Page 1 Corporate Office:

Amoda Comfort Linen

(A Division of South India Linen Manufacturers (P) Ltd.

# 1, Ground Floor, 1st Cross, Koramangala, 6th Block, (Opp: Indian Oil Petrol Bunk) Bangalore - 560 047 (KA) INDIA Tel: +91 80 25 744 766, Cell: +91 94800 25000 Email:

Vol 8 No.20 AUGUST 1-15, 2013

Chairman of the Board Viveck Goenka Editor Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor Steena Joy


Associate Editor Sudipta Dev CONTENT TEAM Mumbai


A tryst with the past


Kahini Chakraborty, Rituparna Chatterjee Kolkata Joy Roy Choudhury Editorial Associates Marcellus Baptista, H A Mishra, Harpal Singh Sokhi, P S Sundar, M S Ram Advisory Board Anil Madhok, Rajeev Chopra, Santosh Shidhaye, Homi Aibara, Param Kannampilly, K V Simon, Jiggs Kalra, Jose Dominic, Raju Shahani, N S Bhuie, Nirmal Khandelwal, Muralidharan Menon, Narendra Verma, Prakash Mankar, M Narayanan MARKETING General Manager Sachin Shenoy Marketing Team Dattaram Kandalkar, Rajan Nair Marketing Coordination Darshana Chauhan Asst.Manager - Scheduling & Coordination Arvind Mane CIRCULATION Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION General Manager B R Tipnis




Lavasa focused on being a major convention

Interview: Susie Ellis, CEO and president,

A new look at PMS

Global Spa & Wellness Summit



destination PAGE 06

Plugging in to smart

Vizhinjam port project may



spell doom for south Kerala tourism PAGE 06

Manager Bhadresh Valia Layout Ratilal Ladani, Kiran Parker

RezNext partners with Yatra and Travelguru to offer hotel booking

Asst. Art Director Surajit Patro Chief Designer



Kerala's first Greek


Pravin Temble Senior Graphic Designer Rushikesh Konka Photo Editor Sandeep Patil

Express Hospitality Reg.No.MH/MR/SOUTH-44/2013-15 RNI Regn. No.MAHENG/2005/21391. Published by Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of the Proprietor The Indian Express Limited from Express Towers, 2nd floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 and Printed by her at the Indian Express Press, at Plot No.EL-208, TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai 400 710 (Editorial & Administrative :The Indian Express Ltd, 1st floor, Express Towers, Nariman Point, Mumbai-400021). Editor Reema Lokesh* (* Responsible for selection of matter under PRB Act) Copyright @ 2011

The Indian Express Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited.



restaurant to open at The Raviz Kollam PAGE 08

Securing the future

Massive Restaurants to open 8 outlets this FY



QuiTe classy



Sundus and Rotana invest in Oman Vision 2020’s drive for tourism PAGE 11 FAITH initiates meeting of state tourism ministers in New Delhi under aegis of MoT PAGE 13


South African pizza brand Debonairs plans to open 7 to 10 outlets in Mumbai PAGE 15

Editor’s Note New Kids on The Block Product Tracker Movements





August 1-15, 2013


Luxurious legacy


rguably in the mindset of the foreigner or international traveller, even today the first brand recall when picturing India is its havelis, palaces and in a nutshell its heritage and culture. We are blessed with the most diverse heritage structures, architectural splendours especially when it comes to our internationally acclaimed palaces and havelis. These structures are legendary and surely there is an aspiration related to it, to live within the space of luxury and royalty even for a day, for a price. The Indian palaces have been much sought after as wedding destinations just like the castles of the west. India is probably one of the best luxury tourism products in the world. Luxury surely comes with a price but it is interesting to note that luxury heritage options are opening up doors to a new segment of travellers, who are getting the opportunity to experience a form of tourism that was initially unexplored due to both price and accessibility. The good news is that luxury heritage hotels are redefining themselves which will go a long way in nurturing tourism in a refined manner. They are being innovative, participative and are going all out in providing the guests an all encompassing tourism experience. Our cover story this issue focuses on this steadily emerging face of heritage hotels in India, which no doubt is traditional and classic but also contemporary enough to make today’s traveller feel comfortable within the old world charm.


Further, this is also the month wherein we will be celebrating our 67th Independence Day and heritage hotels in India do have a connection with India’s pre-independence saga. Hotels in India have also evolved over the years and it’s time for the decision makers in the government to also provide the industry with reasonable and encouraging policies to make the sector business friendly. Most hospitality conventions and conferences today interestingly touch upon a sensitive topic on whether hoteliers are making money. This is a rather serious question that one is seeking an answer.

Our Associate: Dinesh Sharma Mobile: 09810264368 E-mail:


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Reema Lokesh Editor

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For Advertising enquiries, please E-mail August 1-15, 2013





RezNext partners with Yatra and Travelguru to offer hotel booking facilities PG 7 Kerala's first Greek restaurant to open at The Raviz Kollam PG 8 Massive Restaurants to open 8 outlets this FY PG 9


Lavasa focused on being a major convention destination Increase in rooms inventory to 1700 by 2017-18 SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


avasa International Convention Centre (LICC) is one of the few state-of-the art largest convention centres in the country, and the only one besides a picturesque lake. The year 2012 saw 165 conventions and seminars being held at LICC with an increase of 37 per cent business in terms of MICE arrivals and revenue. According to Rajiv Duggal, senior vice president – Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure, Lavasa Corporation, the location is ideal for offsite events, team building exercises, etc. “It is the only premium convention centre in a hill station in India,” he pointed out. Spread over an area of 1.5 acres LICC offers 34,500 sq ft of floor space space. There are 16 breakaway halls.

Almost 40 per cent of visitor arrivals to Lavasa comprise of the MICE segment, particularly during weekdays. “Unlike other cities, because we run our tourism division ourself, customers can take multiple accommodation options while booking the convention centre,” added Duggal. The company has from 20 per cent to 100 per cent ownership in all hotel projects. The weekend crowd comprises the leisure segment, and as Duggal proudly pointed out the weekends are booked four weeks in advance. “All hotels are marketed strongly. Packages have been taken by travel agents across the country. Besides Mumbai and Delhi, the feeder markets have also been Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru,” stated Duggal. He acknowledged that the

current inventory of rooms in Lavasa is low – only 225, but March 2014 will see an addition of 200 rooms with the opening of Novotel Hotel. This will also give a fillip to MICE tourism and attract large groups. By 2016 another 500 rooms will be added following the opening of Holiday Inn Express, Vivanta by Taj and Accor Group's Formule 1 hotel. Lavasa comprises of six integrated cities, the first city of Dasve is nearly 80 per cent complete. The next is Mugaon which will be a business hub. Duggal informed that hospitality projects in the second city will include two Langham properties, one ITC hotel, an Oakwood hotel and a Hilton property. Currently under various stages of completion these properties will get completed by 2016. By 2017-2018,

Rajiv Duggal the total rooms inventory will add up to 1700. “The hotels will cater to all categories – from affordable hospitality like Formule 1 to high-end brands like Hilton and Taj,” he stated. Similarly, F&B will also be ramped up from the current option of 13 restaurants.

Vizhinjam port project may spell doom for south Kerala tourism At least 40 resorts in the project area will be affected, Kovalam coastline may be eroded STEENA JOY – Thiruvanathapuram




he proposed `6,000 crore Vizhinjam port project coming up in south Kerala does not bode well for tourism in God's Own Country. More than 40 resorts will be impacted directly, both small and big including reputed resorts like Somatheeram Ayurvedic Resort, Ayurbay Beach Resort, Coconut Bay Beach Resort, Sagara Beach Resort. The South Kerala Hotelier's Forum (SKHF) and the South India Hoteliers and Restaurants Association (SIHRA) together with 31 resorts in the proposed project area have submitted a memorandum to the state government for reconsidering the site of the container terminal. The port will cover two km of direct coastline

and a ship channel of another two km so a total of four km of the KovalamVizhinjam stretch will be lost to the tourism industry. Speaking to Express Hospitality, Cyriac Kodath, a member of SKHF and director, Coconut Bay Beach Resort, said, “When a study was done in 2010 for site approval, the consultants stated that only three resorts would be affected and that too marginally. But the reality is that nearly 40 resorts , big and small will be directly affected by this project. We have no objections to the port project but data was falsified to obtain clearances for it. The study also does not say anything about the possible environmental damage, biodiversity destruction and the peculiar erosion pattern in the southern coast.”

South Kerala is famous for its beaches and the many Ayurveda resorts that dot the KovalamVizhinjam shoreline. Many resorts like Somatheeram, which are Green Leaf certified Ayurveda centres of international repute frequented by medical tourists worldwide will also be affected. Kodath added, “Apart from the beach resorts impacted directly, more than 160 handicraft and tourism related businesses will also suffer. Nearly 20,000 jobs would be lost. More importantly, the project could change the shoreline and erode the popular Kovalam Beach which lies just 1.3 km from the project site. This could spell disaster for Kerala's tourism industry for which Kovalam is an international identity.” August 1-15, 2013


RezNext partners with Yatra and Travelguru to offer hotel booking facilities EH STAFF - Mumbai


ezNext, the realtime, direct connect and online distribution solution for hotel rooms, has partnered with and The partnership offers and customers, access to real-time information on hotel room availability, ability to book and instantaneous confirmation of their bookings directly from the hotels ERP Software. and are the first online travel agents to adopt

instantaneous confirmation directly from the hotel. Commenting on the partnership, Suresh John, member of board, RezNext stat-

ed, “We are thrilled to be partnering with and, and want to congratulate them on their forward thinking

towards next generation technology adaption. This partnership has enabled and Travelguru to fully automate the hotel

room booking process by making their offering more efficient, real-time and more relevant to their customers.”

DUE TO THIS REAL-TIME CONNECTIVITY, YATRA.COM AND TRAVELGURU.COM WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE ACCURATE INFORMATION TO THEIR CUSTOMERS, AND WHEN A BOOKING IS MADE,THE CUSTOMER WILL RECEIVE INSTANTANEOUS CONFIRMATION RezNext technology that provides two-way connectivity to a hotel’s property management system and showcase real-time hotel inventory. The back-end technology by RezNext has been engineered to display various types of rooms, price per room offered by the hotel based on real-time yield management techniques and more. With this real-time connectivity, and will be able to provide accurate information to their customers, and when a booking is made, the customer will receive

August 1-15, 2013




Kerala's first Greek restaurant to open at The Raviz Kollam The Raviz Dubai to open by October STEENA JOY – Kollam


erala's first Greek restaurant will open this October at The Raviz Kollam. The restaurant to be named Pergola will have 42 covers and serve the best of Greek cuisine. Chef Sunil Nayar, executive chef at The Raviz Kollam will go to Chennai for familiarising himself with the cuisine. The restaurant will offer alfresco dining on a terrace overlooking the Ashtamudi Lake on the banks

of which the hotel stands. Chef Sunil said, “Keralites are opening up to experimenting with new cuisine and flavours. As many of them are travelling globally they are exposed to international cuisines. So we feel that Pergola will be a great value add to The Raviz Kollam.” He added, “Greek cuisine has a lot of similarities to Arabic cuisine and as the Middle East food is very popular in Kerala due to the job market , we hope that people will enjoy Greek cuisine which has a lot of grills and

barbequed dishes.” Arun Kumar, general manager, The Raviz Kollam agrees with Chef Nayar. “Keralites are open to experimentation and a lot of people are travelling the world so they are exposed to international cuisine. Which is one of the reasons we have received a good response for our Sunday Brunch. Brunches are a happening thing in Kollam. Its like a day out for the family – guests can use the pool, have tea/coffee, take a boatride, etc. We also have nearly 800 members on our loyalty card programme who also use the

brunch activity.” The Raviz Kollam is owned by the RP Group headed by entrepreneur Dr Ravi Pillai. The Middle East-based conglomerate recently acquired The Leela Kovalam (though the hotel is still being managed by The Leela group). Another owned property is The Raviz Kadavu, a leisure resort with 123 rooms. A fourth hotel is coming up at Kozhikode. The Raviz Calicut will be a business hotel with 70 rooms and is scheduled to open by thie year-end. More sooner, The Raviz Dubai is slated to open this September-

