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Hammer Food & Beverage Business Review

Oct-Nov ’15


Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

HOTEL B u s i n e s s

R e v i e w

An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry

Publisher cum Editor Rajneesh Sharma Associate Editor Swarnendu Biswas Resident Editor Sharmila Chand (Delhi) Ashok Malkani (Mumbai)


ne of the reflections of the evolution of the Indian hospitality industry during the last two decades is the revamping of resorts. Nowadays, a great many resorts operating in the Indian hospitality industry provide a comprehensive range of facilities and amenities, similar to a star-rated conventional hotel along with solitude, more greenery, personalised attention and even in some cases, with exciting adventure sports options. Neither do resorts are only preferred for weekend gateways but are coming across as great venues for MICE and weddings too. And many of them offer these services along with pocket-friendly prices. In the Cover Story, we talked about the new image of resorts in the context of the Indian hospitality industry, various services being offered at some select and wonderful resorts, and also explored the future of resorts in India. There is no denying the fact that the digital age in hospitality has arrived. It has brought some challenges and lots of opportunities associated with it. Digital marketing for reservations and for promoting F&B outlets has become vogue. Online reputation management is gaining currency nowadays. In this digital age for the hospitality industry, website content and social media are playing crucial roles and are expected to play crucial roles. The Business Story attempts to cover the digital age in the hospitality industry comprehensively. One of the developments in the Indian hospitality industry during the recent years is the changing profile of hotel lobbies. They are now not only a place to check-in and check-out, but have emerged as effective venues for work and leisure. The Feature section of the issue deals with the evolution of lobbies, in the context of the Indian hospitality industry. Effective time management in hotel projects, coverage of an elegant business hotel where luxury and art play dominant roles, profile of a resort management company presenting wonderfully experiential holiday experiences to the travellers are some of the other interesting topics for this issue. With the hope that our esteemed readers would enjoy reading the issue as much as we had enjoyed developing it, I am ending this note with a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for the industry. Also let us all hope for a 2018 of impressive growth and new revenue earning avenues for the Indian hospitality industry.


Nov-Dec ’17

Layout & Design Hari Kumar V Abhishek Singh Rathore Production Assistant Mamta Sharma Advertising Sales Delhi: Debabrata Nath, Sumesh Sharma Director Sales Sanjay Anand Mobile: +91 9811136837 Director Operations Rajat Taneja Mobile: +91 9810315463 Editorial & Advertising Offices: Delhi: Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 206, Samrat Bhawan, Ranjeet Nagar Commercial Complex, New Delhi-110008 Phone: 91-11-25704103, 45093486, 45084903 Mumbai: Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 105, 1st Floor, Aarpee Centre, Gufic Compound, 11th Road, MIDC, Near Tunga Paradise, Andheri (E), Mumbai-400093, India Phone: 91-22-28395833 Telefax: 91-22-28388947 E-mail: Š 2017 Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher. Hammer Hotel Business Review is a bi-monthly magazine, printed, edited, owned and published by Rajneesh Sharma on behalf of Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 206, Samrat Bhawan, Ranjeet Nagar Commercial Complex, New Delhi. Printed at Swan Press, B-71, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase-II, New Delhi-110 028. Editorial Policy: Editorial emphasis in Hammer Hotel Business Review magazine is on educational & informational material specifically designed to assist those responsible for managing instututional Hotel business. Articles are welcome and will be published on the sole discretion of the editor. Disclaimer: The editor and publisher believes that all information contained in this publication are correct at the time of publishing. Content published not necessarily are the opinion or view of the editor and publisher. Editor and publisher declines any responsibility for any action taken based on the information contained in this publication, including liability for error or omission. Annual subscription rate within India is Rs. 450 and for overseas it is US $110, for surface mail. Single issue is available for Rs. 90 in India and US $25 for overseas. Cheques are payable to Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

HOTEL B u s i n e s s


R e v i e w

An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry




Today the resort is preferably located in an isolated place, but it is also a selfcontained commercial establishment that tries to meet most of a vacationer’s desires and demands. One may wonder at the difference between a resort and a luxury hotel and which of the two are more preferred and why. The difference between a hotel and a resort lies in their services, their location, and the activities and amenities available on-site.



For hoteliers in postm o d e r n I n d i a , d i g i ta l marketing is proving to be a complex challenge. Now they not only need to service guests, manage rooms’ availabilities and pricing but also compete for guests in new channels and digital communities every day. But this challenge is also pregnant with new opportunities.


Meticulous planning at every stage of a project can ensure cost control and efficiency. This i s es p ec i a l l y i m p o rta nt i n a renovation work for hospitality properties, where an already revenue generating hospitality property shuts its doors to re-open in order to provide a better experience.


During the recent years, the hotel lobbies in the realm of Indian hospitality industry have undergone a sea change. They have evolved into active social hubs with cafes, bars, computer stations, and more. They often amalgamate business and fun creatively, and can be treated as revenue earning avenues.

40 PROFILE V Resorts is managing hospitality properties in quaint locales; properties whose construction and the experiences provided for the tourists are in sync with the local culture, environment and ethos. From hills to beaches, from deserts to wildlife sanctuaries, and from heritage sites to adventure hotspots, the resorts within the purview of V Resorts cater to diversified tourism experiences.


The Pllazio Hotel is not your runof-the-mill hospitality property. In fact, its elegant architecture e m b o d y i n g a n u n m i s ta ka b l e European influence stands out from the mushrooming concrete jungle of the posh and happening Sector 29 of Gurgaon, which is dotted with several hospitality properties of renown.





Heavenly Spa by Westin, housed in The Westin Pune Koregaon Pa r k p rov i d es t h e p e rfe ct ambience to rejuvenate and renew the jaded spirits. It is truly a retreat with the intimate setting, offering six treatment rooms including a couple spa suite.

departments 04 Event 06

News Scan

18 Report 20 Appointments 44 F&B 54

Product Preview

56 Interview

Cover Pic: Della Villas

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

Kerala State Tourism Awards 2015-2016 Presented The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan presented the state’s tourism award for 2015-2016 at Hotel Taj Vivanta in Thiruvananthapuram, on 19th December. To honour the state’s best service providers in a wide range of areas related to tourism, 22 awards under three categories were presented at the event. Vijayan also launched an updated version of website at the event. Presiding over the awards ceremony, Kadakampally Surendran, the Minster for Tourism, Kerala, promised to implement the recommendations included in the New Tourism Policy within the specified timeline.

Prominent Winners Inter sight Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd. won the

award for Best In-bound Tour Operator. The Leela Raviz Kovalam bagged the top award for five-star deluxe hotel, while Kochi Marriott Hotel bagged the best fivestar hotel award. Spice Village in Thekkady has been adjudged best four-star hotel and Estuary Island, Poovar won the top three-star hotel award. Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom, took the Best Heritage Hotel Award. Somatheeram Research Institute and Ayurveda Hospital won the award for the best Ayurveda Centre, while Rose Gardens Eco Friendly Homestay, Munnar won the Best

List of Tourism Awards for 2015-16 Category -I -Tour Operators/Travel Agents • Best Inbound Tour Operator to Kerala - Inter sight Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd, Anna Building, NH Bypass road, Thykoodam, Vyttila, Cochin-682019 Category -II -Hotels/Tourism Service Providers • Best One-star/Two-star Hotel in Kerala — No eligible candidates • Best Three-star Hotel in Kerala — Estuary Island, Poovar.P.O, Thiruvananthapuram (Special Mention) • Best Four-star Hotel in Kerala — Spice Village, Thekkady-Kumily Road, Thekkady • Best Five-star Hotel in Kerala — Kochi Marriott Hotel, Lulu International Shopping Mall Pvt. Ltd., Edappally • Best Five-star Deluxe Hotel in Kerala -— The LeelaRavizKovalam, Thiruvananthapuram • Best Heritage Hotel in Kerala -— Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom, Kottayam (Honourable Mention) • Best Approved & Classified Ayurvedic Centre in Kerala -— Somatheeram Research Institute and Ayurveda Hospital Pvt. Ltd., Chowara • Best Approved & Classified House Boat Operator in Kerala -— Nil • Best Approved & Classified Homestay in Kerala -— Rose Gardens Eco Friendly Homestay, Munnar • Best Approved & Classified Service Villa in Kerala -—Teak Town, Ruby Estate, Tanah, Mampad. P.O, Malappuram (Honourable Mention) Category III- Special Awards • Best Hotel Manager in Kerala -— T Rajesh


Nov-Dec ’17

Nair, HIG 50, Panampally Nagar, Cochin • Best Tourism/Hotel Management Institute in Kerala — Oriental School of Hotel Management, Valley View, Lakkidi, Wayanad • Best Tourism Related Report in print media — G. Jyothilal, Senior Sub Editor, MathrubhumiYathra, MM Press, Kozhikode • Best Photography in Tourism sector— R a j a n . M . T h o m a s , C h i e f P h o t o g r a p h e r, MalayalaManorama, Kollam • Best Tourism-related Publication in Kerala — ManoramaTraveller, MM Publications, Kottayam • Most Innovative Project in Tourism Sector — Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co Ltd, Kaloor, Kochi • Most Innovative Use of Information Technology in Tourism Sector — Sanchari Facebook Community • Best Practices in the Field of Responsible Tourism — Chalukya Grace, Tower House, Convent Road, Thiruvananthapuram • Best Adventure Tourism Operator — Kalypso Adventures Pvt .Ltd., G 340, Panampilly Nagar, Kochi • Best Tourism Club — Darul Uloom VHSS Pulleppady, Ernakulam • Best Student Coordinator of Tourism Club — Aiena Varghese, St. Xavier’s College for Women, Aluva • Best Tourism Police — V.B. Rasheed, Valiyaveetil House, P.O Eriyad • Best Tourism Lifeguard — Premjith T.V, Mullassery House, CheruvannurFeroke P.O., Calicut

Homestay Award. The award for the Best Serviced Villa went to Teak Town, Malappuram. The award for the Best Hotel Manager went to Rajesh Nair, while Oriental School of Hotel Management pocketed the award for the Best Hotel/Tourism Management Institute. The Sanchari Facebook Community from Thiruvananthapuram won the award for the best use of IT in Tourism. The Best Adventure Tourism Award went to Kalypso Adventures. Some other awards were the Best Tourism Police Award for V.B. Rasheed and Best Tourism Lifeguard for Premjith T.V. G. J y o t h i l a l , S e n i o r S u b - E d i t o r, Mathrubhumi, won the award for Best Tourism Related Report while Rajan. M. Thomas, Chief Photographer, Malayala Manorama, won the Best Tourism Photography Award. Darul Uloom, VHSS Pulleppady, Ernakulam, was adjudged for the Best Tourism Club Award.


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3-6 February 2018 Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris


26-29 March 2018 Shanghai New International Exhibition Center Shanghai, China

Alimentaria 2018

16-19 April 2018 Gran Via Venue, Barcelona, Spain  

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24-27 April 2018 Singapore Expo, Singapore

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Nov-Dec ’17


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Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity Celebrates Solidarity Week In line with its tradition of lending a helping hand to the disadvantaged and the needy, AccorHotels’ Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity recently marked the brand’s ‘Solidarity Week 2017’ initiative by contributing to the welfare of the HIV affected people, and persons with disabilities. Solidarity Week by AccorHotels celebrates unity and generosity around the world. For the initiative, the group involves over 18,000 employees in more than 500 hotels in 47 countries. Since 2008, it has supported more than 300 projects in 44 countries. To celebrate this week of giving back, all hotels of the group need to choose at least one charity or organisation of their choice. This year, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity chose three well-known NGOs — Desire Society, Sarthak and Kamalini. The hotel personnel contributed basic amenities to Desire Society which works for the health and well-being of children with HIV & AIDS, in India. Further, the dual property welcomed the differently-abled students of Sarthak Educational Trust to engage with them and conduct motivational sessions, education games and fun activities. Lastly, a team of Chefs visited the Kamalini Vocational Training Centre and offered a cooking demonstration of a three course meal. Further, the Chefs shared innovative cooking ideas and plating techniques with the underprivileged young girls and women of the centre. “Our dual properties have always believed in extending support to the community through various initiatives. Solidarity Week by AccorHotels is another important event that we celebrate to give back to the society,” said Tristan Beau De Lomenie, General Manager Delegate, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity.

Lifetime Achievement Award for CG Corp’s Binod Chaudhary

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Nov-Dec ’17

Kathmandu-headquartered multinational enterprise, CG Corp Global’s Chairman, Binod Chaudhary added another feather to his cap when he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Hotelier India Awards 2017, held in New Delhi on 20th December. With around 10,000 employees on its rolls and businesses in over 30 countries worldwide, CG Corp Global is the largest business enterprise of Nepal, which provides its services to various fields including the hospitality industry. Top executives of the ITP Media Group, which brings out the Hotelier India magazine, presented the award to Chaudhary in the presence of eminent hospitality industry leaders. Addressing the gathering, Chaudhary shared his vision and passion about hospitality. He also recounted his professional journey, starting from the year 2000. Over the past 17 years, the group has built several global hotel brands including the The Zinc and The Fern. With presence in 15 countries and in over 97 destinations, CG Hospitality has 91 hotels, spread across 5,256 keys within its ambit.

Nov-Dec ’17


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Hotel Business Review

The Fern Surya Resort Opens in Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh

Westin Hotels & Resorts Opens New Property in Kolkata

The Fern Hotels & Resorts recently marked its foray into Himachal Pradesh by launching a property at Dharampur. The Fern Surya Resort, D h a ra m p u r ( K a s a u l i Hills) currently has 22 operating rooms in two categories — Winter Green Room, and Winter Green Premium Room. The multi-cuisine restaurant, Celeste, serves food from different parts of the country, besides offering continental and Chinese options for the guests. The Pine Lounge Bar offers its guests an opportunity to unwind with liquors and cocktails. “It is a big moment for us as we are entering a new state. This takes the tally of hotels managed by the company to 52. We will be opening a few more properties in the northern part of the country soon,” said Suhail Kannampilly, Chief Operating Officer, The Fern Hotels & Resorts. The hotel is located just five kilometers from the Dharampur railway station and bus stand.

