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Editorial

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

rajneeshhammer@gmail.com

Associate Editor

Swarnendu Biswas Resident Editor

Sharmila Chand (Delhi) Ashok Malkani (Mumbai) Layout & Design

Hari Kumar V Narender Kumar

Production Assistant

Mamta Sharma

Business Co-ordinator

Pooja Anand

Advertising Sales

Delhi: Debabrata Nath, Sumesh Sharma Mumbai: Rajesh Tupsakhre Subscription Sales

Dattaram Gangurde Director Sales

Sanjay Anand

Director Operations & Finance

Rajat Taneja

Editorial & Advertising Offices: Delhi:

Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 1202, Pragati Tower, 26, Rajindra Place, New Delhi-110008, India Phone: 91-11-45084903, 25854103 Telefax: 91-11-25854105 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: hammerpublishers@vsnl.net Website: www.hbrmag.com © 2014 Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. No article can be reproduced in part or as whole without prior permission of the Publisher. Hammer Hotel Business Review is a bi-monthly magazine, printed and published by Rajneesh Sharma on behalf of Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1202, Pragati Tower, 26 Rajindra Place, New Delhi. Printed at Print Creations, C-112/3, Basement, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase- 1, New Delhi 110 028. Annual Subscription rate within India is Rs. 450 and overseas US $110, for surface mail. Single issue is available for Rs. 90 in India and US $25 overseas. Cheques are payable to Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 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.

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In this issue’s Cover Story we have covered the second part of the long industry story, pertaining to the sustainability and success of hotels in the Indian hospitality industry. In the second part, we are covering some additional factors influencing sustainability to the ones discussed in the earlier installment. We have covered the qualities needed for HR personnel of the hotel, the cost-cutting exercises adopted by some of the hotels, whose key personnel were interviewed in the Cover Story, with the objective to offering value for money to the guests, and also the role of F&B in fostering sustainability and success of a hotel. The role of brand value and the GM’s role in promoting sustainability and success of hotels are also being probed upon in the exhaustive story. The Business Story deals with the issue of revenue management, which has gained great importance in the hotel industry, during the recent years. The story rightly advocates coordination between the revenue management and the marketing team of the hotel, which can enhance revenues of the property. The role of new-age technologies in revenue management is also being discussed upon. In these days the major sources of revenues in hotels are no longer limited to rooms and restaurants. In this context, the story also calls for extending the purview of focus of revenue management to emerging areas of huge revenue generation for hotels, which include revenues accrued from conferences and events and spas. Despite India’s huge tourism potential, India’s inbound tourist arrivals are not that encouraging. In fact, both our domestic and inbound tourism inflows reflect cases of huge wasted opportunity. By significantly enhancing our tourism revenues we can give a great impetus to our hospitality industry, and thereby help our hospitality industry to come out of its present phase, where the demand is not matching the supply of rooms. One of the ways to enhance tourism and hence hospitality revenues in India is to promote the offbeat destinations in a much more proactive and wise manner than is being done presently. The Feature section of this issue discusses some offbeat destinations of India and also explores some ways in which offbeat destinations of the country can be better promoted. The concept of in-room dining is gaining currency in today’s hotel business. The expectations of the guests from in-room dining have also increased. In the F&B section of this issue, we discuss the trends in inroom dining, and also its various challenges. We have covered Lords Hotels & Resorts in our Profile section, which is focusing on budget properties and tier-II and III cities to foster its growth vision. The chain, which has both owned and managed properties within its ambit, has extended its brand presence in Kathmandu and has several ambitious expansion plans on the anvil. Overall, our package of information, analysis and perspectives is expected to help our readers give an engrossing time between the covers, as always.


HOTEL B u s i n e s s

inside

R e v i e w

An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry

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COVER STORY

A positive hotel experience for the guests is the key to success of any hotel. Innovations and incentives promote hotels. Besides that, close co-ordination of the employees, and ensuring that they are aware of the needs of the hotel’s guests is one of the major factors for the success of any hotel.

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SPA

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PROFILE

An urban luxury wellness destination, Sohum Spa at Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore has been created to offer scientifically validated wellness therapies in a relaxing and aesthetic environment.

BUSINESS

Revenue management is the stepping stone to the success of a hotel. The concept of revenue management is continually evolving. The booking patterns of hotels in the Indian hospitality industry, which depend upon seasons or macroeconomic environment, are changing in a dramatic manner.

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FEATURE

One of the intelligent ways of enhancing tourism and hospitality sector’s revenues is to focus more on those destinations which are not yet that much explored by our domestic and inbound tourists.

Lords Hotels & Resorts, the renowned hospitality chain of Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd., has recently come up with a new hotel in Kathmandu. This is the first international property of the chain, which focuses on budget properties.

DEPARTMENTS

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F&B

Perhaps the best service that any hotel can provide is to serve its guests quality food & beverage in their hotel room in a prompt manner, along with excellent service...

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Event

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News Scan

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Appointment

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Report

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Product Preview

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Business Opportunity

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Interview

Cover Pix: The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

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HOTEL Business Review

Event

NRA Show 2014: A Comprehensive Platter for the Food Service Industry

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t has been another year of strong growth for both attendee and exhibitor numbers at the NRA show, which was held during 17t h -20t h May 2014 at McCormick Place, Chicago. From dissemination of knowledge to hands-on implementation, from quantity to quality, from variety to value, from innovation to traditional well-proven solutions, the NRA Show presented comprehensive offerings to achieve success in the food service industry. The show was also a huge success in terms of attendance, with impressive numbers of visitors coming from abroad to connect with high-powered buyers and influencers interested in anything from ingredients and beverage to technology solutions and products. Spanning across three halls, the NRA Show floor featured more than 2,900 established and emerging supplier brands, showcasing more than 900 product categories. Cuisines from Brazilian to Italian, Chinese to Middle Eastern, were showcased at the event. About 45 percent of international brands were from Asia, representing the most important group of international exhibitors. Exhibiting companies from India included but were not limited to Bhalaria Metal Craft Pvt. Ltd., Hamilton Housewares, Pace Automation Limited, Sharda Corporation, Shreeji International, Wipro EcoEnergy and UNP. NRA Show also made it easy for buyers and sellers of products and services to find one another through focused areas of the show floor. These pavilions were destinations showcasing suppliers and manufacturers addressing today’s key trends and interests. Prominent areas included: • Alternative Bitestyle: It was dedicated to products operators’ need to address special dietary needs on their menus

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such as gluten-free, allergy-focused, low-sodium, vegetarian, low-sugar and beyond. • Conserve Solutions Center: It showcased sustainabilityrelated products and services, which increase customer attraction and retention by reducing carbon footprints and demonstrating environmental responsibility. • The Organic & Natural Pavilion: It provided a central, dedicated exhibit area that helped buyers easily find certified organic and natural products. Besides an impressive selection of exhibitors and specialty areas, NRA Show 2014 also showcased other key events that highlighted trends happening in our industry. Foodamental Studio was a brand new area on the show floor which translated into a hands-on, crash-course workshop where you could try out the processes and techniques behind the most talked-about culinary trends of the year. At the World Culinary Showcase world-class Chefs demonstrated recipes, tips and techniques live on-stage. At the McCormick Place Rooftop Garden Tour participants experienced a sustainability wonder first-hand. This event highlighted a prime example of urban agriculture at work with a visit to Midwest’s largest rooftop garden. The NRA Show also hosted more than 80 free education sessions, which brought together trending topics and industry leaders for the ultimate experience on education. The forthcoming edition of the event, that is the NRA Show 2015 will be held during 16th-19t h May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.


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Event

HOTEL Business Review

EVENTS’ CALENDER

FHRAI’s 49th Convention to Attract Impressive Participation

HOSFAIR 2014 26-28 June 2014 China Imports & Exports Fair complex, Guangzhou, China www.hosfair.com Thailand Retail, Food & Hospitality Services 2014 24-27 July 2014 Hall 103, Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) www.thailandhoreca.com Restaurant & Bar 2-4 September2014 Hongkong Convention & Exhibition Centre Hongkong www.restaurantandbarhk.com Asiafruit Logistica 3-5 September 2014 AsiaWorld-Expo, Hongkong www.asiafruitlogistica.com

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ederation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) will have its 49th annual convention in the Pink City of Jaipur, during 12th-14th September 2014. The venue for the convention will be Jaipur Marriott Hotel. The theme of the annual convention is extremely relevant to the Indian economy, where tourism and hospitality do play crucial roles, and more importantly, do have the potential to play even more important roles towards growth and development if these sectors are supported by friendly government policies. The theme of the convention is titled ‘Hospitality & Tourism: The key to unlocking India’s global potential.’ According to FHRAI, the annual convention will attract participation of who’s who of the Indian hospitality and tourism sectors. Besides that the event will have the presence of a number of esteemed dignitaries from the central and various state governments. The business sessions of the

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convention will facilitate the delegates with the opportunity to engage with important policymakers, industry leaders, global experts and inspirational entrepreneurs, which can lead to the flow of enriching information and perspectives on issues which are shaping the sector. “The 49th FHRAI Annual Convention will be taking place at an especially opportune time, when the hospitality sector is poised to put the adverse impact of the economic slowdown and global volatility firmly behind, and instead look ahead, with renewed vigour and optimism,” noted SM Shervani, President, FHRAI. “Even in the highest echelons of the government, there is now a growing recognition that tourism will be a pivotal pillar of India’s transformational growth, and must be nurtured as an integral element of our national development agenda. This has inspired our choice of the Convention theme -“Hospitality & Tourism: The key to unlocking India’s global potential.” The ambitious discourse which we have envisioned, will facilitate greater convergence and synergy between various stakeholders, towards our shared pursuit of making India among the world leaders in tourism,” he observed further in his message to the fellow members of FHRAI.

Food & Hotel Thailand 2014 10-13 September 2014 Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) Bangkok, Thailand www.foodhotelthailand.com FHRAI 49th Convention 12-14 September 2014 Jaipur Marriott Hotel, Jaipur www.fhrai.com India F&B Pro + Hospitality Expo 2014 12-14 September 2014 Expo Centre, Panaji, Goa www.trinityworld.biz Annapoorna World of Foods India - 2014 24-26 September 2014 Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumbai www.worldoffoodindia.com Fi and Hi India 2014 29 September - 1 October 2014 Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregoan East, Mumbai www.foodingredientsglobal.com/india/home Hotel Hospitality & Food 2014 3 - 5 October 2014 Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka www.hhf-srilanka.com SIAL Paris 19-23 October 2014 Paris Nord Ville Pinte, Paris www.sial.fr International Foodtech India 2014 14-16 November 2014 Hall 1, Bombay Exhibitioon Centre, NSE, Mumbai www.foodtecindia.com Sigep 2015 14-21 January 2015 Remini Fiera, Italy www.en.sigep.it


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HOTEL Business Review

Marriott International Extends its Partnership with MICROS MICROS Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCRS), a leading provider of information technology solutions for the hospitality and retail industries, has announced that Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) has expanded its partnership with MICROS by selecting the cloudbased MICROS Simphony Enterprise Solution for its food and beverage operations for its Marriott brands in the United States and Canada. The MICROS Simphony Enterprise Solution will be hosted in a MICROS Data Center. The deployment, which includes MICROS workstations and mobile devices, will substantially conclude by the end of 2014. MICROS Simphony is a highly flexible and scalable enterprise pointof-sale system, which can enable quick deployment to thousands of MICROS devices across all Marriott’s US & Canada properties. Once deployment is complete, Marriott International will be able to centrally manage the entire system from within a single application, ensuring menu item standardisation, reducing redundancy, and maintaining configuration consistency. “MICROS Simphony provides Marriott a superior point-of-sale that elevates the guest experience throughout our brand,” stated Kermit Littlefield, Vice President of Global Operations for Marriott International. “We are pleased to announce another major milestone in our long-term partnership with Marriott International, as we together bring innovative solutions to the Marriott family of hotels,” asserted Jason Blair, Vice President of Strategic Accounts of MICROS Systems.

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An Offer Hard to Refuse Established in 2005, Loom Crafts has steadily emerged as a name synonymous with providing complete outdoor furniture solutions characterised by high quality and international designs. Loom Crafts has now come up with an attractive offer, which can be of interest to the hospitality industry. Now one can replace any old outdoor furniture of Indian make or manufacturing, having maximum of five years usage, with the latest range of Loom Crafts’ furniture. The offer is also valid for wholesalers of Indian origin. There are other riders too tagged with this attractive offer. The buy back value of furniture will be 50 percent of the estimated cost calculated on the basis of previous purchase, after discount and before taxes. Moreover, the quantity of the new furniture will be the same as the quantity being replaced regardless of the value of the old furniture. The buy back offer will be valid only on same category of products. For example, sofa will be replaced with a new sofa. This buy back offer will not be valid on add on products like cushions, glass tops and umbrellas. The Loom Crafts’ range of furniture on offer in exchange includes the contemporary styled Wicker, luxurious fully upholstered LoomTex, classic Outdoor Teak furniture or the exquisitely hand-crafted sophisticated Braid & Rope all weather furniture.

Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park Opens Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT), has announced the opening of Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park. Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park marks the second Aloft hotel in Bangalore. Managed by Starwood, the hotel is owned by the Prestige Group, a leading real estate developer in India with a diversified portfolio of hospitality, leisure, retail, commercial and residential assets. With 191 stylish guest rooms including 13 suites, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park is located within the 4.5 million square feet Prestige Cessna Business Park, which houses marquee IT companies. Designed for the millennial traveller in mind, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park offers fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. Each room of the hotel is equipped with a unique plug-and-play connectivity solution that connects most electronic devices to the 42’’ LED TV, thereby turning the hotel rooms into high-tech offices as well as an entertainment centres. The hotel offers 10,050 square feet of meeting space with its largest banquet hall being 411 sq. mt. There are seven tactic meeting rooms equipped with the latest generation of audio-visual hardware. The property also has an outdoor terrace named Backyard, which can provide creative spaces for business meetings or social gatherings. Recreational facilities at the hotel include Re:chargeSM fitness centre and SplashSM pool. The guests can get a quick bite at Re:fuel by AloftSM, a one-stop, 24-hour grab-and-go food and beverage area or enjoy a leisurely meal at the hotel’s urban cool café style restaurant, named Nook. “Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park is a significant addition to the brand’s portfolio in India and it will energise the Indian hotel market by meeting the pent-up demand for stylish, lifestyle hotel brands,” said Dilip Puri, Managing Director India and Regional Vice President South Asia, Starwood Hotels and Resorts India Private Limited.