October. The 126 room business hotel is located in Bur Dubai and will be owned and managed by RP Group.

for us. They agreed to our proposal, after we approached the union tourism secretary to extend their support to the largest young chef competition in the country being currently hosted by IIHM. We are grateful to them for extending the necessary support to this initiative, as this will encourage more youngsters to participate in this competition and will create a huge awareness among the young population of our country who choose tourism and hospitality as their career options.” Conceived by Dr Bose, 'IIHM Young Chef India Schools', is a nationwide culinary competition aimed at spotting budding talent at school and undergraduate level. This year the competition entered its third year. “After the overwhelming response we received for the

inaugural edition, we decided to make it an annual affair. Over the last two years, the event has grown in size and today thousands of high schools across the country participate in this event,” said Dr Bose. Last year, participants from more than 3000 schools across 28 states participated in the competition and the grand finals was hosted by the University of West London, the academic partners of the Group at their Ealing Campus. The winner received `five lakh. This year, student participation has grown up in size and students from more than 5000 schools participated in the prelims and zonal finals of the chef competition are currently underway at the different campuses of the institute. The finals, will once again be hosted by the

University of West London in September 2013. The final will be judged by many renowned chefs including Atul Kochhar – chef owner, Beneras Restaurant and Michelin star chef, Chef Derek Quelsh of Goring Hotel, Chef Andy of Chakra, Chef David Foskett, Chef Sanjay Kak and Chef Shaun Kenworthy amongst others. Meanwhile, after the prelims and zonals, six budding chefs – Simran from Modern High School for Girls -Kolkata, Krisha from Mahaveer Jain PU Bengaluru, Vineet from Jaipur's Tagore International School, Ashutosh from New Delhi's KR Mangalam World School, Krishna from Urmi School, Vadodara and Honeyshaa from St Mira's, Pune have already qualified and will be flown to London by the IIHM Group to take part in the finals.

Chef Sunil Nayar

'Incredible India' extends support to 'IIHM Young Chef India Schools' competition



n a major development, the union ministry of tourism has given its consent to support the ongoing 'IIHM Young Chef India Schools -2013', the countrywide young chef competition, hosted by Kolkatabased International Institute of Hotel Management



(IIHM), part of the IndiSmart Group. The ministry has given its consent to use the 'Incredible India' logo on all the 'branding, publicity and communication articles' of the competition. Commenting on the development, Dr Suborno Bose, chief mentor and chairman, IndiSmart Group said, “This is a big achievement

August 1-15, 2013


Massive Restaurants to open 8 outlets this FY First Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra being launched in BKC Mumbai

concentrated in tier I locations, Made in Punjab will be taken to the tier II and tier III cities. “Our idea is to take Indian food to the next level and make it more interest-

ing,” he said, pointing out that for Masala Library the aim is to have the first Michelin star restaurant in the country. The Mithai Shop will

involve setting up of a centralised kitchen in every city. “That is why we have to be very careful about expansion as there will be several units in one city,” he stated.

Zorawar Kalra SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


assive Restaurants, a company formed earlier this year by Mirah Hospitality and Zorawar Kalra is launching in August its first fine dining premium restaurant - Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra in Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai. The 95-seater restaurant will be followed by a casual dining restaurant, Made in Punjab, in New Delhi after a month. The third brand being introduced by Massive Restaurants - the premium Mithai Shop by Jiggs Kalra, will see the opening of two outlets before the end of this year, the first being in New Delhi.

WE HAVE BEEN VERY FOCUSED ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOCATION AND ARE COMING UP WITH A STRONG PAN INDIA LOGISTIC SYSTEM. WE ARE OPENING FOUR RESTAURANTS IN A FEW MONTHS “We have been very focused on choosing the right location and are coming up with a strong pan India logistic system. We are opening four restaurants in the next two/three months. By the end of the financial year four more restaurants will be launched,” said Zorawar Kalra, founder and MD, Massive Restaurants. The expansion plans include all major cities. While Masala Library will be

August 1-15, 2013



Event Tracker Hospitality Trade Shows in 2013-14





August 01 - 03, 2013

6th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism

Dunhuang, China

August 12 – 13, 2013

Speciality & Fine Food Fair


August 15 – 17, 2013

Hong Kong International Tea Fair

Hong Kong

August 15-19, 2013

Hong Kong Food Expo

Hong Kong

September 6 - 8, 2013



September 8 – 10, 2013

Speciality Chocolate Fair


September 11-13, 2013

Food Ingredients Asia


September 14 – 17, 2013

Le Gourmet


September 16-18, 2013

Economy Hotels World Asia


September 16-20, 2013



September 17-20, 2013

Food & Hotel Malaysia 2013

Kuala Lumpur

September 23-24, 2013

South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference

Bogota (Columbia)

September 23-25, 2013

Annapoorna World of Food India


Sept 29 - Oct 1, 2013

The Hotel Show


October 06 - 09, 2013

Food Technology Show


October 08 – 10, 2013

Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific


Oct 10 – Nov 3, 2013

Salon du Chocolat


October 18 - 22, 2013

HOST 2013


November 10 – 12, 2013

WWM Asia


November 11 – 14, 2013

International Golf Travel Market

Costa Daurada, Spain

November 13 – 15, 2013

FHC China


November 21 – 24, 2013

Seoul International Cafe Show


November 21 – 24, 2013

Coffee Expo Guangzhou


November 23 - 27, 2013

IGEHO 2013


December 14 -16, 2013

International Travel & Hospitality Show 2013


January 14-15, 2014



January 23 - 25, 2014

Food Hospitality World


February 06 – 08, 2014

World Tea and Coffee Expo


February 11 – 13, 2014

Tea & Coffee World Cup - Europe

Warsaw (Poland)

February 12-15, 2014

BioFach 2014

Nuremberg (Germany)

February 23 – 27, 2014



February 25 -27, 2014

Meetings Africa

Johannesburg (South Africa)

April 08 – 11, 2014

FHA Singapore


May 03 – 06, 2015




August 1-15, 2013


Sundus and Rotana invest in Oman Vision 2020’s drive for tourism EH STAFF - Mumbai


undus Investments Projects LLC has signed an agreement with Rotana Hotel Management Company to manage its new project Sundus Arjaan by Rotana. The agreement comes close on the heels of Sundus Investments’ recently concluded alliance with Rotana to manage its first four-star Sundus Rotana Muscat corporate and conference hotel that is taking shape at Airport Heights in Bousher. Scheduled to be completed in two years’ time, ground breaking for the US$ 40 million projects will commence in July 2013. The two properties will collectively span approximately 40,000 sq metres and contribute to driving Oman’s ambitious mandate for the tourism sector as outlined in Vision 2020. Mohammed Mahfood Saad Al Ardhi, chairman, Sundus Investments Projects LLC, said, “Rotana is the ideal partner to realise our aspirations for the hospitality landscape in Oman. With their experience in hotel management, we are confident of achieving our project goals that will serve to inspire more investors in Muscat to foray into the tourism and hospitality sectors.” He added, “Our projects in Oman are in line with the overall objective of the National Tourism Development Plan that prioritizes the social and economic development of the Sultanate. It also supports Oman’s Vision 2020 that aims, among other things, to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the economy by achieving an annual GDP growth of 7.4 per cent and bring in about 12 million tourists annually by 2020. As part of Sundus Investments’ commitment to this goal, we are looking at launching a series of hospitality projects in Oman in the short term.” Selim El Zyr, president and CEO, Rotana, said, “Oman has always been a targeted market for our group

August 1-15, 2013

as it has all the essential components to emerge as a leading tourism destination in the region. Sundus Investments’ projects complement our expansion plans

and offer us an opportunity to consolidate our status in the market with two of our top brands.” Aman Aditya Sachdev, senior vice president- India,

Rotana also added, “The Indian market has consistently been a key source market for Rotana’s Middle East and Africa portfolio and is also currently the largest inbound

source market for Oman. We are positive that our upcoming properties in Oman shall witness a great response from Indian outbound travellers.”




NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK WelcomHotel Dwarka, New Delhi ITC Hotels has further expanded its bouquet of premium hotels with the opening of the WelcomHotel Dwarka, New Delhi in the National Capital Region. This new addition, which is a 393room property, will be managed by ITC Hotels under the WelcomHotel brand. The hotel has over 1600 sq metres of dedicated meeting and convention spaces, a fitness centre and salon services. The hotel has four food & beverage outlets: an all-day dining restaurant, Pavilion 75; ITC Hotels’ culinary brand, K&KKebabs & Kurries; Shanghai Club, a fine-dining Chinese restaurant and the erstwhile favourite night-life destination of Delhi; Ghungroo.

INTERNATIONAL Taj Palace, Marrakech Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has opened Taj Palace, Marrakech, marking the launch of the brand’s third opening in Africa and increasing Taj’s international portfolio to 17 hotels. With 161 rooms, guests can stay either in the palace, which has 25 suites and a Royal Suite, or in one of the four themed riads. Taj Palace Marrakech

Regency hotel in Moscow. Expected to open in 2017, Hyatt Regency Moscow Istra Resort will join the luxurious Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow already open in the city. Located on the shores of the famous Istra Reservoir, Hyatt Regency Moscow Istra Resort will feature 168 guestrooms and 52 extended-stay apartments, as well as a conference centre with a 3,760 square-foot (350-squaremetre) ballroom, a spa, and a fitness centre with indoor and outdoor pools.

New Sheraton, Le Meridien Hotels, USA Starwood plans to open both a Sheraton and Le Méridien hotel in Charlotte in the United States, as part of a US$ 20 million conversion and renovation project in the city's CBD area. Sheraton Charlotte Hotel and Le Méridien Charlotte will each occupy one tower of a massive hotel complex currently operated as The Blake Hotel. The Sheraton Charlotte Hotel will open on August 15, 2013, followed by Le Méridien Charlotte in January 2014. Sheraton Charlotte Hotel and Le Méridien Charlotte will each have their own porte-cochere, entrance and lobby and will share a 24-hour fitness centre, spa, indoor and outdoor pools and pool bar, underground parking and 55,000 square feet of meeting space. features several dining options, serving a range of cuisines from Moroccan specialities with a Mediterranean twist at Rumi, to the finest flavours from Asia at fusion restaurant Mantra. Meanwhile the Bombay Club offers a taste of India along with the finest cognacs and cigars. Currently under completion, the hotel will also house an extensive Taj Spa. Offering a range of treatments, including Moroccan therapies, the spa will feature 14 treatment rooms, two large hammams and a fitness centre, spread across 3,800 square metres.

Hyatt Regency Moscow Istra Resort Hyatt Hotels has announced that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a management agreement with Istra-Kurort a Russian real estate development company, for a Hyatt



Courtyard by Marriott Aberdeen Airport Hotel, Scotland Marriott has expanded its portfolio of Courtyard by Marriott hotels, with the opening of the 194 room Courtyard by Marriott Aberdeen Airport Hotel in Scotland.The Courtyard Aberdeen Airport Hotel is located a five minutes walk from Aberdeen airport and six miles from the city centre. The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre is also nearby. The hotel’s 194 guestrooms feature work space, task lighting and multiple plug outlets. Hotel facilities include an all-day bistro restaurant, meeting room, business lounge and gym, while free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.