Westin Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International Inc., opened in November the eighth hotel in India under its ambit — The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat. It is the second hotel in Kolkata under the Marriott International portfolio and the first under the Westin Hotels & Resorts umbrella. The hotel is located eight kilometres from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport and a kilometre away from the International Convention Centre. Built over an area of eight acres, The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat features 314 well-appointed guest rooms and suites. “The opening of the second Marriott hotel in Kolkata, and the first under the Westin brand, marks a great milestone for Marriott International,” said Neeraj Govil, Area Vice President, South Asia, Marriott International. “After tapping the luxury market, it was but a matter of time before we presented one of our premium brands to the city of Kolkata. The hotel will offer a restorative retreat in the heart of the new business district of Rajarhat with Westin’s signature offerings that will fuel and energise our guests’ experience,” Govil added. The hotel features over 50,000 square feet of flexible function spaces, which are ideal for meeting, conferences, corporate events and weddings. The hotel also boasts of a helipad to provide easy VIP accessibility.

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Nov-Dec ’17

Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park received an award at the World Luxury Hotel Awards ce re m o n y h e l d i n Switzerland recently. It bagged the ‘Luxury City Hotel’ award under country winner category. “We are proud to receive the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2017. It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award. This is special since the recognition is coming from our guests, patrons and International travellers,” said Arindam Kunar, Area General Manager, South India & General Manager, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park. Over 3,00,000 international travellers, independent experts from the travel industry, and guests vote each year, during a four-week period to select the winners of the World Luxury Hotel Awards.

Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

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IHG Partners SAMHI to Expand Holiday Inn Express Portfolio InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has partnered with hotel asset company SAMHI to rebrand approximately 2000 rooms — operating and under construction — within its India hotel portfolio to Holiday Inn Express hotels. The agreement will help IHG add to its portfolio 14 hotels, including ten open hotels across key cities such as Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. The additional four hotels are under construction. “It is with great pride and excitement that we are announcing our partnership with SAMHI for conversion of their existing mid-market hotel portfolio in India to Holiday Inn Express,” said Sudeep Jain, Vice President, Development, South West Asia, IHG. IHG currently has 30 hotels operating across four brands in India, including InterContinental,Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, with a further 33 in the development pipeline. The SAMHI signing with another 14 hotels added to the development pipeline. The hotels will feature the next-generation design, several additional public areas and feature brand hallmarks to enhance guest service delivery. “SAMHI is keen to accelerate Holiday Inn Express’ highly

efficient operating model and engage the brand’s growing familiarity in the country. Holiday Inn Express is the rest and go hotel brand that delivers a smarter travel experience by providing more where it matters most,” Jain said.

VITS Hotels Opens FourStar Property in Agra Hoping to cash in on the growing number of leisure travellers in the city of Taj, VITS Hotels Worldwide recenlty launched its fourstar property VITS Agra. Located on the National Highway 2, the hotel is well connected by air, road and rail. With major tourist attractions, namely the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Akbar Tomb and Jama Mosque in close proximity, the hotel boasts of aesthetically designed rooms and suites, ideal for

business and leisure alike. “VITS Agra with a perfect blend of contemporary amenities rooted in customary elegance will make every guest’s stay a pleasurable experience,” said Chandrakant Shetty, Chief Executive Officer, VITS Luxury Business Hotels. VITS Luxury Hotels presently operates nine properties in India which are located in Mumbai, Pune, Dwarka, Aurangabad, Latur, Ankleshwar, Silvassa, Agra and Bhubaneshwar. The hotel chain presently has inventory of 600 rooms with a host of banqueting, conferencing, restaurant and lifestyle facilities. As part of its expansion plans, VITS Hotels plans to unveil the VITS hospitality experience in Mumbai (Colaba), Nanded, Dahej, Ahmedabad and Mangalore by April 2018.


Nov-Dec ’17

Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

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Berggruen Hotels Launches Sarovar Group to Open Keys Lite Mayfield in New Hotel in Ajmer Expanding its footprint in Rajasthan, Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd. in Gurugram November announced the signing of a new hotel in Ajmer, which Berggruen Hotels, part of the $2 billion Los Angeles-based Berggruen Group, recently announced the launch of its Keys Lite Mayfield hotel in Gurugram. Keys Lite Mayfield, a new offering targeted towards both the bustling corporate segment and leisure visitors, is located in Sector 44, Gurugram’s main business district. The new hotel gives Keys a stronger foothold in northern India. The brand now has a portfolio of four hotels in the region. This is the third hotel Keys has launched this quarter after opening the Keys Hotel in Port Blair, and Keys Prima Aamari Resort in Ramgarh, Uttarakhand. “Gurugram is an important market for Keys Hotels. Though it is located just over 30 kilometres southwest of the national capital New Delhi, the city has emerged as a major finance and technology hub in its own right. We see it as one of the major gateways to North India and, crucially, the new hotel allows us to establish our presence in the region,” said Anshu Sarin, CEO, Berggruen Hotels. The hotel is located at a short distance from popular business areas such as Unitech Cyber Park and popular entertainment spots like Baani Square and Good Earth City Centre. Moreover, the hotel is situated close to New Delhi’s international airport, making it a convenient option for travellers.

is expected to be operational by October 2019. The 88-room hotel named Mittal Sarovar Portico in Ajmer, owned by Mittal Dewellers Pvt. Ltd, will be the Sarovar group’s

sixth hotel in the state of Rajasthan. The group has three operational hotels in Jaipur, one in Jodhpur and an upcoming hotel in Jaisalmer. “We are happy to open a Sarovar Portico hotel in this significant city of Rajasthan. With its rich history, Ajmer is an important tourism destination with rising number of visitors from across the country and overseas,” said Ajay K. Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels. “It is an important location for us and a significant addition to our portfolio. This hotel equipped with all amenities required by a modern day traveller is set to be one of the finest in town,” Bakaya emphasised. One of the fastest growing hotel chains in India, Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd. has in its ambit over 75 operating hotels across 50 destinations in India and Africa.

Golden Sarovar Portico Launched in Amritsar S a rova r H ote l s P v t . Ltd . has opened a new property in Amritsar, marking the g ro u p ’ s p re s e n ce i n yet another popular tourist and pilgrimage destination in the country. Located in the hub of the city and just 10 minutes away from the Golden Temple, the new hotel, Golden Sarovar Portico, is suitable for business travellers as well as for the leisure tourists and pilgrims alike. The Wagah border is just 30 kilometers away from the hotel. The hotel offers a comprehensive range of modern facilities including restaurant, bar, banquet hall, meeting room, fitness room and other amenities. It offers multiple dining options including the all-day dining restaurant ‘Flavours’, a lounge bar ‘Chill’ and poolside rooftop restaurant ‘Terrace Grill.’ The hotel is the perfect setting for any social gatherings or business conference providing event spaces which can accommodate up to 200 people.


Nov-Dec ’17

Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

Open Air Terrace Restaurant Policy Approved in Mumbai Clearing decks for permitting restaurants, bars and cafes on rooftops of buildings, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), which is also known as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has approved the open air terrace restaurant policy. BMC Chief Ajoy Mehta, however, has not allowed any construction on terraces, Mumbai Mirror reported on 2nd November, citing a draft circular issued by the corporation. The new policy does not allow any construction on rooftops apart from wash basins and a platform to serve eatables. And the buildings already having rooftop restaurant should have a distance of at least 10 metres from the neighbouring buildings so that common people are not disturbed due to the noise from rooftop.

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Rajasthan Govt Takes Over Hotel Jaipur Ashok from ITDC The Rajasthan state government on 9th December took over Hotel Jaipur Ashok from India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (ITDC), a public sector undertaking under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The transfer of the property came into effect after the signing

of an agreement between the concerned parties. As per the agreement, the hotel located at Collectorate Circle of the city would now be operated and managed by the Rajasthan State Hotel Corporation Ltd. and it would henceforth be known as ‘Hotel Jaipur’. The agreement was signed by Piyush Tiwari, Director, (Commercial & Marketing), ITDC, and Nihal Chand Goel, Additional Chief Secretary (Tourism), Rajasthan government. The hotel was transferred to the Rajasthan government at a negotiated price of Rs. 14 crore, ITDC said.

ITDC Gives Tourism Ministry Rs.9.93 Crore Dividend Cheque India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC)‘s Chairperson and Managing Director (CMD), Ravneet Kaur, presented on 1st November a dividend cheque amounting to Rs.9.93 crore to the Union Tourism Minister, K J Alphons for the financial year 2016-17, on behalf of ITDC. The amount was paid as the Government of India is the largest shareholder of the company, having 87.03 percent of the paid up capital. For the financial year 2016-17, ITDC posted a robust performance with total turnover standing at Rs 495.14 crore as compared to Rs. 465.69 crore in the previous financial year, clocking a growth of 6.32 percent. Major revenue contributing wings of ITDC include the Ashok Tours & Travels, Ashok Events, Ashok Institute of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Ashok Consultancy & Engineering Services, and Ashok International Trade Division.


Nov-Dec ’17

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Hotel Business Review

Poetree Sarovar Portico Thekkady Wins SATA 2017 Award Poetree Sarovar Portico Thekkady in Kerala was adjudged the ‘Leading Romantic Resort/Hotel in South India’ at the S o u t h A s i a n Trav e l Awards (SATA) 2017. The award was received by R. Reghunath, Managing Director, Poetree Sarovar Portico, at a gala ceremony held at Equator Village, Addu City, Maldives. “We are honoured to receive this coveted award and thank SATA for recognising our continued efforts to provide our guests with outstanding and authentic experiences. The award reinforces our resort’s reputation as a sought-after romantic getaway in southern India,” Reghunath said. Perched on a windswept mountaintop and embraced by acres of untouched forest, Poetree Sarovar Portico is a major addition to Thekkady, a popular hill station in Kerala. It offers a sweeping view of the silver mountain ridges, wooded valleys and Periyar Lake.

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Chennai Gets Novotel & ibis OMR Combo Property AccorHotels in November announced the opening of Novotel and ibis Chennai OMR at the city’s Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), popularly known as the IT Expressway. The two hotels with a combined 342 rooms are co-located to form AccorHotels’ first joint hotel development in the city. “The Novotel and ibis Chennai OMR joint development is one of our most significant openings based on the success of colocating the most relevant brands for differing market needs,” said Jean-Michel Casse, Chief Operating Officer, India & South Asia, AccorHotels. AccorHotels now has a network of 53 hotels in India. The upper midscale Novotel and the international economy brand ibis remain the group’s most prominent brands. They have a network of 15 and 18 hotels across the country respectively. “Chennai is India’s fourth largest city and a leading business and leisure hub in South India. The winning combination of the Novotel and ibis properties offers our guests a unique value proposition and a distinctive choice where they can make themselves comfortable, relax, have fun, work or relish a delicious meal under one roof,” said Daniel Chao, General Manager, Novotel and ibis Chennai OMR & General Manager Delegate for AccorHotels, Chennai. The Novotel and ibis Chennai OMR join another six hotels from the AccorHotels’ current portfolio of hotels operating in Chennai. With over a 1000 rooms in Chennai alone, AccorHotels is one of the leading international hotel operators in the city.

Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre Brings Laurels N ovote l H yd e ra b a d Convention Centre was recognised as India’s ‘Best Business Hotel’ at the sixth edition of ‘India’s Best Awards 2017’ by the prestigious Travel + Leisure magazine. The award ceremony held in New Delhi on 17th November saw the presence of select invitees comprising of industry leaders, influencers and marquee names from travel, tourism and government bodies. “We are honoured to receive this prestigious award and be recognised for our hospitality services designed around discerning travellers. We shall continue to serve our guests with the same zeal and fervour that we have exhibited over the past decade of operations, and shall constantly evolve to match their changing requirements,” said Neil Paterson, General Manager, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre. For the awards, the Travel + Leisure magazine conducts a survey with their readers to weigh on travel experiences around the globe. Hotels are rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value.

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

Travel Trends for 2018 ancestral history, etc. has given birth to the concept of ‘tracing your roots’. Given that a large Indian diaspora population has been living in different continents for years, there is a sudden rise in third generation travellers, travelling to their ancestral properties back in India and experiencing their cultural roots. According to the above-mentioned study, tracing one’s family back home while exploring other destinations around is fast catching up among the new-age travellers.

River Cruising


auging the evolving or futuristic travel trends or the prevailing behaviour of domestic and inbound tourists can be very much helpful for any country’s hospitality industry to develop its revenue models and define or re-define its target groups of guests. In this regard, a study by Cox & Kings, titled Cox & Kings Travel Style 2018 Study, can provide interesting insights about the travellers’ dominant interests during 2018. Here it deserves a mention that Cox & Kings Ltd. (‘C&K’) is one of the longest established travel companies in the world and also one of the leading leisure and education travel groups with operations in 22 countries, across four continents. It has been in operation since 1758, and it is headquartered in Mumbai. As part of the survey, Peter Kerkar, Group CEO, Cox & Kings Ltd. presented the top eight travel experiences which are expected to gain momentum in the coming year. These happening travel experiences or trends, which are expected to influence travels during 2018 are:

Culinary Tours While culinary trips as part of larger holidays are already in place, what will emerge in the coming year are the growing popularity of food tours, which will not only focus on dining or food tasting but rather delve more into the cooking style, history of cuisines, local flavours and tradition. The appetite for food and travel is only going to get bigger.

Glamping The growing need for experiential travel has made way for ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping lately. Travellers now want to be a part of immersive experiences without compromising on the luxuries, and glamping is the perfect marriage of luxurious accommodation and unforgettable in-destination experiences. Glamping, according to Cox & Kings’ study, is one of the most popular travel segments for the coming year.

