists, hotels and resorts in India can introduce facilities and activities which are women friendly, some of which include women trainers for adventure activities, creating a women friendly atmosphere by having many lady staff around, providing full proof security for women whether they stay in a group or as single, devising women-centric entertainment and programs targeted at the female guests,” elaborated Prema. Sunila also opined that, “Moneyed
The diversity in adventure tourism properties is also needed. More futuristic adventure tourism properties are the need of the hour; simply tree top houses and desert camps would not suffice to enable us to compete on an international level. In the west, there are fascinating options of staying in an all-ice hotel or in a snow village; concepts which are perhaps not even in the realm of imagination of the Indian hospitality industry. An ice hotel is a temporary hotel made up of snow, sculpted blocks of ice, and in some cases, with some steel framing. They are promoted by their sponsors and are endowed with special features for the travellers who are passionate about experiencing something totally different in their travels. Their lobbies often adorn ice sculptures, and food and beverages served there are specially chosen for the circumstances. The ice hotels are reconstructed every year, and are dependent upon consistent sub-freezing temperatures during construction and operations. For example, Icehotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden exists each year between December and April. The walls, fixtures, and fittings of these singular properties comprise entirely of ice or compacted snow, and are held together with a substance known as snice, which takes the place of mortar in a traditional brick-built hotel. Can we have them? And when can we have an innovative concept like ‘Jules’ Undersea Lodge,’ where you can enjoy world class hospitality 21 feet below sea level, with vivid forms of marine life swimming around you? We need to have our own ice resort and underwater lodge in order to make adventure tourism in India reach to its potential height. India is ready for adventure, is the hospitality industry of ■ India ready enough?
HOTEL Business Review
The Room for Luxury in Bathrooms
By Kanishk Gupta
hese days the hotel bathrooms are becoming source of great importance to the Indian hospitality business at large. This is more true for the five-star and four-star properties. Many guests tend to develop an impression about a hotel after just a cursory glance at the sanitary facilities of the property. Therefore, it doesn’t deserve a mention that the sanitary facilities are expected to be in a better than proper condition and make an enduring impact on the user. Few hotels also offer wellness treatments too within their hotel bathrooms, with the purpose of providing the guests the
room to relax and escape from the day-to-day stresses. For example, The Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi offers bathroom amenities made exclusively by them from pure essential oils to let their guests de-stress, relax and rejuvenate. “A bathroom is a barometer of the hotel’s cleanliness,” emphasised Sanzeev Bhatia, General Manager, The Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi. Traditionally, hotels were expected to offer a comfortable room with an attached bath for guests. However, with the advent of the luxury age there was a need to customise guestrooms and bathrooms alike. “Luxury by itself means indulgence and we are in the business of indulging our guests at every opportunity,” stated Bhupinder Rawat, Executive Housekeeper, Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi. Today, guests spend a reasonable amount of time in bathroom and use a variety of sanitary ware and toiletries. In a hotel’s bathroom, the equipment most used are perhaps the bath tubs and shower cubicles, where guest tend to spend her/ his maximum bathroom time. In a hotel’s bathroom, a guest looks for a spic and span WC, a good washbasin, a good shower area and a large bathtub too. But why do many of the guests require this bathroom infrastructure to be exclusive and top of the class? “What used to be a purely functional place for personal hygiene is increasingly becoming a comfortable place of retreat with multiple uses,” explained Bhatia. Bathrooms in hotels have now extended beyond being a cleaning and grooming room to a space where one can relax and even rejuvenate. Thus, the concept of large spacious washrooms came into
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existence, while keeping in mind the “With the advancement in technology, functional aspect of the sanitary ware and bathroom environments can be tailored for equipment used. In fact, the functional aspect individual preferences from digital showers and of the bathroom should never be faucets, to music and aromas, thereby compromised while elaborating on its stimulating all the senses and making the guests luxurious offerings. The average person’s day feel relaxed and pampered,” elaborated Sujata begins with the bathroom. Now imagine if Hoon Belwal, an interior architect who is the there are any issues with regard to its President of Designtec and is also a former allied functionality…would one like to indulge in member of the American Society of Interior luxury and then get hassled with trivial Designers. things? Moreover, the experience in the Interior designers like Belwal assist the hotel bathroom is a private one and guests do not in designing the bathroom, in choosing the want to have a situation where they have to supplier and the equipment. “No matter what ask for repeated help. Thus, the Shangri-La’s impression you want to make on your guest you Sanzeev Bhatia Eros Hotel believes in the use of the best can find the right hotel bathroom equipment quality of bathroom equipment and sanitary and supplies; there are dozens of companies out ware in terms of functionality. there competing in the market,” she added. What Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel does is that it looks at all the Today, in hotels, different bathroom equipment facilities critical areas and then decides on the very best and various types of sanitary ware are seen. quality bathroom equipment and sanitary ware The Metropolitan Hotel in New Delhi uses international brand equipment with water which are available in the market and sources them for its hotel. “It does not matter from saving system, pressure adjustment with both which corner of the world we procure them as hot and cold water temperature control, wall our end promise to our guests is all about a hanged oval WC and square shaped top luxurious feel in every aspect,” asserted Rawat. mounted washbasin, single lever mixer with pop up waste system with water temperature control, head rainwater shower and hand Sleek Sanitation shower with pressure and temperature control These days, one of the prevailing trends in by four way diverter. The Metropolitan Suite décor and design of hotel bathrooms is the has Jacuzzi in-bathtub, shower cubicle with transition of the environment. Thus, it is latest equipment and double washbasins too. important to design a bathroom in a hotel, In the washrooms and bathrooms of the especially in a five-star or four-star hotel, that Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, you will find is functional yet funky and creates a relaxed Bhupinder Rawat washbasin, bath tub, shower cubicle, weighing and intuitive environment.
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scale, shaving mirror, vanity mirror, hair dryer, WC, Hide-a-line, different types of shower heads and taps. All plumbing fixtures are from Aqua Plus, India with technical cooperation from Germany. Bathtubs are from American Standard, USA, while ceramic products like WC are from Jacob Delafon, France. Washbasins at the hotel are the products of Rocca, Spain.