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News Scan

The End of a Great Innings Capt. CP Krishnan Nair, the Founder Chairman of The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts, bid adieu to life at the age of 92, following a brief illness. He was born in the Kannaur district of Kerala, in 1922. He joined the freedom movement at the age of 14. From a young freedom fighter to an officer of the Indian Army, he went on to pioneer the globalisation o f I n d i a’ s t e x t i l e i n d u s t r y. Subsequently, he made his enduring name in India’s hospitality industry, where he led one of the important luxury hotel chains in India. It is astonishing that he entered the fiercely competitive hospitality sector at the age of 65, when most people retire, and made a remarkable success in it. Capt. Nair was dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and advancement of tourism in India. The visionary hotelier was the recipient of Padma Bhushan. Besides, for his untiring efforts towards environmental conservation, Capt. Nair was conferred the Global 500 Laureate Roll of Honour by the United Nations Environment Program. He was also the recipient of many other prestigious accolades for his valuable contribution to the tourism industry and for setting benchmarks for excellence in the Indian hospitality industry. His demise can be construed as the end of an era for the Indian hospitality industry. He is survived by his wife Leela Nair, and their two sons, Vivek and Dinesh Nair.

MHRIL Acquires a Resort in Manali Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), the renowned vacation ownership company, has announced the acquisition of a resort comprising 60 rooms, which is located in Manali. This is the company’s second resort in Manali and with this acquisition, MHRIL takes its resort count to 41. Speaking about this development, Arun Nanda, Chairman, MHRIL said, “With its snowcapped peaks and beautiful vistas, Manali has always been a popular destination for our members and this new property will only encourage more of them to visit this spectacular destination. This acquisition is part of our strategy to increase our resort footprint and offer our members a variety of experiences in diverse locations, including hill stations, deserts, jungles and beaches.” The resort, which was acquired via purchase of 100 percent equity share capital of Competent Hotels Pvt. Ltd., is perched on the left bank of the river Beas and offers a picture perfect mountain view. It overlooks a fertile valley covered with gently terraced paddy fields and the majestic snow clad peaks of the Himalayan range provide a breathtaking backdrop to this serene location. Most of the 60 rooms of the resort have a private balcony, which offer a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.

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HOTEL Business Review

News Scan

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts Expands in India Movenpick Hotels & Resorts has entered into a management agreement to operate a new hotel in Kochi, which will be the third property in India carrying Movenpick Hotels and Resorts’ brand name. The management agreement was signed with ITMA Hotels India Private Ltd, an associate company of Jomer Properties & Investments. The hotel will be owned by ITMA Hotels India Private Ltd. The 167-room hotel in Kochi will increase Moevenpick Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio in India to three properties. The upscale hotel company of Swiss heritage presently operates Moevenpick Hotel Bangalore and has already announced plans for a spa resort in Dharamshala. The hotel is scheduled to open towards the end of 2014. Moevenpick Hotel Kochi will be a contemporary hotel with futuristic design elements, strategically located on the national highway bypass road around six kilometres from the city centre and 25 kilometres from Cochin International Airport. The hotel would have six F&B outlets. The business facilities at the hotel will include an executive club lounge, complemented by meeting rooms and a banquet hall for 500 guests. Along with a trendy swimming pool area and health club, the property will also be home to an impressive multi-level spa. An Ayurvedic treatment zone, yoga studio, reflexology chambers, whirlpool and salon will be highlights of the urban well-being destination.

Andreas Mattmüller, Chief Operating Officer of Moevenpick Hotels & Resorts for Middle East and Asia, underscored the significance of organic growth in the sub-continent for the company. “India has tremendous potential for further growth in the domestic and international travel segments. Last year, revenues from domestic tourism rose by 5 percent and that figure is expected to increase to 8 percent during 2014. While considering this along with the country’s planned infrastructure developments, we are keen to continue expanding our existing portfolio in India by including additional key cities,” he said. “This is our first hotel venture and choosing a partner with a proven track record was an important decision. We are delighted to conclude this agreement and look forward to having the property managed as a Moevenpick hotel, with the associated advantages of global distribution reach and international brand recognition,” said Jose Mathew, the owner of Jomer Properties & Investments.

North-east Calling Thankfully, during the recent years north-east India is gaining some prominence in the minds of the travellers. Lately north-east is attracting impressive increases in inflow of tourists which has made it emerge as a happening destination for the Indian hospitality industry. The Taj, Accor, Marriott, Hyatt are among the reputed hotel chains who are gearing up to expand in this region. The potential for the tourism and hospitality industry in this relatively lesser known region for the domestic Indian tourists outside north-east region is huge, especially in the light of the fact that very few

branded hotels do exist in north-east India. However, poor infrastructure and limited connectivity, within the north-east region and also between the north-east region and the rest of the country, are the major bottlenecks which are impeding the momentum of the expansion of hospitality projects across the north-east region. But in the same breath it should be mentioned that during the recent years, local governments, travel companies and airlines have initiated a range of measures, which can encourage hotel companies to look at north-east Indian destinations with interest. Here it deserves a mention that Taj is envisaging to foray its Vivanta brand in Guwahati by June 2015. The Vivanta Guwahati is slated to be a 150-room property, entailing an estimated investment of over Rs.166 crore.

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HOTEL Business Review

Oberoi Realty and Ritz Carlton’s Tie-up for Hospitality Mumbai-based Oberoi Realty, which is a realty developer, has entered into a tie-up with Ritz Carlton for an upcoming hotel project. The 238-room hotel would come up in Worli, Mumbai. The hotel will be the second property of Ritz-Carlton in the country. The proposed hotel is a part of the mixed use project. The mixed-use project is spread across 2.1-million-sq-ft. and is located near the BandraWorli sea link. The mixed-use project is being developed by Oasis Realty. Oberoi Realty will pump in Rs.750 crore on this hotel’s development. The upcoming hotel will comprise two specialty and fine dining restaurants, a bar affording view of the Arabian Sea, and spa and banquet facilities. The construction of the hotel has already begun.

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News Scan

My Fortune in Bangalore Fortune Park Hotels Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Ltd. and is a fast growing chain of full service business hotels, with presence in 55 cities of the country. The ‘Fortune Hotels’ brand is subcategorised as Fortune Select, Fortune Park, Fortune Inn and Fortune Resort. ‘My Fortune’ is the latest addition to the Fortune brand portfolio. ‘My Fortune’ is positioned at the high end of pyramid, with the first hotel in Chennai and the second hotel now recently flagged off in Bangalore. The newly launched My Fortune, Bengaluru, located on Richmond Road, is a new addition to Bangalore’s hospitality landscape. It is expected to attract a galore of domestic and inbound travellers in the days to come. My Fortune, Bengaluru provides a range of accommodation options allowing you to choose the one that is best suited to your needs, irrespective of whether you are a business or a leisure traveller. Commenting on the launch, Suresh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Fortune Park Hotels Ltd., said, “There is a need for creating hotels that are contemporary, smart, young and vibrant with focus on technology, yet being warm and caring. We are extremely happy and proud that ‘My Fortune’ has been introduced under the Fortune banner and are confident that it would be firmly established as a successful brand with a strong identity in the times to come.” With a striking building façade finished with facing bricks along with glazing glass which allows natural daylight to stream inside all rooms, My Fortune, Bangalore stands 9 floors tall over a built-up area of more than 15,000 sq. m. Nestled in the green cover of lush trees surrounding the hotel, the hotel gives a refreshing view. The newly launched hotel features wellappointed rooms including 79 Standard Rooms, 32 Fortune Club Rooms and 4 Suites. Conferencing and banqueting space to accommodate 400 persons, functional public spaces designed for interaction, the 24x7 business centre are some of the features of the hotel, which can make the property seem attractive for the business travellers. The guests can indulge at the Wellness Centre that is equipped with a spa, swimming pool and state-of-the-art gymnasium. My Indian Oven, the speciality restaurant that offers Indian cuisine, My Café, the 24 hour multi-cuisine restaurant, and the bar & lounge named My Space are some of the food & beverage options at the hotel.


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HOTEL Business Review

Explore Naturopathy at Rejou Nestled in the lush landscaped gardens with pavilions and courtyards, Madhubhan Resort and Spa now houses a wellness haven called Rejou. Spread across 13,000 sq.ft., this spa offers the opportunity to unwind and get away from the tensions of the outside world.

Le Cirque Launches New Summer Menu Le Cirque at The Leela Palace New Delhi, the iconic restaurant chain’s first venture in Asia, brings to its guests a cuisine which is an entertaining mix of flavours and colours amidst a candle-lit chic ambience and sophisticated atmosphere. In the beginning of June, the restaurant has unfurled its French-Italian summer menu for the summer season. Le Cirque’s new menu has tempting dishes like Rock Lobster Salad with melon melody and orange citronette, the Tuna Steak Hache with pistachio crust and raisin mint dressing and the Olive Oil Poached Black Cod in fresh tomato and burnt eggplant. The menu also includes Porcini Soft Lava, a nice mix of broccoli crush and truffle butter sautéed vegetables, which can rejuvenate the guests after a long day. The Le Cirque restaurant at The Leela Palace New Delhi also offers an impressive wine list with over 80 labels of Italian wines and 100 labels of French wines. Located on the 10th floor of The Leela Palace New Delhi, the restaurant has 144 seats with an avant garde bar lounge and alfresco seating, offering a wonderful view over the majestic diplomatic enclave.

Sinclairs Grew During Hard Times Here the soothing aromas of fragrant herbs and spices compliment the beauty of natural surroundings, thereby facilitating the process of holistic relaxation and rejuvenation. Carefully selected team of experienced & dedicated professionals help the guests to achieve fruition of their wellness goal. The latest addition to the wellness facilities at Rejou is the naturopathy section that stimulates the latent healing power of the body by helping one align with the positive healing forces of nature. The unique part of the naturopathy section at Rejou is the understanding that no two human bodies are the same. In fact, every treatment at Rejou is bespoke and begins with an hour long consultation with the in-house doctor. The package at Rejou includes sunbathing, mud therapy, hydrotherapy, colon irrigation, acupressure, acupuncture, emotional detoxification, therapeutic massage, yoga, physiotherapy and much more.

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Sinclairs Hotels Limited, which owns and operates hotels and resorts at Siliguri, Darjeeling, Dooars, Ooty and Andamans, has posted revenues of Rs.225.30 million during the last financial year ending 31st March 2014, which was higher as compared to that of Rs.195.94 million during 2012-13, reflecting an increase of 15 percent. The modest growth in revenues is praiseworthy as it came amidst a very difficult period for the hospitality industry. The gross operating profit of Sinclairs Hotels Limited for the 2013-14 fiscal was Rs 61.50 million as compared to Rs 40.71 million during its previous financial year of 2012-13. On this occasion, Navin Suchanti, CEO and Managing Director at Sinclairs Hotels Limited, said, “Sinclairs’ performance is a reflection of the quality of its products and service at all locations. Our customer-centric approach focuses on delivering outstanding value for money and a truly memorable guest experience. With strong performance of its existing properties and two new properties to be commissioned in the current year, Sinclairs is well poised to post high growth in the year. ” Sinclairs is presently implementing three greenfield projects at Kalimpong, Burdwan and in Kolkata. In a significant development, the company received the final sanction for its 114 room upscale business hotel project on one acre of land, in New Town Rajarhat, Kolkata. Meanwhile, its 48 room and suite luxury resort project in Kalimpong will open in the second quarter of this fiscal year. In addition, the company’s Tourist Resort project in Burdwan is in final stages of implementation and will be commissioned during the current fiscal year as well. Both Kalimpong and Burdwan are located in West Bengal.


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HOTEL Business Review

Spa Manager of the Year Dr. Tania Bardhan of ESPA at The Leela Palace New Delhi has been conferred the ‘Spa Manager of the Year’ award at the recently held GeoSpa asiaSpa India Awards 2013. The evening was graced by industry experts and celebrities, including, leading Bollywood ladies, Shilpa Shetty and Jacqueline Fernandez. Having a wealth of experience at leading national and international hotels, Dr. Bardhan, a Doctor of Homeopathy and Acupuncture, believes in integrating holistic practices in wellness and lifestyle programmes and in ensuring sustainable

management of luxury spa environments. In her current role, she leads a diverse team of therapists, gym instructors, nail technicians, and attendants to deliver memorable wellness journeys. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Tania Bardhan said, “I am proud to be a part of The Leela group that believes in delivering excellence. Thank you to asiaSpa India for this prestigious honour and I look forward to continuing to provide the finest spa experiences to our discerning resident and local guests.” The ESPA at The Leela Palace New Delhi combines exquisite interiors and design with state-of-the-art treatment rooms and advanced rejuvenation techniques. An exclusive oasis in the heart of the capital city, the 6,500 sq.ft. spa spans across two levels. On the first level, it features a café with a newly launched spa cuisine menu, a fitness studio with techno-gym equipment, separate relaxation areas for male and female

guests, Amethyst steam rooms, and Cedar sauna rooms. The second level has seven treatment rooms, a spa suite for couples, a relaxation room for women and ‘The Finishing Studio’. Treatments offered at the spa blend the latest scientific advances in European wellness with ancient therapies from Ayurveda.