Genealogy Technology has made this world smaller and easier to connect with people from different destinations. The curiosity to know more about the world and about oneself — one’s past, legacy, and


Nov-Dec ’17

Cruising in the high seas has its own charm, what with large cruise liners wooing travellers with luxurious offerings. The evolved Indian traveller has now moved on to more exciting experiences such as river and canal cruises in India and Europe. Exploring the heart of magnificent hinterlands in river cruises will be a travel trend of 2018, according to the above-mentioned study. The study also observed that river cruising had piqued the interest of travellers.

Voluntourism Many of the millennials are now blending purpose with leisure. Being environmentally and socially conscious travellers, they are facilitating voluntourism across countries like South Africa, India, Cambodia, Nepal, Peru and Mexico to name a few. According to the study, this would be a travel trend during 2018.

Destinations that are Shrinking Due to climate change, some iconic places on earth are being engendered. Visiting such destinations is expected to be a trend in 2018. An increased number of tourists will visit the Dead Sea in Israel, the Alps in Europe, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, wineries in America, and archipelagos around the world during 2018.

Extreme Adventure As travellers are spreading into the last unexplored corners of the globe, the demand for bigger, better, and more adventurous experiences is skyrocketing. Pushing your travel boundaries with extreme adventure is in vogue. Those who wish to test and push their strength are picking up tough expeditions such as ice cycling in Mongolia, trekking through ice in search of snow leopards in Spiti, cruising in Antarctica, mountain cycling in Bhutan, rafting in remote rivers, taking advanced open water courses in the Philippines and frozen river treks in the Indus Valley among many others.

Wellness The study thinks that the wellness will emerge as an important travel trend during 2018, as people are focusing more on improving their physical and emotional well-being by travelling for meditation, spa, yoga, Ayurveda massages and for bathing in mineral rich water bodies for rejuvenation. Travellers will take detox breaks in the foothills of Himalayas, indulge in the spa treatments in Thailand or Bali and rejuvenate through Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala during 2018, the study observed.

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Hotel Business Review

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels, and The Claridges. In his previous assignment, Raina worked as the Food and Beverage Services Manager at Trident, Jaipur.

Ashwani Nayar Ashwani Nayar has been appointed as the multi-property General Manager of The Westin Gurgaon and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa, the brand’s well known properties in New Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). Nayar has over 25 years of experience in the hospitality segment. Notable among the brands with which he worked include the Marriott International where he joined as the Area Director, North -India and Nepal in 2005. His first experience of supervising hotel operations began in 2006 as the Executive Assistant Manager of Le Méridien Resort & Convention Centre, Cochin where he served for two years before moving on as the General Manager of Le Méridien, Jaipur. He also served as a General Manager at Sheraton Udaipur Palace Resort and Spa. In June 2013, he joined Le Méridien, Dhaka as the pre-opening General Manager.

Deepak Sampath Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, has appointed Deepak Sampath as its Rooms Division Manager. Sampath brings aboard over 16 years of extensive experience in his field. At Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, he will be responsible for securing a consistent high guest feedback rating by putting in measures that include training the team, guest relations management and repeat guest business through loyalty programme enrollments. H i s re s p o n s i b i l i t i e s a l s o i n c l u d e administering internal expense control measures resulting in higher profitability of the division and thereby contributing positively to the hotel profitability. Prior to joining Holiday Inn, Sampath had gained experience in five-star hotel operations with The Park Bangalore, Hyatt Bangalore and Radisson Blu Mahabalipuram, Chennai, among other properties.

Vinay Raina Sarovar Hotels & Resorts has appointed Vijay Raina as the General Manager of The Promenade and Le Dupleix hotels – both in Pondicherry. Raina brings to the new role over 13 years of operational excellence and key deliverables across cross-cultural teams. Prior to joining Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, Raina had worked with The Trident Jaipur,


Nov-Dec ’17

Pankaj Kumar The Westin Pune Koregaon Park has appointed Pankaj Kumar as the Director

of Food and Beverage. Kumar brings with him over 12 years of rich experience in the hospitality industry. His previous stint was with the Hyatt Regency Mumbai. Kumar, who began his hospitality career with Grand Hyatt Mumbai, is winner of several awards, including the Ciroc Bartender of the Year in 2008, at Taj Lands End, Mumbai. “It gives me immense pleasure to announce Pankaj’s appointment as the Director of Food and Beverage. With his strategic guidance, we are excited about the future and raising the bar for our diners in terms of innovation and excellence in service,” said Nishant Agarwal, General Manager, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park.

Gilles de Richemond AccorHotels has appointed Gilles de Richemond as the group’s Chief Information Officer. “We are very happy that Gilles has agreed to join us. Amid AccorHotels’ technological and cultural transformation, he will bring his extensive knowledge of the digital world, spanning the strategic, technological and managerial aspects,” said Maud Bailly, AccorHotels’ Chief Digital Officer. Gilles studied engineering at IPSA and began his career in 1998 as a journalist before setting up Archimetrie, a documentary website and publishing company. He moved to European pay TV giant TPS and then to Canal Plus as Head of Distributed IT, in 2004. He later moved to Transavia France airline as head of its information system, in 2007. Before joining AccorHotels, Richemond was serving as the Managing Director of European rail expert, Voyages-SNCF Technologies; running the group’s technical division and SNCF’s digital factory, since 2012.

Ap p oi n tm en t s

Rohit Jhingan The Pllazio Hotel, Gurgaon has announced the appointment of Rohit Jhingan as the Director of Sales & Marketing. In his new role, Jhingan will be responsible for managing the hotel’s sales teams and marketing. He will also work towards building and maintaining relationships with key business partners, including public relations officers, travel agents, wedding planners, as well as conference and event organisers. Jhingan brings with him hospitality industry experience spanning over 13 years during which he had worked with global brands like Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Lebua Hotels and Resorts, and The Surya New Delhi. His work profile also includes managing pre-opening of hotels, unit properties and domestic and outbound sales. He has a rich understanding of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) and travel trade segments.

of experience in the hospitality industry, will be responsible for the operations of the entire food and beverage department. He will oversee the costs and control of food quality, ingredients, planning of the menu, and business development – all efforts aimed at achieving customer satisfaction and facilitating profitability of the outlets. Prior to joining AccorHotels, Oberoi had been associated with renowned hotels like Radisson Blu Hotel, Pune; Ramada Powai Hotel & Convention Centre, Mumbai among others. “We are glad to have Vishi lead our F&B team at the resort. His action-oriented nature and innovative mind makes him the perfect choice for this role.Vishi’s strong understanding of flavours and fresh approach towards food trends will enable him to create wonderful delicacies for our guests at the resort,” said Srinivas Srirangam, General Manager, Novotel ImagicaKhopoli.

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Vishal Mehra has taken charge as the new General Manager of Park Hyatt Chennai. Mehra brings to the new role over 20 years of experience in the industry during which he was involved in eight hotel openings. “Opening the Burj Al Arab remains one of the most memorable hotel openings for me,” Mehra said. “From the extreme luxury at Burj Al Arab to the ‘Grand’ Grand Hyatt Dubai; from experiencing the unknown land at Hyatt Regency Dushanbe in Tajikistan to the delayed opening at Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi and of course not to forget the two-week turnaround of Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa; and finally the innovative select service of Hyatt Place (s) Dubai, it has been a stupendously gratifying experience so far,” Mehra added.

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Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

Cover Story

Resorts for Business and Leisure Not so long ago resorts operating in India were mostly just health centres where Ayurvedic treatments were the order of the day. This prevailing concept of resort has now undergone a sea change in the Indian hospitality industry. Today resorts in the country are being patronised by luxury tourists as well as the MICE segment and also by wedding and event management companies in a big way. The resorts operating in India too now offer luxury stay arrangements, various engaging activities for adults as well as children, besides delectable eating options. They have become regular haunts for luxury as well as business tourists; who are playing their crucial roles in the Indian hospitality industry. Ashok Malkani takes a look at the reasons for the resorts’ success as well as on their future prospects, in the context of the Indian hospitality industry. 24

Nov-Dec ’17

Cover Story

Hotel Business Review


ention resorts and the many of our minds conjure up images of spas in Kerala and several other places. But these are spa resorts. Today a resort is much more than just Ayurvedic treatments at the spa. Today the resort is preferably located in an isolated place, but it is also a self-contained commercial establishment that tries to meet most of a vacationer’s desires and demands. One may wonder at the difference between a resort and a luxury hotel and which of the two are more preferred and why. The difference between a hotel and a resort lies in their services, their location, and the activities and amenities available on-site. A resort usually has more land area than a hotel of similar size. Resort also offers a range of interesting activities for the guests as compared to a typical hotel.

For Memorable Experiences Ramesh Gaur, CEO of Bella Vista Resort, Mahabaleshwar, said, “A tourist would generally prefer a resort over a typical hotel for a leisure holiday. However, as far as health resorts are concerned, they are not so popular amongst holiday tourists in the country.” “Luxury tourists, or those seeking adventure, or those looking for peace and contentment are all attracted to resorts, as resorts have a semi formal or informal set up. Luxury hotels on the other hand have a more business like look and feel to them,” he added. “The services provided at resorts are more personalised than they are at luxury hotels and the resorts, on an average, have a higher level of involvement with guests,” Gaur affirmed. Avadhoot Mahimkar, Director- Sales and Marketing, The Resort, Mumbai, averred that resorts in India were now becoming more pocket-friendly with more and more people opting for them. “Many facilities – like spa massages, steam sauna, swimming pool, lawns for activities, gymnasium, beauty salon, yoga meditation center, indoor games, etc. – which were being offered only at luxury resorts in holiday destinations some years back, are now being offered by many a resort in the country. This is because even though an average person’s disposable income has increased in urban India, people now give more weightage on value for money. Luxury is a

term that is becoming looser and less defined, and differs from one client to another. Gone are the days where people used to spend heavily on luxury resorts for all those above-mentioned activities. Also with various OTAs coming into the picture, the price wars are becoming more competitive,” he elaborated. “Whereas some guests at resorts just come to relax or experience peace, some come looking for quality family time, whereas some come looking to spend quality time with their loved ones, while some have business meetings at the resort. Also nowadays, people prefer budget resorts over luxury ones as they look for value for money,” proffered Mahimkar. “If the question is why resorts over luxury business hotels are a preference, then in my opinion, a standard business hotel, whether it is luxury or not, tends to be another run of the mill hotel. They generally provide more or less uniformity in terms of rooms, facilities and services across the globe. However, great resorts are conceptualised in a way so that they reflect the feel of the local area. The rooms, amenities and the overall aesthetics differ from resort to resort too,” explained Russell Gregory, General Manager, U Tropicana Alibaug. Succinctly, resorts reflect a strong individualistic characteristic, which a standard business hotel mostly

Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

Cover Story

one can experience with us, either from holiday to holiday or fails to provide. within the same holiday,” explained Mistry. “A resort, in 99 percent of the times, pampers its guests whilst However, many resorts frequently falter on quality. “Most resort they stay with it and help them create memories of their vacation, getaways in India, and even internationally, offer very mediocre unlike most business hotels. A resort provides a personalised food and beverage facilities,” conceded Mistry while articulating, experience unlike most luxury business hotels. And this is the “At Della Resorts, we have got a combination of restaurants in defining factor, when the call is to be taken, on whether the the adventure park and in the resort area which cater to a wide guests would prefer a resort or a luxury business hotel. But then range of clientele.” again, it also entirely depends on the reason for travel as well. Resorts focus on creating experiences for consumers. Resorts ensure personalised attention, a distinctive approach to service, More than Weekend Getaways keeping guests engaged in activities; they celebrate guests’ Normally the belief in the country that resorts primarily serve special occasions, thereby giving them memories to take back. as weekend getaways for holiday makers is repudiated from the Resorts generally combine a mix of tourism, wellness, adventure industry at large. and luxury to create a holistic package to attract all types of “Earlier people used to see resorts as a weekend getaway or consumers,” he observed further. for recreation / picnics, etc. But now we cater to leisure travellers “Della Adventure and Resorts has many facets. Within the 46 as well as business travellers. Many companies nowadays look for acre property, there are four different resort facilities. The Camp meetings and conference at resorts where after work they can Della resort area is situated at a hill-top crest and provides a relax or indulge in team building activities. People prefer to be in luxurious camping experience, the adventure resort rooms are a natural environment rather than sitting in an enclosed space adjoining the adventure park which has 44 rooms, and then for 8-10 hours,” claimed Mahimkar. there are the Villa Resort rooms which are a part of the Della “The concept that resorts are only made for weekend getaways Villas,” elucidated Jimmy Mistry, Principal Designer & Owner at is a myth. At U Tropicana Alibaug, we have had completely sold Della Group. out days even during the weekdays. It all depends on how well the “At Della, we are able to attract different hospitality property is marketed. If the resort target audiences at the same time and serve provides a complete package it works equally each of the clientele preferences. So the well for various purposes,” expressed Gregory. guests visiting us include corporates, wedding Mistry too didn’t agree with the popular groups and also couples looking for a tranquil but narrow perception of resort in India. “The atmosphere close to Mumbai, which does not Della Group does not want to be constrained involve too much travelling,” he explained into one segment. During the course of the further. week, we have corporate trainings and meets; “We have a lot of variation and a plethora during the wedding season we have wedding of activities happening at the property, which celebrations taking place. So our resort is many standard luxury hotels are unable to buzzing with activities practically 6-7 days a offer. The luxury resort rooms at the heart of week,” he disclosed, while adding, “We enjoy the Della property are on either side of a 200 impressive occupancy ratios. We have about feet water body with picturesque mountains 65 percent average occupancy in our resort, in the backdrop while Camp Della stay is in across the year.” a contemporary luxury tent, designed on the “We attract the MICE segment on weekdays edge of a mountain. Such are the variations and weekend is for FIT and vacationing Russell Gregory


Nov-Dec ’17

Cover Story crowd while the rest of the week is occupied by weddings and other industry-based events. We are quite popular with automobile events. We do large scale customised events for Lamborghini, Ducati and the likes. Each of these brands love doing their events with us because we come with that kind of passion and are able to identify their requirements. As Della Adventure and Resorts has been able to capture more than one segment of guests, it reflects that luxury resorts can be multi-faceted,” explained Mistry. “As a matter of fact most of the resorts operating in India that are into MICE, attract the business / corporate class on weekends only. The leisure tourists, couples and others who can afford weekday leaves, enjoy the much better priced days in the resorts,” inferred Gaur.