August 1-15, 2013


FAITH initiates meeting of state tourism ministers in New Delhi under aegis of MoT EH STAFF - Mumbai


ithin months of its launch; FAITH (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality), under the aegis of the ministry of tourism (MoT), initiated the coming together of tourism ministers and secretaries of all states, under one roof at the ‘National Tourism Ministers’ Conference’ held at the ITC Maurya, New Delhi. Chaired by Dr K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, the meet was aimed at discussing strategies to leverage the tourism potential of the country. As chairman of FAITH, Nakul Anand, was called upon to present the

mended the efforts of Anand and the industry associations whilst expressing his gratitude. This initiative by FAITH is the first step towards accomplishing the goals that

FAITH had set during its launch. This will be followed by sustained engagements with individual state tourism ministries and industry bodies, which begun in New Delhi and will

be followed in Mumbai next month and other states subsequently. Situated in the NCR, FAITH, is a non-government, not-for-profit Indian tourism and hospitality led

and managed society, aimed at being a catalyst for the growth and development of the travel, tourism, hospitality, aviation, transport, convention, adventure and related industries.

THIS INITIATIVE BY FAITH IS THE FIRST STEP WHICH WILL BE FOLLOWED BY SUSTAINED ENGAGEMENTS WITH INDIVIDUAL STATE TOURISM MINISTRIES AND INDUSTRY BODIES tourism’s potential and its impact on the socio-economic development of the nation in addition to its potential to generate employment and create sustainable livelihoods. He emphasised on the role of tourism as an abetter to the GDP growth of the country and urged the states to dovetail the efforts initiated at the centre with those at the state level to maximise the tourism potential of India. He further pledged FAITH’s support as a catalyst through platforms for engagement and strategic interventions to address the key challenges of the industry. Lauding the efforts of FAITH in conceptualising this event, Chiranjeevi com-

August 1-15, 2013




PRODUCTS TRACKER The Great Eastern Home The Great Eastern Home has launched two exclusive sofastraditional Chesterfield style sofa and contemporary style Leather and upholstery Sofa. The exclusive Chesterfield sofa is a symbol of its fine craftsmanship and durability. The contemporary style leather and upholstery sofa is in L shape.

Episode Episode has launched an exclusive line of silver pots, planters and vases. These are a available in silver-plated and sterling silver. The Graffiti vase is priced at `6727; Organic Planter Large is for `11837.35; Organic Planter Medium is `9157.4; Planter Elite Large is priced at `14647.5 and the planter Elite Small costs `11067.

RealLife dishwasher from Electrolux Electrolux has launched the RealLife dishwasher which is designed for real-life loads of pans, plastics and cooking utensils, not just standard place settings. The dishwasher is part of the company’s new Inspiration Range, which offers full visual alignment across all product categories. The product is priced in the range of `58,000-`91,000. Major new features include: • AutoFlex, the world’s first truly automatic programme uses a laser-precision digital light beam to measure how dirty the water is 2,000 to 9,000 times per cycle and continuously adjust the temperature and water accordingly. • FlexiWash, which uses different temperatures in the top and bottom to treat glasses gently while giving pans an intensive wash in the same load. • XtraPower, with increased cleaning power and 40 per cent higher water pressure • MyFavourite programme, which lets consumers set their most used programme and options combination.

Addison Bath Collection from Delta Faucet Company Delta Faucet Company has introduced its innovative Touch2O.xt Technology in India with its latest offering the Addison Bath Collection. Inspired by the scalloped shape of seashells, the collection bridges the gap between form and function in the bathroom. The Addison Bath Collection is embedded with a number



of innovative technologies such as DIAMOND Seal Technology, MultiChoice Universal Valve Trim, and its highlight feature the Touch2O.xt Technology. The Addison collection features a full collection of lavatory faucet, tub filler and bath and shower trim in chrome.

Cooper ECOPACK Cooper Corporation, an engine major has introduced cost efficient and ecofriendly diesel generators under the brand name 'Cooper ECOPACK'. The low fuel consumption generator is lighter in weight, smaller in size and meets with US and European emission norms. It is available in power ranging from 10 KVA - 180 KVA. The 10 KVA to 40 KVA genset range is powered by a Twin cylinder, in line, four-valve, and liquid cooled, Cooper diesel engine, based on state-of-the-art CRDi technology. This stand-apart genre of power generators is entirely produced at Cooper Corporation’s assembly plant located at Satara, Maharashtra. The entire range goes up to 180 KVA powered by 3, 4 and 6 cylinder Cooper engines. The 10KVA- 180KVA ECOPACK genset is priced approximately between `two lakh to `8.5 lakh depending on its configuration.

Internal wall cladding from Merino

Merino has introduced a very new concept, Internal Wall Cladding. Internal Wall Cladding is made of inner core of celluloid fibers impregnated with thermosetting resins making it resistant to moisture, termite, scratch, impact, graffiti, etc. Three types of joinery options are available for it i.e., Aluminum Z- Clip, Adhesive based and Riveted. Out of these, Z-Clip and Adhesive based fixing mechanism give the benefit of Invisible Fixing System. The specialty of these mounting mechanisms is that they are easy to install, easy to repair and easy to maintain. A variety of sizes are available with it, including exceptionally large 14'x6' size, thus enabling project optimisation and cost reduction associated with wastage.

Salsa dips from Cornitos Cornitos, the flagship brand of Green Dot Health Foods, has launched salsa dips which are available in three variants: mixed chunky red, green herb salsa and cheesy dips. The products have been priced at `125 for 250 gms.

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South African pizza brand Debonairs plans to open 7 to 10 outlets in Mumbai RITUPARNA CHATTERJEE Mumbai

Kevin Hedderwick

Yogesh Parekh


triple decker pizza, double decker pizza, subway and sandwich looking pizza, along with delivering hot pizzas to the doorstep of the consumer. Elaborating on the decision to open the first outlet in Mumbai, Yogesh Parekh, director, Diwa Hospitality, stated, “Some brands take the decision to go to a smaller city like Pune or Hyderabad and do their market study before entering into the tier one cities. We have taken a deci-

sion otherwise to start with Mumbai because we are confident of our product, and if we are successful in Mumbai, we are there in India.” As for their expansion plans in Mumbai, Parekh added, “We will definitely grow. I have not decided on the locations yet, but it will be in and around Mumbai. We are definitely targeting high street space in renowned malls.” Hoping to compete against leading brands like Dominos Pizza which has set

its footprint strongly in the Indian QSR market, Parekh opined, “There are a lot of additional values, a fresh look to the QSR pizza market in India we are bringing. The last success story was Dominos, which happened around 15 years ago and has been doing well. We feel there is a chance for another brand to make the difference now. The market is mature and ready to accept a new product and that's what we are doing.”


ebonairs Pizza, a pizza chain in South Africa under the brand portfolio of Famous Brand, has opened its first outlet in Mumbai and has plans to setup seven to 10 more outlets in a year. Diwa Hospitality, a subsidiary of the Parekh Group, has been chosen as its franchise for the Indian market. Positioning its pizza offerings as its USP, the company will be offering options like

Starwood introduces Element hotel brand in APAC EH STAFF - Mumbai


tarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Suzhou Science and Technology Town Kexin Cultural Tourism Development to open a newbuild Element hotel in Suzhou Science and Technology Town (SSTT), an eco-city located in the heart of Suzhou National New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (SND), in the west area of Suzhou and adjacent to Tai Lake. Slated for completion in mid-2015, the hotel, Element Suzhou Science and Technology Town (Element Suzhou), marks the Element brand’s entry to Asia Pacific,

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as well as the presence of all of Starwood’s nine differentiated lifestyle brands in the region. Launched in 2008, the Element brand has made history as the only major global hotel brand to mandate that all of its properties pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for high-performance buildings. More than just a ‘green’ hotel brand, Element hotels are designed to provide the balance that business and leisure travellers need to thrive on the road. “We are delighted to introduce the Element brand in Asia Pacific with this hotel in China, our fastest growing and most dynamic travel


market. Chinese travellers are open to, and seek out, innovative and affordable hotel brands, and Element’s arrival not only completes Starwood’s brand line-up, but also echoes the growing consciousness of sustainable development in China,” said Qian Jin, president, Greater China, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Robert Zhang, vice president, acquisitions & development, Greater China, added, “The Element brand with its trailblazing eco-wise proposition, is a great fit with SSTT’s green concept. We expect this new property to become a flagship Element hotel, resetting the bar on hotel innovation and sustainability in the region.” EXPRESS HOSPITALITY



‘India is well positioned for a robust, fast-growing spa and wellness tourism sector’ The upcoming Global Spa & Wellness Summit in New Delhi will see a gathering of some of the best known experts from around the world. Susie Ellis, CEO and president, Global Spa and Wellness Summit talks about why India is the natural choice for the Summit this year and how it will positively impact the industry in the country. By Sudipta Dev

What are the reasons for holding the Global Spa & Wellness Summit in India this year? India is one of the fastestgrowing modern spa and wellness markets in the world and a thought-leader in the emerging travel category of wellness tourism, which has explosive potential for our industry. Because wellness and wellness tourism are so vital to the growth of our industry, India was the natural choice for the 2013 Summit. As the birthplace of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, it is one of the world’s true wellness meccas and an ideal place to explore its ancient roots. We knew India would be the perfect place for delegates from around the world to understand their country’s own opportunities in wellness tourism - and explore where we’ve been and where we’re headed. We are grateful to India’s ministry of tourism, which was instrumental in bringing the Summit to India. Is there any particular area that the Summit will focus on this year? The theme of the 2013 Summit is “A Defining Moment”, and participants will experience two-and-one half days packed with toplevel keynote speakers, panels, presentation and workshops, all designed to move



INTERVIEW the industry and attendees in new directions. Each year (this is the seventh) the Summit presents a high-profile speaker line-up, and 2013 will be no exception. For instance, the Summit will open with an up-to-theminute overview of global “big picture” trends from Thierry Malleret, an important global strategist and economist, which will set the stage for high-level education/discussions. And plenty of “pure inspiration” is on the table as well: for example, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the world’s most popular spiritual leaders, is sure to enlighten delegates with his keynote. Attendees will also learn about the powerful impact that South Asian wellness

and healing traditions have had historically around the world, and also the opportunities opening up across this dramatically growing region. On this we’ll hear from the VIPs of the Indian hospitality and tourism space, like Raymond Bickson, managing director & CEO, Taj Hotels & Resorts; Vikram Oberoi, chief operating officer and joint managing director of EIH Limited, the flagship company of The Oberoi Group; and Analjit Singh, chairman and managing director, Max India name just a few. Can you tell us about the Global Wellness Tourism Congress that the Summit will be hosting? This year the Summit will host its first ever Global Wellness Tourism Congress. While more attention has been paid to medical tourism worldwide, the most recent research shows that wellness tourism is already twice as big a market as medical tourism. This Congress will be the first time that an agenda will be focused squarely on global wellness tourism opportunities - from defining and sizing the segment to identifying the best strategies that can help governments and private sector stakeholders further grow this packedwith-potential travel category.