The ‘Union’ Gets Awarded The Lemon Tree to ‘The Union’ Spa Therapy at The RAIT SPA, Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, received the award for ‘Most Luxurious Spa Treatment’ at the 6th asiaSpa India Awards 2013. The award ceremony was hosted at ITC Maurya, New Delhi. The asiaSpa India Awards aims to acknowledge the finest contributions made to the budding wellness industry in India. The award honours hotels, spas and individuals for their contribution to the Indian spa industry. In the words of Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, Managing Director, Suryagarh, “We are delighted to be honoured at the asiaSpa India Awards, and are pleased that the hard work and innovativeness of our spa teams are being recognised by the industry. At The RAIT SPA we have an all-encompassing philosophy of life, viewing all that exists in the natural world as manifestations of the sacred. ‘The Union’ is an experience in itself. Getting recognised as an asiaSpa India Award winner is a validation of our continuous effort to offer experiences that are beyond just memorable.” The RAIT SPA menu incorporates exotic rare herbs and flora, mud treatments and ‘rait’ treatments, many of them dating back to ancient and unique beauty practices, which are being infused with modern procedures. Thoughtfully intended to reflect elements of the indigenous desert culture and its healing traditions, incorporating elements of intoxicating aromas of the exotic elixirs and oils; the treatments are designed to deliver radiance, healing and a quiet sense of inner and outer well-being. The spa’s carte du jour brings you a number of treatments and practices and bespoke experiences designed for the discerning explorer of wellness solutions.

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Grow Lemon Tree Hotel Company has envisaged to make an investment of approximately Rs.4500 crore with the objective of adding 5200 rooms across the country, a target which the hotel chain aims to attain by the end of the next four financial years. According to Lemon Tree Hotel Company’s President and Executive Director, Rahul Pandit, nearly half of these proposed rooms would be under the company’s joint venture with APG. According to Pandit, while expanding into the tier II cities and religious destinations of the country, the economy segment of the hotel chain that is the Red Fox Hotels, will primarily drive the growth of the hotel chain. Lemon Tree Hotel Company has also launched an attractive 100 percent money back offer, which enables guests to avail vouchers equivalent to the value of their billing amount. These vouchers can be used in the guests’ future stays across all Lemon Tree properties throughout the country. Presently, Lemon Tree Hotel Company owns and operates 25 hotels. The hotel chain has presence across 15 cities of the country. This award winning Indian hotel chain was founded in September 2002. Within its ambit, the Lemon Tree Hotel Company covers upscale, midscale and economy segment.


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Appointment

HOTEL Business Review

Anirban Dasgupta

Hilton Bangalore Residences Embassy Golf Links has announced the appointment of Anirban Dasgupta as the Executive Chef. Chef Dasgupta is responsible for overall food and beverage operations, including innovative menu planning and launch of the hotel’s four dining venues. With more than 13 years of experience behind him, Chef Dasgupta has a deep understanding of consumer behavior and in-depth knowledge of new world cuisines. Experimenting with ingredients from across the world to create new flavours and recipes is his specialty. Previously, Chef Dasgupta worked as a Senior Sous Chef at the Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, followed by stints as the Executive Sous Chef at Taj Bengal Kolkata, and at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. Chef Dasgupta is a graduate from the Institute of Hotel Management, Bhopal.

13 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has spent more than 10 years with the Marriott group. Jayadevan has taken different roles in serving Marriott. He was instrumental in launching the 107 room Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Kochi and in establishing a strong brand presence for the Marriott group in Kerala. Jayadevan started off in the culinary world, working as a Kitchen Executive at The Leela Mumbai in 1999 before joining the JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai, which began his long association with the Marriott. In 2005, Jayadevan joined the Courtyard by Marriott Chennai as a member of the culinary team and eventually graduated as the Executive Chef at the same hotel. His exemplary service and dedication to the Courtyard by Marriott Chennai saw him earn the position of Director of Food and Beverage, a position he held at two different Marriott hotels. With strong leadership skills and ability to create high performing teams, he has developed his trademark for handson approach that results in an atmosphere that motivates associates and ensures high levels of productivity.

Shalabh Arora

Amit Pathania

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. has announced the appointment of Shalabh Arora as the Director of Sales and Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, India. In his capacity as the Director of Sales and Marketing, Arora heads the sales & marketing division of the hotel which encompasses corporate sales, wholesale, MICE, catering, conference services, marketing, public relations, revenue management and reservations. Arora has over 18 years of experience behind him. Prior to the present assignment, he distinguished himself in leadership roles with The Oberoi Group’s hotels in Mumbai. Kolkata and Chennai. “It is an absolute honour and pleasure to be a part of The Ritz-Carlton in a global destination like Bangalore. I am looking forward to lead the team to achieve higher levels in my new role,” asserted Arora.

Prakash Jayadevan

Prakash Jayadevan has been appointed as the new General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott Chennai. He brings with him

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Alila Diwa Goa has appointed Amit Pathania as the Executive Chef. Pathania brings with him around 15 years of experience with leading luxury and business hotels as well as with restaurants in India and internationally. In his current role, he has been engaged in directing and overseeing Alila Diwa Goa’s culinary offerings across all its food and beverage outlets. Prior to joining Alila Diwa Goa, Pathania was the Executive Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel Ahmedabad where he was responsible for formulating the F&B Production Department’s management strategies and overseeing its successful execution as per as the hotel’s standards and budgets. He has varied experience and culinary specialties, which include Indian, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. However, Pathania’s core expertise lies in managing food & beverage production’s operations. Pathania holds a Diploma in Hotel Management & Catering Technology from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Kolkata. He further honed his culinary skills at Bon Appetit, a Michelin Star restaurant led by Chef Oliver Dunne, in Dublin.


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Report

HOTEL Business Review

Laundromat Café Can Benefit Hospitality Electrolux’s dealer partner, Quick Clean Private Limited has launched a Laundromat Cafe, which is a combination of a Laundromat and café, at Ambala, Haryana. The newly opened Laundromat Cafe is strategically located in the medical campus of the MM University in Ambala, which is on the National Highway 1, on DelhiChandigarh Highway; just a couple of hours drive from New Delhi. The new, state-of-the-art laundry facility is poised to become a thriving meeting place for the 1600 medical

students living in the campus. The Laundromat Café is a generous 6000 sq. ft area with a dedicated snack bar, with

a pool table and a lounge for enjoying a coffee or watching TV, or for simply catching up with friends. Anshul Gupta, Director, Quick Clean Private Limited, has calculated a captive audience of over 4000 people for his new Laundromat. “The investment will be a real success as the facilities will attract a natural gathering point for the students where they can meet, enjoy a snack and study while keeping an eye on their laundry. Electrolux stacked washers & dryers have been aesthetically arranged and Electrolux installations offer us exceptional performance and intelligent features. The intelligent features and special programs for laundry further value add to the customers,” asserted Gupta during the inauguration. He has equipped the Laundromat with stack washers & dryers and wash-dry from Electrolux Professional Laundry Systems. “Self-service Laundromats in India will no longer be boring laundry rooms

from now on. Quick Clean has executed a colourful, youthful & well designed coinop at Ambala City. Students & resident users will feel welcome once they come and sit down, enjoy a snack and coffee, in the comfortable & vibrant interiors, while waiting for their laundry to be ready.” said Animesh Sharma, Area Sales Manager – Laundry, Electrolux Professional India. One can say that similar innovative infrastructure can be adopted by the hotel industry, which can fulfill the laundry and snacking requirements of the hotel guests at one go. The hotel management institutes can also think of adopting a similar facility for their students.

Industry Expectations from the New Government Here we are carrying some excerpts of expectations of a selection of important players in the Indian hospitality industry. These expectations are from the newly elected government. These expectations assume great importance with the budget on the anvil. “With the BJP in its election manifesto identifying tourism as a key sector to drive socio-economic progress and identifying it as one of the five pillars of India’s future growth, it shows the new government’s commitment to develop the tourism and hospitality industry. This was further evident during Mr. Narendra Modi’s election campaign wherein he spoke about the importance of developing tourism. Under the new government, the tourism & hospitality industry is expecting major pro-tourism initiatives. Also, BJP’s commitment to create 50 affordable tourism circuits will give a big boost to the domestic travel market with Indian travellers getting more options to explore new destinations

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within the country. Under Mr Modi’s leadership, Gujarat has already showed the way by emerging as a major tourist destination amongst domestic travellers.” — Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group “A national policy is needed for the F&B industry. The different laws for restaurant permits, excise, liquor permits, etc. are taxing for the industry. Tax percentages for liquor and food service across the country should be standardised and there should be a single window clearance for all restaurant-related licenses.” — Mitesh Rangras, Director and F&B consultant, partner, SID Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Mumbai “My expectations from the Center and cascaded to the states, is two fold. Firstly, recognise the hospitality industry under infrastructure and not luxury, which will result in

tax benefits, considering that it is the No 1 job generating industry – both direct and indirect. Again through this step we can get benefit on power costs which have been on upward spiral and the biggest fixed cost for most hotels. Also there is need to push through the visa on arrival process, with a smart goal / timeline. This will generate more inbound travel – both corporate and leisure.” — Sahdev Mehta, General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pune – Chinchwad. With the Modi Government’s thrust on developing tourism in the country and recognising that tourism will play a key role in foreign earnings and employment generation, this will boost the growth prospects for the industry. With clearing of projects and investments which have been delayed, we will see more business travellers and better occupancy for the hotel industry.” — Arpan Khapra, Director of Finance, Sofitel Mumbai BKC


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HOTEL Business Review

Cover Story

Ensuring

Sustainability of Hotels-II A positive hotel experience for the guests is the key to success of any hotel. Innovations and incentives promote hotels. Besides that, close co-ordination of the employees, and ensuring that they are aware of the needs of the hotel’s guests is one of the major factors for the success of any hotel. F&B also contributes, to some extent, to the success of a hotel. Brand loyalty and the initiatives and imagination of the GMs are other major contributors to the success of the property, even amidst stiff competition. In the second part of his story on sustainability of hotels, Ashok Malkani probes these various factors through industry feedback. 26

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rends, innovations, incentives and much more contribute to the success of a hotel. Besides these there is also the necessity for interaction with guests to ensure that they revisit the hotel. Repeat guests are essential for sustainability and success of a hotel. But there are several other factors too. Especially, in the Indian hotel industry, which is going through a sluggish period, new strategies need to be frequently adopted for sustainability of hotels. With several new properties coming up the competition is becoming tougher. So how does one succeed in making her/his hotel more enticing? Sahdev Mehta, General Manager of DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Pune-Chinchwad stated, “This is a simple question with no easy answer. I believe that people make all the difference.” At the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pune- Chinchwad the most common guest’s feedback is about how a team member made her/his stay memorable. “I can tell you hundreds of stories of how all of us at DT Pune go the extra mile, and that is what makes our hotel more enticing than the competition. ‘Wow moments of truth’, beautifully nurtured relationships and an ‘I will make it happen’ culture, that’s magic which entices. Here every guest is welcomed with a warm chocolate chip cookie and a warm smile,” elaborated Mehta. Ranju Alex General Manager, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, agrees with Mehta that it is the people who crucially contribute to the success of the hotel. “Customer satisfaction is the key. We don’t just do business …we make memories,” claimed Ranju. Vishal Singh of Hyatt Pune believes that providing unique and tailor-made experiences to the guests not only attracts guests to his hotel, but also creates brand loyalty, resulting in repeat business. “We also promote our global guest loyalty program — Hyatt Gold Passport — to leverage Hyatt’s global presence and brand,” pointed out Singh. Manish Dayya, General Manager,

HOTEL Business Review

Hotel Novotel Goa Shrem Resort, opines that providing emotionally involving and economically efficient concepts draws people to his hotel. Biswajit Chakraborty, General Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, believes that one has to be innovative in the hotel industry. “We innovate, we re-create, we re-invent, we stay one step ahead of trends and above all we connect with our guests, which makes them coming back for more. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, the local culture blends in beautifully with the French culture. This marriage is what gives the guest an extraordinary experience and stories to go home with,” affirmed Chakraborty. “Every product has its unique selling points which the property needs to retain and not digress from. It has to benchmark itself against competition and plan a competitive strategy,” observed Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade Hospitality. “Our hotels work hard to position themselves well in the market,” she added. Vivek Shukla, General Manager of the LaLiT New Delhi, also concedes that personalised service results in repeat and loyal customer base. “However,” he added, “there are other factors which attract guests to our hotel.” He went on to state the other reasons. “Our endeavour has been to constantly

innovate and offer the latest international trends in our restaurants. Moreover, our rooms have been recently refurbished in line with our Indian sensibilities, with a modern touch. Our LaLiT Legacy Suites have specially been designed by renowned artists and the Lounge with a glass roof is a sight to behold. Our presence on the social media and regular food festivals also help us in guest recall,” he proffered.