Hotel Business Review


Thriving on MICE MICE and weddings seem to be two of the major revenue earners for resorts in India, these days. The moot question would be how much do MICE clientele contributes to the resort’s total revenues, on an average, in the context of the Indian hospitality industry. “The revenue generated would depend upon the fact that how a particular resort pitches itself,” said Gaur. “We are one of India’s top outbound training destinations for

corporates. This segment at least gives us about 50 percent of our revenues. At Della Adventure and Resorts, we handle the segment with lots of care and passion to ensure a memorable experience. While others are in a rat race of getting business by lowering prices, thereby lowering standards, we do not compromise on the quality aspect. Therefore once corporates come to Della and experience our hospitality, they appreciate and understand the difference between our competitors and us,” stated Mistry. “To be frank, MICE plays a very important role in filling up occupancies in resort properties. This segment is growing in India and resorts are the one to give attractive rates. Once we have a good base of MICE business for any particular month, Mahimkar the rates are hiked across all portals to increase the ARR. We get a good mix of corporate and leisure travellers. For a property like The Resort, Mumbai, more focus is given on corporate travellers during weekdays and leisure travellers during weekend, during long weekends, festive dates, etc. Any budget or midscale resort would be targeting at least 45-55 percent of MICE segment according to their peak and lean seasons,” conveyed Mahimkar. “Definitely, resorts attract a lot of MICE business in the country. Corporate retreats offer a healthy mix of work and fun, and hence

Nov-Dec ’17


Cover Story

Hotel Business Review

these days the trend of organising corporate retreats at resorts is on the rise. Revenue earned would vary depending on the size, space and features of each individual resort,” asserted Gregory.

archery, etc. and we are the only resort in Mumbai as on today which have these activities for our guests,” claimed Mahimkar.

The Road Ahead

Since more and more guests are being attracted to resorts in India, for various reasons, it would be safe to predict a good future for the resorts, Since resorts are becoming the preferred in the context of the Indian hospitality industry. destinations by leisure travellers, MICE and “Future definitely belongs to the resorts. People weddings in the context of the Indian hospitality are likely to prefer staying in the comfort of industry, what would be the USP of these places? a resort more. Hotels are comparatively more “At U Tropicana, Alibaug, we stand out in expensive and have a formal set up. The modern terms of everything we do. We are different in tourist prefers semi formal setup and services terms of our offerings. We offer unique private of a resort, which a typical hotel cannot afford dining experiences for anniversaries, birthdays to provide,” expressed Gaur. or honeymoons,” offered Gregory. Jimmy Mistry “The economic and social trends in India “We also offer cooking classes – not the ones point to a great future for the resort segment. More number you are used to. Our cooking classes take you into a local’s home of prospective vacationists during the recent years is one such and you learn to cook the local cuisine which is Malwani cuisine,” indicator. Moreover, now we have sizeable numbers of people in he pointed out. India with large discretionary incomes. Only two thirds of their “Furthermore, we offer guest activities – again not the normal incomes go towards necessities, the rest goes into savings and ones you might see everywhere. At U Tropicana, we offer bullock also leaving enough to splurge once in a while. These days, the cart rides through the village, a heritage walk to a 500-year-old state highways have made way for national highways, passenger temple, or you can try your hand at pottery in the village. Kids trains have made ways for super fast expresses, the old buses can go on a tree planting spree, watch a movie of their choice, have made way for multi-axle luxury coaches and a once costly air cook with Chefs in our kitchens or even go on a bicycle ride with ticket has suddenly become easily affordable. These all contributes our activity team. Succinctly, at U Tropicana Alibaug, we try to to the fact that people in India travel more these days. Moreover, include a lot of local experiences and elements, which allow guests more companies in the country are taking serious consideration of to immerse themselves in the local culture,” Gregory asserted. their employees, giving importance to work life balance, thereby “Della Adventure and Resort specialises in Jain and Marwari giving them more leisure time in a week to spend with family. weddings, which consist of almost 70-80 percent of our wedding This presents another opportunity for people to travel,” elaborated business. This is largely credited to the unique cuisine options Gregory while analysing why the resorts are expected to do that the experienced Chefs at Della are able to create for this impressive business in the Indian hospitality industry. demographic,” disclosed Mistry. Mistry, however, is not so optimistic. “The future of resorts in “We also attract professionals and entrepreneurs who are India is bleak relatively, because the Indian hospitality industry looking for a specific type of getaway or experience. For example, during the last five years has been stagnating. The average fiveThe Villa Lounge attracts enthusiasts who drop by in the evenings star hotel rate of 8,500 – 9,000/- has been the same in the specially to enjoy our select collection of cigars and Cognacs while country since the last five years. However, during the last five the adventure enthusiasts come for thrilling adventure activities years, salaries have been doubled, electricity rate has been raised at our adventure park, which is the largest and the first of its kind by 50 percent, raw materials and food cost has been increased in India,” Mistry elaborated further. up to 100 percent. So naturally, the industry is bleeding and to “Our USP is the very personalised services and warm attitude stop this only thing they are doing is lower the rates. Even large of the team at Bella Vista Resort,” stated Gaur. organisations are suffering and their stock value is a proof of “One of the main USPs of The Resort, Mumbai is that it is beach that. Even some international chains are finding it difficult to facing, and the beach is rather clean I would say. Very few resorts make ends meet. The only silver lining is the / hotels in Mumbai are having a beach view from other end of the segment which comprises their rooms. Moreover, Aksa Beach is very clean innovative companies like us who are trying and less crowded as compared to other beaches to extend the Indian tourism industry beyond in Mumbai. And to keep it that way, we, the hotel traditional means,” he explained. employees do work on it by having a beach Yes, introducing various innovations and cleaning drive organised by the hotel frequently providing specialised services to guests have to maintain the natural beauty of Aksa Beach. facilitated resorts in the country to not only tap One unique USP of this property is the location. luxury and business tourists but also those seeking The Resort gives a perception of being located adventure. The calm serenity and vast open spaces far from the city, but it is actually within the city. that resorts generally provide has also attracted Also a recent addition in our USP would be our Wedding and Event Managers in large numbers to adventure zone, ‘Gravity,’ which got launched this celebrate special occasions at these hospitality year. It consists of 12 adventure activities like rock havens. climbing, rappelling, Burma bridge, rifle shooting, n Ramesh Gaur

The Distinctive Edge


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Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

Digital Age in Hospitality For hoteliers in post-modern India, digital marketing is proving to be a complex challenge. Now they not only need to service guests, manage rooms’ availabilities and pricing but also compete for guests in new channels and digital communities every day. But this challenge is also pregnant with new opportunities. It may be mentioned that direct online channels offer huge opportunities for the hotelier to present her/his product and its value proposition directly to the online consumers. The merchandising strategy is centered on communicating the unique features of the property and focuses less on the rate alone. Ashok Malkani examines how digital technology helps in the ROI of the hospitality properties.


igital technology has been playing an increasingly important part in the marketing and promotional strategies of the hospitality industry. With different routes that present greater product visibility and customer reach, hoteliers are now showing interest in using digital marketing tools like influencer marketing and video marketing to garner potential customers. This leads to better occupancy rates, greater customer loyalty and revenues. Digitalism, with regards to the hospitality industry, is undergoing a significant transformation. And not just with respect to India; this is a global trend. “Marketing, in the hospitality industry, has witnessed a significant shift not only in India, but globally. Adopting digital concepts, investing more on the digital


Nov-Dec ’17

framework is the way forward. Digital marketing comes with its advantages such as, it is easy to measure the ROI, easy to target the right audience with reference to your product, and most importantly, the costs to perform activities are lower than traditional methods,” averred Parinaz Driver, Marketing & eCommerce Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. “ W i t h g row t h i n te c h n o l o g y, n ew trends such as social media marketing, influencer marketing, and video marketing have become essential elements for the hospitality industry with regards to digital marketing. With the growing prevalence of smart phones and the Internet, nowadays guests literally have the world at the tip of their fingers. Websites today have become more responsive and interactive,

hence making them an important source of information as well as bookings; these sources help the guest plan every element of their vacation,” she added further.

The Need of the Hour “In an effort to remain ahead of the curve, it is important to amplify the use of digital marketing. A robust digital marketing plan is an essential part of any successful hospitality organisation, these days. There are various aspects of digital marketing and the key ones involve a good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SEM/PPC (Search Engine Marketing/Pay Per Click) and social media campaign, amongst others,” she observed. “Digital ecosystem has led the way for the changing business environment


Hotel Business Review

Ujwal Wal within the hotel industry. It has played a significant role in shaping guest cycle right from lead generation during pre-stay to guest experience during a stay and guest feedback during post stay cycle,” Ujwal Wal, Director of Sales & Marketing, Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway observed. “The pre-stay lead generation is mainly led by SEO, OTAs, e-mail, social media, review sites and hotel’s website; while guest can be exposed to interactive screen, in-room technology or even an incar infotainment for enhancing the guest experience during the stay. The post stay feedback has paved the way for healthy online reputation management for the hotels. In the digital age, inventory and data management have also come with the ease of finger tips,” Wal stated further. “Digital marketing has greatly facilitated hoteliers to stay in touch with their guests and build long lasting relations for continuous businesses. It has empowered guests to raise their concerns or applaud about the experience through review sites, at the same time it has also empowered h o s p i ta l i ty p ro p e rt i es to a d d ress o r recognise such feedbacks. All done at the ease of a few clicks! Global Travel Economy report rating also reports ‘review on the review site’ as the second most important factor impacting decision when booking accommodation,” Wal elaborated. “During the last few years, India’s hospitality industry has been rapidly undergoing transformation thanks to mobile phone with cheaper Internet rates and also due to constantly evolving of digital marketing strategies. With various avenues that offer great product visibility and guests’ reach, hoteliers are now keen

on utilising digital marketing tools like influencer marketing and video marketing to entice potential guests. Best part of digital marketing is that you know when to spend, what is your reach, who is interested and how much is your ROI (on a real time basis) more accurately than through traditional methods,” opined Dhananjay Kumar, General Manager at The Suryaa New Delhi. “ O u r h ote l u s es d i g i ta l m a r ket i n g effectively for reservations, for promoting F&B venues and for building relations through online reputation management. A healthy social media presence allows us to interact with over 74,000 followers on Facebook while we engage with over 50,000 guests per month. OTAs like Expedia,, and Make My Trip, etc. are used for reservations. Online F&B aggregators like Zomato, Evening Flavours, EazyDiner and Dineout, etc. are used to garner visibility and ultimately cover for our F&B venues. While an effective online reputation and social media management help us to build on the brand equity and establish everlasting relation with our guests,” Wal pointed out.

Content is the Key Digitalism gives your hotel a platform to share your content and campaigns at scale. It is necessary these days to continually improve your digital marketing initiatives. “We see digital platforms evolve in a way where static content goes out of demand and dynamic content paves their way. The gradually moving higher engagement rate generated through dynamic content on social media is the witness of the changing

demand for content. In order to improve our digital marketing it is very necessary that we not only adapt to the change but become a torchbearer for it. Another aspect we can improve on is by reducing the turnaround time of our agencies,” affirmed Wal. Parinaz stated that these days digital marketing was a major component of hotel’s marketing strategies and an important mechanism for future growth within the industry. She believed that the website was one of the strategic components of digital marketing. Elaborating on how the Sofitel hotel website worked, she said, “While the brand website is mainly controlled and managed by the Head Office in Paris, at the unit level, we have a micro site —, which is updated using a CMS or content management system.” “The design template of this micro site has already been pre-defined and is followed by all Sofitel hotels across the globe. Booking requests that are made on the micro site are re-directed to the main brand website, where the reservation process is completed,” she explained. “To improve traffic on our micro site, we ensure that our guests visiting the site are constantly engaged with a strong visual strategy and interactive content. Most people plan every aspect of their trip much ahead with the help of modern day technology such as smart phones and the Internet. Websites are an important source of information and bookings; hence they need to be highly interactive and

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Hotel Business Review

responsive,” Parinaz proffered. There have been different strategies a d o pte d by t h e m a r ket i n g te a m s of hospitality properties to increase footfalls. In this digital age, along with opportunity, competition also seems to have increased among hospitality properties to garner the desired revenues. “Hotel revenue strategies are undergoing an evolution to keep pace with the changing market conditions of the hospitality industry. According to a study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions, travellers search an average of 38 sites before making a booking. Thus once a guest lands on the hotel’s website, she/he must be engaged with strong visual strategy and interactive content,” disclosed Parinaz. Dhananjay says that The Suryaa New Delhi has a very robust and aggressive digital marketing plan for future. “In our current set up, we emphasise on online reputation management through TripAdvisor, our key word strategies through SEO and paid activities through Google PPC, social media daily engagement and weekly campaigns. The most important part on our digital marketing is our content,” he added. “A robust digital marketing strategy is an essential part of any successful website improvement action plan. There are various aspects to digital marketing and the key ones involve a good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SEM/PPC (Search Engine Marketing/Pay Per Click) and social media campaigns, amongst others. For all these strategies to be successfully implemented, the most important aspect is the ‘content’ that is being presented to the audience. A content strategy comes with planning and includes an editorial calendar, a social plan, engagement efforts, optimisation, measuring conversions and more,” Parinaz elaborated. “With technology comes better access to deeper consumer insights, data trends and analytics, which help maximise our ROIs. Technology-led innovations have opened up the horizon for hoteliers and the opportunities for growth are plenty, provided we not just respond to, but also proactively anticipate how our guests consume information on these platforms and put technology to use,” she elucidated. “Modern Indian and foreign travellers are now travelling with multiple devices and our objective is to be present where our guests are for connecting, sharing experiences, and for extending personalised


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marketing is – and will continue to be – a real game-changer,” voiced Parinaz. “ Th e c re at i o n a n d d i s t r i b u t i o n of valuable assets, such as videos, blog posts, and e-newsletters, as marketing tools to attract and retain customers is an important aspect for any hospitality brand,” she added further.