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S|P|A | S|P|E|C|I|A|L The Congress was created because the time is now for our industry to define – and for more countries to start developing – wellness tourism. Our goal - that the ideas and research that come out of this “think-tank” will reverberate with governments, media, and ultimately, consumers, and that wellness tourism will be officially recognised by organisations like the World Travel Organisation and World Travel & Tourism Council. In addition, helping consumers and the media learn about this exciting travel category will no doubt increase participation. The Congress will also feature a rich line-up of tourism experts, like JeanClaude Baumgarten, former president and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). And it will be the first time that ministries of tourism from thirty nations (welcomed by Dr K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, India) are invited to share their current, best strategies and future plans for attracting more leisure and business wellness travellers. SRI International’s new research report, the first to analyse the financial impact of the wellness tourism economy, will also be presented. Any important information regarding the key delegates or agenda for the Summit? Delegates travelling to New Delhi this October will be introduced to provocative new ideas and practical knowledge that will help them shape and grow their businesses. For instance, one panel will feature top industry investors sharing what they most look for when deciding to invest, while another will explore some of the most innovative business concepts emerging across the spa/wellness markets. Other panels are dedicated to corporate social responsibility and ‘must-know’ technology developments on the horizon that aren’t yet public knowledge yet. The inaugural Global Wellness Tourism Congress, which will be held on day one of the Summit, promises to be a business and life changing event, as evidenced by the roster of speakers and its agenda. What is your perception of India as a spa and wellness destination? It is clear that India is poised for a tremendous growth as a spa and wellness travel destination, and we’re August 1-15, 2013

just beginning to see highend spa hotels and resorts emerge and excel. India’s day spa industry is also just beginning, and we know this segment will explode. Both are, of course, being fueled by a fast-growing economy, a rising middle class and a growing concern for fitness and wellness. When you consider the sheer size and population of India, you can see that the possibilities are immense. India is also very well positioned for a robust, fastgrowing spa and wellness tourism sector. Because of its rich, cultural history, and ‘brand advantage’, in wellness, its vast population, its growing economy and new demographics of young people in a better-paying workforce, I would have to say the sky is the limit! Two distinct forces are fueling the Indian spa industry: Wellness tourism is being galvanised by a rising influx of inbound travellers seeking hyper-local, authentic, indigenous experiences – and looking to explore new cultures. India is perceived as one of the true ‘spiritual homes’ of the modern wellness movement and has a powerful and unique ‘wellness halo’ with its ancient, rich history of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation. For example, with 250 million people now actively practicing yoga worldwide, there is a ramped up desire to make a pilgrimage to this wellness home-

land. Big travel trends like adventure travel and spiritual travel (which are all really subsets of wellness tourism) are also putting India on more people’s travel maps. There are numerous examples of Indian-based hotels and resorts fueling the growth of spa and wellness travel, such as Taj Hotels, Resort and Palaces, Oberoi Hotels and The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, all wellestablished, growing, highend hotel players with a strong spa component, incorporating India’s unique cultural and wellness heritage. And look for the launch of Vana, Malsi Estates, a stateof-the art wellness resort coming up in late 2013. Destination spa properties like Ananda in the Himalayas and Soukya also bring a great deal of global attention to the country and India’s spa industry, winning many awards and attracting highprofile international guests. Kaya Kalp Spas, located in numerous high-end Indian

hotels, are growing fast and should continue to thrive. All of these brands have a powerful opportunity to not only expand into more properties, but also to extend their strong brands into products and other wellness-related businesses. Spa/wellness industry growth is also being fueled from within – even more than from without. One critical force is the rising standard of living for millions of people in India, with a young population increasingly embracing spas and fitness and beauty experiences and products. Consider these distinct factors that are driving the growth of spa and wellness in India: Western Baby Boomers practicing yoga want to be immersed in an authentic experience when they travel to India. But young Indian IT executives are more likely to want to experience more luxe, Western style hotels and spas in Mumbai or Delhi, which their parents could never do. So, spas, hotels and wellness businesses in India often have to strike a complex balance: provide the authenticity for inbound tourists and the ‘Westernstyle’ modernity that Indians now seek – as millions of Indian people are now aspiring to new-to-them notions of leisure, consumerism and beauty. How will the Summit positively impact this industry in India ? The 2013 Summit will

receive worldwide attention from the media, the industry and business leaders. Holding the GSWS in India authenticates its position as a leader in spa and wellness and spotlights its rich and authentic traditions. Anyone who has attended a previous Summit can also attest to how important relationship-building is to the experience. The Summit is about facilitating and strengthening relationships among the leading executives, ministers and visionaries from around the world. Delegates from India will take centre stage at this prestigious event. Any other factor that you would like to highlight ? In my view, those attending this Summit will find themselves at the cutting edge of what is happening worldwide in spa and wellness. While specifics have been mentioned in my answers to the questions above, here are a few additional comments about some of the other unique aspects of the Summit that might be of interest. One panel that I am especially excited about is Ancient Healing Traditions. The agenda committee has been careful to gather top expert practitioners in Ayurveda, TCM, as well as the traditions from Tibet and Bhutan. For the first time this year, an onlineInfo graphic competition is part of the Summit. EXPRESS HOSPITALITY



Midmarket wellness Best Western’s first venture into Tamil Nadu is in Madurai, but religious tourism is not what they are looking at. Best Western AVN Arogya plans to take wellness tourism to midmarket segment. By Sayoni Bhaduri


hink of Madurai and Meenakshi Temple is the synonymous thought. One of the biggest and most important pilgrim and religious destinations, it is a veritable profit heaven for the hotel industry. So when you hear that Best Western has found its foot hold in the city you think its priming itself to capture this particular segment of travellers. But with the association with AVN Arogya, Best Western is looking at a completely different track – wellness and Ayurveda. AVN Arogya with its three generation and 80 years of Ayurvedic practices behind it is one of



the oldest Ayurvedic centres in the country. This association between Best Western and AVN Arogya is undoubtedly unique with the ability to cater to both religious and wellness/medical clientèle. Best Western brand too has a unique background. Sudhir Sinha, president and COO, Best Western India explains that the brand is a 70 year old single brand hotel chain with 4,000 hotels in 100 countries. They started as a referral system for highway hotels in the US. As hoteliers found value in them they branded the system. “In India Best Western originally came in 1984, in 2007 they changed

hands and the management moved into the hands of Cabana Hotel Management Services. We have managed to grow the numbers from six to 41 with a key focus on Tier II and III cities,” he adds. The brand is categorised into three – Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier. There are total 28 global sales offices which generate approximately 10,000 room nights daily. To further promote sales, Best Western Check is a commission based system for travel industry professionals. Once registered seventh day of every month commissions are disbursed out on confirmed bookings

made. Best Western AVN Arogya in Madurai is one of the new launches the brand is looking at in the coming years. Some of the upcoming hotels are in Ambala, Bhatinda, Ooty, Tirupati, Kodaikanal, and Jalandhar. “Overall we have identified 152 cities across the country where Best Western hotels will be a best fit. By 2017 we hope to have 100 hotels with 10000 rooms in India. We are also open to management contracts, but this will only be for hotels with 50 rooms or less,” says Sinha. The Madurai hotel complex is spread over 15 acres

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and is promoted as an unique holistic healthcare village. The centre and resort offers holistic wellness programmes encompassing Ayurvedic therapies in conjunction with yoga, meditation, naturopathy, fitness programmes, beauty therapies and counselling. Dr Ramesh Varier, MD and senior physician, AVN Arogya Healthcare is clear that the set up is an Ayurvedic centre first and then a hotel. His company has pioneered in bringing together Ayurveda and con-

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temporary methods of ingestion. “While our focus remains Ayurveda and Ayurvedic treatments we take pride in the fact that we have brought in a modern approach to it,” he says, adding that, “We have created almost 350 patented products; we are the first one to come out with a tablet for Kashayam.” AVN Arogya in Madurai has been in existence for 25 years offering end-to-end Ayurvedic healthcare facilities focussing on both cura-

tive and preventive healthcare. “It was two-three years ago when we decided to expand. We conducted a survey when it came to different Ayurvedic facilities available in the country.” There were two main discoveries. Good hospitals practicing serious Ayurveda did not have any infrastructure or ability to offer hospitality and great Ayurvedic resorts offered great hospitality but limited Ayurveda. Dr Varier saw great potential in bringing these two elements together.

“As promoters we are medical specialists with no hospitality background that is why we tied up with Best Western,” he adds. Of the total capacity, 20 rooms have been branded as Best Western AVN Arogya. The main hospital has 100 rooms and 50 cottages. The hospital provides three categories of rooms – Deluxe room, Classic villa and Deluxe villa. The villas also have an attached therapy room allowing guests to take Ayurvedic treatments in the privacy of

their rooms. Sinha adds that the current ARR for the hotel is about `3,500 and with a complimentary consultation with the doctors at the hospital it is a great deal. Other services in the hotel include gym and fitness area, meditation area, internet café, three dining options and two dedicated conference area. Best Western already has wellness based hotels in Kolkata and another one in Dehradun. “This tie-up signifies that Best Western is the brand of choice even in health, fitness and treatments in the midscale segment,” says Sinha. “We already cater to many international customers for our Ayurvedic treatments and this association will help us in increasing our visibility and customer base further. Best Western follows global best practices and adheres to strict guidelines,” mentions Dr Varier. Of the international markets Germany is one of the biggest for Ayurveda followed closely by Malaysia and Singapore. And now they look forward to reach out to Indians as well.



QuiTe classy A painstaking restoration process melding two of Sydney’s grandest and most prominent historical buildings (the State Theatre and Gowings) has created one bold and unique hotel, QT Sydney. By Steena Joy

first vertical shopping centre. This closed during the depression and became the office of AHL until May 2011. The Gowings Building and the State Theatre were then merged to become QT Sydney.

Design driven


riginally designed by famed department store architect Crawford H Mackellar, the Gowings Building in Sydney’s CBD was constructed between 1912 and 1929. The interwar commercial Palazzo style building with Gothic features was a men’s specialty retailer and had specialty stores above the department store such as tailors, hatters, hairdressers, etc. In 2006 AHL (parent company of QT Hotels & Resorts)) bought the building after the department closed. The grand State Theatre is another extraordinary example of eclectic architecture, mixing cinema baroque with elements of Gothic, Italian and art deco design. The interiors of the State Theatre feature rare original artworks and fixtures from William Dobell and Charles Wheeler, two of Australia’s most significant artists. The building which was developed by Union Theatres (now AHL) has a rich history of glamour with the theatre opening to a great fanfare in 1929 and and above the theatre was Australia’s



QT Sydney is part of a growing global trend towards luxury, design-driven hotels offering guests a unique insight into the city and neighbourhood they are visiting. With the façade of the building returned to its former glory, the inside has retained its old world appeal through thoughtful integration of new technology, distinctive art mediums and cutting edge emerging artists. While Nic Graham designed the public spaces, Shelley Indyk designed the rooms. To ensure impact on arrival, QT Sydney’s art consultants, designers and architects worked to bring the history and rich fabric of both buildings together through an energetic collection of original artwork and graphics. The bold design of the hotel is set off by the historical features forming a space that serves not just as a lobby, but as a leisure playground in the evenings. A striking LED wall of digital art is a feature of the public areas within the hotel, adding a dramatic and intriguing element to it. Eclectic and quirky artefacts have been brought together from all around the world adding an unusual mix of interesting elements to the August 1-15, 2013

D|E|S|I|G|N cafĂŠ to a bustling aperitivo wine bar. Ascending the lifts, guests are ushered into the lobby, and then up the wooden staircase into Gowings Bar & Grill, a European style brasserie. Guests finish the night off in Gilt Lounge, the after dark party venue. Gowings Bar & Grill is a bustling dining room where ceiling and wall graphics bring the room alive. QT Hotels and Resorts is the brainchild of hospitality

stalwart David Seargeant, managing director, AHL who has been inspired by innovation and creative design found globally in architecture, emerging art, fashion and industrial design. There are three other QT hotels in Australia – QT Gold Coast, QT Port Douglas and the newest addition coming up is QT Falls Creek, a ski resort. Future plans include QT hotels at Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Thredbo.