Role of HR

Nirupa Shankar

The general viewpoint of the industry experts is that it is the people – the employees – who contribute to the repeat clientele. And these are generally appointed by the HR department of the hotel. But how does one appoint capable HR personnel? As far as Ranju is concerned, she takes the onus of responsibility for appointment of every individual in the hotel. “At the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, I am involved in the selection of not just the HR team, but I ensure that I am involved in the selection of every associate for the hotel. The associate is first interviewed by HR and by the Department Head and once he/she clears the interview, he/she is then interviewed by me. The main criteria for selection are

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HOTEL Business Review

the attitude and the skill of the associate. Also the values of the associate have to be similar to that of the values of the company. For HR, I look for attributes and actions that display a focus on taking care of others, integrity and ability to be approachable, and warmth,” she elaborated. “The HR personnel have to have the right aptitude to be the people’s person. Marriott leads the Indian hospitality industry in its HR practices and our HR heads to be selected go through a very rigorous selection procedure in coordination with the corporate office and the hotel GM. The two key factors are the right attitude and in- depth know-how of the latest trends in HR and labour practices. Moreover, it is extremely important for the HR personnel to have very high energy levels,” averred Hemant Tenneti, Hotel Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan. Chakraborty informed that the selection process of HR recruitment at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC was quite rigorous. “Once hired, several training programmes are undertaken commencing with the Magnifique journey (Sofitel’s induction programme) to understanding brand standards, on the job departmental training and leveraging the support of the established practices in place from Accor’s regional office. We hire the best and we train the best, which makes Accor among the top 50 companies to work for,” he affirmed. “HR in Indian hotels today has evolved so much that it is unrecognisable from the days I started. Today, 90 percent of HR activity is about team member engagement. It is about fun, sense of camaraderie and a sense of belonging. When I chose my HR team, I prefer young people who understand the youth. Average hotel workforce has grown progressively younger. I can happily tell you that my HR leader is committed 100 percent. Our trainings are impactful and attrition is very low as compared to other hotels,” claimed Mehta. “In hospitality, especially in HR, people are hired based on behavioral traits. Apart from in person interactions, psychometric tests are given to key management personnel of a hotel to ensure that they have the inherent personality traits that fit in with the values of the brand,” pointed out Nirupa.

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Manish Dayya

“At Hyatt, we groom future HR leaders. In-depth knowledge of human resources, empathetic communication skills, situation handling & leadership skills are the key focus areas of our human resource,” informed Singh, while talking about the HR training at the Hyatt, Pune.

Cutting Costs to Offer VFM While being friendly, polite and ever heedful of the needs of the guests goes a long way in garnering repeat guests, one aspect that cannot be ignored is being economically viable for the guests. That is offering them value for money. One way of being able to stand up to the stiff competition of providing high-end hospitality services at affordable prices is by reducing the operating costs of the hotel. “Today it is all about value for money and this is something that we always ensure by way of best available rates, maintaining rate parity and having

Sahdev Mehta

very competitive pricing, not just for rooms but also for all services offered at the resort. We have taken a number of steps to cut down operating costs at our resort,” pointed out Dayya. “By implementing these methods, we are able to offer competitive rates to our guests. Some of these techniques also contribute to our eco-friendly stance. We use effective VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume) systems for air-conditioning, our elevators are equipped with modern drives for energy conservation, our used water is treated through our own sewage treatment plant and is reused for flushing and watering the gardens and at our resort the fresh air to guest rooms is supplied by heat recovery AHUs (air handling units),” articulated Dayya, while discussing the cost-cutting methods employed at Hotel Novotel Goa Shrem Resort. Agreeing with the concept that value for money will bring customers back, Mehta asserted , “Everyone today wants the best bang for the buck. Pune, being a very competitive and rate conscious city, demands more. We give value. We have world class amenities, probably the best F&B in the city, at very competitive pricing. We can do this because total hotel expenditure is controlled very tightly by every single team member in his/her capacity and we pass on the benefit to the customers.” Shukla agrees with the idea that there should be minimal wastage. “We recognise cost saving measures by our various departments and all our interoffice communication is only via e-mail. All our heads of departments have a cost budget which is reviewed on a monthly basis. However, we do not encourage cutting corners in any of our guest areas or products,” he stated. “We also apply sustainable practices wherever possible, ensuring there is minimal wastage especially when it comes to consumption of electricity, water, etc.,” maintained Nirupa. Ranju views that it is the market which decides the economics. She states that the rate strategy is formulated and implemented, depending on the season and the current spending power of the guests. “I think ‘cutting down costs’ is an incorrect phrase. I would term it more towards optimising your profits by cleverly managing your costs. The focus


Cover Story is on maximising revenue, but not simply by ensuring your guests spend more. If you give value for money even in the luxury segment, your guests will tend to come back and you can generate higher revenues,” explained the savvy Manager. Ranju has some intelligent plans to make F&B of hotels more economical. “One of the biggest tools to make the hotel economically friendly in F&B is to introduce the dining loyalty programme. This programme ensures that our diners get a substantial discount. This discount is considered a reward for being loyal to the hotel’s dining options,” Ranju stated further, while informing that “We also keep an eye on the strategy of hotels, which are in our range of competition.” Nirupa, like Ranju, opines that rates vary according to key demand periods. She states that the cost management of the hotels could be brought under control by replacing imported operating supplies with local options, without impacting customer experience. And how does Sofitel Mumbai BKC brings down the operational costs? It does so by purchasing products in bulk, thereby achieving economies of scale. Furthermore, Chakraborty added, “We use power saving technology such as sensors on taps to reduce wastage, we use recycled paper, we minimise food wastage. In addition, we have conducted an energy audit for the hotel and the insight gained has resulted in huge savings across all areas.” “We offer all the elements of modern luxury at highly affordable pricing. This is achieved through the following key measures. We have highly trained staff instead of excess staff , which makes service smarter and labour cost lesser, which in turn enables us in passing on the benefit to the guest. We have a strong customer loyalty program named Marriott Rewards, which offers great benefits to all guests. Thirdly, we have the right F&B pricing,” Tenneti elaborated. Tenneti also informed about some measures to reduce operational costs at Couryard by Marriott Pune Chakam. “To cut down operational costs, we have been engaged in controlling labour costs through the appropriate manning ratio. We control the consumption of heat, light and power through energy saving projects and also control the procurement costs through aggressive negotiation

HOTEL Business Review

Biswajit Chakraborty

strategy,” said the Hotel Manager. Singh stated that cutting down costs is undertaken at his hotel by “aligning the operations with the occupancy levels such as allocating rooms section/wing wise during lower occupancy days, limiting laundry operation hours, multitasking and through cross-training of employees.” That is not all. “We also look at substituting international products with local options without compromising on the quality and guest experience,” he added.

F&B’s Role in Sustainability F&B seems to be uppermost in the minds of the hoteliers when sustainability of a hotel is concerned. “Food & beverage is at the heart of the hotel’s guest experience and in turn influences the bottom lines,” averred Chakraborty. To entice guests to dine-in, Sofitel Mumbai BKC has adopted various methods. The hotel is bringing

Ranju Alex

international Chefs from across the globe to entice guests and offer Mumbai’s innovative gastronomical experiences. The hotel is also re-launching its artisan restaurant as a Parisian style cafe with three moods through the day. Singh agrees with Chakraborty about the importance of F&B. “Food and beverage is an important revenue driver for the hotel. At Hyatt Pune, we have various award winning dining options. Every month we have a new promotion to give unique experiences to our guests,” he iterated. Dayya too shares the view of the majority. He cites the several F&B options available at Hotel Novotel Goa Shrem Resort. “The Square; our signature all day dining option is serving global cuisines and regional specialties with live and interactive kitchen,” he informed. Mehta also believes that F&B contributes significantly to the profitability of the hotel. “In fact, we are an F&B centric hotel and have an expert team continually working to maintain standards. Our F&B contributes to about 20 percent of our total profits. Also, we understand that F&B is not only an inbound phenomenon. The local customer is the backbone of success of our F&B operations. Our walk-in guests’ percentage for total covers is as high as 70 percent across all our outlets,” he elaborated. “F&B contributes significantly to the profitability of the hotel especially when banquet business is the primary source of contribution towards F&B revenues. The F&B options at the hotel need to get their food taste and quality right and should have innovative products and promotions to keep themselves relevant,” explained Nirupa. Shukla agrees. “However,” he pointed out, “F&B operates at a higher cost in five-star luxury hotels since the kind of products used there are mostly imported and of very high quality.” Ranju however, thinks that as far as profitability of hotels is concerned rooms still have a marked edge over F&B options. “Compared to rooms, F&B brings in less profitability as well as lesser revenues. Hotels that do exceedingly well in F&B (with banquets revenue being a major contributor) can easily see F&B profitability of up to 45 –50 percent. Whereas hotels that rely

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HOTEL Business Review

mostly on restaurant revenues or those who have smaller banqueting facilities, achieve profitability percentages varying between 30 –35 percent through their F&B options. This, compared to rooms’ profitability (which is usually upwards of 75 percent) is quite low. And it is important to note that rooms have no cost of sales, whereas F&B does,” reasoned Ranju. Tenneti is also of the same view. “F&B contributes more towards the positioning and driving footfalls to the hotel rather than profitability. Profit margins in rooms are more,” he observed.

Brand Loyalty There can be little doubt that brand plays a significant role in the sustainability of a hotel. “These days, brand has a very strong connect with the people. People are brand conscious and over time become loyalists to the brands that bring them value and status. Similarly, Sofitel’s luxury hotels cater to a niche audience who are chic, fashion conscious, stylish and enjoy reveling in the lap of luxury and therefore a large proportion of our guests return for an encore experience,” articulated Chakraborty. Ranju completely agrees with the view that brand plays a significant role in the success of a property. “The value that a well-established brand name possesses goes a long way in attracting guests and justifying the price point that it commands in the market. A property backed by a brand name essentially becomes more than just the physical sum of its products and services. When it comes to Marriott for instance, the long standing reputation and goodwill

Vivek Shukla

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Vishal Singh

of the brand translates into customer loyalty, recall and preference all over the world. Of course, with premium brand equity comes an equally great amount of accountability. The individual unit is responsible for upholding the values and quality that a guest associates with the brand and there is practically no window to falter as this would mean affecting the perception of the brand as a whole,” she iterated. “Brand plays an extremely significant role in the success of a hotel. Marriott’s presence worldwide makes the travellers decision very easy when selecting a hotel. The brand recall comes with the promise of consistent service delivery, high safety and security and a sense of comfort,“ stated Tenneti. Other industry experts I interviewed also gave the view that brand plays an important role in fostering sustainability and success of a hotel or a resort.

GMs’ Role Does the GM also become an important factor in promoting a hotel? Yes, she/he does. Ranju affirms that initiatives are often taken by GMs to promote the property. “I have reinforced the brand mantra of guest satisfaction to every single individual of the team. This being the most basic function can also become a hub of complacency if not reiterated time and again. I have taken several steps to make our hotel kid friendly, primarily because most of our guests come with families and travelling with kids can be a challenge if hotels are not equipped to handle them. I have also worked a lot towards upgrading our technology and guest interaction through social media. The property has done extremely well in the past year and we have won many laurels within Marriott International and

other fora,” Renju stated while explaining her contribution. Mehta disclosed that he had joined the property when it was just bricks and mortar. “It has been a supremely satisfying journey to see a beautiful, successful and happy hotel today. It was a huge challenge as operations and projects were both my responsibility. We opened a week before deadline and saved nine percent of project costs. It was tough and very stressful but the team rallied and made it happen. We opened in a very tough market, at a very tough time, with our competition entrenched for some years,” recollected Mehta. “The DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Pune-Chinchwad has made giant strides since its opening. Today we are recognised for quality, warmth and for a fantastic team. The team is bustling with enthusiasm, our guests keep coming back, and it has been a joyride,” Mehta added. One of the steps which Nirupa has taken to promote her hotels include personalised letter from the Executive Chef to all guests checking into the hotels for more than a month, asking if there are any special dietary preferences. Organising a GM’s cocktail hour where the executive committee meets invited long staying guests of the hotel to get an understanding about their stay is another promotional measure introduced by her. Yes, there are a lot of intricacies involved in maintaining the sustainability and success of a hotel – be it a standalone property or a chain of hotels. One has always to be on his/her toes. Innovativeness is the name of the game. Keep track of what the customer wants and ensure that he/she gets it. This, in short, is the way to success. 

Hemant Tenneti


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HOTEL Business Review

Business

Managing Revenues Revenue management is the stepping stone to the success of a hotel. The concept of revenue management is continually evolving. The booking patterns of hotels in the Indian hospitality industry, which depend upon seasons or macro-economic environment, are changing in a dramatic manner. Today Revenue Managers have to think beyond the data. It is important for them to look ahead and gauge how economic and seasonal changes will influence the way people book the hotels. With social media and Internet becoming popular, attention has to be paid on how your hotel is viewed in these domains. Ashok Malkani finds that relationship between the Revenue Managers and Marketing Managers could improve hotel bookings. F&B outlets, spa and conferencing could also help contribute to increasing the hotel revenues. 32

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Business

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evenue management has become a buzzword in the hospitality industry. Revenue management can be subjected to various definitions though its goal is common; that is to maximise or optimse revenues. Since the inception of the concept in the early 80s, thousands of hotels have used revenue management successfully. In straightforward terms, revenue management is a technique to optimise revenue from a fixed, but perishable inventory. In the hotel industry’s context, the essence of revenue management lies in successfully mastering the art and science of selling the right rooms to the right customers at the right time, for the right price. What does revenue management signify? It is the practice of maximising a company’s revenues while selling the same amount of products or services. Also called yield management, some consider it both an art and a science. It employs a mix of pricing strategies and systems with an objective of maximising yield. Industries that have products or services that expire – such as hotel rooms, banquet halls and meeting rooms in the hotel industry and airplane seats in the airline industry – use the term ‘revenue management’ most often. Revenue management assumes crucial importance in the hospitality sector as a room which is being sold at an incorrect rate cannot be sold at the corrected rate, at the same time. The term revenue management has been in vogue across the hospitality industry since a decade. Initially, the concept was put into practice for enhancing occupancy levels, with little prudence on long-term effects of the pricing decisions. Using revenue management in this manner provided

HOTEL Business Review

hoteliers with increased revenues in the short-term. However, this is not a wise decision for hoteliers as slashing their rates to fill rooms without taking account of the cost considerations involved in the room may lead the hotelier to suffer financial setbacks in the long-run. Many hoteliers have suffered due to such a short-sighted policy.