The Potent Role of Social Media

Dhananjay Kumar services. This helps us to be proactive and exceed guest expectations at all times,” stated Kumar. “It took us few days in order to understand why we need a responsive brand website and the rest is history. With our new website we have the same experience across all devices; we manage our content, images, videos, banner placement, etc. from one platform. There is no duplication or old content which used to be a big area of concern. It takes us few minutes to change, manage, upload images on a real time basis. This can be done on a normal 3G or 4G speed,” he elaborated further. “Today, we know our real time statistics for our brand website e.g. how many people are looking at our brand website, who are our top referrals, which social site is giving us highest traffic and conversion, top key words searched for our hotel services, what is our top active pages, top location as to who is looking at our website and from where,” Kumar disclosed. “One good picture is equal to 1,000 words and one good small video with right content is equivalent to around 10,000 words. It is important that your image should pass on extended message to the audience and should have high recall factor. In today’s information world getting information is easy but difficult to remember; same is the key with digital marketing. We all know that we are doing digital marketing but important thing is to remember is ‘how well are you doing,” Kumar opined. Video marketing is gaining currency in the hospitality industry. “Strategic use of video on a business website translates to lower bounce rates, longer visit times, improved engagement and considerable b ette r co nve rs i o n rates . We b v i d e o

Thanks to increased social networking among consumers in this post-modern digital age, and the influence of social sites, it has become a business imperative for the hospitality industry to embrace social media. Most major hotels now have dedicated teams that monitor social comments on a daily basis, and ensure prompt response to customer issues and feedback. “Research has shown time and again that the thoughts & opinions of both fellow consumers and influential figures mean more than the actual marketing pitch. A solid star-rating performance, from a guest or influencer can increase the brand’s reputation. The web has transformed the way the consumers want it, therefore they are the decider and the engager, therefore the discretion lies on them in terms of what they will buy, where will they buy it from and how much will they buy it for. It is the hospitality industry’s duty to connect, engage and sustain their target audience,” articulated Parinaz. “A hotel’s activity on the social media decides its success of search engine optimisation. Daily posts and interaction with the audience on different channels regularly is a key to success for any social media marketing endeavour. It is very essential to evolve your strategies with ever-changing algorithms of Google,” she viewed. “Social media has played an important role at The Suryaa New Delhi. We have implemented strategies which work and are simple to use. All our social media pages are redirected to brand website for better experience and engagement. Our focus remains on content, images and videos. Whether our hotel is posting a video of a lively pool party happening that very moment, or images of events which are ongoing or fresh, followers on our social media platform would like to know what is going on at The Suryaa New Delhi. We are also introducing e concierge for our guests – allowing guests to get the information they need anytime,” conveyed Kumar.

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Hotel Business Review

“Let me share few past experiences, which can easily illustrate how social media has been playing a key role at Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway. Post check out our team shared the invoices with the guest as a part of the process. The guest wanted to revise the invoice by adding some missing information (which he had not shared with us while at stay). What did he do to get it rectified? Ideally, he should have sent an e-mail to the concerned department or Account Manager, right? But he messaged us on Facebook and e-mailed the desired changes to our Digital Marketing Manager. We informed the concerned team and got the needful done with a Thank You note,” informed Wal with satisfaction. “Then there was an instance when a guest enquired to curate an evening to propose to his girlfriend. In a conventional situation the guest would have called the concierge desk or the Venue Manager but he chose social media. The relation did not end there; the marketing team got into action and ensured the evening was as memorable as it could be. He is currently one of our regular guests and an unpaid brand ambassador,” recollected Wal fondly. “And there are many more instances when the social media team has played a significant role in shaping the brand promises of our hotel. The most important parameter to address is the response time. Ideally, it should be instant, but we try to maintain a turn-around time of two hours,” Wal disclosed with confidence.

Role of OTAs Is digital marketing more effective than OTAs (online travel agents) these days and how relevant are the later as far as revenue of the hotel is concerned is a question that is germane for all would be hotel marketers. “ D i g i ta l m a r ket i n g t h es e d ays i s definitely more effective than OTAs since all OTAs are doing their business on digital platform these days, using different marketing strategies. However, OTAs are beneficial for hotels because of their heavy spend on Google PPC, paid marketing on social platform, for using of mobile as a different marketing tool. With artificial intelligence on mobile device, OTAs have started targeting price by device/ geo location,” informed Kumar. “Online travel agents are important for our business but how much is the question which we keep discussing. They benefit


Nov-Dec ’17

said that, the OTA’s reach has grown exponentially with the digitalisation of the global economy. Regular tactical offers, along with steady marketing on digital channels, helps to maximise the footfalls in the hotel,” Wal stated.

Merchandising Strategy

Parinaz Driver hotels by providing large audience base by region, and in different languages. We are currently working with leading domestic and international OTAs through direct contracting and some are coming through GDS to us (using alternate distribution system). OTAs have helped us by bringing more business. However, we have lost few due to rate disparity created by giving coupon discounts by OTAs. Also, if ‘A’ hotel increases commission from X to Y then ‘B’ hotel, which is direct competition to the hotel ‘A’, is expected to lose its market share,” pointed out Kumar. “Digital marketing has a wider role to play and OTAs these days form one part of the overall digital marketing eco-system. The primary responsibility of OTAs is to drive business while digital marketing is part of the entire guest cycle. For instance, the guest can be amazed by the mobile check-in process and the mobile check-in process is again part of the digitalisation. The social media for instance is a part of digital marketing,” explained Wal. “OTAs as compared to other traditional booking channels give you a much larger reach and the possibility of selling more rooms to a larger audience. The Central Re s e rvat i o n Sys te m of t h e h ote l i s connected to the OTAs through a two way interface and this connectivity therefore helps in maintaining rate parity and live inventory,” Parinaz pointed out. “As a hotel, Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway always strives to get the right mix of bookings; striking a balance between OTA bookings and direct contact bookings. However, having

Return on investment (ROI) is one of the key considerations for a hospitality property. The OTAs in India have expertise as far as ‘sell on rate’ goes where it is hard to beat them. But hoteliers should preferably learn how to ‘sell on value’ as opposed to ‘sell on rate,’ and need to adopt an effective website merchandising strategy. “In terms of merchandising strategy, sell on value will be the way forward for us. The reason behind choosing this strategy is because, only if we know the value of our product we will be able to sell it at the right price. For example, Sofitel Mumbai BKC is one of the top three hotels in Mumbai on TripAdvisor and due to this, the reputation of the brand increases, hence increasing its value. Our brand image in the market, assisted by the facilities & services that we offer, help valuate the hotel’s products on offer such as rooms and our food & beverage outlets. This helps us judge the prices of our products as per the customers’ desire to pay and market trends. Hence one can say that sell on value is the right strategy to follow,” Parinaz aired. “As a hotel, we strive to leverage both the aspects. However, during lean periods selling on value adds to the increased number in the bookings, and during the peak season selling on rate is desirable,” reasoned Wal. “At The Suryaa New Delhi, we believe in our values, since value is always long-term and price is a short-term concept,” asserted Kumar with a smile. Succinctly, we can infer that the Revenue Managers across hospitality properties have lots of challenges in this digital age in their endeavour to maximise revenue per available room (RevPAR). One way of effectively tackling the revenue issue is through digital marketing. The most valuable bookings tend to come from your direct channels. Not only they generate more revenue, but also they give you valuable guest data to inform your future marketing initiatives. Direct bookings provide more upsell opportunities, thereby increasing your RevPAR. Besides they also help improve guest relations. n

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Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

More Interactive Lobbies By Sharmila Chand


uring the recent years, the hotel l o b b i es i n t h e re a l m of I n d i a n hospitality industry have undergone a sea change. They have evolved into active social hubs with cafes, bars, computer stations, and more. They often amalgamate business and fun creatively, and can be treated as revenue earning avenues. The trend is to make the hotel lobby area interactive. The traditional hotel lobby is getting transformed to a contemporary gathering place. I discussed with experts about how hotel lobbies have significantly changed over the years and got their opinion on how can hotel lobbies can be made more functional, business-oriented and trendy.

“Developing a more functional hotel lobby can contribute to the guests’ satisfaction. According to many hospitality consultants, in 2018, across hotel lobbies in the Indian hospitality industry more front desks will be replaced with sit-down, comfortable concierge desks and sofa check-ins would be handled by staff equipped with iPads while guests sip on beverages. Additional design changes will aim to induce guests out of their hotel rooms and into dynamic social spaces,” Agarwal pointed out.

Changing Face of Hotel Lobbies “The hotel lobby has always been regarded as the guest’s first impression upon entering the hotel. As hotel design has evolved, the idea of the lobby solely being a place for guests to check-in has undergone a marked shift, and this change is for the better. Today’s hotel lobbies are taking on a multifunctional approach to engage the guests in a social setting,” asserted Nishant Agarwal, General Manager, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park.


Nov-Dec ’17

Ishaan Malik

“Hospitality brands are reinventing their hotel lobbies to accommodate a range of activities focused around work, relaxation and play. Increasingly, hotels are moving towards a more integrated lobby model that offers a comfortable, convenient space to congregate, enjoy food and drink, socialise and conduct business,” averred Jaswinder Narang, General Manager Complex, Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel. “In the past, hotel lobbies while being palatial in size, used to have a lot of large empty spaces. The lobbies used to be decorated with ethnic artifacts based on different traditional themes, had plush & extravagant set-ups with limited seating options, used to have decorative flower setups; thus spelling grandeur and luxury. The hotel lobby used to have more of an opulent look and feel to it and less of an interactive space which would be warm and inviting towards guests. There were very few hotels which provided food & beverage offerings at the lobby level, and even those that offered had very limited options,” recollected Ishaan Malik, Front Office Manager, Conrad Pune. “However, these days hotel lobbies have evolved into more interactive spaces. Even


Nishant Agarwal though they still evoke a feeling of luxury and grandeur, they are designed in a more modern manner with high ceilings, with provision of ample natural sunlight a n d w i t h co nte m p o ra ry a rtefa cts . The hotel lobby has now become an extremely dynamic and central place of a hotel, where a resident or even a non-resident guest feels welcome to use it to accomplish various tasks like completing pending work, host quick meetings, network with friends, grab a quick meal on-the-go or even use it as a waiting area,” Malik proffered.

Industry Developments “Westin Hotels and Resorts as a brand has always been known for lobbies which are designed with a minimalist approach. Generally our lobbies have ample sunlight and a clutter-free space with few seating options. The Westin Pune Koregaon Park is no exception to the same. Recently we have added few

more elements to make the hotel’s lobby more engaging for the guests. We have tied up with an organisation to showcase their artworks at the lobby, which changes every three months. We have also engaged with wedding planners and decorators to do a small display of a wedding set-up at one corner of the lobby. This not only adds vibrancy to the entire lobby area but also gives the guests a glimpse about the weddings that we can host at the hotel,” Agarwal elaborated. “At the Sheraton Grand Pune, we have a multi-use lobby which is Wi-Fi-enabled and features a mixture of furniture types and spatial configurations. Lounge seating for relaxation, semi-private pods for meetings, namely ‘Den’ which provides all the necessary features of a meeting space and can accommodate 3-4 people and work stations with charging capabilities are features of our lobby,” Narang added. “At the lobby, we offer a wide range of food & beverage options, which include assorted sandwiches, smoothies, fresh juices, health drinks & snacks for guests who would like to grab a meal/drink while on the go,” disclosed Narang. “A t Co n ra d P u n e , w e p ro v i d e co m p l i m e nta ry W i - Fi co n n e ct i v i ty throughout the lobby to facilitate our guests to execute their day-to-day tasks seamlessly. There is also easy to access power points all across the lobby to ensure that there is no problem when it comes to working with a laptop or for quickly charging one’s phone,” Malik disclosed. “The lobby of Conrad Pune definitely

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

exudes contemporary luxury. As soon as one enters the lobby of Conrad Pune, the first food and beverage outlet that is likely to catch the attention of the guests is the in-house cafe & delicatessen named ‘Pune Sugar Box,’” Malik asserted. “An ideal place to recharge with a quick bite and/or a refreshing cup of tea or coffee, the deli offers deliciously baked pastries and savouries, fresh salads, a range of sandwiches and pastas as well as handmade chocolates and specialty cookies. Pune Sugar Box is an integral part of the lobby; an ideal outlet for catching up with friends, families and colleagues over quick meals,” Malik pointed out. Hotel lobbies can also be the ideal places for leisure, after a tiring journey. “This year, most of the staff at our front desk operations have been equipped with iPads to handle check-ins and photo IDs, while guests sip on coffee or soft drinks at leisure,” Malik stated. “The lobby also houses a 24-hour business center, equipped with Mac and Windows PC options, high speed Internet, print, photocopy and fax options to assist our guests to catch up on work in case they are not carrying a personal laptop. They can even print a quick boarding pass prior to their flight,” conveyed Malik. According to him, “Varied set-ups of plush sofas and dynamic seating arrangements in the lobby assist business travellers in having discussions and quick meetings with their colleagues.” That is not all. “Another way by which Conrad Pune has adopted the ‘home-awayfrom-home’ concept is by re-designing the public areas from business like, pragmatic spaces to living room-like spaces that are warm and inviting. Additional design changes will induce to move guests out of their rooms and into dynamic social spaces in order to encourage community building, bonding and togetherness amongst our guests and patrons,” Malik explained. “Just as a living room is central to every home, so too is the Park Hyatt Hyderabad lobby. Here the traditional concept of a hotel lobby has been re-imagined and transformed. Its highlight is a sparkling water feature that surrounds a 35-foot tall white abstract stunning sculpture designed by John Portman,” informed Mohit Malhotra, Executive Assistant Manager, F&B, Park Hyatt Hyderabad. “The outlet named The Living Room at the lobby is Hyderabad’s new destination


Nov-Dec ’17

fine art masterpieces,” expressed Malhotra.