But how does the hotel determine what equipment it wants and how does it choose its suppliers? “We do a lot of market surveys and based on them we choose the optimum quality product which gives us value for money,” averred Bhatia. He added that quality, durability, user-friendliness, ecofriendliness, guest comfort and availability of good after sales service are factors that The Metropolitan keeps in mind while placing the Creating Guest Satisfaction orders for bathroom sanitary ware. Today’s discerning guests usually seek a haven “Functionality is the name of the game. We in hotel bathrooms; they are often widely look at the products we source in terms of travelled and are very well aware of the latest visual appeal, feel, durability, environmental Sujata Hoon Belwal trends in the market. Finding the right friendliness, and ease of maintenance. They amalgamation of product, technology and should also have local distributor for easy design is crucial in finding this haven, away from the day-toavailability and good service support. After sales service is day stresses of hectic life, for the hotel guest. “Besides using very important when we choose a product,” articulated the best bathroom equipment and supplies, one can just add Rawat. He added that the range of equipment should look the right note of style and elegance in her/his design, thereby state-of-the-art and be easy to use. making a guest’s visit to a bathroom a memorable So, what is the process involved in getting the purchase experience,” pointed out Belwal. order; finalising the choice of manufactured products and Bathroom and sanitary ware equipment suppliers like delivering the products to the hoteliers? “Once a mock up is GROHE assist hoteliers in determining the requirement of complete and confirmation is received from the developer/ bathroom equipment and sanitary ware and make specific designer/operators, the process commences, which includes recommendations. “Every hotel has a keen sense of style as commercial discussion/negotiation, design confirmation and well as a defined brand image that it wants to project. The technical feasibility, confirmation of quantities, and products that they use are selected carefully as they all finalisation of payments. For imported products, we have to contribute towards forming a perception of the hotel,” make sure that the EPCG license is available, and there is explained Bijoy Mohan, President, GROHE Asia-Pacific. agreement on shipment time — 8 to 10 weeks up to CIP GROHE provides a wide range of products that jointly destination. The costing for the products and equipment offer complete bathroom solutions to its client hotels. These provided are finalised on the basis of the volume of the products include: basin mixer, shower mixer, rain shower and products, the design, special SKUs, and the category of multiple flow showers, thermostat shower mixer, concealed hotel,” detailed Mohan. cistern, accessories, traps for wash basin, and angle valves. “The hospitality industry forms a significant part of our Prevailing Trends in the Industry clientele and 15 percent of our business constitutes from India is a fast growing market for quality products, which hospitality,” affirmed Mohan. includes quality sanitary ware too. What is more important is Hotels which cater to high-end customers and want to offer the Indian economy is expected to sustain these growth rates a comfortable experience often opt for GROHE to provide for premium products for the next few years. Currently, the ideal bathroom solutions. There are several factors on the basis total Indian sanitary ware market is worth around Rs. 2500 of which GROHE recommends its products. These are crore with a growth rate of about 10-15 percent per annum. categories of the hotel – three-star, four-star or five-star and Of the total sanitary fittings market size in India, the their location, past experience with the group; premium segment constitutes 10 percent. “Earlier, the selection of fittings was guided specification if any from designers; design by either price or design with minimum trends and preference of the developer – consideration to functionality. But today, the design/value for money/water saving. latest trends are advocated by functionality and Factors for Sourcing design, leading to an orientation towards Since The Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi has detail,” asserted Mohan. an EcoMet program (the ecological philosophy The sanitary ware market in India has grown of the hotel based on the wisdom of Ayurvedic rapidly during the last decade. Major science and knowledge of modern science) it influencing factors for these trends are the prefers environmental friendly equipment that burgeoning middle class where disposable entail water saving, temperature control, etc. incomes are on the rise, hence implying and which saves energy costs. At the same increased purchasing power and a greater time, the range of equipment need to be userexposure to international standards as well as friendly and durable and should not in any the desire to emulate them. Bijoy Mohan way sacrifice guest comfort and convenience. With the increases in the purchasing power,
Design people have started taking interest in premium sanitary ware products, and this trend is of course reflected in the hospitality industry too. The globalisation has also made the guests and as well as the hospitality industry at large more aware of the possibilities and the options of quality sanitary ware available in the market. This in turn allows them to make and demand better and informed choices when it comes to their bathroom fittings. The sanitary ware market in India is witnessing significant growth not only with the change in the perception of the Indian consumers but also in terms of product innovation and with major players increasing their production capacities in India. All said and done, quality sanitary ware has huge demand in the Indian hospitality industry and consequently, the world’s most popular sanitary brands are making their presence in the Indian hospitality sector. Another significant development in the sanitary ware market in the Indian hospitality industry is that the manufacturers have realised the importance of less complicated, compact and efficient fittings. This trend is reflected in the growing demand for shower systems, which synthesise the mixer, head shower, hand shower and body showers into one unit. Wall mounted fittings are also an emerging trend in the hospitality sanitary ware which derives from the demand for better functionality. They are gaining popularity because not only are they a great enabler for the designer, but they are also easier to maintain due to lesser
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water contact with the product surface. Last but not the least, another fast growing trend in the realm of sanitary ware in the hospitality industry is of environmentally conscious luxury. For example, water is regarded as a scarce and fast dwindling resource and the concept of luxury at the cost of this scarce resource is no more accepted. “GROHE EcoJoy products squarely address this issue by allowing water savings of up to 68 percent, which can be achieved without any compromise on performance and design,” clarified Mohan. ■
HOTEL Business Review
Sofitel Mumbai BKC A Blend of French Elegance and Indian Tradition
By Ashok Malkani
ofitel Mumbai BKC recently opened its doors in the new Central Business District of Mumbai, at The Bandra Kurla Complex, affording easy access to major highways and tourist attractions in North and South Mumbai. Sofitel Luxury Hotels, known for their contemporary French hospitality marked by opulence, recently launched the Sofitel Mumbai BKC in the heart of Mumbai; the first in an exciting line-up of future projects. Here it deserves a mention that Sofitel is the flagship brand of the Accor group around the world as well as a separate business unit with its own organisation. With The Mumbai Stock Exchange and major banks moving to Bandra Kurla, the immediate area around the hotel is fast developing into a business hub for the financial capital. The hotel also provides convenient access to both the domestic (30 minutes) and international (45 minutes) terminals of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. According to the management, it is the first in an exciting line-up of future
projects. The hotel blends French culture and design artistically with rich Indian tradition in a neo art nouveau style. It offers multifaceted experiences in cuisine, entertainment and relaxation, where buoyant business meets elegant lifestyle. According to Bernd Schneider —Area General Manager, Sofitel India, and General Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, “Sofitel Mumbai BKC will introduce Mumbai to a luxurious blend of French elegance and Indian culture. This hotel will become a key address infusing French elegance, savoir-faire, and art de recevoir coupled with India’s rich heritage of personalised service, tradition of luxury and depth of culture to provide the backdrop for memorable stays.” The hotel design embraces modern and elegant interiors, creating a French contemporary feel with a blend of Indian colours, shapes and patterns. Marble and chandeliers adorn the lobby. Sofitel Mumbai BKC has been meticulously designed by the architects at BBGM (USA), with interior designers being the Miaja Design Group (Singapore), led by
Isabelle Miaja, a renowned French designer. With 49 Superior Rooms, 182 Luxury Rooms, 40 Club Millésime Rooms, eight Junior Suites, 22 Prestige Suites and one lavish Imperial Suite, the hotel offers a wealth of accommodation choices. All 302 rooms including 31 suites feature the exclusive MyBedTM concept; an allfeather bed combined with an extra-light down duvet facilitates a perfect night’s sleep. A pillow menu, sustainable practices, custom-designed furnishings, L’Occitane en Provence and Hermès room amenities contribute to the luxurious design for bedrooms and suites of the hotel. All rooms of the property are endowed
Property with hardwood timber flooring, large windows, spacious bathrooms, with oversized tubs and separate showers. A choice of King-size beds or large Twin beds is available in the Luxury and Club Millésime Rooms. Junior Suites offer spacious surroundings with combined living and sleeping areas, while Prestige Suites present a sense of luxury and elegance with their distinctly separated living and sleeping areas. The magnificent Imperial Suite of Sofitel Mumbai BKC with its two bedrooms, an in-suite office and beautifully designed living spaces stretches across 1700 sq. ft. and keeps the guests in an environment of spacious and luxurious interior design; blending the best of French flair with Indian inspiration. The Club Millésime, the hotel’s Club Floor, comprises an executive lounge and bar with indoor and terrace seating. Inspired by the French ‘Art de Recevoir’, this exclusive club features express checkin, evening canapés, an exclusive selection of wines, butler services and many other special attractions. Sofitel Mumbai BKC also has its very own signature So SPA for guests, which is spread across 6000 sq. ft. on a dedicated floor. The So SPA is designed by the renowned French designer, Isabelle Miaja. The spa has six treatment rooms. Of these, one is an exclusive couple’s spa area with a private Jacuzzi and other amenities. The So SPA treatments draw inspiration from a French gourmet restaurant menu; another area of Sofitel’s sphere of excellence. The Starters &
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Desserts last for 30 minutes, whereas the Main Course lasts between 30 & 90 minutes. There are a few Specials and Menu Suggestions that last up to 150 minutes per treatment. At So SPA, the abundance of peace meets the abundance of space and the spa promises a unique personal experience, with amalgamation of original music and exclusive signature treatments. The spa has products from Cinq Mondes and Gemology. “Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s So SPA is an exhilarating, uplifting and rejuvenating experience offering a mix of treatments from India and around the world. So SPA is a true escape from the hustle of Mumbai city and is an exceptional spa with a unique experience,” asserted Schneider. InspiredMeetings™, Sofitel’s meetings concept, is dedicated to making every event a success. It is equipped with the latest conferencing technology. From an experienced meeting planner and concierge to a dedicated Chef, every detail here is tailor-made to the guests’ requirements. The dedicated 2nd floor of meeting space with six meeting rooms is designed to allow a wide range of event styles. The InspiredMeetings™ floor features six meeting rooms and the Grand Salon ballroom. The Grand Salon ballroom can accommodate up to 252 guests and offers superb venues for conferences and
events. The full-service Business Centre and the Loft Kitchen give the offerings on this floor a holistic perspective. And for your dining experience the hotel has six restaurants and bars. They include Pondichéry Café, where you can find an Indo-French blend of tastes and textures. Pondicherry Cafe, which serves buffet and à-la-carte selections 24 hours a day, Tuskers Dining Bar, which presents a sense-awakening vegetarian menu, and Jyran Tandoor Dining and Lounge, which brings to life the culinary delicacies of magical North-west Frontier Province, are some of the tempting culinary havens of Sofitel Mumbai BKC. Then there is Artisan – Épicerie Pâtisserie Chocolaterie, which is a treasure-trove of house-crafted chocolates, charcuterie and the finest cheeses. Freshly baked cakes, artisan cheeses, charcuterie and decadent chocolates can be savoured at this café. L’OH – Pool and Bar is a serene, open-air space, which invites you to indulge in delectable light bites and a selection of beverages, which can complement your ■ dip in the azure-blue tiled pool.