Analysing Data The importance of revenue management cannot be ignored. Deepak Khusalani, Director of Revenue, Sofitel Mumbai BKC stated, “Every hotel business has to go through important decisions regarding what to sell, to whom and for how much. Revenue Managers with their scientific way of conducting data analysis, clearly understanding customer behaviour and strategising, are the keys to maximising revenues.” Revenue management applies the basic tenets of supply and demand economics in a strategic manner with the objective to optimise revenues. Rakshit Talwar, Director of Sales & Marketing, Novotel Goa Shrem Resort, disclosed that the new techniques being adopted by the hotels to generate more revenue are: Data collection, segmentation, forecasting, optimisation and pricing. He outlined the three essential conditions for revenue management. They are: There is a fixed amount of resources to be available for sale, the resources to sell are very perishable in nature and guests are willing to pay different prices for using the same resources. If one observes minutely, the hotel industry fits these criteria extremely well. Obviously, hotels have a fixed inventory of rooms to sell; and sales of these rooms are also extremely perishable. You may not have thought about it, but sales of hotel

rooms gets perished every day; any room that lies unsold for a day, its sales for that day are lost forever. And of course, guests are willing to pay different rates for rooms in various circumstances.

The Right Partnership Amidst today’s uncertain economic times, Revenue Managers find themselves asking a slew of tough questions: How can I secure marked uplift for the business? How can I proactively drive demand? How do I provide the right price to the right customer at the right time? Although Revenue Managers face these grueling questions every day, they are not alone in their battle. Marketing personnel are often asking themselves many of the same questions. Although these departments have, historically, operated independently of one another; by working in tandem the marketers and Revenue Managers can significantly bolster their hotels’ bottom lines and consequently their careers. “Marketing stimulates demand and revenue management controls that demand,” stated Khusalani. “Many a time these departments operate independently, but they are interrelated. By working together, marketers and Revenue Managers can significantly enhance their hotels’ bottom

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lines. Collaboration between these two departments helps in providing the right price to the right customer at the right time. In order to understand how and why this works, it is important to analyse the strengths of each individual department and how the departments can assist each other, which, in turn, leads to enhancing the hotels’ profitability,” explained Talwar. Revenue Managers and marketers can work in coordination, which can facilitate attaining their mutually shared goal of enhancing revenues for the hotel. By regularly exchanging information and strategies, each department will likely to improve its achievements, and also increase the hotels’ profitability. A perfect platform for pairing of marketing and revenue management teams for the mutual benefit of both teams and the hotel as a whole in this new era of booking hotel rooms is the social media. Many hotels merely see social media as simply a platform where guests now complain or praise about their services or property, and hotels in turn respond likewise in the real world, either by attempting to rectify the cause of complaint or by further building on their strengths, which evoked praise. But the impact of social media on a hotel’s approach to attracting guests has so much more to offer. For instance, if the marketing team keeps abreast of and analyses what social media sentiment exists for the hotel, revenue management can use this analysis to understand how it is influencing demand and how pricing might be adjusted in response to this. Many hotels have made attempts to integrate revenue management and marketing teams but much more needs to be done in this regard. Hotels need to put

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actual benefits only if they can manage to overcome the traditional mindset of their marketing personnel and Revenue Managers who often work in isolation of each other.

New Technologies

Rakshit Talwar

in place processes that maintain the unique purpose of these teams, while also ensuring these teams are working concertedly towards the same overall business plan. A hotel’s marketing team is entrusted with the task of connecting directly with consumers to generate demand, whereas the revenue management team controls demand through profitable pricing strategies. By joining forces, these two teams can complement each other. For instance, revenue management will be able to pinpoint areas of priority for demand generation, while marketing is well placed to know which customers they need to communicate with to fill the void. By examining each team’s strengths and how they can be synchronised to help each other, hotels can more proactively and accurately target the right types of guests and boost their profits. Many hotels are aware of the benefits of marketing and revenue management working in tandem, but in many cases they can translate this awareness into

Over the years, revenue management has become more dependent on advanced technologies. However, even using revenue management to strategically price hotel rooms and ancillary services is no longer enough in today’s dynamic operating environment where the way guests choose the hotel they want to stay in and what price they are willing to pay is continually changing. It is time that hoteliers stop thinking about revenue management as it has been known, and start thinking about the next generation of revenue management strategies that are adapted for today’s digital environment and take additional revenue streams into account. Many of the business and leisure travellers have changed the way in which they book hotels during the recent years. In the past they may have been more reliant on travel agents and/or travel brochures to actually inform them of the best places to stay and relied more heavily on a traditional star rating process and descriptions of the hotels generated by the hotels themselves. These days, when a traveller goes to book a room in a location that she/ he may not be familiar with; her/his selection process can be much different. In many cases potential guest searches for information on the hotels in the area online and specifically look for third party review sites for impartial past guest reviews to facilitate in the selection process. ”In revenue management the biggest task is monitoring who is booking, from what channel they are booking and at what rate or package they are booking. The lead time from all segments has shortened significantly. This is where technology plays a vital role. The more the data is accurate and real-time, the easier it is for revenue management strategies to be applied to maximise revenue,” explained Khusalani. “Systems like EasyRMS, Ideas, and Travelclick, etc. are always coming up with new applications and updates,” he added. “Revenue Managers need to make decisions spontaneously. Therefore, the


Business speed at which the information filters throughout all systems is crucial. Since decisions are based on data procured from different systems (CRS, PMS, etc.), data integration and accuracy between those systems is essential,” pointed out Talwar. “Revenue management is all about understanding and anticipating trends from historical data. Technology has played a vital role in helping to analyse historical data from different perspectives in order to better optimise and maximise revenue across market segments,” observed an expert. The use of digital medium can help the Revenue Managers and hoteliers to make accurate forecast of demand levels, thereby helping them to price the hospitality products intelligently. But how do you choose which e-distribution channels are right for your hotel? Several factors need to be taken into consideration, from channel contribution potential, distribution spread and cost to how easy the channels are to manage, what types of marketing exposure they can provide and the sort of technology they use. Identify the right channels for you, manage your rates dynamically and

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including online travel agents, consortia programmes and corporate accounts.

Besides Rooms and Restaurants

Deepak Khusalani

don’t lose sight of rate parity across those channels. If you are currently distributing rates manually to a number of different channels, a Channel Manager may be a suitable option for you, making your life easier and leaving that all important time available to make vital strategic decisions. But exposure to Internet channels is not sufficient. Remember relationship is the key to successful revenue management. Don’t try and do everything on your own. Invest time in building strong relationships with all of your distribution partners

Besides using technology creatively to boost revenues, the purview of the focus of revenue management also needs to be extended. The main sources of revenues in hotels are no longer limited to rooms and restaurants. Conferences and events are emerging as big revenue earners for the hotels in India. In this context, hoteliers looking to bolster their property’s revenues should also be looking towards conferences and events as their next big revenue driving opportunity. Hoteliers need to take a more holistic look at their catering revenues and decisions they make for their function spaces can have a major impact on their bottom lines. With the wellness wave generating momentum across the society, spas as revenue generators are also likely to gain currency across hotels. Therefore guest spends across spas, banquets, events, etc. should be carefully ascertained so that planning of the revenue management process in hotels is being holistically done. 

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HOTEL Business Review

Offbeat Routes to Revenues

By Swarnendu Biswas

I

ndia is a country of natural wonders and historic splendours. It is also a country whose spiritual resonance has been reaching the twenty-first century by passing through several millennia, thereby making it a haven for religious tourism. It is a country having great potential for exploration by intrepid travellers, who want to seek adventure and thrill away from the run-of-the-mill kind. The country has a rich tribal heritage, and the exploration of the cultures and customs of many of our fascinating tribes across north-east, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh can foster great opportunity for tribal tourism. And the growth of the Indian economy can give an impetus to MICE tourism in the short as well as in the long-run.

Untapped Potential But despite such huge potential in all spheres of tourism, India’s foreign tourist arrivals during 2013, according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) was 6.84 million, which is to put it charitably, was

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extremely dismal as compared to China, which according to UNWTO attracted 55.7 million foreign tourists during 2013. During the same year, the US attracted 69.8 million international tourists. Even Thailand and Malyasia attracted 26.5 million and 25.7 million international tourists during 2013, despite having much smaller size than India. According to UNWTO, even a small island-nation like Singapore attracted 11 million foreign tourists during 2012. During 2012, India attracted 6.5 million foreign tourists only, slightly more than half of Singapore’s foreign tourist arrival figures during 2012. This is not the case of last year or of 2012 only; the general trend is that India has never have been able to optimally exploit its awesome tourism potential for the inbound as well as its domestic tourists. Though according to the Ministry of Tourism, during 2012, Indian states and UTs had 1036 million domestic tourists, as compared to 865 million in 2011 and 748 million in 2010, but these figures hardly give any indication of our

tourism potential. Of course, this wasted opportunity also translates to the fact that India’s hospitality industry has also been garnering revenues much lesser than its potential. In the last issue we have discussed the topic of innovatively themed resorts which can augment the revenues of our tourism and hospitality industries. Another way of enhancing our tourism and hospitality sector’s revenues from both domestic and inbound directions is through tapping the tourism potential of many of our offbeat destinations. Many of them are fascinating from tourism point of view, but sadly they do not yield the desired numbers of tourists. The fact that our ten states’ contribution was about 84.5 percent of the total number of domestic tourist visits in the country during 2012, reveals how lopsided our development of tourism sector is and the huge tourism potential in the country remaining to be tapped. One of the intelligent ways of enhancing tourism and hospitality sector’s revenues is to focus more on those destinations which are not yet


Feature that much explored by our domestic and inbound tourists. There are many spellbinding tourist locales in India, where the mainstream tourists do not visit in that many numbers as they should do. It is because they are not promoted and publicised well, and many of these offbeat destinations do not have adequate tourism and hospitality infrastructure to attract the high-end tourists. However, despite these impediments, more numbers of Indians than say a decade before are opting for offbeat destinations to get some different than predictable travel experiences, which indicates a growing maturity among our domestic tourists. The trend towards offbeat travel for weekend gateways is getting more pronounced in urban India than it was before. Our tourism and hospitality industry should make earnest efforts to make our offbeat tourist destinations or regions attract mainstream popularity, while at the same time making sustained efforts to keep these destinations’ pristine charm intact.

The River Island One of the important offbeat destinations in India is Majuli in Assam, which is the largest river island of the world, surrounded by the mighty Brahamputra. It is located about 20 km from Jorhat, a town of Assam. The place not only has natural beauty but embodies great historical and cultural legacy. It is where the 15th century saint and fountainhead of Assamese culture, Sankardeva established a satra or neo-Vaishnavite monastery. This was followed by the development of 64 more satras. Due to the annual floods and constant land erosion, Majuli today is only a fraction of its original size of 1256 sq. km, which has forced many of the satras to shift base to Assam’s mainland. Today, Majuli is the principal seat of Vaishnavite faith, culture and

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practice, though only 22 of the 65 satras established in Majuli do remain. Many of these monasteries preserve antiques like weapons, utensils, jewellery and other items of cultural significance. According to Assam Tourism, these satras are the treasure houses of the songs and dances initiated by Shri. Sankardeva like ‘Borgeet’ Matiakhara, Jumora dance, Chali dance, Motua dance, Nande Bringee, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara dance, Satria Krishna dance, Dasavater dance, etc. The pottery made in Majuli, made from beaten clay and burnt in driftwood fired kilns, is similar to the pottery making tradition of the ancient Harappan civilisation, dating four-and-a-half thousand years ago. The river island also has a fascinating weaving tradition with a whole range of colours, made in cotton and silk. Besides its cultural legacy, Majuli can be environment lover’s delight with its rich bio diversity. According to Assam

Tourism, if the visit is timed right, one can spot many rare and endangered avifauna species here, such as the greater adjutant stork, pelican and the whistling teal. The best time to visit Majuli is during Rasleela, a three day festival held usually in mid-November. The festival celebrates the legendary love of Radha and Krishna and the devotion of the gopis to Krishna. Almost every person in the island, whose population is predominantly tribal, takes part in the Rasleela festival. People from far flung places come to the island to take part in this festival. We can easily gauge that the place has great potential for eco-tourism and cultural tourism, and if promoted proactively by the Assam government, Majuli can easily feature prominently in the global tourism map. However, the fact that excessive sediment discharge as a result of frequent low magnitude seismic upheavals is resulting in gradual submerging of Majuli,

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Little Tibet Tourists throng to Shimla and Kulu Manali but very few of them think of exploring the ethereal beauty and the unspoiled sylvan life of Spiti valley in Himachal. Spiti is known as the ‘Little Tibet’ because it has almost the same terrain, vegetation & climate as Tibet. It lies between Tibet, Ladakh, Kinnaur, Lahaul & Kulu. Chander Tal — a picturesque blue water lake in scenic surroundings — Losar, Kibber, Kunzum Pass, Dhankar Monastery, Kungri Gompa are some of the important places to visit while travelling through Spiti valley. The waters of Chander Tal resonate with a myth, which can be traced to Mahabharata. According to some believers, is an area of great concern for many lovers of culture and environment. It should be a great concern for the Indian tourism and hospitality industries too for the island has lots of potential for both these industries. The Union Government has sanctioned Rs.250 crore to prevent the sinking of the island, but much more needs to be done. It is about time, international help along with active support from our hospitality industry comes forth to stem the submerging of the island. Of course, along with this conservation efforts, development of tourism and hospitality infrastructure in Majuli is also the need of the hour. At present, there is hardly any good hotel in Majuli.