QT experience. Bespoke furniture, graphics and a strong use of colour are some of the highlights of the design with a bold use of black and white, Yves Klien blue, magenta and citron throughout rooms and suites. Throughout the hotel there are a number of art pieces. Like an old suitcases corner done by Michael Johansson from Sweden. He used about 30 per cent of artefacts from within the buildings prior to their redevelopment and 70 per cent from a vintage store within a four km radius of the hotel. A deep palette of reds, oranges, yellows and whites feature through the 12 unique room styles in the 200 guestroom hotel. Every element of the rooms has been designed specifically for the space; from the design of wardrobes, bedheads and carpets, to the minibars, glass cabinets and materials, each room is individually tailored.

Celebrating the unusual The rooms are a meld of the historical features of each of the buildings, so even though all the rooms have the same design philosophy there are differences such as the Gowings rooms are bright and airy and have original wooden floors whereas the State rooms have exclusively designed carpets and rugs, producing a lush and embracing feel with eccentric touches and embellishments like bowler hat lamps and light fittings. The dark stone bathrooms are accented by signature baths and large separate showers with pin spot lighting for ambience. Focusing on luxury, the many unique variations all celebrate the unusual. Each building has different bespoke furniture to fit with the floors of the building. Hospitality at QT Sydney starts before you even hit the lift. On the Market Street level, Parlour Lane Roasters offers a straight up espresso and a casual bite to eat from breakfast to late afternoon, when the space transforms from August 1-15, 2013





The new diva PG 25 Along the Chao Phraya PG 26 Traditional touch PG 28 Strengthening bonds PG 30

Woodville Palace, Shimla

A tryst with the past As India celebrates her 67th anniversary of Independence, we take a look at India's biggest tourism draws - the many heritage properties that have been painstakingly restored to former glory. While international hospitality majors are introducing their luxury brands in the country, these heritage hotels continue to redefine the concept of luxury, making it exclusive yet affordable for the new age traveller. By Sudipta Dev




rich architectural legacy is India's greatest tourism asset and the many heritage hotels across the country are destinations in themselves. From a 14th century fort in Rajasthan to manor house near the Himalayas to a plantation villa in Kerala – these properties are as varied as the men who have had the vision and passion to convert each into hospitality ventures. "There is absolutely no doubt that old is gold and keeps getting dearer! India’s heritage hotels are unique, and they don’t have all too be extravagant and expressive," says Aman Nath, cofounder and co-chairman, Neemrana

Hotels. He points out that the Neemrana experience is very rooted and real, “We have no pretensions to being what we are not, we call them Neemrana 'non- hotel' Hotels, as none of the buildings you wake up in with us were built to be hotels. We have remodeled them to this purpose, keeping all the oddities and idiosyncrasies which make each heritage property unique." The group properties include grander palaces like Morvi in Gujarat, Baradari in Patiala and the garden palaces of Tijara and The Pataudi Palace. Common hospitality practices like room service or television in individual rooms are

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Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan


Aman Nath

Sunil Sikka

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usually avoided except in city hotels where business travellers come. Similarly, stereotypical receptions of guests (with tilak and a garland) are shunned. The 12tiered Neemrana Fort-Palace in Alwar is built over six acres. Guests can discover the environs on foot or by camel cart, riding to the nearby villages. Neemrana's hill-fort and 18th century step-well both lie at 500 metres. This famine-relief project was once used as a caravanserai by tired

travellers. “Such authenticity and involvement of local heritage and warmth of hospitality is missing in newly created star rated hotels which offer different advantages. Heritage hotels will always be more charismatic,” asserts Aman Nath. As the joint secretary of the Indian Heritage Hotels Association, Joerg Drechsel, creative director, Malabar Escapes believes that sustainability comes naturally with heritage hotels as an

Francis Wacziarg

Joerg Drechsel

Deepa Misra Harris

Kunal Singh Chawra

existing building is given a new lease of life. Further, social responsibility means training and employing local people, which most of the heritage hoteliers do. “Ecology is difficult at times in an old building but with some sensible compromises you can achieve a lot. Malabar House has been the first hotel in India to be certified by Green Globe in 2003,” states Drechsel, adding that, while the overheads of running a heritage property are higher than running a hotel, which has been build for the purpose, however, what a heritage hotel offers its guest is a unique experience, a value that should compensate for the cost. A frontrunner in India's heritage hotel business is WelcomHeritage with 40 hotels across 37 locations in 13 states. Based on the history, size and age of the building these hotels have been categorised into three sub–brands namely, Legends Hotels, Heritage Hotels and Nature Resorts. “Our hotels reflect an elegance of style and artistry which takes our guest for a visit to the bygone era of the Indian history. Most often our heritage hotels are sited conveniently in stunningly scenic locations which make it a unique experience to remember. Hence, these are class apart from the modern hotels,” states Sunil Sikka, head - marketing and business d e v e l o p m e n t , We l c o m Heritage. HRH Group offers regal experiences in island-palaces, museums, galleries, car collections and luxury heritage hotels across Rajasthan. While Shiv Niwas Palace and FatehPrakash Palace in Udaipur and Gajner Palace, Gajner are classified Grand Heritage Palaces, the

group also offers its guests Royal Retreats – properties that provide the heritage experience at lower rates. e.g Shikarbadi Hotel and Garden Hotel in Udaipur, The Aodhi in Kumbhalgarh, Gorbandh Palace in Jaisalmer and others. "Tourists these days, be they foreign or domestic, want to experience something special, to witness local distinctiveness, and connect with a historical past that standardised five-star hotels cannot offer. All hotels and resorts under the HRH Group have this. These were all at some point palaces and private residences of a royal family. No established luxury brand can ever create this from a new build, where every wall, every door, every stone has a story. Heritage hotels allow guests a chance to relive history and understand our evolution, be it cultural, socioeconomic or political,” mentions Kunal Singh Chawra, general manager – sales, HRH Group of Hotels. The Taj Group has four Grand Palaces under its luxury brand, namely Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur, Rambagh Palace – Jaipur, Taj Falaknuma Palace – Hyderabad and Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur. “These heritage properties provide world class facilities, a sense of the rich history of India and a true taste of culture. Luxury when it comes to heritage hotels is in the painstaking details which completely reconstruct the experience,” states Deepa Harris, senior VP-sales and marketing, Taj Group of Hotels.

Unique experiences It is the quintessential experiences that each heritage property offers that is the greatest draw for the guest. "The joy of old walls, of




history’s story told from so close – compensate for some of the inconveniences of multi levels, stairways, distances," states Francis Wacziarg, cofounder and co-chairman, Neemrana Hotels. He points out that Neemrana tries, with whatever minimal intervention possible, to make the 14th,15th,16th – or later centuries inhabitable. WelcomHeritage focuses on the concept of ensuring a great holiday for its guests. According to Sikka guest will find an atmospheric, boutique experience, far removed from standardised resemblances accommodation that combines a slice of heritage with modern amenities, an amalgamation of the local flavour in cuisine, the craft and the cultural vignettes. With hotels that range from a lodge in a wildlife forest reserve to a palace or haveli – each property has a secret to share, a story to tell. Malabar Escapes offers a circuit of travel experiences that allow travellers to discover the variety of Kerala with the least possible road travel. “In fact most of our guests stay in more than one of our properties. We believe that the essence lies in the multi-layer of experiences that we offer to our guests. Culture, heritage, design, people, culinary, spa, yoga,” states Drechsel. The target clientele is both domestic and international traveller – mostly from Europe with growing market from USA, Australia, Africa and Asia. Malabar Escapes is popular with FIT as well as small selected groups for culinary, yoga or cultural travel. There has been a growing request for family travel experiences as well. One of the unique services of The Taj Grand Palaces is the ‘Historical Walk designed to recreate palace life as it had been in the yesteryears and to give a sneak peak into the bygone eras of princes and Maharajas. “Palace butlers keep listeners enthralled with insights into the history of the palace and anecdotes of yesteryear’s maharajas,” informs Harris. The ‘Champagne Palace Walk’ at The Taj Falaknuma Palace

Fateh Bagh Palace, Ranakpur

starts at the hour of sunset but ends in an altogether different time in history. At Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur, the highlights include cultural show at Jhankar courtyard and the divine culinary offerings ‘Shahi Dastarkhan’ with Sufi instrumental music, traditional dance performances and extravagant fireworks in the background. HRH Group believes in continuing with the traditions of the royal past yet making them contemporary and relevant for a global audience. An example of this can be seen in the transformation of Fateh Prakash Palace into the Fateh Prakash Palace Convention Centre in 2011. “During this transformation, we were very conscious of seamlessly blending the old with the new - whether it was the soft furnishings or the modern conference facilities, it had to retain the character of the past, while offering world-class amenities that conference delegates are comfortable with,” states Chawra.

Redefining luxury Luxury, in its true sense, connotes different things to different people, but for every new age traveller a heritage property relives the grandoise of the past combined with modern essence of refined luxury. “The Grand Palaces of The Taj Group of hotels have welcomed dignitaries, iconic celebrities and illustrious



guests from all over the world. In these extraordinary palaces, Taj has reinvented bespoke hospitality and redefined the luxury travel experience,” states Harris, pointing out that these palaces are now considered the most coveted and glamorous addresses for celebrity events and weddings. Luxury at heritage hotels comes from the fusion of traditional and contemporary. “At HRH properties you will find maintained gardens, beautiful Indian architecture, and marbled swimming pools, along with full spa services. Huge air-conditioned suites are embellished with rich designs, stylish carpets and hand-painted wall elements. Allowing guests the luxury of living like royals is key to combining this experience with all the modern facilities that travellers today expect," says Chawra. Interestingly, the Neemrana 'non-hotel' Hotel brand of hospitality hinges on providing real experiences. "With 700 million poor in India, luxury does not need to go on evolving and outdoing itself to more socially obnoxious standards. A discreet style is understood by the discerning - and that is what we try for. Not opulence, glitter, bling and crystal," states Nath. The company has worked concertedly towards creating another niche whereby the experiencing of history and its architectural treasures has now become a part of the Indian tourism repertoire. “Others ‘not of the manor born’ can join the process. That too from ruins – turning India's waste into its assets. It is for this ‘experiential authenticity' that the Neemrana ‘non-hotel' Hotels have now come to be

known,” adds Wacziarg. Sikka acknowledges that heritage hotels provide experiences which are exclusive while being affordable thus provide extra value to its guests. “Needless to say, we try to focus on local cuisines of each area, apart from that each hotel room is well equipped with modern amenities including bathrooms and air conditioning,” he adds.

Marketing with a difference Marketing a heritage property is not the same as any other hotel, but many steps beyond. “At one level, marketing strategies are fairly generic, but the key to promoting and marketing heritage hotels is to highlight the 'sense of belonging' that we can offer to a traveller. The experience that they will take away will remain in them for longer,” asserts Chawra. The marketing strategy of Welcomheritage is to focus on 'unique experience' holiday packages with attractive inclusions and highlights of the destination. Word-ofmouth publicity has worked well for the 29 properties of Neemrana. The internet and social media platform have also been leveraged well to create a forum for existing and potential guests. It is important for the government to understand the huge assets these properties have come to represent. Besides tourism, the greatest contribution of the heritage hoteliers is their focused efforts of having salvaged from virtual ruins a segment of India's architectural legacy and restoring these to former glory.