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Sofitel’s New Luxury Repositioning
Sofitel Luxury Hotels, over the last three years, has repositioned itself globally in the luxury hospitality segment, disclosed T. Markland Blaiklock, Senior Vice President, Sofitel Asia Pacific, Sofitel Luxury Hotels, while speaking to this publication. The excerpts of the interview follow: Why did the number of Sofitel Luxury Hotels have been reduced in the recent years from 206 to 130?
With a new understanding of Sofitel’s luxury positioning; its emphasis on offering the discerning traveller a sophisticated hospitality experience and a celebration of the finer things in life, the streamlining of the network was essential for achieving overall consistency. More than 110 establishments that did not comply with
the new standards have lost their branding since 2007. An ambitious renovation plan was launched to ensure cohesion and upgradation of the network. 95 percent of our hotels, including those in London, Paris, Lyon, Munich, Marrakech, Hanoi, Marseille, Polynesia, Amsterdam, Brussels, Los Angeles, Aswan and Cairo, now display the new identity. In parallel, Sofitel has also continued to expand, opening 20 ‘new generation’ hotels over the past 18 months – spread across diverse geographies such as UAE to China, Bahrain to Turkmenistan, Morocco to Bangkok, Columbia to Cambodia, and Mauritius to Egypt. We will continue to build around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, over the next five years, thereby strengthening the brand and offering a unique luxury product to the market. Can you enlighten us about the Sofitel So properties?
We have made investments in Thailand and Mauritius and come up with the new Sofitel So line of lifestyle and design properties. The Sofitel So hotels are a label of Sofitel Luxury Hotels, which embody stylish modern living and contemporary vibe. Sofitel So hotels are unique boutique properties reconciling design and pleasure. A signature designer or artist builds each Sofitel So property. Sofitel So Mauritius was the first Sofitel So address in the world, designed by Kenzo Takada, showcasing the resort with a playful twist. Sofitel So Mauritius has been very well received. Sofitel So Bangkok will open in early 2012 and is designed by Christian Lacroix. This will be followed by Sofitel So Singapore, in 2013. Can you say something about Sofitel’s global presence?
Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence in five continents with 120 addresses, spread across almost
40 countries and more than 30,000 rooms. Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts, adapted to the needs of today’s more demanding and more versatile consumers who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, London, New York, Shanghai or Beijing, or nestled away in a country landscape in Morocco, Egypt or Thailand, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French ‘art de vivre.’ What is your ambition about the Sofitel brand?
Sofitel’s ambition is to be the leading French and European ambassador in the international hotel sector, which is mainly dominated by brands from Asia and the English-speaking world. With its new positioning, the brand aims to assert its position in the world of luxury. What is the distinction between the Sofitel Legend and Sofitel So?
Sofitel Legend is often housed in registered buildings that encapsulate hundreds of years of history; legendary locations that have witnessed the march of history and major destinations in the city or country that serves as their backdrop. Each Sofitel Legend is a unique jewel, offering a journey to the heart of luxury and history, where the line between myth and reality blurs. The first Legend was the Métropole d’Hanoï in Vietnam, which became the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in July 2009. Sofitel So on the other hand is the designer, boutique hotel vision of Sofitel, featuring trendy, resolutely contemporary locations. Each Sofitel So property blends design with pleasure and style with personality to express the very essence of designation. The concept combines the Sofitel art de vivre and a style that contributes to an international signature derived from fashion, art or design.
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Hotels in Tune With the Fitness Mantra By Kanishk Gupta
he commercial health and fitness industry in the country is serviced by 7-8 leading brands and is about Rs.200 crore in size. It is growing at about 20 percent annually. The hotel guests, especially the five-star hotel guests, have become very discerning about the fitness facilities provided at the property. The hotels and as well as the suppliers are working hard to create and maintain guest satisfaction, with exacting fitness facilities. Nowadays, the hotel’s health and fitness market is substantial in size and the hoteliers are also choosy when it comes to special features in the fitness equipment that they purchase. Their expectations from the supplier are on the rise. These days, with the increase in health consiousness, there have been
emergence of a significant number of people who do not want to miss on their workout even for a day. This healthy trend is also reflected in the travel and hospitality industry. The modern day traveller is more ‘health conscious’ than her/his earlier counterparts, and wishes to stay healthy and fit even while travelling. In such a healthy scenario, a hotel which offers adequate health and fitness facilities is always preferred. For example, every Bharat Hotels’ unit has a state-of-the-art health and fitness centre. Here, offering a luxurious setting with state-of-the-art fitness equipment is a must, involving no compromise. This ensures that the guests will come back. As the competition grows in India, the management at the hotel chain feels that the traveller deserves more for her/his money. “Often
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the deciding factor behind both the length of stay and even whether the guest will in fact stay, boils down to the quality of the spa and fitness centres being offered. We must stay abreast of what is going on in the international markets to give our valued guests the best the market has to offer,” explained Richard Rosen, Spa Head Corporate, The LaLiT New Delhi (a Bharat Hotels enterprise). Given this situation, health and fitness consultants like Kiran Sawhney, a wellness trainer who runs Fitnesolution, assist hotels in designing the fitness centre, and in choosing the supplier and the equipment. “I take up a full project from designing the gym to setting up the equipment, training the fitness trainers for using the equipment, to setting up the software, follow ups and troubleshooting,” informed Kiran.
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fitness centre and the facilities they offer because they do not want to compromise on their fitness regime. Guests look for clean, luxurious and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. They also look for a wide variety of equipment that suits their fitness needs, and enables them to be creative while using the fitness centre. “Even the ones who are not so well aware, do appreciate a good service and facility of a good fitness centre,” opined Kiran. Nowadays, guests are also looking for well-skilled and helpful staff with international certification, having a healthy look and a good grasp of the English language. Besides these, guests are looking for attention to their every desire with regards to amenities, hygiene, assistance, music, etc. Besides having the conventional range of fitness equipment, “Hotels should get new fun stuff like bosu, ramp, rebounder, reformer, etc. They should also get qualified and experienced staff to conduct the fitness classes,” averred Kiran. The fitness centre hours at hotels must also be able to accommodate the late night or early morning guest. “For the requirement of our valued guests, a fivestar international fitness centre is assured. The LaLiT takes pride in being able to accommodate the desire of the most discerning guests,” confirmed Rosen. At The Park, New Delhi the health
What Guests Expect? “We have modern equipment at all our health clubs which makes exercise a fun task for our guests and this is what they look for. Work out keeps them fit and energetic and a lot of guests use the health club facility each day throughout their stay,” asserted Vaneeta Arora, Director — Housekeeping, The Park, New Delhi. These days, guests to five-star and four-star properties are well travelled and as such many of them are very aware of the international level of fitness equipment. And they know exactly what they want and appreciate the difference between great and good service in the gym. Some of them actually select a hotel after seeing the
club facility is free for in-house guests and it is on membership basis for outside guests. The hotel offers world class facilities which are available in any professionally managed modern gym and has the necessary equipment on which the guest can work out all the body parts. However, at the units of Bharat Hotels, health and fitness facilities are complementary for hotel guests and club members. The LaLiT New Delhi has a comprehensive array of state-ofthe-art fitness equipment that can cater to every body part and a complete cardio line for cardio fitness buffs. There is enviable variety in free weights, dumbbell and barbells, along with benches, racks, Swiss balls, power plate, etc. “We offer yoga classes, core fitness classes (the mat form of Pilates), kickboxing, tennis and squash. Our personal trainers are certified and tested by myself so as to ensure that an international standard is maintained,” elaborated Rosen.