A Town by the Sea Ganapatipule, located just 375 km from Mumbai on the Konkan coast, is also a wonderful offbeat destination, located in Maharashtra. The place can be an ideal retreat for nature lovers and solace seekers. This idyllic town of 100 homes has a beach of golden sand, where one can lose one’s worries or can find oneself. Ganapatipule is also abundant in flora, which include mangrove and coconut palms. The temple of Swayambhu (selforiginated) Ganesh is an important tourist attraction of the place, which is frequented by devotees. Jaigad Fort, which was built in the 17th century and offers a fascinating view of the sea and the Konkan village life, is one of the tourist attractions near this town. Malgund village, located 1 km from Ganapatipule, is another important tourist attraction for heritage lovers. The

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famous Marathi poet, Keshavsoot, was born here, in 1866. He is regarded as the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. At Malgund tourists can visit the memorial of the poet. One can also visit the poet’s house, which has now been renovated and converted into a student’s hostel. Pawas, which is known for its scenic beauty and serenity and of the Ashram of Swami Swaroopanand, a spiritual leader who had an influence on an entire generation of people from Maharashtra, is also another place in the vicinity of Ganapatipule, which is worth a visit. Though a number of resorts and hotels are there in this tranquil town, which includes the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation resort near the beach, but more awareness exercise and infrastructural support are needed to make Ganapatipule feature more frequently in global tourists’ itineraries.

Chander Tal is the spot from where the Lord Indra’s chariot took the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhishtra to swarga or heaven in his mortal form. Kibber, locally known as Khyipur, is the highest village in the world connected by motorable road, situated at an altitude of 4205 m above sea level in a narrow valley. This village is surrounded by mountains of limestone rocks from all sides. Rest houses are available for the visitors. Why not five-star resorts? Most of the houses in Kibber village are made of stones. Nearby is the Kye Monastery, which happens to be one of the main training centres for lamas in this region. Its history dates back to 1000 AD. Gette, at a short distance away from Kaza, is the highest village in the world at a height of 4270 m. The lovers of rural tourism across the globe would be delighted explore these options,


Feature if they get to know about these places more. Kaza, the commercial center of the valley, located on the banks of the Spiti river, is a place to enjoy the colourful festivals which are the integral part of the cultural fabric of the Spiti valley. Kaza is also an ideal base camp for trekking through the Spiti valley. The Dhankar Monastery which is located on a cliff at 3894 metres, affords amazing view of the Spiti river. The monastery houses a statue of ‘Vairochana’ which shows four complete figures of Buddha seated back to back. Monastery also houses Buddhist scriptures, paintings and sculptures. Jeep safari is one of the adventurous options to seep the pristine beauty of Spiti valley in your soul.

A Forest and a Lake Besides these there are several other offbeat destinations in India for the lovers of nature, history and adventure. They only need greater promotion and better tourism and hospitality infrastructure. For example, Sunderbans in West Bengal, which has Royal Bengal Tiger and happens

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to be the largest mangrove forest in the world, has the potential to emerge as one of the best destinations for wildlife lovers in the planet, if the destination is creatively promoted along with adequate infrastructure support. And impressive increases in tourism inflows in Sunderbans can free many of its local people from grinding poverty, for whom facilitating the tourists could be a lucrative employment opportunity. It is about time the West Bengal Tourism gives due importance to Sunderbans National Park, which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pangong Lake in Ladakh, located at a height of about 4350m, with its crystal clear blue waters extending from India to Tibet, is another offbeat tourist destination. This 134 km lake is flocked by a plethora for migratory birds.

The Valley of Lilies Dzukou Valley in Nagaland, located just 25 km away from Kohima, on the borders of Manipur and Nagaland, and situated 2438 above sea level, turns into a paradise on earth during winter and spring, with the hues of rhododendron, lilies and wild

flowers in their full bloom. A cool stream flowing through the valley adds to its scenic beauty. The rare Dzükou Lily is found only in this valley, which can make the valley an eco-tourist’s delight for exploration. Treks through the Dzukou Valley can be an ethereal adventure of a lifetime. But how many of our conventional domestic and inbound tourists know of the place? Not many, I am sure.

Nature, Solace and Tawang In fact, the entire north-east India, with its natural beauty, rich tribal heritage and adventure tourism options, is a vastly untapped region for India’s tourism and hospitality. It is about time Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh or Shillong in Meghalaya attain similar prominence and popularity as Mussoorie or Darjeeling. Tawang, which is located 10,000 feet above sea level (that gives it a higher altitude than many of our popular hill stations), has the 400 year old Tawang Monastery, which is an important seat of Mahayana Buddhism. It is India’s largest monastery. This can give the destination

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added attraction to the galore of religious tourists from all parts of the world, but especially from the orient. The spiritual solace of Tawang Monastery can be heightened by the natural beauty around. The natural beauty and solitude of Gudpi and Chong-Chugmi ranges, Tawang Chu river and Tawang valley are simply mesmerising. Exploring the awesome cultural richness of Arunachal Pradesh, which is manifested through colourful festivals, can be a great option for cultural tourism. The Ziro district of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the best places to enjoy the cultural festivities of this little known state.

And it is about time the Indian ourism and hospitality industries better exploit the enormous latent tourism potential of India by popularising the country’s plethora of offbeat tourism options. This way they can not only garner great revenues, but can provide great joy to tourists across the globe and make the lesser known India popular across the planet. There are various ways the offbeat India or the lesser known tourist destinations and attractions of India can achieve greater popularity among the domestic and inbound tourists. One of them is through greater and more focused advertisement support. The tourism ministries of various

The Untapped State Besides large regions of north-east India, Orissa is also a state whose tourism potential lies largely unexploited. The state which has wonderful manifestations of its great historic, religious and cultural heritage, which has awesome natural beauty and wildlife to offer, managed to garner only 66,522 foreign tourists during 2012-13, which was only marginally higher than the number of foreign tourists the state attracted in 2011-12, which was only 62,816. There is no reason why Puri, with the turbulent Bay of Bengal lapping its shores and its Jagannath Temple, and with its euphoric annual festivity of Rath Yatra cannot achieve the same popularity as Goa. Probably the improvement of sanitation infrastructure can improve the popularity of Puri beach among the foreign tourists. Similarly, Konark and Gopalpur-on-Sea and the wildlife sanctuaries of Orissa need much greater promotion among domestic and inbound tourists.

Exploring the Offbeat Opportunities The Magnetic Hill in Ladakh, the Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttaranchal, Orchha in Madhya Pradesh, the Veerabhadra Temple of Leepakshi, in Andhra Pradesh with its hanging pillar, Sandakphu, the paradise of trekkers in West Bengal… the list of offbeat destinations or lesser known tourist attractions in India are indeed limitless. It seems the more one travels through India, more lies unexplored.

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states of India, particularly those states which have quite a few offbeat destinations or tourist attractions that deserve to be explored by many more tourists than they are being done now, should not only launch massive advertisement campaigns in print, audio-visual and cyber media with particular focus on their offbeat destinations, but should also host cultural shows across the world’s leading cities where the offbeat tourist attractions of their respective states would be creatively showcased. Besides improving roads’ network and transportation infrastructure, and developing new trekking and hiking routes, another way of making the offbeat destinations in India attract better hospitality infrastructure can be done by the states by providing huge concessions to the real estate for those hospitality projects, which are to be constructed in or in the vicinity of the offbeat destinations of their respective states. The hotels located in or in the vicinity of offbeat destinations can also be provided the opportunity to offer subsided tariffs

for a year or so, and the burden can be borne by the state exchequer. For example, if a tourist gets to stay in a five-star resort in Orchha or Tawang or say Majuli for say Rs.1500, she/he would be having an added attraction to explore these places. I think if this subsidy in tariffs is continued for a year, huge swathes of domestic and inbound tourists would get attracted to offbeat India, and in the next year such a subsidy would no longer be necessary. The state tourism ministries of various states should also develop hordes of qualified guides who would be specialised in making the tourists aware of the tourism potential of the offbeat destinations of their respective states. They can be called ‘Offbeat Guides.’ For example, West Bengal Tourism can develop a team of ‘Offbeat Guides’ who will be proactively engaged in making the domestic and inbound tourists aware about the lesser known tourism delights of West Bengal. At the same time, the Union Ministry of Tourism should develop special ‘Tourism Maps’ which would be different in their focus from the usual political and physical maps. These maps would highlight the various offbeat destinations of India, and they could be supplied to various state tourism bodies and offices of important hotel chains at free of cost. This exercise could be supplemented by developing books focusing solely on offbeat destinations of India, in which the Union Ministry of Tourism can collaborate with a reputed publishing house or publishing houses. These above-mentioned initiatives could be strengthened by the respective state governments by developing special themed resorts in the offbeat destinations of their respective states. Wherever feasible, these state-owned themed resorts should depict the tourism highlight/s of the area in which it is located, through its ambience, décor and construction. For example, such a resort located within a little known wildlife sanctuary can creatively simulate an ambience of wildlife or wilderness in its décor, and ideally such a resort should be a tree-top resort. With inputs from Ayonendu Biswas


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HOTEL Business Review

In-room Dining:

A Tough Call By Sharmila Chand

P

erhaps the best service that any hotel can provide is to serve its guests quality food & beverage in their hotel room in a prompt manner, along with excellent service. Though nowadays hotels focus significantly on their in-room dining service but the fact is this particular service comes with tremendous challenges and demands. Let us look at what our experts have to say in this regard.

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Great Expectations “Nowadays, guests expect the same kind of experience from inroom dining (IRD) that they would get at a restaurant. The server is expected to be as well-versed as a Restaurant Manager. He should be able to explain the dishes to the guests, and should get into every possible detail about presentation and service. For example, the server should ask the guests where the tray needs to be placed, whether some accompaniments are needed, etc.

The in-room dining menu in hotels has also become extensive in terms of offering choices to the guest,” observed Jai Chugh, Director of Food and Beverage, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre. “Guests prefer to order comfort food through room service. Considering the working hours, flight timings and lifestyle changes, we have seen a rising trend of guests preferring to eat within the comfort of their rooms than going to dining venues at the property,” affirmed


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Hotel Whitefield. “Customers expect larger room service menus featuring dishes from the specialty restaurants of hotels also. They also want food to be served within 20-25 minutes,” stated Kuriakose while discussing the guest expectations from in-room dining.

Content and Presentation

“Keep things simple in this area. Any complications would always backfire in the form of guests’ complaints. Ensure we listen to our guests and change or evolve as and when required. Make sure all processes are followed strictly.” — Mohammad Khan, Director of Food & Beverage, Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan

Jameson Solomon, F&B Director at Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway. “Even when a guest chooses to dine in the comfort of his/her hotel room and not step out to a restaurant, he/she still expects to be offered the luxury of choice in terms of menu. Also, high standards in terms of food quality and presentation are expected from in-room dining. Most importantly, the process of order placing over the phone should be smooth and hassle free for the guest. Also when a guest is dining in his/her room, delivery of food within the time specified becomes very crucial,” explained Chugh. “It is a small world. Many of our guests these days are well travelled so they like to explore world cuisine when they are away from their homes. Therefore, we should be able to deliver their choice through in-room menu too,” pointed out Vivin Kuriakose Director F&B, Bengaluru Marriott

“In-room dining in hotels has seen a burgeoning trend of smaller plates along with items that are easier to prepare and serve,” aired Prahlad Kumar - Asst. IRD Manager, The Imperial, New Delhi. However, he also added that “Although occasionally there are requests for unusual orders involving ingenuity and personalisation to meet and exceed the guest’s needs.” “There has been always some interest shown by the guests to order from the specialty restaurants in the comfort of their hotel rooms. However, these days it is more common to see serious comfort food items and/or healthy items being ordered for in-room dining, which reflects guests’ changing preferences,” concurred Kumar. “Earlier there was hardly anything innovative in the menu of room service across Indian hotels. Also the Director of Food and Beverage and the Executive Chef in Indian hotels used to give minimal thought in the preparation of in-room dining menu and in laying the entire service sequence. However, with the changing times, restaurant menus are getting incorporated in the inroom dining menu, which is increasing awareness of specialty restaurants among the guests, which in turn is leading to greater satisfaction for in-room dining guests,” elaborated Mohammad Khan, Director of Food & Beverage, Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan. “Nowadays Chefs in the Indian hospitality industry are seen trying to do some wonders in the room-service food & beverage items by including home style menu items, and healthy food which is less oily and less fatty. This breaks the monotony for many frequent travellers who get bored of eating the regular burgers and salads. By doing so these Chefs are trying to make in-room dining an integral feature of the overall food-and-beverage picture of the hotel,” pointed out Khan.

“Worldwide, guests are becoming much more conscious with extensive travel and global exposure. The guest expectations range from anything from a cob salad to a burger to a green chicken curry to Korean short ribs, which can come at 3 am in the morning. During the recent years, there has been a big change in the product offerings and packaging along with service delivery levels as far as in-room dining in hotels is concerned,” articulated Kumar. “Over the years, in-room dining across the Indian hospitality industry has witnessed many changes. From business view point, now in-room dining is seen as another F&B outlet equivalent to any exclusive restaurant, where Chefs

“In-room dining is all about efficient order taking and conveying it right to the kitchen team. The guests are looking towards ease of ordering and prefer it if the order taken can guide the guest for better options of food, while judging his/her likes and dislikes. Half the battle is won if the order taken is clear and conveyed properly to the back-up team.” — Vimal Varma, Manager of Food and Beverage, Hyatt Pune

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get a chance to show his/her culinary panache & serving skills,” expressed Sandeep Panwar, Executive Chef, The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa New Delhi. “Today room service menu in hotels includes dishes ranging from very simple to outrageously innovative and spruced with some elements of surprise. Furthermore, there is a trend of add-ons in terms of amenities, value addition and happy hours,” averred Panwar.