August 1-15, 2013


The new diva Since its launch in 2009 Alila Diwa Goa has carefully crafted its image as an idyllic retreat in south Goa. Recently, they take another step in this direction with their Diwa Club. Siddharth Savkur, general manager, Alila Diwa Goa speaks about how the new concept will be a game changer for them. By Sayoni Bhaduri



n 2009, Alila Diwa Goa opened its doors to guests offering a blend of Goan architecture with a contemporary twist. The hotel opened without much fan fare but has slowly been building a loyal following amidst travellers corporate and leisure alike. Taking this understanding further, the hotel has launched The Diwa Club. With a total of 35 rooms and suites, the crescent shaped Diwa Club offers guest outdoor pool view from their private balcony or a lap pool with an open-air Jacuzzi and hot tub. Added to these rooms are a team of culinary and bar artisans at Bistro the all-day dining restaurant. Siddharth Savkur, GM, Alila Diwa Goa says, “The Diwa Club was created to cater to a growing need of travellers in search of bespoke services where their every comfort is seen to.” The standard Diwa Room size begins at 66 sq mtrs while the two bedroom suites measure 128 sq mtrs. Guests of the

Diwa Club can enjoy in-room check-in, personal host services, all day breakfast at Bistro and complimentary airport transfers. The Diwa Club has also introduced Leisure Concierge service. The specialist Leisure Concierge team can provide guests with bespoke experiences to suit their own unique schedules and preferences. They will create a tailor-made holiday experience for guests, right from the time of their booking with a special Personal Preference Menu, which will help the resort understand their needs better and make all the essential preparations prior to the guest's arrival. Savkur adds, “Travellers today are looking to holiday at their own pace and enjoy more meaningful destination experiences. The Diwa Club with offerings like the all day breakfast and express check in and check out will be a perfect fit and provide them just that. The Diwa Club attracts couples and working

professionals seeking relaxation in seclusion and a break from the city life. It is also an ideal venue for small social group gatherings.” It is the era of personalisation. Today, the tourism industry is vibrant and substantial and with its economic growth, India is rapidly becoming a global destination for travellers. “With the economic boom and globalisation, one observes a rise in business travellers from all over the globe who in turn ascend the demand of 'luxury and lifestyle properties'. And we at the Diwa Club promise a surprisingly different experience of sheer luxury and indulgence,” says Savkur. As the inventory of the Diwa Club is not very large, he hopes to offer a high level of personalised service to ensure guest experiences that are unparalleled. To further compliment this philosophy, Alila USPs like the personal preference menu sent to each guest prior to their arrival, Spa

Alila and specialist Leisure Concierge services provide an opportunity for guests to create a bespoke holiday that suits their own unique schedule. Apart from the Diwa Club Savkur informs that they have recently revamped the menu of Indian specialty restaurant; Spice Studio. A new concept has been introduced centered on the authenticity of Indian spices, their varying flavours and cooking techniques. Located on an elevated platform that spreads naturally around a banyan tree and surrounded by a water body, it features a menu celebrating the spice traditions of the five regions in India. “From fresh produce and spices to the serving styles unique to these regions, every meal immerses you in a rich experience of India’s culinary traditions and spice history. One can also choose to opt for a culinary journey with the chef to learn about signature Indian delicacies, cooking techniques and age-old culinary secrets,” he said.





Along the Chao Phraya An extensive property with two wings of 802 rooms and suites, the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok dominates the banks of Chao Phraya river. Kieran Twomey, vice president and general manager talks about what makes his property so unique and the increasing significance of the Indian market. By Sudipta Dev



ne of the f l a g s h i p properties of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, the 802 keyed Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok has an extensive frontage along the Chao Phraya river. And it is this idyllic location that is the biggest unique selling point of the property. Many of the rooms face the river and quite a few have balconies which give a fascinating view of life in Bangkok, the long tail boats which are fewer now than a decade ago but are still very much part of life in the city. “Any city that has been built around a river has a very unique ambience. Water is very relaxing, it is a natural environment and we are very much away from the hustle and bustle of today's lifestyle. Our USP is the river - whether you come from Cork, Delhi, Mumbai or Frankfurt, the river gives you a certain tone of relaxation. We have a location that gives us that sense of place,” states Kieran Twomey, vice president and general manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok. He has been with

La Hotels and Resorts for almost two decades and oversees properties in Thailand and Myanmar. The Italian restaurant looks over the river, so does the Thai restaurant, and the spa. There is also a beautiful garden. “In every aspect we encourage our guests to enjoy the river and enjoy Thailand,” says Twomey. The hotel has complimentary water taxi service for its guests. On the other side of the river are markets for clothes and food. It is also the only riverside hotel with direct skytrain access. The focus is on all segments - leisure guests, corporates, meetings and conventions. The hotel has more than 5000 sq metres of meetings and conventions space. The ball room can accommodate a

Kieran Twomey

thousand people for sit-down and more for meetings. There is a foyer with natural light overlooking the river and three traditional Salas (Thai pavilions). There are two wings Krungthep Wing and Shangri-La Wing. While most of the activities are concentrated in Shangri-La Wing, the Krungthep Wing has a distinctive appeal for guests from more mature markets. “The objective of Shangri-La Wing is to appeal to everybody so that they can relax and enjoy after a meeting, a business day or vacation. The Krungthep Wing is for more mature segments of the market - those who know the city well, they probably do not want to discover much, but they love Thailand and keep coming back. They have often stayed in the same room for 20 years. So it is a nice contrast,” states Twomey. Shangri-La Hotel has four large restaurants that are very distinctive. - the food options vary from Japanese, Indian, Chinese, vegetarian, Western and Thai. The Italian August 1-15, 2013


in terms of internet and offer best rates on the internet. We offer good value at different price points and try to grow both young and mature markets,” he adds. India is one of the Broader source markets Talking about the important markets for the hospitality industry in property. Visitors from India Bangkok, Twomey pointed out have doubled in the last 12-18 that followed by three months. “We travel to India to challenging years, 2012 has develop the business. We have proved to be a great year for a number of Indian nationals the hospitality sector in in-house - from sales and Bangkok. “I believe arrivals in marketing to F&B. Any Thailand were above 22 segment that is above 5 per million, this year we are cent of overall is an important looking at 25 million, that is segment for us and India is very positive. When this hotel certainly one of those,” states opened in 1986, arrivals in Twomey, adding that they Thailand were something in have got a good support in the region of five to six Mumbai as there are many million. In the past 26 years meetings that lead out of we have seen many properties Mumbai, and of course New blossom. Being somewhat of a Delhi. The property has also seen foreigner to Thailand, though not to South East Asia and a substantial increase in many Asia in general, I can say that high profile Indian weddings. the key attractions that draw “When I say substantial , it people to Thailand are - means 300-500 rooms, where shopping and mostly Thai they stay and occupy a large culture, the unique Thai part of our hotel and then for hospitality, food including three/four/five days the hotel is centered around traditional the wedding,” he styles of Thai says. Mostly for food,” he the weddings the states. hotel arranges for H e OUR USP IS THE elephants for the acknowledges w e d d i n g that the hotel RIVER procession has developed WHETHER YOU (baraat), which parallel to the often travels from development COME FROM one wing to of the city. CORK, DELHI, another. “Our There have other overseas been times MUMBAI OR when there FRANKFURT,THE guests also enjoy the activities and was decrease sights,” he in corporate RIVER GIVES concedes. arrivals and YOU A CERTAIN As a then it has hospitality changed and TONE OF c o m p a n y , b e c o m e RELAXATION Shangri-La meetings Hotels and f o c u s e d complemented by leisure Resorts is unique in some travel. “Today I can say that respects, believes Twomey. It leisure is driving the business is not a very large group here in Bangkok, but it has 78/79 hotels today, but many always been balanced. That is of the hotels are owned and what makes Bangkok different operated. “Even those that are from other locations. We have not owned there is a strong developed our business connection with the owners. parallel to the segments and Whether in Mumbai / Delhi/ likewise we have developed in Dubai or Paris. So it is very terms of the source markets. important that where we have Traditionally 20 years ago hotels we represent each other much of the interest for positively so that it reflects Bangkok came from long haul positively on the brand,” he markets, certainly in the last emphasised, adding that it is a five years we have seen an personal commitment from the ever increasing growing hotels and the management increase from Asia, even South that they do not let guests East Asia, but including north down if they are coming from cities and countries where Asia,” he mentions. The guest profile has Shangri-La has a strong broadened in the last 10 years. representation. It is a gradual, The key feeder markets have sustained process to grow of the also continued to grow awareness positively. “We are very active brand. restaurant is in three levels, including outdoor. The Chinese restaurant is under major renovation, it will reopen in September this year.

August 1-15, 2013




Traditional touch Set up in the state of Gujarat where extending warm hospitality is a part of the local culture, Madhubhan Resort and Spa is a hospitality venture with a difference. Prayasvin B Patel, chairman and managing director of Elecon Engineering talks about his decision to set up the property and the challenges which came along during its launch. By Kahini Chakraborty


urturing a dream of venturing into the hospitality space, Prayasvin B Patel, chairman and managing director of Elecon Engineering was clear about establishing his maiden property in Gujarat. Having the advantage of already owning land in Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, encouraged him to transform this dream into reality in the form of Madhubhan Resort and Spa. The Madhubhan Resort & Spa project has been executed and promoted by Emtici Engineering, an Elecon Group Company

headquartered in Vallabh Vidyanagar in Gujarat, India. The inspiration behind naming the resort 'Madhubhan' has been his parents Madhu ben (mother) and Bhanu bhai (father). Calling himself an early entrant, he recalls, “Before the property could be developed on this approximately 22 acres of land, a lot of people raised questions on my decision to develop a property on the outskirts. But there were a lot of aspects that I was confident about starting from the economy of the state, as we know that Gujarat has always

been a silent runner and used to be amongst the top three even before Narendra Modi. And now with him at the helm, the state has come into the limelight and has also seen an increase in industry establishments. The infrastructure of the state has been the best in the country aiding to the growth in industries.” Believing that there was a need for a good weekend getaway place for the people of Gujarat as well as others from across the country, Patel opined, “The India story until now has been good excluding one-two years and

with the growth in industries the amount of stress levels among professionals has also increased. Hence there is an urgent need for places like Madhubhan to relax and rejuvenate.” Agreeing that creation of this ethno-contemporary resort has taken a lot out of him, Patel says, “It has been a learning experience and it continues to be so each day. Excluding the land, the group has invested about `100 crore in developing the property and the way the hotel has been developed, as per our vision has been my biggest satisfaction.” While striving to make the property the best in class, there were a number of challenges, he states, which were needed to be overcome starting from acquisition of land, interior designing, architecture, to recruiting manpower and retaining them while bringing them into the group's corporate culture. The well known architect Tony Joseph, Patel mentions, was also apprehensive about developing the property in a place like Anand. But after much persuasion, Joseph's perception changed during his visit to the place and the group decided to convert the fruit

Prayasvin B Patel



August 1-15, 2013



August 1-15, 2013

orchard land into a property while retaining every tree in the vicinity. “We have given the property a contemporary look while trying to create the yester years infrastructure of Karamsad village where Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born. I wanted an oriental theme along with lot of wood for the interiors as it gives a certain amount of softness to the surrounding,” he says. Sunil Jasani was appointed as the interior designer for the 81 room inventory property which also has two Madhubhan tents, which the group plans to add 10 more in the future depending on the response from customers,” he adds. The property has accommodation options deluxe rooms, Mandavdi Gom cottages, Mandavdi Gom deluxe cottages, Madhubhan tents, Zanzariyu-The deluxe suites, Zulaniya- The bridal suite and Madhubhan- The presidential suite. The resort also boasts of its F&B offeringsKouzina-Italian Mediterranean Bistro, The Banyan Tree- multi-cuisine restaurant, 24Seven-The coffee shop, Tapas-The Mexican Bar, Chai Bar junction, Wellness Bar. It property also has facilities offered by Sohum Spa.