So how do hotels source health and fitness equipment and how do they choose their suppliers? “The most important factor is to ensure that the quality of the equipment is of high standard and is easy to use. We ensure that we import the best quality of equipment and offer our guests all possible options to give them a good experience,” stated Vaneeta. The LaLiT New Delhi stays with two lines of fitness equipment which have proven themselves in the international market in terms of all round quality.
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“We pay close attention to our guests’ needs and make all efforts to ensure that they are happy. We deal directly with the supplier, which ensures that we get the best possible service,” affirmed Rosen. Most hoteliers agree that fitness equipment should be user friendly and comfortable at the same time. They shouldn’t be very bulky and must have all the modern features so that the guests can customise their exercise experience. “The equipment should have a zero injury quotient. We expect our vendors to provide us with hi-end equipment which is easy to repair, in case of any damage,” concurred Vaneeta. Hotels are increasingly looking for special features in equipment like quality, innovation, simplicity, durability and a sleek modern design. “We have two suppliers with whom we work and both keep updating their lines. In a supplier we look for honesty and integrity; two of our core values. I am adamant about time agreements with all suppliers. I can’t tolerate in-operative equipment on the floor nor can we wait around as our valued guests deserve to have equipment which is working and in proper order. I expect our suppliers to come out when called, quickly and if a part is needed, then the supplier should supply it fast. I also expect them to come out once or twice a year to give refresher training and updates on equipment. I expect that when I call or write to my supplier, revert or call back comes the
same day,” asserted Rosen. It doesn’t deserve a mention that topof-the-line fitness equipment in five-star hotels’ health and fitness centres are always imported from overseas. “Most guests spend one hour to one and a half hours in the gym and about half of our guests will go for a steam/shower afterwards. Sometimes, if the weather permits, they also take a swim. The treadmill and cross trainer seem to be the chosen cardio equipment of choice. Both the upper body press machines and leg extension machine are the most used with regard to strength machines,” added Rosen. “Mostly in case of big projects, at least 4-5 brands are involved in competition for the contract. Technical specifications and pricing are the major factors for winning the project,” informed Sudhir Ramdas, Chief Operating Officer, Trinity HealthTech.
Delivering Fitness Though the purchase of fitness equipment in hotels is always at the last stage, constant follow up and regular update with the decision makers is very critical. Further to negotiations and technical presentations, detailed comparisons are made by the project team of the hotelier and then final presentations are made to the owners and/or the General Manager of the project. After multiple rounds of discussions, changing of equipment and negotiations, once a contract is won, the purchase order is placed for procurement of the equipment or the range of equipment. After ordering, it
normally takes 6-8 weeks for delivery of the product/s from the principal company. Once dispatched, documentation as per the Letter of Credit is very important again as most of the hotels import under EPCG license. “After clearance of the equipment from the port, once the products are delivered at site, our installation team assembles and commissions the range of equipment as per the prescribed layout for the floor plan,” averred Ramdas. “We are the master franchisees for OSIM International Ltd, Singapore. We get all our materials from our principals and we always have sufficient stocks to cater to any urgent demand. We also provide EPCG pricing for bulk purchases,” informed Shaily Grover, Managing Director, OSIM India- a division of Paramount Surgimed Limited.
Costing and Special Discounts Costing of fitness equipment for hotels, like all other costing, is generally determined by the nature of the project. Trinity HealthTech as distributors gets a price from the manufacturers and give at least 25 percent discount on the retail prices initially and then based on competition and negotiations, it sometimes gives even 40 percent discount. In some cases, the principal company would have worked out a special price as part of the empanelment process. These prices are provided for the project and mostly the local owners want better prices or warranty in terms of their project. “These special discounts are determined by the prominence of the brand, location and also if we have done previous contracts with the hotel,” explained Ramdas. In the case of OSIM India, Grover informed that, “We provide the best possible value for money and in case of bulk purchases also, assist with EPCG pricing support.” In some leading hotels, Trinity HealthTech has supplied cardio equipment with touch screen entertainment options with TV, iPod with USB compatibility. Smaller and business hotels buy more of the normal range with basic TV facility as they look at this facility as just an additional service and not essentially as revenue
Te c h n o l o g y
generation or positioning tools. “We also have personalised training options with 1 million programmes by specialist American personal trainers, on the range of our cardio equipment. These are generally bought by big hotel brands,” articulated Ramdas. OSIM India, on the other hand, has supplied massage chairs to various hotels, airport lounges, etc. The company supplies excellent massage chairs especially for lounges. Its massage chairs are compact and saves space where the foot massager rolls back inside the chair so that it results in 30 percent space saving. “We have also supplied air purifiers to a renowned hotel chain for its various properties, which they have put in their premium rooms,” said Grover.
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installations, which are fully done by our technicians. The servicing is also supported by our technical staff. We have never encountered any defective equipment issue,” aired Grover confidently. “Over the last three years, with our innovative cutting-edge products, we have managed to win quite a few prestigious projects. Nearly 15 percent of our sales are from hotel clients. We expect this figure to go up to nearly 2530 percent, as it would build on our brand position for sales to other segments,” affirmed Ramdas. “Although we are a retail oriented company, we get a good number of enquiries from hotels across India and as mentioned earlier, we have been associated with many renowned names
Policy Regarding Support Services Trinity HealthTech has seven service centres, based in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Kochi. Installation is provided complimentary and the company provides two years’ comprehensive warranty during which periodic preventive maintenance and changing of defective parts is provided from its end. “Our general response time is less than 24 hours and turnaround time is less than 72 hours. We stock sufficient parts in all the major locations across the country,” asserted Ramdas. “We have given all support regarding
for various products, from our range of innovative fitness products,” stated Grover.
The Future Trends “The future trend for the fitness industry in the hospitality sector seems to be very positive as fitness and wellness awareness is increasing among the general masses also. It is becoming more of a way of life rather than just a lifestyle, and over the years, has evolved as a niche social culture. Consequently, fitness is increasingly becoming an essential feature in real estate, hotels and corporate infrastructure planning,” opined Ramdas. Yes, health and fitness have become the mantras for the future hospitality industry. “Our products are unique and we term our products in the category of healthy lifestyle products. With rapid urbanisation, changing demographics, larger disposable incomes and sedentary lifestyles, the scope for OSIM products is immense and we are currently only in the nascent stage of our growth,” viewed Grover. “The future trends in the fitness industry include more fun exercises rather than serious ones; new-age exercises such as dancercise, pilates, tai chi, aqua aerobics, etc. over boring simple treadmill. For walking, power walk is in vogue, boot camp is in too,” concluded Kiran. ■
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Eco Cottages — A Gateway to Green Tourism By Tapapriya Lahiri he word ‘eco’ has been echoing around in the hospitality industry. Sustainable practices have become the buzzword in hotels and resorts worldwide, which include Indian hospitality properties too. The extent of influence of sustainable practices in the Indian hospitality industry is evident from the fact that the hospitality giant ITC Hotels has branded its properties with the apt tagline ‘Responsible Luxury.’ However, sustainable hospitality cannot thrive without sustainable tourism. One of the facets of sustainable tourism is eco-tourism. Eco-tourism can be simply defined or rather described as responsible travel to protected areas marked by pristine natural charm involving facilitation in conserving the environment and may also involve improving the well-being of local people and preserving their rich cultures. Eco tents are an innovative way to participate in ‘green’ travelling and contributing towards advancing eco-
tourism. Eco tents are created with the environment in mind and their construction should involve minimum possible affect on our land and other non-renewable resources. These environmentally friendly tents often come equipped with deluxe amenities that are suitable for the discerning guests. Eco tents can provide a refreshing travel experience while furthering a new generation of environmentally sensitive tourism. With the concept of eco-tourism gathering momentum, tourists in India can now expect to find a number of luxurious and temporary eco tents and eco cottages in the midst of the serene nature to enjoy their tranquil holidays for inner rejuvenation, in the very near future. Already the reputed outdoor furniture brand, Loom Crafts Furniture (India) Pvt. Ltd. has launched new and temporary eco tents cottages, specifically designed and conceptualised for the hospitality industry. They can be reinstalled from one place to another and it doesn’t deserve a mention that
State-of-the art Manufacturing Process The innovative design of these eco tent cottages is based around a robust aero- space grade aluminum framework, which forms the core structure of the modular building; a virtually indestructible grid of aluminum and stainless steel. Each interlocking square panel is fastened to adjoining sections by a patented locking system, designed to withstand enormous pressure. These eco tents are simple enough for anyone to assemble yet robust enough to withstand extremes of external conditions and weather. The top of these eco tent cottages is made of fire retardant tensile PVC coated fabric membrane, tailored to last for years without requiring any maintenance. Once the basic grid floor plan is in place, the interior living or working environment can be created from an extensive selection of ancillary modules.