Experts Suggest

Jaswinder Narang for casual rendezvous over freshly brewed beverages, with a rich influence of local f l avo u rs . I t s h owcas es eye - catc h i n g interiors. The outlet is known for its unique combination of Indian and western snacks, fine selection of gourmet patisserie, assorted cookies, Irani chai, Osmania biscuits, & more,” observed Malhotra. “The Living Room offers its guests with an experience of sophisticated ambience, tastefully furnished with generous touches of contemporary features, which makes it ideal for small discussions over freshly brewed coffee,” Malhotra added further. “At the lobby level and complementing the interiors of the space is our ArtWalkWay. Showcasing the fine works of budding as well as acclaimed artists, the ArtWalkWay at Park Hyatt Hyderabad is one of the city’s leading galleries, and hosts some of the

Mohit Malhotra

Narang also went on to give some key tips towards making hotel lobbies more functional, business-oriented and trendy. “ H ot e l l o b b i e s c a n b e g e n e ra l l y percceived as large open and inviting space, with few structural walls. It should have three separate functional areas — a welcome area, a social and business area, and a personal area. These areas should work together smoothly and flow together seamlessly through the strategic placement of assorted furnishings and technologybased guest services,” opined Narang. “The key game changer will be the innovative use of technology to encourage guests to spend more time in the lobby and at the same time subtly providing them with the relevant information about the food and beverage and other services at the property, like spa. The check-in area of the lobby should become more casual and informal. The traditional front desk should be replaced with comfortable desks and chairs where guests and staff can sit casually,” Narang explained. “The hotel lobby nowadays should be a true oasis of culture, a place that surprises and delights in its alchemy of artistic expression, human connection and palpable energy,” pointed out Malhotra, while adding, “The lobby should ideally be the heart and soul of a hospitality property; the indispensable hub of its functional and social activities. This vital gathering place should unfold as a series of vignettes, sketching a vivid depiction of all the hotel has to offer, thereby establishing a true spirit of the property.” “Whether you want to make it grand, sophisticated, or homely and intimate, design the hotel lobby with a living room in mind—a place that serves as a social gateway for people to gather together. Use comfortable furniture and unique flooring, floor coverings and light fixtures, keeping within the hotel’s style and setting,” advised Malhotra. “Warm and welcoming lighting, visually engaging art, reading materials, and easily accessed pathways should be the characteristics of hotel lobby spaces,” affirmed Malhotra. To conclude, according to Malhotra, the hotel lobby’s interior look and feel should always reinforce its exterior perspective, location, and contextual surroundings. n


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Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

For Experiential


By Swarnendu Biswas


n today’s Indian tourism and hospitality industry, experiential holidays and offbeat d es t i n at i o n s ca n h o l d co n s i d e ra b l e attraction for the new-age domestic and inbound tourists, especially those who are having an intrepid streak within them. There is a section of travellers in India and abroad (whose numbers are now enough to be recognised as an independent market force), for whom travel is not only about new places but also about novel experiences and uncommon memories.

When they visit a new destination, they not only want to marvel at its tourist attractions but also want to experience the place’s special food and its various other facets of culture and heritage first hand. In the backdrop of such a market scenario, we can safely say that our hospitality industry badly needs to promote more offbeat tourist destinations within the country. The industry also needs to develop more resorts or retreats in pristine and preferably unconventional locales. The architecture of these resorts or retreats should reflect an unmistakable local touch and these properties should provide experiences in sync with the local ethos and culture. If our hospitality industry doesn’t work towards these twin objectives vigorously, it is likely to lose huge untapped revenue opportunities.

Space for Stupendous Growth V Resorts, a new-age Noida-based travel solutions and resort management company, is playing a significant role in this regard. It is managing hospitality properties in quaint locales; properties whose construction and the experiences provided for the tourists are in sync with the local culture, environment and ethos. V Resorts is led by the company’s dynamic and visionary CEO, Aditi Balbir,


Nov-Dec ’17

who also founded the company in 2014, with an investment of Rs.13crore (majority of the funding was provided by Seed Fund, India’s leading early stage venture capital funding company and some came through internal accruals). Today V Resorts is already having 100 hospitality properties within its management ambit, and presence across 17 states of India. From hills to beaches, from deserts to wildlife sanctuaries, and from heritage sites to adventure hotspots, the resorts within the purview of V Resorts cater to diversified tourism experiences. According to Aditi, “The gamut of travel experiences on offer by V Resorts can be demarcated into eight categories. They are Heritage, Desert, City Breaks, Wildlife, Romantic Gateways, Farm Stay, Hills and Beaches.” The destinations covered by V Resorts not only include popular tourist destinations like Goa, but also offbeat ones like Ramgarh, Sattal and Panna among others. Till 2015, the company was managing only six properties. This stupendous growth story may sound unbelievable amidst not so encouraging growth of the Indian hospitality industry during the recent years, but it happens to be true.

The Business Model All the salaries and other day-to-day


Hotel Business Review

variable operational expenses of these 100 hospitality properties under the management of V Resorts are incurred by V Resorts only and V Resorts is involved in addressing the customer queries and problem/s pertaining to these resorts, if any. The properties under the ambit of V Resorts range from 2-30 rooms and some of them have the provision of suites too. Their daily rents range from Rs.2500-Rs.7500. In the revenue sharing model between the respective owner of the hospitality property and V Resorts, the owner of a given property gets a revenue share, which, according to Aditi, varies between 15-20 percent.

the regional delicacies being offered at properties managed by V Resorts. The culinary offerings of course depend upon the geographical location of the resorts. Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Goa and Himachal are the states where V Resorts have more presence.

Activities Galore

Sustainable Hospitality According to the enterprising lady, V Resorts always choose those hospitality properties to manage whose construction reflects the local culture and/or architectural styles of the place where the property is stationed. “For example, if we have to tie-up with a property in Goa chances are we may go for an old Portuguese structure, whereas in hill stations built by the British, we may go for stone cottages, which are reminiscent of the colonial era,” pointed out Aditi with relevant examples. For example in Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, V Resorts presents ecofriendly bamboo huts. “And once we take up those properties for managing, we ensure that the experiences we provide for the guests there are in sync with the local culture, environment and ethos of the destination where the given property is stationed,” she added further. “Our resorts’ standardised elements i n c l u d e V Ca nvas , w h i c h co m p r i s es aesthetically designed artworks that give a tantalising visual glimpse into what we offer; Spice Walk, which is our exclusive range of dining options that emphasise on local and regional cuisines; Pitara, which comprises a range of items procured from local communities, packaged by us; V Unwind, which comprises our in-house infotainment and leisure activities; and V Indulge, which has in its ambit our spas and massages for pampering our guests. While our corporate office is in Noida, the V Resorts family is truly spread across the length and breadth of the country, committed to finding new ways to delight our guests,” elaborated Aditi. “About 90 percent of the personnel, including the Chefs, employed in these properties comprise of local people, and to train them in the finer nuances of hospitality we did set up a training school

Aditi Balbir in Noida, in 2014,” she informed. As far as procurement of day-to-day products for these resorts goes, V Resorts relies on local vendors, which further strengthens the sustainability character of V Resorts. V Resorts also practice environmentallyfriendly policies at its managed properties, which include conservation of water and the use of solar power. “Both our corporate philosophy and values fit in perfectly with the central government’s pro-tourism agenda, which stresses the role of tourism in boosting employment and economic growth, and contributing to skill enhancement of local communities,” disclosed Aditi.

Regional Flavours One of the interesting reflections of these initiatives in sustainability, according to Aditi, is the complete lack of standarisation of F&B options at V Resorts. With V Resorts, the culinary offerings differ from property to property and they have a strong local flavour associated with them. “While staying with us, one can savour lesser known regional delicacies like bhang ki chutney, and honeycomb, which you cannot get in a conventional hospitality property,” said Aditi. While bhang ki chutney is a delicacy from Uttarakhand cuisine, honeycombs are cooked and eaten by people in Sunderbans, West Bengal. Kafuli from Uttarakhand, madra from Himachal Pradesh, gatte ki sabzi from Rajasthan, Kerala prawn curry from the God’s Own Country and sabudana khichdi from Maharashtra are some of

The guests are also offered interesting activities with V Resorts, which can enhance and enrich their holidaying experience. “Whether it is angling on Lake Sattal or a wine tour in Nashik; whether it is a puppet show with lunch at Jaipur or a mud pit dinner at Kotabagh we are helping you discover each location in a unique, fun and memorable manner,” proffered Aditi. Village walks, meals with the villagers, trekking facility, horse riding, cycling, picnic in the orchard, tea garden visit, temple tour, skiing, afternoon tea by the lake, wildlife safari are some of the activities provided at the properties. These activities of course, vary according to the geographical area of the resort/s. For example, only a resort in a destination which has trekking opportunities to explore would have trekking facility for the guests, and similarly a resort with a tea garden in its proximity can provide tea garden tour.

Miles to Go However, despite scripting such an enviable success story, Aditi is not at all interested in resting on her laurels. “We have still miles and miles to go... Except Sikkim, we are yet to have presence in the relatively unexplored north-east. We still do not have presence in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh,” rued Aditi. She informed that her company was striving hard to further expand its presence in India. If her yesterday’s growth story is fascinating, her future endeavours are nothing short of jaw dropping. “We have planned to expand our network from 100 to 1000 resorts within two years, and also to have considerable presence in South Asia by 2019,” Aditi disclosed with a ravishing smile. The fact that the resort management company recently raised 4 million USD from Seed Fund and the Singapore-based RB Investments is expected to give an impetus to V Resorts’ expansion plans. “This financing will go towards expanding our footprints across the country and also to enter the overseas markets,” maintained the savvy entrepreneur. n

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

Time Management in a

Hotel Project By Himank Gowami


t was almost midnight as everyone raised yet another toast to the successful completion of the project. Celebrations were in full swing. The renovation had been completed ahead of the scheduled reopening date, giving the General Manager additional two months of opportunity to welcome the guests. Yes, time is money, especially in a hotel project.


Nov-Dec ’17

The before-time opening of the hotel fa c i l i tate d a d d i t i o n a l p rof i t , s av i n g s on project staff payroll and freeing up manpower for the next assignment. This is the story of a luxury business hotel i n d ow ntow n M u m b a i w h e n a m a j o r renovation was completed in 16 months and that too including the design, tendering and execution. Meticulous planning at every stage of a project can ensure cost control and efficiency. This is especially important in a renovation work for hospitality properties, where an already revenue generating hospitality property shuts its doors to re-open in order to provide a better experience. We can say that every single day’s delay in the opening of a hospitality property is a loss of potential revenue making

opportunities. Here let us look at some ways to bring efficiency in the whole process of planning and execution of a hotel project.

The Steps to Heed First of all, provide a crystal clear brief to the designer about the brand standards and budgets to avoid value engineering as much as possible. Should any value engineering be necessary, it should be carried out at the beginning of the project rather than at the end. Reconsidering a design or a material at the eleventh hour has the danger of derailing the schedule. Revisions and afterthoughts in design often cause delays and demoralises the project execution team. Avoid making changes after a design has been finalised. Furthermore, make a mockup room early on in the project in order to finalise

Hotel Business Review

and testify all design and MEP elements. This shall facilitate that there are no unpleasant surprises related to budgets, detailing and functionality at a more crucial stage. Guest rooms constitute a significant proportion of work involved in the whole project. Getting them right early on is extremely important for the health of a hotel project. It is also pragmatic to discuss your schedule in detail before engaging a designer. Otherwise he/she may take longer to complete the assigned tasks. Also it is preferable to not engage overly busy consultants in the interest of the project. Matching diaries can be a cause of delay during the hotel project planning stage. Chart out a clear road map along with dates for all stages of project planning and ensure that all stakeholders stick to the agreed dates and timelines. Ensure that all consultants are on board ahead of time. There are numerous examples where getting a particular consultant on board at a relatively later stage has caused delays. For example, if you get an acoustic consultant when the execution has started, his/her suggested changes in the implementation process or material specifications could end up wasting precious time and money. A l s o ta ke i nto co n s i d e rat i o n of the possible delays caused by fee negotiations and contract finalisation. It can take months at times to finalise the fine print of the contract from technical and legal standpoint. Give adequate importance to resource management, which is a crucial aspect towards completing a project within the stipulated timeframe. Manpower shortage, be it in the design or execution teams, can cause delays. Civil works are usually the quickest in any hotel project in India. However, the key lies in completing the MEP works flawlessly. Delays usually happen during the MEP or finishing stages. The battle is half won if the MEP works are completed within the stipulated timeframe. Don’t fall into the trap of starting execution on all fronts. BOH & MEP areas take far less time to complete than public areas and guestrooms. Employ your resources wisely and put more focus on the zones which take comparatively longer to complete. Going pre-fab is another key aspect to

save time. Make use of the technological advancements to use pre-fabricated e l e m e nts a n d co n s t r u ct as m a n y elements off-site as possible. This not only ensures a better speed but also facilitates quality. Don’t sweat over parallel activities but be extra cautious about the sequential activities. Derailment of any such activity has a cascading effect and it is extremely difficult to recover from such a situation. Lastly, all purchase orders should be in place well in advance to ensure timely delivery of items. Be extra cautious of the long lead imported items. Purchase teams generally take a lot of time to negotiate and to complete the paper work. Ensure ‘full kitting’ prior to the start of a project. It is advisable to give an extra few weeks to the purchase team to exploit their negotiation skills in order to save substantial cost for the investor/s.

Designing Balance I n t h e e n d e avo u r to fas t t ra c k a hotel project, quality should never be overlooked. Triumph is to complete the project within the scheduled timeline & budget and at the same time achieving top-notch quality to create value for the investor/s. The trilogy of time, cost and quality are extremely important in a hotel project and not one of these should ever be compromised.