Strategic location Four years into operations, and the property boasts of being nominated as the best resort in the city which it considers as an encouraging factor given the location the property is set up in. But even though the location has worked for the group since it is strategically located between Ahmedabad and Baroda, which are known for their

corporate culture, the state's non-permission of alcohol consumption has been its biggest challenge. “When we were setting up the resort we were told that we would atleast get a liquor license to put up stores in the property so that guests can buy alcohol. But we have not yet received permission though we are still trying. Hotels according to me are considered to be an industry all over the country but the tariff for electricity is the highest that we have to pay in this state. If they facilitate further the scenario could be much better. There is still a lot more that the state can easily do,” emphasises Patel. Weddings and MICE being their forte, the property gets an average occupancy of about 55 per cent with the length of stay being at least two nights. The property receives 50:50 ratio of leisure

and MICE travellers and has a separate building for MICE segment which is 36,000 sq ft and can accommodate about 300 people. With the market scenario changing rapidly and lean periods in the industry, the group adopts a 'hit and trial' approach as it believes that what holds good one year may not be good for the other year as tastes and preferences of travellers are constantly evolving. With pricing also being an important criteria which cannot be overlooked, the group lays a lot of emphases on providing value additions and warm hospitality gestures with the aim of giving travellers a home away from home experience. Doing business is in itself a challenge, and hence the only way to keep growing as a brand, which the group feels, is to be able to maintain consistency and have the

product in place. There has been a 360 degree change in the way the market has progressed, not only in Ahmedabad but also across the country. And with the change in dynamics, the group has craved a niche for itself by adopting a conscious decision of focusing on brand positioning in terms of location. “We have not yet broken even but there are chances of us breaking even this year,” Patel informs. While other hotel brands in Ahmedabad are city hotels which have more of a business like approach, Madhubhan highlights itself as the perfect weekend getaway destination for families and groups. So while the resort gets its share from corporates during the weekdays, it is usually the weekends which see the heavy rush of customers.




Strengthening bonds Saeid Heidari, general manager, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments Mumbai talks about the Partners in Excellence programme with a focus on relationship building to strengthen bonds with existing business partners and develop new one. By Kahini Chakraborty


oing that extra mile of taking utmost care of its guests and making them feel at home, has been synonymous with Marriott brand's culture. And following this basic tradition is the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments Mumbai which conducts the Partners in Excellence (PIE) programme once in every three months. This initiative held to express their appreciation to the clients who form key influencers and business partners from other companies has seen many successful gatherings. Saeid Heidari, general manager, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments Mumbai elaborates on the concept stating, “PIE is about going back to the basics -'if you take care of your customer as a valuable guest and follow the traditional hospitality culture by making them feel at home, they will definitely drive business for you'. Every time we invite 20-30 of our business partners for the programme as it is imperative to have face to face business.” This year the theme of the initiative was monsoon magic wherein guests were not only taken on a property visit and given first hand experience of the activities taking place behind the scenes in various departments viz. laundry, kitchen, room service,



Saeid Heidari finance, housekeeping etc, but also had arrangements made for various other activities, true to the programme of strengthening their existing relations with their partners and also creating new business partners. One aspect that Heidari emphasises upon which he has learnt over the years, he says, “I believe that if you want to be successful, you have to have smarter people than yourself working for you.” With plenty of intelligent staff working for him, he credits this to the strong culture that the brand holds- of taking care of its people - whether staff or business partners. “Every time we have a new batch of recruits in the property/group we have a programme called 'In the beginning' wherein we personally meet them and

share our experiences and engage them in team building activities in order to make them comfortable and give them ample opportunity to grow,” he informs, adding that, “The same is the case with our PIE programme apart from the general customer engagement programmes which we organise in different cities - Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune. PIE is an event that is conducted in all our hotels with a different theme and subject, as we are a brand that emphasises a lot on local discoveries of the place.” It is through these programmes that the hotel looks at showcasing something different and highlighting the unheard locations around the destination. “Such activities we combine in order to make people discover something new and change their perceptions,” he says. On selecting the theme 'Monsoon Magic' he explains, “Normally people avoid travelling due to the traffic but for me personally the

monsoon is the most beautiful season of the year and with us having the Powai Lake in the background which looks spectacular in the rains, we thought of promoting this as the subject. This gives us an opportunity to showcase the season and experience nature's beauty in the property itself. We wanted to remove certain perceptions which people have about the rains.” With the property receiving around 85 per cent of its business from the Mumbai market, he says, “Many people will be surprised to discover the unexplored places in Mumbai, and with us being a lifestyle brand we have the opportunity to connect to people. I think people living in Mumbai have a lot of reasons to be proud of and our programme is another medium of highlighting the happenings in town to our partners which we see as a business development plan.” But come monsoon and the entire hospitality industry


starts discounting their room rates to tide over this four months of lean period, to which Heidari strongly opines, “I don't understand why the rates are lowered if a hotel has on an average 60-70 per cent of occupancy during the weekdays (MondayThursday). During high seasons all hotels in the area run an occupancy of about 80 per cent and during the lean period the occupancy in towns is between 65-70 per cent. This is also a fairly healthy level of occupancy.” At the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel the strategy is always to have value add-ons in the packages, as Heidari feels that the prices in town are fair given the type of expenses they have to incur in the city. During the monsoons the hotel also gets in touch with international travel agencies and promotes monsoon tourism. While for the honeymooners, the hotel provides special packages with upgradation facilities. “I think India is an attractive destination for inbound travellers, and with the depreciation of the rupee the destination should be considered for MICE or leisure,” he opines, adding that, “With India having so much to offer and Mumbai as the business hub, it is sad that we are not utilising the potential of the country, even though we have a fairly good amount of infrastructure.”

August 1-15, 2013



Plugging in to smart travel PG 32


A new look at PMS Property management takes to the clouds this week as a state-of-the-art new platform was launched recently for hotels, resorts, holiday parks, motels and apartments



ewBook is browser-based, intuitive, highly responsive and incredibly flexible. It streamlines accommodation and reservation tasks so everything can be managed from one place, whether in the office, at home, on-site or on the move. NewBook has been developed from the ground up in conjunction with over 10 years’ worth of feedback from managers and staff at resorts, holiday parks, hotels and motels around the world. This has allowed tailored development from the end-user perspective rather than that of programmers and provided features often requested of but lacking from other PMS suites. Harnessing cutting edge internet technology and mobility, NewBook is a revolution in both property management and software as a service (SaaS). The platform couples a proprietary property management system with cloud reservation software, all backed with a comprehensive set of indispensable tools. Packed with features, NewBook can handle every major and minor component of accommodation management and delivery from online bookings and check in – check out to housekeeping, maintenance, staff performance, accounting and marketing. Brad Illich Creator and MD of NewBook said, “NewBook is much more than just a PMS and reservation system. It is a profitable marketing tool that can capture a wide range of data needed to make correct marketing decisions. In testing it has proven to increase staff e f f i c i e n c y, reduce running costs and most importantly increase the number of online bookings clients receive. We also have a lot of surprises coming up over the next few months, which have never been seen before in the industry.” As a web-based system, NewBook is both tablet and smartphone friendly. It has a desktop-like appearance for ease of use and convenience. It also spots an integrated online booking engine, Siteminder channel manager connectivity and an integrated virtual credit card gateway for online payment processing. A full

ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING FEATURES OF NEWBOOK IS THE WAY IT EFFORTLESSLY HANDLES ONLINE BOOKINGS TO MAXIMISE OCCUPANCY AND PROFITABILITY reporting function gives more than 60 styles of reports, putting data to hand in a useable and useful format around the clock. One of the most interesting features of NewBook is the way it effortlessly handles online bookings to maximise occupancy and profitability. Reservations and room management are fully integrated with the Newbook booking engine and mobile booking engine. It also connects to Siteminder, allowing thirdparty bookings to be placed into the NewBook system and will perform an automated instant inventory update to the user’s own website and third party booking channels. NewBook UK sales and marketing manager Chris Petty said, “NewBook is quite simply a breath of fresh air. It is transformative, intuitive and packed with features that simply make sense. We h a v e designed it hand-inhand with accommodation managers to ensure that every feature you’d expect to find, need to use and would like access to is not just present but user-friendly and flexible. The system adapts to any size of business including multi-national property groups. Our users feel comfortable navigating NewBook straight out of the box and see an instant increase in efficiency. Data shows that NewBook can save each staff member 30 minutes to an hour each day simply by using the system, equating to thousands of pounds of time saved each month.”




Plugging in to smart travel W Multi-screen traveller report from Google India says that mobile apps are preferred over browser for booking and sharing



ith the growing adoption of smartphones in India, Google India recently released a study conducted by IPSOS titled ‘Multiscreen traveller’. The study was conducted to understand the behaviour of Smartphone users in India and its impact on the travel vertical - focusing on a target group which uses multiple devices to go online for their travel related needs. The study revealed that – 76 per cent users use both computer and mobile across the travel stages (dreaming, researching, booking, experience, sharing) while 60 per cent users move from one device to another when they switch from researching to booking. Out of the 1 5 0 0 + leisure travellers surveyed – 87 per cent users said that they have used mobile phones to research about their trips and 66 per cent respondents also booked a trip element on it. 60 per cent said that the information they find while researching on their mobile phones influences their booking decision. In terms of triggers for holiday planning, online sources were rated higher than offline mediums with Internet getting five touch points in comparison to offline which offered two touch points. The biggest triggers for holiday destinations/planning were online pictures - where 88 per cent users said that online pictures trigger their holiday planning. Browsing pictures on social networks, blogs, travel sites get users to start thinking of their next vacation destination. In the planning and research phase, the target group did not differentiate between their choice of Internet access device user’s rated using desktop, mobile and tablets at over 85 per cent - clearly highlighting the multi-screen behavior of the users for holiday or trip planning. Smartphone’s & tablets were also the first go to devices for travel

researchers even at home. Convenience was rated as the biggest motivator for use of mobile. Speaking about the study findings, Vikas Agnihotri, director - travel & BFSI, Google India, says, “We already know that smartphone users on an average spend 76 minutes on the internet through their

mobile. The Smartphone user base is set to explode in India to touch 70 million by end of this year. Over 1/3rd of travel related search queries on Google India are now coming from mobile and tablet devices, with queries from smart phones growing at 397 per cent YoY. This study establishes that today’s hyper-connected, hyper-informed Smartphone user is consuming online content across devices. This impacts the


STUDY METHODOLOGY IPSOS spoke to 1500+ leisure travellers, 20 - 45 year olds, SEC A, B1 across eight metros in India. The interviews were conducted face to face with an average duration of 45 minutes each. All the respondents had internet capable phones, had traveled by air at least once in the last 12 months and had researched/booked a trip element, like flight, hotel, rail etc online. 80 per cent of these respondents had Smartphone’s, and 25 per cent had taken international trips, and 35 per cent had done business trips.

complexity in engaging users from a marketer’s standpoint. With travel being the most evolved and mature vertical, we believe that the findings from this study will help them to devise strategies to engage the users across multiple online screens/devices.” The study also looked at the booking behaviour of smartphone and tablet users, wherein 66 per cent respondents said that they’ve booked using a mobile phone and 69 per cent on a tablet. While the absolute numbers of transactions is low in the real world, the report does indicate the growing trend of bookings being completed on mobile devices from mature users. From the respondents – 36 per cent users said that they booked a flight on a mobile, while 25 per cent have booked a hotel room and 13 per cent have submitted a holiday lead from their mobile device. The study also revealed significant cross-device attribution. Out of 87 per cent who researched on their mobile phones, 76 per cent booked on mobile and 80 per cent booked on a computer as well. Concerns around secu-

rity were cited as the biggest barrier for booking on mobile. The respondents also highlighted the convenience and preference for mobile applications over using mobile browsers for booking their trip and sharing information on the trip. For booking and sharing, mobile app usage was 12 per cent to 15 per cent higher in comparison to mobile sites. The study highlighted that the Indian travel planner goes through a variety of resources around destination research, like browsing through pictures on social networks (74 per cent), reading trip information on travel sites & apps (56 per cent) and watching videos about destinations (52 per cent). While on the trip - users also showed high usage of Internet from their mobile phones. Mobile was used as the information and communication wallet when traveling. 74 per cent respondents said they shared or posted on their social network and 46 per cent respondents rescheduled a trip element using the phone. Over 30 per cent checked maps, weather and events from their mobile phones on a vacation. Post holiday, over 50 per cent respondents said they uploaded photos and posted reviews using their phones and interestingly over 10 per cent had started researching for their next holiday. Today’s hyper-connected, hyper-informed traveller uses multiple-screens to research more, plans better and shares on the go.