they are friendly to the environment. In fact, Loom Crafts’ eco tent cottages are conceived and created to work in harmony with the environment. They are immaculately designed, flexible in application, foster sustainability while at the same time maintain affordability. These tents are priced within Rs.2500-3500 per sq. ft. These luxurious eco-friendly cottages offer a rare opportunity to those with a concern for the environment, but want to enjoy their holidays with the trappings of luxury; surrounded by canvas and wood along with modern day amenities that the cosmopolitan life has to offer. Moreover, the amenities at these eco tent cottages can be tailored according to the customers’ demand. These cottages are ideal for camping and also for indulging in the spirit of adventure tourism and they can bring one closer to the nature. The tents are also perfect for areas where permission for permanent structure is not granted. From hill-stations to beach resorts to scenic countryside, whatever be the location, weather or altitude, these eco tent cottages can be modified to suit the given conditions and the requirement of space. All the eco tent cottages of Loom Craft are having insulation on the top and sides, which is suitable for airconditioning. They are spruced with eco-amenities such as solar power and natural ventilation among others. The wooden deck flooring along with aluminum doors and windows — powder coated in a choice of colours— further add to the plush interior designs
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and premium finish. In addition, the elevated wooden deck flooring further ensures negligible impact on the ground. According to Rahul Jindal, the Managing Director of Loom Crafts Furniture (India) Pvt. Ltd. their eco tents are created while adhering to the guidelines of eco-tourism industry. He also added, “The complete framework of these tents is made of alloy aluminium, and their top and sides are made of tensile membrane fabric, which speaks volumes about their durability. They are wind-proof and can withstand any kind of weather.” These tents are versatile enough to be adopted to suit any situation and environment. The modular building
system of these eco tent cottages can be custom-designed to suit a wide range of applications. In fact, the potential of the Loom Crafts eco tent cottages for ecotourism is limited only by the imagination. For enjoying the wild beauty of the sea waves from the shores, definitely a beach resort eco tent cottage is an ideal unwinding option. Similarly, a safari style eco tent can take your breath away for a second or two with the thrilling resonance of the wild roars of a different kind. These eco tents and cottages do have the potential to present a new business dimension for the hospitality giants in the country, especially with the concept of sustainable tourism gaining currency. I
HOTEL Business Review
HR Becomes Simply Innovative By Kavitha Srinivasa
igh attrition in hospitality industry, which is marked by perpetual shortage of skilled professionals, spells gloom. To counter high attrition rates, the Indian hospitality industry has come up with innovative HR and management practices, which are not just cool but also offer a lesson or two for other industries of the corporate world to emulate, for effectively tackling attrition related issues. Just visualise this. If all goes well, the associates or employees of Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway will take a power nap in their break sessions on bunker beds in the coming months. After a refreshing nap, they can listen to music or bond together over a game of carom. At the surface level a break time activity cannot be singled out as a great leap in terms of human resource endeavour, especially when viewed in the larger context of the hospitality industry. However, the fact that even small measures are taken into account makes the difference. In fact, employee-friendliness is a trend in the human resource and management practice in the hospitality industry of India.
Sharing Revenues, Discoursing Solutions
have about 330 people on our pay roll.” Ever since Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway was launched last year, it Though it is admitted in the industry decided to encourage employee feedback. circles with some reluctance, the truth is This interaction could perhaps be that attrition is always on the higher side in attributed to the fact that the hotel has a the Indian hospitality industry. To counter young senior management team, with an this, the hospitality industry is looking at average age of 35. A peppy, vibrant, improving the morale of its employees forward-looking team has through various means, put together an in-house which involve both employee-oriented HR innovative and simple effort called Job Chats. measures. This is an It happens every three emerging hospitality months, at a pre-defined phenomenon, especially time, and addresses prein the five-star hotels in defined questions. This is India. “We were probably how Job Chats work. The among the first five-star staff puts forth its requests hotels in Bangalore to and even woes to the levy a service charge of Direct Manager, which are about 2 percent on our evaluated by the HR Head in-house guests and and his team. Over the diners, who use our F&B next three months, the HR services. This amount is Manish Sadhu personnel put these distributed equally requests into an action among all our plan, blending seamlessly into regular employees,” said Manish Sadhu, the pattern of work. The bunker bed is one Director of Human Resources, Sheraton such request that got materialised. Job Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, a part Chats, which was first introduced in the of the Starwood Group, while adding, “We
Management Bangalore property, has now been imbibed by other five-star hotels managed by the group in India.
The Human Factor According to the Indian Hotel Industry Manpower Survey (IHIMS) by HVS India, human resource is one of the most important distinguishing factors that set apart one hotel accommodation product from the other. In fact, it has been the single-largest driver of revenues and costs for the service industry across the globe. According to the survey, “While several measures, such as automation, training and outsourcing of services have been practiced and widely advocated, the high dependence on skilled manpower remains a critical challenge for hotels.” As the first-of-its-kind survey in India, IHIMS presents critical manpower ratios across hotels in the country. IHIMS states that higher compensation packages and lack of quality manpower owing to increased competition and high attrition as compared to other industries in the services sector have made it inevitable for the hospitality asset owners and operators to invest wisely in planning their workforce. This begins with determining optimal manpower requirements to keep their hotels operating efficiently.
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for its employees to hone their skills. Titled www.Hospitalitystar.com, the portal is a specialist in providing web based ondemand end-to-end hospitality solutions and services. The collaboration aims to provide job knowledge and impart new insights about the current and emerging scenario across various departments of the hospitality industry. Since it is an online portal, the duration taken to fine tune a department will normally take six-eight months. While this is a new initiative, Pride Hotel generally follows a professional and detailed HR policy wherein the HR department is guided by set standard operating procedure (SOP), implemented at all hotels of the group. “This SOP offers an indepth insight into the recruitment, induction, model standing orders, service rules, job roles and responsibilities, career development and growth, in fact the entire gamut of the human resources,” explained Arun Nayar, the Arun Director of Pride Hotels.
an in-house Hotel Operational Training and Management Training wherein graduates from Hotel Management enter the workforce as Hotel Operational Trainees, and Management Trainees. After undergoing an18-month long job training, they are absorbed as Supervisors or Executives of the respective department. Good news is that diehard proponents of the hospitality industry have realised how essential it is for the employees to rejuvenate. Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway has evolved a strategy of a 5.5 working day system. “It means we have two additional holidays over and above the regular four weekly holidays. Many organisations have first and second Saturday as holiday in a month. Since we have 24/7 operations, an associate can take six offs a month based on operations. We believe that when our associates are close to their families, their performance level improves,” felt Sadhu and added that usually 5 percent of the revenue of Nayar the hotel is kept aside as a budget for HR management practices.