Challenges Towards Guest Satisfaction However, there are challenges in inroom dining towards meeting guests’ expectations. “When it comes to inroom dining, there are limitations in terms of presentation. Certain items have their inherent limitations when eaten in the room as compared to at the

“Room service deserves more recognition and praise. It should not be just treated as a delivery mechanism.” — Prahlad Kumar- Asst. IRD Manager, The Imperial, New Delhi

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restaurant. Take a pizza for instance. The experience of eating a freshly baked hot crisp pizza in the restaurant cannot be matched when served in the room. Also, the time factor becomes all the more crucial when it comes to room delivery. A guest is likely to get impatient during the time span of food delivery in the hotel room, whereas at the restaurant, he/she has the ambience and music to make the wait for the food much more bearable,” reasoned Chugh. The time factor is indeed crucial. “Speciality restaurant dishes look and taste the best when the dishes are served immediately after plating. They are not always the best after travelling between five-ten minutes to the guest room,” said Kuriakose. “To meet the requests that are off the menu or out of season is quite challenging. We are unable to meet them due to logistical challenges or restrictions. To serve exotic and quality products like pomelo, yellowtail hamachi or jamon is not only difficult on the procurement side but is also expensive,” affirmed Kumar. “One of the biggest challenges towards meeting guest expectations in in-room dining is often the lack of proper temperature maintenance equipment for food delivery. Though the hotels are equipped with suitable hot boxes in trolleys but there is always a temperature loss while delivering food to the hotel room. Consequently, the food reaches room warm rather than hot,” analysed Vimal Varma, Manager of Food and Beverage, Hyatt Pune. “The presentation of the food is also a bit concern during its transportation from kitchen to hotel rooms. Moreover, the room service has a specific order time pattern which leads to multiple orders at peak hours, which in turn can cause delays

“Close & well-knit coordination between services & kitchen is essential for effective room service operations.” — Sandeep Panwar, Executive Chef, The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa New Delhi

in-room service as well,” added Varma.

The Personal Touch Personalised menu in in-room dining tend to be a winning option. “Our long stay guests, guests who stay for 10-12 days or more, tend to get bored of having to choose from the same menu through the duration of their stay. Hence at our hotel (Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre), the Chefs proactively meet the guests and interact with them to understand their dietary preferences, any allergies, etc., so as to develop a personalised menu for them,”


F&B informed Chugh. “We also have a special ‘Home Away from Home’ menu wherein guests are asked to fill in a small form asking them which city they come from and what they miss most about their home in terms of food. The Chef then prepares that particular dish for them the next day. This has worked brilliantly well with the guests,” Chugh observed. According to him, at the hotel where Chugh works, there is provision of a special kids menu in the guest rooms. “Earlier we used to have a small IRD menu. Based on guest feedback, our IRD menu is now the same as the menu of our all day dining restaurant. Guests are spoilt with choices in terms of cuisines and meal options. We have health menus and even a special beverage menu. The increase in F&B selections for our guests has given them choice, variety and flexibility,” asserted Chugh. “At Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan, we serve Ghar ka Khana to many guests who are bored of eating regular hotel food. This is quite popular with our guests,” said Khan. Tailoring in-room dining options while keeping the specific choices of guests in mind can reap rich dividends

“It is important to treat IRD as a regular restaurant venue and have all equipment like ice machine, fully equipped bar, etc. in place to offer the best possible services.” — Jameson Solomon, F&B Director, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway

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their preferences, which helps us in going the extra step and personalising our service to these guests,” expressed Solomon.

The Right Advise

“Training is very crucial. Staff and order takers require training on a continual basis to deliver quality.” — Vivin Kuriakose, Director F&B, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield

in terms of appreciation and revenues. “Our most important quality is guest recognition. We try our best to understand the needs, the desires of our guests. Supposedly, last time a guest had stayed with us and showed disliking towards a particular spice. Next time when he/she will come, we will make sure we keep his/her disliking in mind and instruct our team not to put that particular spice in his/her food at all,” proffered Panwar. “At The Imperial, New Delhi we offer 15-20 minutes Ultra Express menu items which are very popular. Additionally, we offer Indian Thali Dinners for our foreign guests to encourage them to enjoy tasting Indian meal in their rooms, along with butler services. Also we have cocktail packages offering a selection of handcrafted cocktails, made in the room by an inroom mixologist,” informed Kumar. “At Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, a glass of chilled water is served with every order that is sent to the room. This is a practice that not many hotels follow. The IRD Manager meets all the long staying guests to know

The industry experts also offered some tips to improve the quality of in-room dining. “In-room dining has to be people-driven. The Inroom Dining Manager has to meet and interact with guests as would a Restaurant Manager in a restaurant,” offered Chugh. “Also, it is very essential to have the right manager and right Chefs in place to back inroom dining operations and ensure synergy and smooth flow,” he added. “Adequate staff is a pre-requisite of IRD. Select the associates who are well experienced and who have worked in several key outlets in-house,” advised Kumar while observing, “This would facilitate that they treat guest rooms as private restaurants and ensure that personalised services to the in-room guests are being offered. Most often staff is graduated from IRD to specialty restaurants as a step up in career growth, but the reverse makes more sense in terms of guest services.” 

“In-room dining operations must have a good team of Chefs and Managers to ensure synergy and smooth flow.” — Jai Chugh, Director of Food and Beverage, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre

May-June ’14

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Spa

HOTEL Business Review

Wellness by

Sohum By Sharmila Chand

A

n urban luxury wellness destination, Sohum Spa at Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore has been created to offer scientifically validated wellness therapies in a relaxing and aesthetic environment. The union of the mindbody-soul is the inspiration behind this wellness concept, which is manifested in various ways be it in staff training, in guest service or in terms of social responsibility. The design concept of the spa flows from the 1000 pillar mandapa hall of the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. It seems the architects, Koushik and Chandana, have been truly

inspired by the 1000-pillar hall in Madurai and the by the kalamkari works.

By Design The ceiling murals in the main area of the spa have the tree of life done by the famous kalamkari painters from Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The work is done by a NGO that works to uplift village artisans. The spa is guided by the philosophy of pradakshina, which is said to lead the penitent believer to moksha, which to be simply put is emancipation of the soul. The spa here is seen as a journey towards comparable emancipation, even if only a physical one, through a series of treatments and experiences. Here it deserves a mention that the Sohum Spa at Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore has recently won the NDTV Design & Architecture Award for Best Hospitality Interior Design of the Year 2014.

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Spa

HOTEL Business Review

Managing Wellness Experiences By Sharmila Chand

Dr. Narendra Shetty, Regional Head, South India for Sohum Spa at Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore, is a third generation doctor in a family practicing traditional medicine over the last few decades. Dr. Shetty received his Bachelors Degree in Naturopathy and Yogic Science in 1996, followed by a Diploma in Advanced Spa Management and a Diploma in the Science of Chakra Energy Therapy in 2004. He is also a lifestyle health management expert who believes in promoting wellness as a preventive healthcare measure rather than pampering. His philosophy is to provide the foundation and the path to a healthy lifestyle through personalised programs including treatments, diet and education. Instrumental in establishing the department of Holistic Medicine in Indraprashta Apollo Hospital in Delhi, he has treated patients with chronic lifestyle related ailments with holistic health techniques and yoga therapy classes. He managed the Spa Oasis in the Grand Hyatt Delhi and the Jiva Spa & Fitness Center at the The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. He then opened and managed the luxurious Amatrra Spa in New Delhi. The excerpts of the interview follow:

What are the kind of changes you have witnessed in your field during the past five-six years?

The Indian spa industry has evolved over the decade. Today guests want more than just high quality ingredients and services. They want value from positive, engaging and memorable wellness experiences along with high quality spa ingredients and services offered. What are the current trends in the spa business?

In times of rising healthcare costs, ageing populations, increasing obesity challenges and other lifestyle related disorders, along with a growing focus on sustainable living, the global spa industry is emerging as the wellness industry; playing an increasingly key role in preventative care and overall well-being. Since 2013, wellness vacations are growing in popularity and are becoming among the most sought after vacationing options. In the past, gyms and spas were

offered as additional amenities in hotels, but now these are positioned as unique strengths of the hospitality properties. Nowadays we are seeing that established hotel chains are re-branding around

wellness with a renewed focus. Spa is no more just an amenity for the hotel guests. It is an integral part of the hotel operations and has added economic value to the hotel business. What are some of the latest trends in spa design?

There is a growing trend of spas getting designed by a team consisting of interior designers, spa specialists and artists, keeping in mind the desired customer experience. This shift in spa design approach is to combine the interior designer’s focus on appearance and functionality, and the therapist’s expertise in experience creation and customer psychology. What are the top three traits or skills every Spa Director must have to manage the spa successfully?

She/he should have a faith in wellness and a healthy lifestyle, and the ability to communicate, lead and solve

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Spa

HOTEL Business Review

Do you offer a Signature Treatment?

Yes, we have the Sohum Signature Massage, which is a ninety minute therapy. Our senior spa trainers have developed this signature bodywork only for the regular spa and fitness enthusiasts. This bodywork is an amalgamation of sports massage and Thai acupressure techniques which are very effective in working on deep tissue, fascia and muscles. This massage is recommended only for those who require deep bodywork to undo muscle knots and dissolve fibrous tissues. Tell us about the other features offered at the spa

problems. Furthermore, she/he should be emotionally mature and balanced, and be empathetic towards’ needs and aspirations of the team. The Spa Director should also perceive the spa as a key revenue center and look for avenues to augment the profitability of the given spa’s business. What do you enjoy most about being a Spa Director?

I enjoy interacting with guests and my team. During interaction with team I try to understand the strength & weakness of the individual team members and support the team members in overcoming the weakness while motivating them to apply their strengths. While interacting with guests, it is a great feeling every time a guest thanks us for recommending a good therapy and letting us know that it really made a difference in their overall sense of wellness. What do you dislike the most?

At times, we find it hard to manage operational follow ups, which need to be addressed by working twice hard on those times. Is your job challenging? Can you point out five challenges?

Some of the challenges of my job are the challenges to consistently boost capture rates, to consistently multiplying client leads, to consistently amplify the average client’s spend, to consistently attracting and retaining better staff quality, and the challenge of consistently realising higher profitability.

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May-June ’14

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

I would like to reduce operational follow ups and invest the same time in interacting with more guests and being an even better spa guide in the process. What direction do you see the Indian spa industry taking in the next ten years?

I foresee that the Indian spa industry would be offering transformational business solutions to provide an enjoyable and meaningful experience; and help in increasing guests’ understanding, awareness and the appreciation of the guests’ own health. At the spas, the guest experience would become an authentic & participatory experience.

Our spa offers lifestyle consultation as well as wellness- oriented customised treatment packages on the basis of preventive healthcare measure rather than curative. Do you have any favourite treatment?

Yes, it is the ‘Siam’ treatment. This is an offering gleaned from Buddhist monasteries where the austere monks perfected the art of preparing the body to make it a temple for the soul. Here, we bring you the same art, combining the use of marma points with traditional Thai Meridien massage. This ritual involves deep tissue body work, the use of gentle rhythmic pressure and stretching. This treatment balances energy flow throughout the body and it uses no oil. Any other point you wish to make?

Nowadays, for travellers a hotel is far more than just a guest room or a fine dining destination. Hotels have broadened their horizons and think about things like spa treatments seriously. A spa is something that all upscale luxury travellers are looking for when they book into an upscale hospitality property. Indeed, our society’s needs in relation to wellness culture have been steadily evolving during the recent years. Today, a leading upscale hotel in the country would be inconceivable without a spa or a wellness centre. At the Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore, a holistic hospitality experience is sure to be experienced through food, stay and Sohum. 


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Profile

HOTEL Business Review

Making Quality Affordable By Swarnendu Biswas Grand Kera Lords Eco Inn, Palakkad

L

ords Hotels & Resorts, the renowned hospitality chain of Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd., has recently come up with a new hotel in Kathmandu. This is the first international property of the chain, which focuses on budget properties. Named Mirage Lords Inn, the 48-room hotel is located at Battisputali road, at a distance of just 1.5km from Tribhuvan International Airport and only 0.5 km from the world famous Pashupatinath Temple, thereby making it very much convenient for both religious and business tourists.

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Recent Inroads It doesn’t deserve a mention that for both these varieties of tourists, the capital of Nepal happens to be an attractive destination. The hotel is around 5km from down town Thamel, Darbar Square and the National Museum, which are among the important sights and sounds of this happening tourist destination. The newly opened hotel’s (it opened in 22ndApril) facilities include a 24 hour multi-cuisine restaurant named Blue Coriander, a bar named Distil, a banquet to host gathering for up to 250 people and

an exclusive board room for 25 people. Of course, high speed Wi-Fi is a feature of the newly opened property. “From the point of view of tourism alone, Kathmandu has massive potential but the city still lacks quality accommodation in affordable range. With the opening of our managed property in Kathmandu, we look forward to bridging this void,” opined Pushpendra R Bansal, Managing Director, Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd.

Owning and Managing Here it deserves a mention that Lords Hotels & Resorts is a chain of 3/4 star value for money hospitality properties. Lords Hotels & Resorts, which has till now 23 properties under its ambit (including the recently opened properties in Kathmandu and Palakkad in Kerala) has significant presence in the state of Gujarat. According to one industry expert, it is the largest Indian hotel chain in the state of Gujarat. Out of these 23 properties, 9 are owned by the company, whereas 14 of them are managed by the company. However, besides Gujarat the brand has its presence in other states too, which include Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Jammu & Kashmir, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. During the last fiscal, the total revenues generated from the then 19 properties


Spa Profile

HOTEL Business Review

under Lords Hotels & Resorts was approximately Rs.90 crore.

The Diverse Portfolio The Lords Hotels & Resorts is sub-divided into four distinct hotel brands, which are Resorts, Plaza, Inn and Eco Inn. Among the four, Eco Inn is the most affordable option. Each of these brands has separate hospitality profile and criteria. “For example, to qualify in our Resorts section, the hospitality property must be spread across a minimum of four acres, and should have rain harvesting facilities as part of its infrastructure requirements and verdant greenery as part of its ambience. Furthermore, all lighting system at the Resorts should be PL or LED, and the properties clubbed under ‘Resorts’ should be endowed with solar energy plants,” explained Bansal. Similarly, according to him, an ‘Inn’ property must have at least two restaurants, whereas, the mandatory F&B requirement for an Eco Inn’ property is only one restaurant. The ‘Plaza’ properties, which are targeted primarily for the business travellers, can be multistoried whereas the ‘Resorts’ cannot go beyond four storied. Presently, the hotel chain has two Resorts properties under its ambit, which are located at Silivasa and Bhavnagar.