August 1-15, 2013

Hospitality CAREER FOCUS


Securing the future With rapid growth and globalisation, the hospitality industry has come a long way. And in today's competitive market where the job scenario seems uncertain, Lords Institute of Management (LIM) is striving to provide the best practical and theoretical education prospects, to students. Devendra Shah, vice principal, LIM talks about the institute and his opinion on the industry. By Kahini Chakraborty


nitiated by the Lords Hotels & Resorts, the state-of-the-art hotel management institute - Lords Institute of Management (LIM) in Surat was conceptualised to develop students for a promising career in hotel management. The institute provides various courses such as Certificate in Food Production Principles, Certificate in Management of Food & Beverage Operations, Certificate in Managing Front Office Operations, Certificate in Managing Housekeeping Operations, Certificate in Hospitality Industry Financial Accounting and Hospitality Management Diploma. Devendra Shah, vice principal, LIM informed that all the certificate courses have an intake capacity of 60 students for the one year course, which includes six months classroom teaching and six months practical training. The fee for full time courses is `45,000 for which the eligibility is 10th pass or fail or equivalent. While for the

August 1-15, 2013

diploma course the student needs to be 10+2 pass or equivalent. The diploma course is for two years and six months which includes 24 months classroom teaching and six months training. With an intake of 60 students, the fee is `77,500 per year. With professional degrees on the rise, Shah stated, “Four-five years ago students would opt for degree/diploma courses in hotel management but now they want to pursue diploma/degree as well as a specialisation course in the chosen department. The demand for quality education is increasing rapidly. A stu-


dent can join his/her chosen department at an operational level in the hospitality industry. They can also join Lords Hotels & Resorts (LHR) as an executive through Hotel Operation Trainee (HOT) Programme.” Shah also informed that the institute has an academic alliance with American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), USA, for the certificate and diploma courses. “We will also offer Bachelor of Business Administration in Hotel & Tourism Management, a three year degree programme in association with Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad. The course is approved by UGC, DEC, AIU, Government of India,” he added. Keeping in mind the importance of practical training, LIM also focuses on job training, regular guest lectures, case studies, debates and video sessions. Emphasizing on the same, he said, “We have in house faculties with experience in the

Devendra Shah hospitality industry in India and abroad. The external faculties includes CMD, CEO, regional directors, vice presidents and general managers who visit the institute for guest lectures. Through this we ensure that students are fully updated with today’s trends.”

But the biggest challenge for the institute is to get experienced staff who are conscious about the challenges of the industry and yet are committed to win. “Smartness, able to work under pressure, multi skilled and longevity are the vital parameters. Employees should also be able to play a role of a trainer in the departments,” he mentioned. When asked whether a foreign degree enables a student to command higher salaries than their counterparts competing for a course in India, Shah opined, “A candidate will receive the salary based on the course (certificate/diploma/degree)/ skills/type of property/location of the property). At an operational level a foreign degree does not have any influence, but a candidate can expect higher salaries at mid management level after five-seven years of experience.” The group currently operates 16 properties and 10 are in pipeline.





Movements Accor India Ashish Sud has been appointed as director of finance, hotel operations, Accor India. Prior to his new role he was the director of finance managing four hotels and a convention centre under Accor in Andhra Pradesh.Hailing from the Institute of Chartered Accountants, he holds a strong expertise in corporate and financial planning initiatives in strategic planning, accounts and finance, auditing and taxation, MIS etc.

Pavan Kumar has been appointed as director of sales, corporate, Accor India. He has been a part of Accor India for almost seven years.The association began with Novotel Hyderabad & Hyderabad International Convention Centre followed by Lavasa International Convention Centre.

Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa

Gaurav Aggarwal has been appointed to head the sales function of the soon to be launched brand Fairfield by Marriott, Bengaluru. His responsibilities in his current position entail developing and maintaining customer relations to generate avenues for business to successfully launch the property, interfacing with key influencers, driving customer loyalty, ensuring speedy resolution of grievances, leveraging the presence of global sales offices to drive business and providing one point service delivery.

Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa has announced the appointment of Subhrajit Bardhan as executive assistant manager rooms. In his new role, he will oversee the functioning of the rooms division, security, recreation and Sereno Spa, while also playing a pivotal role in reinforcing Hyatt values and thought leadership in the hospitality industry. He began his career at Oberoi Grand, Kolkata before rising to become the executive chef at Ista Hyderbad.

Radisson Blu resort & Spa, Alibaug

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore


Fairfield by Marriott, Bengaluru

Xintiandi Hotels

Hugo Montanari has been appointed as director of operations of The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore. In this role, Montanari will have the responsibility of the operations of the entire hotel which also includes driving operational excellence, initiatives and ensuring implementation and execution of brand programmes. Prior to joining The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, he worked at The Plaza Hotel, New York and The Fairmont, Dubai.

Nilesh Singh has been appointed as executive assistant manager (EAM) of food & beverage of The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore. In this key role, Singh is fully responsible for the management and successful operations of all food and beverage venues in the hotel. A hotel management graduate from Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, Singh has 13 years of experience with the Oberoi Hotels.

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa has announced the appointment of Santanu Guha Roy as general manager. Roy will be reporting to Ronnie Lobo, vice president operations, Carlson Rezidor, South Asia. Graduated from IHMCTAN, Kolkata with over two decades of experience in hospitality, he has worked with the country’s finest hotel brands, which includes Taj, Holiday Inn, Carlson Rezidor managed hotels namely Radisson, Park Plaza, at various levels of responsibilities.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Crowne Plaza Hotels in Israel

Yas Island Rotana & Centro Yas Island

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced the appointment of Nejat Sarp as area general manager for Turkey with immediate effect. Sarp will be based at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum which is scheduled to open in 2014. In his position, Sarp will manage both the hotel and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum as well as oversee the development of Mandarin Oriental, Istanbul which is scheduled to open in 2016.

Michael Plesz, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center, has become general manager of the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach. He will manage both hotels concurrently. Avi Levy, the previous general manager of the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach, has been appointed as general manager of the Crowne Plaza, Jerusalem.

Mark Deere has been appointed as general manager of Yas Island Rotana & Centro Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Deene will manage overall operations of these two Rotana properties, and also spearhead the growth of hospitality business in the destination as it continues to attract guests from all around the world. He holds a BSc Honours Degree in Hotel and Catering Management from the University of Surrey in England, and had started his career with the front office department at Ritz Hotel.

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has appointed Amber Marie Beard to the newly created position of vice president sustainability. Beard has nearly 10 years experience in the sustainability field, including positions with Lend Lease - one of the world's largest property developers, China Resources - one of China's largest government owned organisations, and Sustainability, an investment finance-company managing niche real estate opportunities in China, Japan and Australia.


The Langham Xintiandi and 88 Xintiandi hotels have appointed Marlene Fang as director of sales and marketing, effective immediately. Fang will oversee the sales and marketing strategies for both properties, to help drive revenue in the MICE, corporate and leisure markets. Originally from Singapore, she has worked at various hotels in Singapore, Beijing and Guangzhou.

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August 1-15, 2013

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Peter Haas and the Flypsyde at the American Mela at Shangri-La Hotel

his year the US Independence Day was celebrated in a complete different style, with an American Mela hosted by the US Consulate General Mumbai at Shangri-La Hotel. It was a celebration of classic American culture and featured an assortment of pavilions with food and games. As US Consul General Peter Haas put it, it was just like a typical Indian mela, but with red, white and blue. Food pavilions offered American fare like apple pie, corn dogs, barbecue chicken and iced tea. Featured were American restaurants like Subway, Starbucks, Hard Rock Café, California Pizza Kitchen, Sbarro Pizza and McDonald’s. A march by the US Marines and live music by the band Flypsyde added to the action.


Curtain raiser

Malaysian magic


he truly Asian images of Malaysia lit up the big screen at the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 gala at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai. The event also marked the launch of the music album ‘Tum Mile’ sung by Her Royal Highness Tooh Puan Noor Suzanna Abdullah, member of the royal family of Kedah, Malaysia and Bollywood playback singer Kumar Sanu. The talk was on Malaysia as the destination of choice for a growing percentage of Indians and that the music album served as a perfect platform to enhance the emotional connect of Indian audiences with Malaysia. Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, chairman of Tourism Malaysia, among many more was present at this cocktail-dinner affair.

Manoharan Periasamy, Dato' Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Toh Puan Noor Suzanna Abdullah, Kumar Sanu & Zulkifly Said at the Malaysian party at the Taj

Checking in


John Abraham and Waheeda Rehman at the SAIFTA meet at Taj Lands End


outh Africa India Film and Television Awards (SAIFTA) debuted in Mumbai with a curtain raiser ceremony at Taj Lands End. You heard that this annual event aimed at creating a never before seen cultural exchange of the Indian and South African entertainment industry, while rewarding outstanding performers, would be held in Durban on September 6. Celebrity Locker, the Mumbai-based events company, has joined hands with the Province of KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism of Durban to make the award ceremony possible. Seen at the curtain raiser were John Abraham, Waheeda Rehman, Manoj Bajpai, Sanjay Gupta, Suniel Shetty, Apoorva Lakhia, Apurva and Shilpa Agnihotri, Mukesh Bhatt, along with Sadha Naidoo, board chairperson, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Neliswe Dlamini, Project Manager, DEDT.

August 1-15, 2013

Sharmila and Raj Thackeray at the launch of Aura Grande Hotel

ity folks welcomed the opening of Aura Grande Hotel, launched by Annakoot Properties. Doing the inaugural honours were Raj Thackeray, founder president, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena along with wife Sharmila. T h a c k e r a y enthusiastically interacted with the audience, while enjoying a tour of the business hotel’s infrastructure and various facilities along with the owners Nandkumar Hendre, Pramod Hendre, Supriya Joshi and Suhas Joshi. EXPRESS HOSPITALITY



Live at aloft

Grand celebration Grand Mercure Bangalore hosted a wine-tasting event- 'Grand Vins' at By The Blue which witnessed an elite gathering of the hotel's patron and sommeliers savouring their favourite wines and experiencing wine making

‘Little Wing’ a band playing retro, blues, rock and popular music performed at aloft Bengaluru Whitefield which launched a 'Live Music Platform' to showcase local emerging talents

Success techniques

10 years of wholesaling

METRO Wholesale celebrated its 10 years of business-tobusiness wholesale in India providing unprecedented discounts and promotions for customers across all its 15 centres across the country

Michael Losier, Laws of Attraction-trainer-and-author and Punish Sharma, area general manager, Hotel Meluha The Fern at an event held to decode Losier's technique for achieving success and fulfilment in life

Summer evening

Fred Tibbitts & Associates fourth annual 'A Summer Evening in Mumbai with Very Special Friends ' at the Westin Mumbai Garden City proved to be a memorable event for the 62 guests, who included vice presidents, senior hotel executives, area general managers, general managers, industry VIPs, members of the press and sponsors of the dinner



August 1-15, 2013


Express Hospitality August 1-15, 2013  

As India celebrates her 67th anniversary of Independence, we take a look at India's biggest tourism draws - the many heritage properties th...

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