The author is an architect by profession and is presently associated with Emaar Hospitality Group, Dubai, which is one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in the world. Previously he was with Öberoi Hotels & Resorts. Reach out to him on his e-mail

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

Facilitating a Clean Kitchen Through Steam Cleaning


owadays people go out to dine to have a wonderful experience of delicious food prepared in a professional kitchen by a trained Chef and at the same time to enjoy the ambience, decor and service. Restaurant customers expect their food to be cooked in a clean kitchen and to have clean surroundings in service area, regardless of the size or type of the restaurant. This is relevant for restaurants housed in hotels and other hospitality properties too. Commercial food production environments such as kitchens, canteens and food preparation areas must adhere to stringent legislation governing their condition and hygiene standards. The comprehensive kitchen cleaning must ensure impeccable hygiene, high efficiency and extended life of equipment through proper maintenance, and reduced fire risks. Food hygiene standards and regulations are now becoming more pronounced with FSSAI becoming more active in food sector.


Nov-Dec ’17

Non-adherence to the regulations can now lead to severe fines that can have a negative effect on profitability, as well as on the reputation of the concerned restaurant business. Daily cleaning routines can help maintain a good level of hygiene. It’s important to clean the floors and counters in the restaurant kitchen on a daily basis. But there are some other kitchen cleaning tasks that do not need to be performed as frequently. However on less accessible surfaces such as walls, ceilings, lights, equipment and kitchen fittings, the gradual accumulation of grease and fat can provide a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Burnt on carbon and fat deposits must be removed, facilitating that any potentially harmful bacteria are eliminated. Poor cleaning procedures can also lead to bacterial contamination, spread of diseases, pest infestations and reduced equipment life. Since kitchens are hot, messy, busy places it is difficult to keep them clean, especially

on a daily basis. For this reason, adopting a high-quality steam/deep cleaning schedule is the ideal solution towards keeping restaurant and other commercial kitchens (which include kitchens in hotels and other hospitality properties too) clean and disinfected. To ensure that equipment does not get too dirty to be used correctly, it is suggested to do a deep cleaning once a month. Keeping a kitchen clean and disinfected, which include kitchens in hotels and other hospitality properties, could easily help reduce the risk of spreading food-borne illnesses and cross-contamination.  Keeping a clean kitchen is incredibly important for many reasons. In fact, every workplace should be clean, regardless of what the type of work it is, to provide healthy work conditions.  Restaurant and kitchen staff will work better in a clean kitchen than in a dirty kitchen.  Though it is important that food should be prepared on a clean, disinfected surface, but it does not mean that chemical cleaning

F&B products should be used on those surfaces. Chemical cleaning products leave a chemical residue which can be transferred to anything that comes in contact with the surface, like skin or food that can absorb that chemical residue.  These chemicals can possibly prove to have a link to various health problems for the people working in the kitchen.  Chemical residues can possibly change the taste of prepared food in the kitchen or restaurant, which could affect the business.  In a working kitchen, food splatters and grease get dispersed throughout the kitchen. It can contaminate any to every surface.  Thus it is imperative to properly clean a kitchen, including all surfaces, high and low.  What is the best and fastest effective solution towards keeping a commercial restaurant kitchen clean, disinfected and chemical free?

Steam Cleaning Steam Cleaning allows to easily clean, sanitise and deodorise a variety of surfaces and materials around the premises with less work and with no chemicals or detergents. One can clean those tough stains without exposing oneself and the environment to hazardous chemicals. No more using

poison or toxic chemicals, for steam cleans and disinfects using only water and heat. Steam and very high water temperature systems are likely to provide superior and economic cleaning. Through steam cleaning, dirt, grime and mould get blasted out from dirty areas due to extremely high temperature and pressure. Following the blast, dirt is sucked into a powerful vacuum, in a holding tank. Steam cleaners can rapidly go over every surface in a kitchen, getting into even the tiny crevices or porous surfaces and swiftly lift and remove dirt, grease, grime, bacteria and more. Even caked on grease and food particles can be gently but effectively lifted and removed from surfaces.  Stoves, grills, range hoods, sinks, refrigerators, counters, ovens, prep areas, storage areas, pantries, slicers, scales, racks and more can all be cleaned with a powerful steam cleaner. This prevents the spread of disease in your commercial kitchen.  A professional portable steam cleaner can also be moved around to not only clean the kitchen but the bar or other areas of a restaurant; providing true cleaning versatility.  A steam cleaner is an incredibly useful investment for any commercial kitchen because it can literally

Features of Steam Cleaning Technology • • • • • • • • • •

Eliminates mops and buckets for more convenient cleaning. Cleans and sanitises without hazardous chemicals and toxic odours. Leaves no residue like chemical cleaners. Add tap water, switch on and you can begin cleaning in minutes. Surfaces dry in seconds. No soaked materials that can contribute to mold and allergen growth. Kills most bacteria, viruses, mildew and allergens such as E.Coli, Salmonella and Dust Mites. Helps control allergens in carpet and bedding. Money saving as no cleaning chemical agents are used, but just plain tap water is used. Lifts off greasy grime and dried on dirt. Cleans soap scum and mildew off bathroom tile and shower doors.

Benefits of Steam Cleaning Technology • • • • • • • • • •

Increased Hygiene Reduce the risk of contamination Reduce the risk of transmitting food-borne disease Lower customer complaints Better working conditions for staff Increased efficiency and longer equipment life Lower maintenance cost Reduced risk of fire Improved health and safety environment They have great likelihood of complying with food hygiene and kitchen safety regulation • Lower risk of fines and prosecution

Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

be used for floor to ceiling cleaning and disinfection.

How Machines Work? Steam cleaning machines operate on the principle where the water in a boiler tank gets heated up and escapes in ‘vapour’ like fashion through the multi-powerful jets or hoses. Some expensive steam cleaning machines include quality stainless steel boilers, heavy wiring, more insulation; the heating unit mounted inside the boiler, more attachments and more safety features than the low-end ones. Steam cleaner can be a very handy steam cleaning machine as well. It cleans virtually any area that one can think of: seals on the fridge or oven, the runners on patio doors. Some steam cleaners claim to be able to do odd jobs such as defrosting a fridge, as well. Some of the new models feature special self-cleaning systems, which mean that if one invests in it he won’t have to constantly worry about replacing calcium filters. Also, the newer models heat and reheat in record time, some as fast as within thirty seconds and they do come with different bar pressures that change the speed and efficiency of

cleaning performance. The typical steam cleaning machines’ have the following accessories: window squeegee, bristle ring nozzle, refilling bottle or tank and curved detail nozzle. These features simply ensure that your steam cleaning could be satisfactory. The steam cleaning machine should also have a feature that can regulate water steam outflow as well as its temperatures. Despite what you may think,

some low pressure steam cleaning machines perform better than the high pressure ones. The steam cleaning machine is easy to maintain and clean and it is light enough to be carried (when you fill it with water), especially if you are planning to use it often. Steam cleaning machines should have some features for special cleaning tasks and should have options on hose outlets for cleaning difficult areas. n

Deep Cleaning in Restaurant Kitchen


estaurants and other food service establishments face unique commercial kitchen cleaning challenges. By their very nature, kitchens generate high volumes of greasy soils which are very difficult to remove. Just as bad, these soils are tracked through dining areas, restrooms and throughout the facility. The results can be costly, including loss of business, dangerous slip-and-fall accidents and more. Deep cleaning process could be very much relevant for these following equipments:   Exhaust Hoods Cleaning the hoods over stoves and ovens is crucial to keep the air quality healthy for everyone who works in the kitchen. You should start by removing the filters from the hoods and washing them thoroughly. Then, scrub down the hoods themselves to remove any bakedon grease or soil. The traditional way to clean this equipment is to soak the filters in a sink full of hot, soapy water, and scrub the hoods with degreaser solution. These


Nov-Dec ’17

are both dirty jobs, and they require safety equipment to avoid chemical burns and damage to eyes. After applying cleaning solution to the surface, a powerful jet of water will rinse away all grease and soil, leaving the equipment clean and free of contaminants. Rather than letting filters air dry for hours, you can use the powerful vacuum to remove all the moisture from inside the filters. Walk-in Refrigerators Walk-in refrigerators are constantly used by most restaurants all day long. Most managers have the floors cleaned every night, the door handles wiped when needed, and the entrance way mopped once or twice a day. This still leaves out the part of the walk-in refrigerator that gets the most use: the shelves. You should pull out all the food from your walk-in refrigerator's shelves once a month and use a spray-and-vac system to apply cleaning solution. Then, you should use the powerful spray to remove soil and foreign objects. You can use the same solution to clean the interior of the walk-in refrigerator from top to bottom, including

the walls, the inside of the door, and the floor and entrance way. Hot Boxes Whether you call them proofing boxes, steam boxes, or hot boxes, these large pieces of equipment provide a moist environment in which to hold warm, prepared food. These boxes are notorious for growing slimy interiors within a few weeks; when the unit cools, the interior steam and grease droplets get deposited all over the interior walls. You can also use a spray-and-vac here to clean the walls and remove the layer of grease you find inside. Then you can vacuum away all the moisture from inside the unit, leaving it clean, dry, and bacteria-free. Besides these equipments, deep cleaning operations must clean ovens, cooking surfaces, cutting boards, exhaust hood filters, defrosting freezers, grills. It should sanitise and degrease equipment, enable odour control, clean bathrooms, floors, walls, furniture, air vents, and mixers, juicers, toasters, coffee machines, etc. Succinctly, it should facilitate regular maintenance.

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Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

An Elegant Hotel By Swarnendu Biswas


he Pllazio Hotel is not your run-ofthe-mill hospitality property. In fact, its elegant architecture embodying an unmistakable European influence stands out from the mushrooming concrete jungle of the posh and happening Sector 29 of Gurgaon, which is dotted with several hospitality properties of renown. It is a five-storied hotel, if you exclude the roof top. The property is aesthetically designed by Studio 54 of Thailand. The hotel which is positioned as a boutique hotel, is suited for both business and leisure travellers, though according to Varinder Sahni, the Joint Managing Director, The Pllazzio Hotel, the hotel is primarily frequented by the high-end business travellers. The property was launched in December 2011. Here it deserves a mention that Sahni, who received his BBA, MBA and postgraduation in Economics from the US, has been also running his family-owned ecofriendly hotel named Ashok Country Resort in Rajkori, New Delhi, which was launched way back in 1995. Its primary clientele are the family crowd and budget leisure tourists in groups. The fact that The Pllazio Hotel is in the business hub of Gurgaon, and is located within close proximity to the airport and metro station and to the famed entertainment zone named Kingdom of


Nov-Dec ’17

Dreams, facilitates to further endorse its image as a classy business hotel.

Room for Luxury The hotel’s decor is accentuated by some intricate and captivating artworks, which can soothe the jaded senses. The rooms have thoughtfully put together furnishings and fixtures, sourced from the world over. The classy hospitality property comprises 80 rooms and two suites. Each room is 306 square feet with a choice of a king size or a twin bed. The rooms are demarcated into


Hotel Business Review

two sections; The Neo Classic Room &The Contemporary Rooms. The Aster & Iris Suites are 625 square feet each, comprising of a bedroom & separate living room with an attached powder room. “One of the features of our suites is the cast iron bath tub from Kohler, where the guests can jump over directly from the bed, if she/he so chooses to,” informed Sahni with a gentle smile. The furniture in the rooms, suites and lobby area are from Mark David. The bathrooms in suites are set in Satvatrio Italian marble comprising of elegant sanitary ware, whereas in the rooms, the bathrooms are set in Casablanca & Irish Brown Italian marble. It doesn’t deserve a mention that both rooms and suites of the hotel are spruced with a comprehensive range of amenities, befitting the standards of modern day hospitality, which includes a mini bar wellstocked with chocolates, nuts and other refreshments, tea & coffee maker, a 42” flat Sony television with the wide choice of channels to pick from, high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, individual climate controls to suit guest’s comfort level, in-room electronic safe among others.

The Spa.ce Spa at the hotel with its two therapy rooms offers rejuvenating options to the guests.

Melange of Flavours The food & beverage solutions of the hotel are being comprehensively catered to by its spacious world cuisine restaurant named The Melange, which true to its name, offers a mélange of tastes and flavours

to satiate the diversified taste profiles of its discerning diners. Here you can get a spread of Mediterranean, Continental, Oriental & Pan Asian cuisines to pick from, which a connoisseur can ideally complement with a choice selection of wines. The live cooking stations add to the enjoyment of dinning here. “The outlet has three show kitchens —the Italian show kitchen, the Oriental

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Nov-Dec ’17



Hotel Business Review

can be construed as an ideal place to unwind oneself after a tiring day or to have informal discussions. The bar is well-stocked with a gamut of spirits of the heady varieties, which include innovative signature cocktails. They can be enjoyed more with the delectable finger food options on offer at The Scruples Bar. For non alcoholic drinkers, there are a range of mocktails on offer.

For Meetings, Marriage and Parties

Varinder Sahni show kitchen and the Indian show kitchen,” informed Sahni. According to him, the 102-cover restaurant can easily take the role of 2-3 different restaurants within its ambit through its diversified culinary offerings, “which never gave us the need to come up with a second restaurant.” It must be sufficient for the needs of the guests, as according to Rohit Jhingan, the Director of Sales & Marketing, The Pllazio Hotel, 45 percent of the revenues of the hotel is being accrued from F&B only. One of the USPs of F&B operations of the hotel is its ability to offer 22 types of regional cuisines of India, which is extremely advantageous for hosting region-specific wedding parties. “For example, we can offer authentic dishes tailored to a Jain wedding, or a Bengali wedding, or a Rajasthani wedding for that matter, while keeping the religious and cultural sentiments of those communities intact,” stated a confident Sahni. The F&B offerings at the hotel are also being catered to by The Scruples Bar which


Nov-Dec ’17

As is being expected, one of the strengths of the hotel is its state-of-the-art meeting, events and banqueting spaces. “We have a wide variety of conferencing and banqueting options for the needs of our business and leisure tourists. Chambers I, II and III are boardrooms which are ideal for small meetings and conferences having 15-30 people each, and Summit I and II are ideal for meetings and conferences having 30 to 50 each. All these five rooms are also apt for ring ceremonies, birthday parties, etc. Then there is the huge hall named Athena, which is ideal for banqueting or for wedding, pre-wedding, post-wedding celebrations. It can house 300 people at one go, in moving cluster style. It also makes for a great venue for off-site business meets, conferences, and seminars,” elaborated Sahni, the seasoned hotelier. The Athena can be used in its entirety or be divided into three separate halls. The Wi-Fi access, state-of-the-art audio-visual support, offsite catering services and event coordinators are some of the infrastructural facilities at the hospitality property for the MICE guests. According to Jhingan, the hotel has 10,000 sq.ft. of banqueting spaces. The roof top by the swimming pool and the verdant green impeccably mowed lawn in

Rohit Jhingan the front of the hotel are ideal places to host outdoor parties.