Rotation, Rejuvenation, and Motivation…
…to Arrest Attrition
Hotel chains in India have long realised that it is necessary to treat their workforce as assets. And now towards this endeavour, hotel chains are increasingly relying on technology intervention like high definition video, mobile networks and social networking sites, to handle attrition crisis as well as natural calamity situations like evacuation plans and emergency drills. These ultra sophisticated HR tools today help save time and do away with tedious paper work. Since these are web-based solutions, companies need not invest in additional hardware, software, licenses or IT teams, thereby making them cost-effective approaches. Hotels are eager to rise above the crest by giving their employees a value-add. Here the value-add happens in the form of an out-of-the box thinking. This fiscal, Pride Hotels, which has five-star properties in Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Kolkata among other cities, has collaborated with a Singaporeheadquartered e-learning hospitality portal
It is a known fact that an integrated human resource management strategy is required so that human resource managers can meet the high performance expectations, and increase productivity and profitability levels in hotels. If all these have to fall in place, certain practices like job rotation, performance management, effective employee communication and rewards system have to be followed. “As a chain of hotels, the employees here have extensive opportunities to rotate across the group hotels and are constantly given skill upgradation sessions by external as well as internal training,” explained Nayar, and added that “Our HR budgetary allocation is between 18 percent and 20 percent of the revenue.” In its effort to avoid stagnation of employment growth, the hotel chain offers Cross Exposure and Cross Training, a system that allows employees to gain additional exposure by rotating them effectively. High attrition is of immense concern and Pride Hotels addresses this by running
Another area that the Indian hotels are focussing on is motivation; one of the main factors for keeping the employee’s spirits high. Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway felt a more productive approach to employee motivation and commitment was to bring departments out of their routine and make them do something different under the ‘Department Initiative’ endeavour. This effort requires every department to visualise a theme for a month. Based on that theme, they have to arrange a special lunch and set up props and give a final performance towards the end of the month. The event culminates in the Best Department of the Year. In an era of digital conversations, here is a humane HR practice, which encourages people to shed their conventional roles and display their talent in a different sort of way. Obviously, human interface does make a difference. It is hoped that such innovative attempts would help in arresting the high attrition rate in the Indian hospitality sector. ■
Eros — Managed by Hilton New Delhi Nehru Place
HOTEL Business Review
Develop and Explore the Concept! By Sharmila Chand
wo aspects which contribute towards making a successful restaurant are location and the concept. Here we would explore the latter in some detail. The concept of a restaurant is a composite term and entails several factors, which we would discuss below. It is important to have a dynamic concept for a restaurant and also the means of implementing that concept in order to create a successful restaurant. Whether or not you are an experienced restaurateur, you must start with a clear, good concept for your restaurant. This is valid for a restaurant in a hotel also. Experts reiterate the fact that for successful food service operations, it is crucial to have a suitable concept. Therefore restaurant operations in a hotel too must be leveraged on a suitable concept. The concept includes the following crucial elements which are the theme of the restaurant, the overall vision of the menu, the pricing and the standard of the services, the name of the restaurant, and
the ambience and décor of the facility. Together they create a first impression and also an enduring impression on the guests. For a stand-alone restaurant or a restaurant in a given five-star or four-star property to work effectively, it is important that all of these elements work together. Here we are discussing some of the elements of the concept that a successful restaurant within a hotel or otherwise must have.
Theme Planning It is important to start a restaurant with a clear theme and define its purpose at the very first outset. In other words, every food service operations must begin with the ‘conception of a theme’. The theme is the central idea of the restaurant. The theme of a restaurant is not only limited to culinary styles like Chinese, Mexican, Mediterranean, etc. though that can also be the essential part of the theme. The theme can be of a western bar, or a forest makeover, or a snow resort or can encapsulate any other idea/s that
stimulates the desire in a diner’s mind. It is always better if the theme has an element of uniqueness or manages to make the restaurant stand out from the crowd. For example, the Hard Rock Cafe is probably one of the most famous chain of theme restaurants; it is known for its focus on American rock-’n’-roll. The other notable example is the ‘Rainforest Café’ which presents a singular jungle experience to its customers, with animals and volcanoes adding to its authentic wild quotient.
Menu Planning Menu planning is crucial to any restaurant. The menu must reflect the theme that one wishes to create. It is a major factor in reinforcing the theme of the restaurant. Each potential menu item must be scrutinised on two aspects: • Does it fit into the theme? • Is it a profitable item? One must remember to respect the theme when planning food presentation and defining portion sizes. The details
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about how the food items need to be garnished, what is to be served hot and what is to be served cold need to be taken note of. Moreover, all these need to be coordinated along with the representation of your theme. The menu planning can be subdivided into two segments, the food concept and the beverage concept. (i) Food Concept Food is the most integral and important part of any restaurant’s concept. Actually the complete concept of the restaurant revolves around the food and the food should be prepared, presented and served according to the way it is actually done in the region from where the theme of the restaurant is derived. For example, in a restaurant with a Brazilian steakhouse theme, the meats have to be cooked on skewers and served by carving the meat from the skewer on the table. “Deciding what to serve is a tricky affair. The food concept of the restaurant should comply with the local culture and eating habits, and yet it has to be
(ii) Beverage Concept The beverage concept is also important, which should match the theme and compliment the food items on the menu. The drinks should also be served in appropriate glasses. For example, the glasses for serving beer and red wines are different, and that should be taken note of while serving. “The drinks in a restaurant should be available in both alcoholic and nonalcoholic form and should have the ingredients that are specific to the theme of the restaurant,” stated Harleen Singh Rawal, Food and Beverage Manager, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla.
Intelligent Marketing and Pricing
Sevilla at The Claridges, New Delhi
innovative and creative. The menu items and decor help to create a high perceived value for the customers,” affirmed Tarun Bhatia, F&B Manager, Eros — Managed by Hilton New Delhi Nehru Place.
The pricing for your products must be carefully developed according to the theme or status of the restaurant. A fine dining outlet can demand a better price than a casual café, though both can be great in their own way. In fact, a formal restaurant with a particular culinary focus (say Chinese, Mexican, Mughlai, etc.) with exotic
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ambience and decor would be treated with suspect if its prices were below those of a coffee shop. So pricing of the products in a restaurant has to be done very carefully. The concept of the restaurant needs to be marketed intelligently though. “We can create a great concept for a restaurant but the same has to be priced and marketed appropriately, keeping in mind the need and demand of the market/ target guests. There are various means of marketing — through sms, e-mailers, tele-calling, radio jingle, newspaper ad, flyers, social media, etc. Correct marketing & pricing is the key to success for any F&B outlet,” pointed out Harleen Singh Rawal. “The restaurant’s pricing should match the concept. You can always charge a bit of premium for innovation and creativity but you have to keep evolving,” confirmed Bhatia.
is easy to pronounce and spell and preferably begins with one of the first letters in the alphabet. For example, ‘Coffee Culture’ can be a catchy name for a coffee shop in a hotel, where the hotel guests may be tempted to visit to refresh their soul.
The Name Game
Ambience and Décor
The name of the restaurant, no doubt, should be easy to pronounce or spell. It is not very pragmatic for the restaurant business to keep difficult names of the restaurant, which are not identifiable by an average diner. Spend some hours or if necessary days to come up with an inovative name that
The visual part of the restaurant needs to be given particular attention while giving shape to the concept. For example, if the focus of the restaurant is on grill or spit menu then a rustic type of ambience with wooden tables is ideal. Such a facility should be ideal with an open kitchen, with a spit roast grill as a central feature. Wall shelves, salad bar & soup station should also be simple and rustic in style in such a restaurant. Take the example of Barbeque Nation chain of restaurants. They have very apt set up with live kitchen and barbeque grills at every table. “The visual part of the restaurant should be given great importance while planning any concept of a restaurant. It has to be based on the cuisine being offered and should include the basic elements pertaining to the country/ specific area from which the cuisine being offered stems from. The guest should be able to feel as if he/she has entered a unique area and visibly feel the theme even before ordering his food,” opined Harleen Singh Rawal. However, ambience and décor need not be simplistic but should have the ability to seep into the minds of the diners. “Décor of a restaurant is more than just a few things hanging on the wall,” asserted Bhatia, while adding, “It is about creating a visual effect which
We can create a great concept for a restaurant but the same has to be priced and marketed appropriately, keeping in mind the need and demand of the market/target guests. There are various means of marketing —through sms, emailers, tele-calling, radio jingle, newspaper ad, flyers, social media, etc. Correct marketing & pricing is the key to success for any F&B outlet.
- Harleen Singh Rawal, Food and Beverage Manager, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla.
There is no set formula to make a restaurant concept work, but having a definite reason for existence and character will make the chances of survival better.
- Tarun Bhatia, F&B Manager, Eros — Managed by Hilton New Delhi Nehru Place.
evoke certain feelings and tickle your taste buds.” According to Bhatia, few important elements to take care in terms of ambience and décor in a restaurant are lighting effect, kitchen display and the colours used.