Pushpendra R Bansal

Besides these the Lords Hotels & Resorts has presence across eight Eco Inn properties, eight Inn properties and five Plaza properties.

The Growth Chain The hotel chain, which is guided by Bansal’s pragmatic and yet dynamic vision, has aggressive expansion plans, which by Bansal’s admission are not at all affected by the prevailing recessionary phase through which the Indian hospitality industry is presently passing through. “We are planning to increase our portfolio by six by 2015, and by 2016, we are envisaging to have 49 hotels within our chain,” asserted

Bansal. He believes that the present sluggish trend in the Indian hospitality industry will only throw the non serious players out of the race, and if a player has focused vision of growth based on pragmatic financial considerations, she/he need not worry about this transient phase. The six additional hospitality properties which are expected to come under the four distinct brands of Lords Hotels & Resorts by 2015 include one property each in Jammu & Kashmir (to be an Inn property), Jodhpur (to be an Inn property), Lucknow (to be an Eco Inn property), one in the vicinity of Gir Forest, Gujarat(to be a Resorts property), one in Purulia in West Bengal(to be an Inn property) and one in the MudubaLingapur village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, which is to be clubbed under Resorts.

Innovative Measures The proposed resort in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, which is to be an owned property of Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd. is to be located only 110 km from the Mangalore airport. The property would be endowed with many innovative features, which can attract a galore of discerning tourists. “The resort at Shimoga or more

May-June ’14

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Profile

HOTEL Business Review

precisely at the Muduba-Lingapur village will give an impetus to rural tourism, whose potential is largely unexplored in the country. Besides having conventional rooms, the diverse hospitality options of the resort will be spread across tents, tree top cottages and also across unique rain drop shaped tents. The raindrop-shaped tents would be hanging 1.5 feet above the ground, and they would be accessed though ladder,” affirmed Bansal. The raindrop-shaped tents would be equipped with twin bedding facilities; for adults as well as children, thereby endowing the element of adventure and novelty in family vacations at far from the madding crowd. Besides these three adventurous hospitality options whose total number will be 30, there would be 84 conventional rooms at the resort. The tourists at the resort; the resort which will be located in proximity to the Tunga river and afford the majestic view of the Western Ghats, could enjoy elephant safari, bird safari and lion safari. The cascading Jog Falls can be also one of the important tourist attractions for the guests of the proposed resort, which is on the anvil. Besides providing enchanting options for nature and adventure lovers, the resort can also offer great opportunity for religious tourism. From the proposed resort, one can also explore the nearby Jain pilgrimage sites like Moodabidri, Humcha, Karkala, Sringeri, and Horanadu. The resort can be construed as a health resort, whose time has come in our post-modern India, which has a teeming population afflicted with a range of lifestyle diseases. “At the resort in Shimoga, the focus would be on healthy living and eating. The provision of organic food would be supplemented with the provision

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of our in-house nutritionists and dieticians (two nutritionists and two dieticians) who would advise the guests on healthy eating. There would also be an in-house doctor to make regular health check-ups for the guests Moreover, regular walking of 1 km would be mandatory for the guests desiring to stay at the resort,” explained Bansal. He said that as the breakfast and lunch area of the sylvan resort would be at different places with walking distance between them, this may induce the habit of walking even among many sedentary souls. “The resort will have a swimming pool, which will be half of that of Olympic-size and besides that there would be provision for games like tennis, badminton and table tennis, etc. which can attract a galore of sports lovers to the proposed resort,” proffered the savvy hotelier.

Budget and Vision Besides sharing his optimistic vision for his growing hotel empire, Bansal also expressed great hope on the newly elected Modi government and believed that the current Prime Minister would lead a proactive stance towards tourism and hospitality, thereby leading to better days ahead for the industry, in the near future. The dynamic entrepreneur also suggested some measures which can give a fillip to the growth of the Indian hospitality industry. “The stamp duty fee which is levied for procurement of plots for hotels should be reduced by 50 percent, the state electricity surcharge on hotels should be done away with as should be the luxury taxes imposed on hotels in India,” he averred, while emphasising on massive development for those

infrastructure (road, transport, etc.) which are conducive to the growth of the tourism and hospitality sector in the country. The hotelier focuses his growth on quality budget hotels, which he pragmatically believes does hold great future in an essentially price-sensitive economy like India, where guests are increasingly showing the trend towards desiring quality hospitality at affordable prices. “Nowadays, globalisation and overseas travels in increasing numbers have induced the guests to harbour evolved preferences necessary for demanding premium hospitality, but at the same time they want their guest satisfaction met within affordable prices. This has resulted in increasing demand for quality budget hotels and resorts across the country,” explained Deepak Sethi, President, Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd.

The Right Route The route of Bansal’s ambitious expansion plan passes through the tier-II and tier-III cities. “With rising disposable incomes and global awareness, nowadays the tier-II and tier-III cities also have a huge latent market segment for quality hospitality, which we want to tap vigorously,” aired Bansal. Moreover, nowadays many of today’s new-age tourists who do travel to the tier-II and tier-III cities for these cities’ tourist attractions (for example Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad, etc.) or for their business potential (for example Panipat, Kolhapur, Karnal, etc.) do want to stay in quality hospitality accommodations. The numbers of these discerning breed of tourists have gone much beyond than they were say a decade-and-a-half ago, and their reach have percolated from upper to middle classes. “Gone are the days, when middle class teenagers were satisfied staying in dharmshalas and guest houses during their leisure travels with the family. Now a great many of them demand quality accommodation with comprehensive range of amenities during their travels, and they influence the decision maker/s in their family to make a likewise choice. This has contributed towards greater growth potential for the Indian hospitality sector across tier-II and tier-III cities,” pointed out Sunil Mathur, Corporate Advisor, Lords Inn Hotels & Developers Ltd., while adding, “a potential which we are translating into a reality.” 


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HOTEL Business Review

SPIC AND SPAN WITHOUT A MAGIC WAND!

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? This is the solution kitchen and housekeeping employees around the world would love to have. Especially when it comes with the manager’s nod of approval and the regular customer’s cheerful smile. That’s the kind of thing that sets you free. IFB’s commercial range of Dishwashers and Washing Machines are a must have in any professional kitchen or laundry. Take a look at some of their special features that make life easier for you, day after day after day. An IFB Commercial Dishwasher is a huge convenience because it acts tough on dirt and gentle on utensils. It cleans at 55ÚC and rinses at 85ÚC, making sure that the dishes come out sparkling clean. Moreover it fits in everything, from the tiniest teaspoon to fancy big plates and expensive wine glasses in its spacious and flexible racks. For tougher stains, the Power Wash option creates extra water pressure for a thorough cleaning. The drying system is also hygienic as the steam cleaned utensils come out with the perfect glaze, without the use of any cloth. And finally, the Dishwasher is so user friendly that even a person who has landed on the job for his first day can make a striking impression. Now that’s when the smiles really brighten up the room. The IFB Commercial Washing Machine is also a great investment when it comes to performance and functionality. This state-of-theart appliance takes the stress out of bulk washing at the push of a button. Designed from advanced and patented technologies, the washing machine comes with multiple heating options to deliver spotless clean clothes, from tough tablecloths to soft and fluffy bathrobes, in very little time. Get your business the IFB advantage and earn countless happy smiles, the kinds that set you free! IFB Industries idw_marketing@ifbglobal.com

BIO METRIC LOCKS

Ozone’s new Bio Metric Range of Locks enable you have a Bio Metric Finger Print Lock for glass or wooden door. May it be the entrance of the house, room or office, these locks provide the highest level of security that any lock can provide. Ozone offers a wide range of options in these locks i.e. with IC Card Reader, RF Card Reader, Numeric Key Pad etc. Each lock is having unique feature to be installed in the ideal required location. The locks have the capacity to 100 passwords / finger prints with ability to reset the complete memory or delete any individual to whom access has to be limited. The locks can also be programmed to provide a log of usage, by whom, when etc. Offered along with the Ozone advantage of widespread availability backed by a dependable service network, these locks take door security to a new level. Ozo Motion Division - Ozone Overseas Ltd. ozone@ozone-india.com

Product Preview SMOKING CABINS FOR AIR-CONDITIONED AREAS S.N. Global, all- India distributor for Smoke Solution, Denmark has introduced Smoke Point Smoking Cabins for the Indian hospitality industry. It is a highly efficient Smoking Cabin that makes it possible for smokers and non-smokers to socialise without the risk of passive smoking. It consists of a cabin which has powerful filters that purify the smoke filled air. The big fireproof stainless steel ashtray can contain up to 3500 cigarette butts. The cabin emanates no foul odour and the sensor based cabin is also quite effective in terms of saving energy cost. Designed to make maintenance hassle free, the cabins also require no ducting. It has recently won the Award of Excellence for Best Product in Indoor Air Quality at the ACREX 2011. Such smoking cabins can immensely help the restaurants or bars of the hotels to increase the revenue as they encourage the guests to stay in the bars for longer period of time. The smoking cabins are immensely popular in the hospitality industry of Europe. It is already in use in many high end hotels, bars and restaurants across India such as Wyndham Hotels, Golfworx, F Bar, Rockman’s Beer Garden etc. Smoke Solution India / S.N. Global shashi.sngm@gmail.com

MAINI FOSTERS MOBILITY IN HOSPITALITY

Maini Group has a track record of forward-looking innovation, whether it was the ‘mass produced’ green electric car named Reva or the Electric Buggy. Maini Buggy is a new-age drive that can help you to reach a cleaner, greener and better tomorrow. Its smart design & engineering, combined with state-of-the-art technology, has made it extremely efficient and cost-effective. The equipment can be easily manoeuvre for driving within enclosed campuses. In addition to passenger buggies with 2/4/6/8/11/14 seating options, Maini Group has engineered and customised buggy solutions for front office /luggage/ cargo/ material, food & beverage, housekeeping / laundry transfer applications catering to hospitality industry. All these buggies are manufactured in a state-of-the-art ISO 9001: 2008 certified facility in Bangalore, which carries design, development, manufacturing & testing functions. Maini Materials Movement Pvt. Ltd. aparupa.das@maini.com

The information published in this section is as per the details furnished by the respective manufacturer/distributor. In any case, it does not represent the views of Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

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Interview

HOTEL Business Review

Winning People, Creating Loyalties By Sharmila Chand What is the USP of your property?

Virender Razdan, General Manager, ITC Windsor, Bengaluru, began his career with Hyatt Regency Delhi. After a fruitful tenure with Hyatt, Razdan moved to other renowned hospitality chains. He has had successful tenures with renowned hotel chains like Hilton and Oberoi. Thereafter, Razdan moved to ITC Hotels, where he has had stints with ITC Maratha and ITC Sonar. Razdan is engaged in core management of ITC Windsor, Bengaluru. His expertise lies in wines. He is one of the proficient wine connoisseurs across the country and this skill of his has taken him globe-trotting. According to him, each of these tours of his has been a learning experience for him. His enthusiasm, drive and commitment, together with his planning, man-management and team building abilities have contributed to his vision as a leader. Razdan is enjoying his present tenure and is all set to meet the future challenges. The excerpts of the interview follow:

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The location and old-world charm coupled with great luxury is the prime USP of ITC Windsor, Bengaluru. The hotel is situated in the heart of the city. Overlooking the spectacular greens of the Bangalore Golf Club, and a stone’s throw away from the Bangalore Palace, the hotel is conveniently situated for both business and leisure. In addition, ITC Windsor, Bengaluru is now the most conveniently connected luxury business hotel to the new Bengaluru International Airport. The period appeal, the warm service, and the comfort and luxury can provide an exceptional and an unforgettable experience for the guests. In fact, what differentiates ITC Windsor, Bengaluru from other competitors are its gracious, impeccable, efficient and warm service. It is no wonder that this landmark hotel of Bangalore has played host to several illustrious and distinguished guests and world leaders.

What according to you is the role of F&B in getting business for a hotel?

In the recent years it is evident that guests have become more demanding when it comes to food and beverage quality and dining experience. As such, a guest’s experience with food & beverage happens to influence a crucial role in his or her overall hotel experience and consequently, food & beverage has been credited to be as an important factor for driving hotel rooms’ revenues. A delicious meal coupled with the positive emotions exuded by the restaurant and its service associates increases the guest’s likelihood to come back to the property.

What would you say is the differentiating factor of your F&B outlets?

The ITC Windsor, Bengaluru displays variety and authenticity of cuisines across its five restaurants. ITC Windsor, Bengaluru has become famous as the hotel ‘where the city dines’. The authenticity of our dishes is the single most important distinguishing factor of our food & beverage options. ITC Windsor, Bengaluru continues to unveil its global kitchen with an Indian heart. What is the most crucial issue to tackle in the Indian hospitality industry these days?

I would say safety & security are the most crucial issues to tackle for today’s hospitality industry. The recent events have turned the Indian hospitality industry’s focus on safety and security issues in a much bigger way than it was say a decade before. To tackle the possible threats to guests’ safety and for ensuring data protection, the hospitality industry needs to not only maintain stringent safety and security levels on a continual basis, but also needs to increase its safety and security levels without adversely impacting the guests’ satisfaction or the day-to-day operations of the hotel.

What do you enjoy most about being at the helm of affairs at the hotel?

Orchestrating the hotel operations to a flawless symphony is an aspect which I enjoy the most about my job. How do you de-stress?

A good game of golf and spending quality time with my family help me to de-stress. What is your working mantra or your guiding philosophy at work?

Completing my work within precise time-frame, leading by example, winning over people and creating loyalties are my guiding philosophy at work.


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Hotel Business Review ( May-June 2014) The magazine for Hotel Professionals.  

We have again covered factors governing the sustainability of hotels in the Indian hotel industry, in this two part story. Here in the concl...

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