Making a Mark The Pllazio Hotel, which according to Sahni, involved an initial investment of Rs.200 crore for its launch, is expected to break-even in 2019. “We are attracting impressive numbers of guests, which include lots of expats from Japan and Korea working in Gurgaon, and during 2016 we enjoyed 94 percent occupancy, which is one of the highest for a hotel in the Gurgaon region,” asserted Sahni. This is despite the fact that the hotel’s ARR for rooms generally varies between Rs.650010,000 and for its two suites it generally ranges between Rs. 15,000-25,000. “The respect that our stand-alone property has earned in the market, despite competition from many big hotel chains in the vicinity, is largely because of our classy décor, comprehensive MICE and banqueting facilities, great food and beverage, and personalised service. Almost 60 percent of our guests on an average turn out to be repeat guests,” observed Jhingan. “The fact that we have a more than impressive employee to guest ratio of 2.5 employees per guest, facilitates us to cater to the individual needs of the guests in a sustained manner,” explained Sahni. As far as expansion plans go, Sahni is earnest to evolve The Pllazio Hotel into a nationally renowned hospitality brand within the next few years. They are open towards managing other hotels under The Pllazio Hotel brand and also to come up with some more hotels of their own, within the ambit of the given brand. “Initially, we are interested to expand in north India, and then go for other parts of the country,” affirmed Sahni. n

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Hotel Business Review

An Ethereal Wellness Experience By Sharmila Chand


eavenly Spa by Westin, housed in The Westin Pune Koregaon Park provides the perfect ambience to rejuvenate and renew the jaded spirits. It is truly a retreat with the intimate setting, offering six treatment rooms including a couple spa suite. Indulge in the goodness of a couple’s getaway which allows you to share some treasured moments. The pampering does not stop at the treatment for post the session you are offered a special spa cuisine which can elevate your senses. At the spa, achieve serenity via steam, shower, music and refreshments, all in the privacy of


Nov-Dec ’17

your treatment alcove. The skincare products at the Heavenly Spa by Westin have fine botanical ingredients, and the spa menu features an elaborate selection of massage therapies, facials, body scrubs and body wraps as well as signature packages designed for couples. The wellness experience begins with a special pre-treatment ritual. For nourishment pre or post-treatment, on offer is a healthy herbal tea or dark chocolate as well as renewing elixirs made with the best natural ingredients.


Hotel Business Review

Savvy Consumers Exploring Wellness By Sharmila Chand

While going around the spa, I got to meet Anu Mohan, the Spa and Recreation Manager at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park since June 2016. He has over seven years experience in the industry. Prior to his present tenure, he was associated with renowned hospitality chains like Westin, Hyatt, and ITC. He is a CIDESCO and CIBTAC certified personnel from Mumbai. The interaction with him proved to be an interesting and insightful one. The excerpts of the interview are given below: What are the kinds of changes you have witnessed in the Indian spa industry during the past five-six years? Like many other facets of our service industry, spa as a segment has also evolved in the past few years in post-modern India and is still evolving every day. With more people travelling across the world, the level of awareness among the spa customers in India, in general, is now tremendously high. Many of them know exactly what they want and how they want and they are not hesitant to spend money to get the best possible wellness experience. The Indian spa market has also become competitive. To keep up with the pace one has to innovate on a regular basis. The spa menus, spa parties, etc. are the outcome of this competitive environment. We at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park also try and create new experiences for our guests. We have our spa open till midnight to facilitate the corporate clientele who can avail the services after their daily work schedule.

What are the top trends in the spa business? Cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and Ayurveda are gaining in popularity. Moreover, we would see a greater emphasis on customisation and personal connection. The consumers across spas are very savvy nowadays; beautiful facilities and elaborate menus in themselves are not

sufficient to influence them. We will see treatments developed around the idea of increased mindfulness and contemplation. Spa parties are a big trend too. Nowadays many bachelorettes don’t want to go drinking; they want to relax at the spa instead.

What are the key challenges towards opening a spa? A major issue is being able to attract highly trained and sophisticated personnel who should also imbibe the lifestyles that reflect their professional advice. Also, love it or hate it, we are in the selfie generation. As a result, wellness trends are quickly criss-crossing the world. So we have to make sure we stay on top of them. That is another challenge to be kept in mind while opening a spa.

How do you decide on the spa menu? What factors must be kept in mind to chalk out a decent spa menu? A decent spa menu must be planned while keeping in mind one simple principle. We should have all major options of treatments and a few options of different product lines too so that guests don’t turn to our competitors for their preferred treatment/s and product/s. Pricing also plays a pivotal role in the spa menu as that often acts as a deciding factor for the customers.

What do you enjoy the most about

being a Spa Director? The wellness segment has always been an area of interest for me. Client interaction and customising therapies for them are the aspects which I love the most about my job.

Could you tell us the USP of the spa? What distinguishes it from others? Heavenly Spa by Westin provides a serene environment where guests can enjoy a sensory spa experience, which not only promotes physical relaxation, but psychological and emotional uplifting through our unique signature rituals. Our signature rituals are Three Stone Ritual, Burden Basket ritual, and Treatment Chime.

What is your favourite spa treatment to receive and why it is so? M y favo u r i te s p a t re at m e nt i s Heavenly Spa Signature Massage. It is an amalgamation of Indian and western techniques which is specially designed for Heavenly Spa by Westin. The treatment comprises a heated compress combined with the healing power of white tea and aloe oil to relive aches and pain. It is followed by a Swedish massage that leaves you feeling physically rested and mentally uplifted.

Any other point you wish to make? A spa represents a lot more than an array of treatments. The perfect spa experience is a unification of the correct treatment and cordial service of the spa personnel.

Nov-Dec ’17


Hotel Business Review

P ro d uct Previ ew

Ensuring Quality Furniture for Hospitality

Steel of Substance

Ludhiana-based Chair Craft India Pvt. Ltd., owned by Gee Kay Industries, is one of India’s leading manufacturers, exporters and importers of high class furniture for hotels, events, and banqueting. Chair Craft provides top quality furniture for star-rated hotels, clubs, restaurants, banquet halls, farm houses and tent houses. Use of high quality raw materials, i n v o l v e m e n t of m a s t e r c ra ft s m e n , sophisticated technology and impeccable production process have contributed to the company’s impressive product range, which include chamber maid trolley, linen trolley, folding movable banquet stage, roll away folding bed, bar table, and a gamut of chairs which include banquet chairs, cushion chairs and wedding chairs among others. Chair Craft India Pvt. Ltd

METINOX India is a budding, dynamic company specializing in the manufacture and distribution of kitchenware and tableware. Headquartered in Delhi and with a state-of-art manufacturing and distribution facility,we are setting new standards in quality and design with our extensive range of kitchenware and tableware. We are dedicated to providing professional chefs and restaurateurs with quality products and flawless services. All our products are pleasing to the eye, high in utility, practical in

SIO 65 is Ideal for Hospitality

maintenance, and manufactured to the highest quality to ensure durability. From our distribution office in Delhi, we are setting new standards in customer service. We value each order – whether large or small – and ensure that our products exceed customer expectations and meet their needs on a timely basis. We are committed to servicing our clients not only through our comprehensive range of high-quality kitchenware and tableware, but also through competitive edge in costs. We have surely and steadily added to our nationwide coverage through our exciting range of products, matched by an equally efficient customer service. Our efforts to go the extra mile have earned us an outstanding reputation amongst our clients. We always keep our customer needs in mind as well as the expectations of the end-users to oprtimize our product range, design and service. A focus on market research is integral to our activities to keep pace with the times and achieve excellence. Metinox India

SIO 65 series operable partition from SIO Vasundhara International Pvt. Ltd. is made of high quality anodized aluminum frame with composite materials. The panel has a standard thickness of 65 mm and a width of up to 1230 mm. Its maximum height can reach 4500 mm. Its vertical seal, together with the horizontal top and bottom retractable seals provide excellent acoustic insulation property of maximum STC 45 db in laboratory setting. SIO 65 series’s range of sound insulation coefficient varies between 32db36db. All aluminum tracks and frames are of clear anodized extruded architectural-grade 6063-T6 alloy. SIO 65 has applications in high-class hotels and restaurants. Its high performance per rupee value makes it ideal for restaurants, offices, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and many other indoor applications.

SIO Vassundhara International Pvt. Ltd.


Nov-Dec ’17

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home zone india


hotelex shanghai


hotremai 33 ifb industries ltd.


infinity hygiene care


interclean solutions pvt. ltd.


kesri transcontinental loomcrafts furniture india pvt. ltd.

BC 22, 23

mehta furnishers


Metinox india


mkn india


navin polycon


om prabhu steels


plastindia 2018


pushkal textiles


quartz homecare (I) pvt. ltd.


RANS TECHNOCRATS (iNDIA) PVT. LTD. FIC rational international india pvt. ltd.


remington steel arts


samrat furnishers




sony india pvt. ltd. gf Supershine Laundry Systems Pvt. Ltd. bic trend N Design


Venus Industries


vISTA Hospitality Solutions


winterhalter india pvt. ltd.


Nov-Dec ’17


Intervi ew

Hotel Business Review

Calm and Inspiring Leader By Sharmila Chand

Passionate about hospitality, Anshul Sharma, General Manager, WelcomHeritage Sirsi Haveli Jaipur leads the team at WelcomHeritage Sirsi Haveli by setting examples like a true leader. Having completed nearly a decade in the hospitality industry, he believes this industry has lots of potential. While working here, one can learn so much about food, people, traditions and cultures. He enjoys interacting with various guests, getting an opportunity to serve them, making them happy and learning new things. All these give him a great sense of fulfillment. The excerpts of the interview follow: What is the USP of your property? Our USP is definitely the location. We are located away from the Jaipur city, yet not very far from it. Hence, guests like to stopover at our place after completing the sightseeing. They find the property very peaceful; just perfect to relax and rejuvenate themselves. M o re ove r, we l i ke to c re ate h o m e l y environment for them, taking them for village walks, etc. We have always extended exceptional services like midnight birthday parties for guests, and arrange live singers for exclusive anniversary celebrations. Music parties and celebrations by the pool side have been regular features where guests join like one family.

What are the hotel’s tech-friendly features? The hotel is well-equipped with the updated tech features. We offer complimentary 4 mbps band speed wi-fi for our guests at hotel. We also have business center where guests can work, if they wish.

Sirsi Haveli from others in the same bracket? We do not have any such property in the proximity. Our property is unique in many ways. We believe in giving a personal touch to enhance the guest experience. For instance, F&B offers are customised and meal/diet preferences are tailored according to guests’ needs.

What would you like to say about your F&B services? We have very well experienced Chefs for both Indian and continental cuisines. We also have Master Chefs to prepare Rajasthani local food. We like to maintain our food quality and keep it as authentic as possible. We have always been complemented for our food by our guests.

What is the most crucial issue to tackle in the Indian hospitality industry these days? Hiring skilled manpower and retaining them is always a challenge, especially for a property like ours which is away from the city.

Please tell us about the green initiatives the hotel has undertaken

Give a brief glimpse of your work here

We plant nearly 50 trees every year in the nearby locality to maintain the natural ecosystem. We do educate our staff for good waste management practices and regarding saving methods for power, water and fuel.

I take my work as a huge responsibility as lots of families’ well-being can be affected by my decision. I am also aware that I need to take care of the profit ratio for my promoters. It is a big responsibility but yes I am happy to shoulder it with all my sincerity and honest approach.

What is the marketing strategy you have adopted to promote the property? Word of mouth has been our biggest marketing tool. We are also active on the social media. Our parent company participates in trade shows and conferences which always help.

What distinguishes WelcomHeritage 56

Nov-Dec ’17

What do you think makes a good GM for a hotel? There are many factors which make a good GM for a hotel. First and foremost, according to me, she/he needs to ‘Lead by Example’. Your team will follow you, trust you if you set the right examples for them. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are

attentive of their actions. Secondly, ‘Take Responsibility’. Instead of pointing a finger or blaming your team for any wrong doing, you need to take responsibility, attend to the matter, learn from the situation and then move on. Thirdly, ‘Love Your Job’. Being a successful hotel General Manger needs the ability, and also the willingness to serve your guests to the best of your abilities and this can’t be achieved unless you enjoy your job. Lastly, only those GM can succeed who can keep their team happy and strengthen the bond amongst team members.

What is your biggest strength, professionally? I think my biggest professional strength is my ability to motivate my team to become more engaged. Remaining calm in adverse situations is also my strong point, which always helps.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field? Be loyal to your company, be sensitive to your guests’ needs, and try to raise the level of your services. These I would recommend to those who want to join the hotel industry.

How do you de-stress? Playing with my team members, or interacting with villagers help me to de-stress. The best way to relax is talking to my guests and sharing our experiences.

What is your working mantra, your guiding philosophy at work? Never leave your task at hand for the next day; be up to date and do not be dependent on others. Be punctual and do your work sincerely. Don’t be aggressive and harsh in any situation, be calm and polite.

Mar-Apr ’15


Hotel Business Review (Nov-Dec 17)  

Resorts in India have graduated from mere weekend gateways to destinations for MICE and weddings. Here we have covered the evolution of reso...

Hotel Business Review (Nov-Dec 17)  

Resorts in India have graduated from mere weekend gateways to destinations for MICE and weddings. Here we have covered the evolution of reso...