Special Skills Even if all the other elements of the concept, that is the theme, its marketing and pricing, menu planning, ambience and décor gel well, bad service can mar the business potential of the restaurant. Service is the key and often special skills are required to give outstanding service that leaves an enduring impact on the guest. Also it is extremely important that the service staff, managers, supervisors & Chefs have complete knowledge of the concept of the restaurant and should be able to proactively explain the cuisine and concept to the guests, if such a demand occurs. “Special skills are always a plus and give the value for money to the guests. Chef standing in a live kitchen, doing flambé or carving meat, or a bartender flaring the bottles are expected to attract the guests. These displays can serve as wonderful marketing tools as well,” averred Bhatia.
To p F i v e T i p s By Harleen Singh Rawal, Food and Beverage Manager, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla Research the cuisine. The cuisine should be popular as per the local taste. The restaurant should have creative elements so that guests can relate to the cuisine/theme. The service staff, managers, supervisors & Chefs should have knowledge of the concept & should be proactive in explaining the same to the guests. The marketing has to be planned in advance and regular guests should be informed in advance to ensure the concept is a success. Media, food critics and prominent personalities must be invited and encouraged to give constructive feedback.
HOTEL Business Review
Healing Heritage for Today By Sharmila Chand
The majestic property, WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges in Varanasi is the latest addition to the WelcomHeritage portfolio. It embodies the famous riverfront architecture of the city. Built on sloped embankments called the Guleria Ghat on the banks of the holy Ganga river, Jukaso Ganges is close to the famous Dasaswamedh Ghat, from which the hotel is accessible by boat. Sandstone quarried from the Chunar area has been extensively used in the structural beams and columns of this property. The hotel has 15 well appointed rooms and most of them are east facing, which provide the guests with the wonderful river views and a soothing breeze blowing off it. The hotel has a multicuisine restaurant and a mini bar, and the business travellers would love the fact that the hotel is equipped with a business centre along with complementary wi-fi. These are supplemented by a gamut of other modern facilities. I got to have an interaction with Mudita Agarwal, the architect of WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges in Varanasi. This creative architect and designer has worked tirelessly to provide the right balance between the traditional and the contemporary in this wonderful heritage property. The excerpts of the interview follow:
How is this project special for you?
Firstly, the hotel’s location is simply a winner. It is located at Guleria Ghat, along the river front. The property is tucked between the imposing Bhonsle Ghat on the south and the Ganesh Ghat on the north. With the charming confluence of the river frontage, existing neighbouring glory of age-old architecture and the views of the rising sun, the property stands out as a haven for the discerning traveller. Stretching over five levels, the hotel has a wide facade, with 14 out of 15 rooms affording stunning river views. What are the special features of the property?
The special feature is the core of the building which is the courtyard at the second floor, surrounded by colonnades on three sides. Then there is a much revered Vishnu shrine and a meditation hall which have been retained in renovation. The chhatris at the uppermost terrace level look grand; they were sensitively repaired and restored with stone finials. Thick walls, solid sandstone beams, columns and finely carved brackets together lend character to the building. Briefly describe some salient features of restoration process in the original building?
Up to two feet thick brick walls on the lower levels were found to be largely stone clad. Such features have been
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retained, cleaned and repaired as far as the site allowed. Due to its proximity to the river edge, the lower levels of the hotel can be susceptible to flooding, in case of eventuality, and the reception and the lobby, situated at the lowest level of the hotel, have been designed while taking into account of this aspect, with the use of immovable stone furniture and minimum use of paint finishes. Underwater electrical cabling has been provided for reasons of safety. What has been your approach towards bringing about renovation?
Minimum intervention with heritage and local sourcing of materials were key aspects of the design and execution process. Due emphasis was placed on restricting the radius of material sourcing, as an effort towards environmental conscious design. This was done to ensure a quality that is true to the context and exacting in retaining the original character of the building. To cater to the discerning travellers, modern amenities and services were integrated into the original structure with minimal structural and visual disturbance. The plumbing
contractors and the HVAC team worked within the constraints to achieve quality in execution. In order to avoid chasing into stone surfaces, exposed conduits have been provided for electrification where concealment was not feasible. An old stairwell was cleared to make way for an elevator. The arches closed with stone at the two lower levels were opened to let in light and reduce the solidity of the façade. What about the rooms?
We have retained the original character of the rooms, including low lintels as low as four-and-a-half feet; exposed stone walls, beams and columns; existing niches and pegs (aalaas and khoontis). To provide privacy to the residents, various alcoves and nooks have been provided across the floors; on the terraces, in galleries around the courtyard and also in private balconies. ■
Radisson Blu Hotel, New Delhi, Paschim Vihar
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Awaken Your Aura at Vyoma By Sharmila Chand
ocated in the heart of West Delhi, Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar is an ideal venue for business as well as leisure travellers. The hotel offers a harmonious blend of contemporary design and upscale interiors. The hospitality property has been developed with a neo-Gothic theme; the majestic décor reincarnates the ancient splendour thereby affording the property with matchless verve. The property manifests a revival of the dominant style of the medieval architecture that endows richness to the interiors. The hotel features meticulously planned guestrooms which exude warmth and comfort to the guests. Vyoma Spa at the hotel offers rejuvenating treatments by trained international masseurs to pamper every element of your body and soul. Set in a calm and serene environment, this spa boasts of well-appointed spaces and facilities where the stream of wellness can effortlessly rinse your being. With consultation, treatment rooms and relaxation areas, the trained international masseurs are facilitated to pamper and create a more harmonious you. This fitness and wellness infrastructure of the hotel also
includes a 24-hour Fitness Center featuring a careful selection of cardiovascular and weight equipment, an outdoor swimming pool providing the perfect break from a hectic day, and a kids’ wading pool. Here it deserves a mention that Vyoma Spa has been developed in association with Pevonia Botanica.
HOTEL Business Review
Evolving Trends in Spa Business While visiting the spa, I got a chance to meet and interact with Sanjana Bhandari, the Spa Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar, which proved to be a refreshing and invigorating experience for me, and helped to enhance my knowledge base about the fast evolving wellness industry. Sanjana has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector. She has experience in varying domains like sales, marketing, management or spa. Sanjana has worked with some very well-known brands like Mayar Health Resorts Limited that owns brands such as Amatrra Spa in Hotel Ashoka, and Three Graces, Lotus Business Group in the US and Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) amongst others. The excerpts of the interview follow:
What are the current top trends in Spa?
Spas and wellness centers are nowadays placing a big focus on feet. The Chinese practice of foot reflexology and acupressure are becoming very popular with people seeking pain relief via foot massage. Unique specialty pedicures and foot spas are also on the rise. Nowadays, fine dining and spa-ing are being aggressively paired together as never before. The trend is about tasting and appreciating both. When five-star food and wine get intertwined with five-star spa, it represents the ultimate romantic celebration of senses. Spas have also started focussing on music, colour and light a lot. This new wave approach is essentially rooted in creating the right kind of vibes and ambience. The idea is to have impact on all the senses. For example, the serene
HOTEL Business Review
sounds of nature can help relax us, drumming sound can energise us, different colours can alter our mood and bright sunshine can enliven us. Beauty and grooming are seriously booming in the spa business. The profusion with which people are getting well groomed, glamourous and beautified across the globe is simply overwhelming, and spas are cashing on this trend. Nowadays, most spas are attempting to engage and delight the spa goers without a huge investment; by adding unique little touches, a few strategic â€˜wowâ€™ amenities and more unique treatments/experiences. Moreover, spas were traditionally perceived as retreats for grown-ups to relax and revitalise; far away from the madding crowd, and also away from the children. But there is a rapidly growing trend of spas becoming a family affair. People are demanding to bring teens and even tiny tots along for the spa experience. Fitness is becoming a great component in the spa operations. Some of the spas have even introduced weight management in their programs to provide quick weight loss. Spas have started introducing membership for their regular users for a long-term association, which can provide them with a healthy and luxurious lifestyle. Could you tell us the USP of your spa? What distinguishes it from others?
The USP of Vyoma Spa is basically its size, complemented with warm and personalised service. Our spa is spread across an area of 12,000 sq ft which
affords resort like comforts in a hotel, in a metro city. Please tell us about your signature treatment
Our signature treatment is Sabai Hot Stone Massage. It is a unique hot stone massage involving micronised mineral oils of malachite and zincite. It delivers an unsurpassed mineral therapy where the heat from the stones radiates through your aching muscles and joints. The ergonomically designed warm stones help transmit relaxation deeper down into the muscles. What do you enjoy the most about being a Spa Manager?
I enjoy being a part of the brand Radisson Blu and in imparting a healthy and luxurious lifestyle to our guests. Is your job challenging? Can you point out five of those challenges?
It is no doubt that our job involves a lot of challenges, along with great focus and commitment. We have the challenge to continually stay in touch with our guests. It is important to hold on to our clients by building a relationship and keeping in touch with
them through messages and e-mailers. Maintaining the consistency in quality is also one of the big challenges in our profession, as is motivating the staff to do better than before with 100 percent commitment. Retaining the staff by motivating and awarding them is also a significant challenge. What are the top three traits or skills every Spa Manager (Spa Head) must have to manage the spa successfully?
A Spa Manager should be a great sales person with a sound expertise in expense management. He should also have great motivating capacity to inspire selling skills amongst her/his team. A Spa Manager needs to also have leadership qualities and should come across as an exemplary model of professionalism and responsibility. A solid background in retail sales and consumer service, conflict resolution, communication and team motivation is of course helpful. Tell us about some other important facilities and features offered at your spa
We have a well appointed wet area for both men and women where guests get the facility to enjoy steam/sauna/ chilled shower. There is also a provision of lockers inside the wet area. What is your favourite treatment to receive and why it is so?
My favourite treatment is Myoxy Caviar & Pearl Facial. It is my favourite because it has highly advanced defense against ageing. The opulent anti-aging treatment increases skin oxygenation and suppleness. Promoting rejuvenation, the treatment dramatically reduces expression lines and wrinkles.
HOTEL Business Review
DESIGNING FURNITURE TRENDS
Neelnox is in the business of finishing stainless steel to perfection. Neelnox S.S. Mosaics are made up of tile shapes, in squares, rectangles, circles and triangles; in contemporary/ textured mesmerising designs. They have over 70 models in natural steel and coloured finishes, thereby offering a vast number of options to choose from. Here it deserves a mention that mosaics are being used in the bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bed rooms in the homes segment, and on pillars, reception areas, bar tables, lounges, pubs, showrooms, restaurants, table tops, elevator floors, etc. in the commercial segment. In fact, there is no limit to its usage, depending totally on the creativity of the design professional involved in the project. Raw material used by Neelnox is of the best AISI 304 Grade S.S., ensuring protection against any cracking/ rusting and hence any defacing of the beautified surfaces. Their coloured mosaics (gold / bronze / black and copper finish) are made from Titanium coated S.S., considered the best in the world for their durability. All these products carry a warranty of 15 years, against any possible manufacturing defects. Neelnox email@example.com
Trend N’ Design, the manufacturer of high quality furniture for hotels, motels, resorts, corporate houses and townships, offers the latest furniture trends in India and international market. The company has a thorough knowledge of sourcing and selecting the best quality raw materials for various applications, which plays a vital role in the quality of its products. The company has its manufacturing unit in Delhi. The impressive array of wooden furniture of the company includes restaurant and bar furniture for public areas and guest rooms, poolside furniture, umbrellas for pool and garden, liquor trolley, and flambé trolley among others. All weather products and accessories include garden chairs and tables, service trolleys, and bar furniture. Trend N’ Design also has a range of banquet furniture, comprising customised foldable buffet table and banquet chairs. Trend N’ Design firstname.lastname@example.org
WAKE WELL WITH SLEEPWELL Now wake up refreshed every morning with the Springfresh range of mattresses from Sleepwell. These mattresses are equipped with an innerspring system that supports the spine. It has stateof-the-art comfort technology that adjusts itself to the contours of the body to give the best night’s sleep. It incorporates the internationally recognised ‘Zero TurnTM’* technology for ultimate comfort and durability. To add to the visual appeal, these mattresses sport plush fabrics and international stitching styles, which are easy on the back and eyes too. The Springfresh mattresses come in two variants. The Pocket Spring System prevents partner disturbance and rolls together. Pocket Spring mattresses are available in Bliss, Harmony Royale and Tranquil Royale models. Bonnell Spring System ensures optimal spinal alignment. Bonnell Spring System is available in Serenity, Harmony, Tranquil and D’light models. A Sleepwell Springfresh mattress guarantees a perfect balance of comfort and support and years of peaceful sleep. Sheela Foam Pvt. Ltd. email@example.com
THE INTELLIGENT SOUND SOLUTION Jbn Sound Solutions has made it possible with the revolutionary new sound system called the Jbn Sound Ceiling®. Designed and developed in Sweden, the Jbn Sound Ceiling® is a revolutionary modular based speaker system that is installed in or suspended from the ceiling, just above the dance floor or a similar location where music is required to be directed. The size of the venue and dance floor is calculated to determine the number of modules required over a given area. The system utilises ‘Plane Wave’ technology to achieve astounding reductions in sound propagation and bass frequency transference in entertainment venues. The Jbn Sound Ceiling® can be found throughout the world and now all around Australia. Whether it is outdoor or indoor venues, Jbn’s exclusive Sound Ceiling continues its rapid growth throughout the world offering the hospitality and entertainment industries practical and sustainable environmental sound solutions. Jbn Sound Ceiling® firstname.lastname@example.org
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HOTEL Business Review
Presenting Heritage with Modernity By Sharmila Chand
Armed with degrees in arts and hotel management, Manish Kumar Singh, General Manager, WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges, Varanasi, has been successfully managing the operations of the newly opened property in the holy and ancient city of Varanasi. Singh began his career with Fortune Hotel Jamshedpur. Subsequently he gained experience and expertise through his stints in different cities of India such as Nagpur, Shirdi, Pune and Raipur among others. For more than a decade, Singh has been showing exemplary performance at every level of decision-making and in various departments. While he is good at nearly all operations pertaining to hospitality, his strength lies in attaining corporate goals, cost control, and sustaining profitability through building strong customer relationship to facilitate repeat and referral business. He also plays a crucial role in enhancing the morale of the team by coordinating the team members’ activities and through effective relationship building. The excerpts of the interview follow: What is the USP of your property?
Location and design of the hotel are very exclusive. All major tourist attractions in Varanasi are at walking distance from our hotel. The hotel’s building is very old and the building is now renovated while keeping its original character intact. The experience for guests at the hotel is heritage-driven as it comes with personalised ‘non hotel’ like service. We bring our guests to the hotel only through our boats so their orientation begins much before they check-in. The journey is indeed very fascinating for the guests. What distinguishes your property from others in the same bracket?
It is the location. WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges at Varanasi is built on a sloped embankment called the ‘Guleria Ghat,’ on the banks of the Ganges. It presents itself as typical regal riverfront architecture of Varanasi. As the heritage property is on the banks of the river Ganges most of our rooms provide a panoramic view of the Ganges. The quality of our product and service are our other distinguishing factors. 64
What according to you is the role of F&B in getting business for a hotel? How much importance do you give to this department?
F & B department is very crucial for every hotel. We attach great importance to it. I must add that we are very proud of our F&B team led by Chef Shailesh who makes sure every guest gets what he/she likes. We don’t run a typical hotel kitchen; instead we run a ‘home’ kitchen to cater to every demand of our guests. Chef Shailesh interacts with every guest to know his/her preferences for meals. Could you reflect on the future plans and new initiatives you wish to undertake in your property?
Our hotel is located on the ghats of the Ganges and there is no decent food joint here. So we are planning to start an open air restaurant on the ghat, in front of our hotel. This eatery will offer fast food kind of cuisine so that weary tourists can get a quick bite. We are also planning to open a nice spa, which will make our guests more comfortable.
What is the most crucial issue to tackle in the Indian hospitality industry today?
I think finding quality manpower is the main issue. Even after having so many institutes and management colleges, there is a shortage of quality manpower in this industry. What do you enjoy most about being at the helm of affairs at this hotel?
The appreciation from our guests and thinking of introducing new concepts in the hotel are what I enjoy every day. What is your professional strength?
It is the planning and execution with my team to meet targets as per the plan. And what do you consider as your weakness?
I tend to get easily disappointed when guests are not satisfied. How do you de-stress?
I take a break from regular schedule, and spend time with my family.
March - April 2012 ( An Exclusive Business Magazine for Hotel Industry)