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Rediff.com  » Business » Forget the malls, leisure complexes are here

Forget the malls, leisure complexes are here

November 11, 2006 02:31 IST

For Indians on the lookout for better options to spend quality time with their families, there is reason to rejoice.

Soon they will have exciting alternatives to the boring old picnic at India Gate, the stale rides at Appu Ghar, sitting at the beach on Chowpatty, or the lake in the city centre.

Aashish Gupta, associate VP, Ernst &Young explains that there is a need for integrated leisure complexes where the whole family can unwind.

These can then become weekend destinations as well.

"There is a need for convergence of various kinds of entertainment and leisure elements for different members of a family," says Gupta.

Up until now, we have had malls with multiplexes. Most of these are shopping -- not leisure -- oriented. "The need today is to have separate zones for different segments."

According to Gupta, an ILC would typically have a mix of leisure, entertainment, food and beverage as well as intellectually stimulating options such as art or reading galleries, informal clubs and maybe very sophisticated shops. The scale here will be tipped towards the leisure and entertainment options.

These would be on the outskirts of the city (prohibitive land cost within the city makes such large projects unviable). The advantages of these, explains Gupta, is that they will tap into the local public and create a new market. They can, in the long run, also become a prominent feature of a city, increasing its appeal as a destination.

An ILC could be a day leisure complex or a holiday leisure complex, depending on the kind of hospitality and conferencing options available.

International Recreation Parks, a 50:50 joint venture between Unitech and International Amusement Limited (which developed Appu Ghar in Delhi) is developing Noida Entertainment City in sector 38A, right opposite the Sector 18 market complex.

The project includes two malls, a 200-room Marriott Courtyard Hotel as well as an international quality amusement and water park on a total of 150 acres.

The project is in full swing and in the first phase the main mall, called the Great India Place, with retail space of 1 million sq feet, will be unveiled along with a part of the amusement park called Worlds of Wonder.

Sanjay Chandra, managing director, Unitech, explains that the 1 million sq feet mall will be suitably zoned for different segments -- ladies only, kids only and so on. Unitech envisions the whole complex as a two-day destination.

"A family would spend at least six hours at the amusement park. It would not have time to go and shop in the huge mall on the same day," says Chandra.

With the 200-room hotel in the complex, there is an option for out-of-town visitors to enjoy it as a weekend destination.

The whole of the top floor at the Great India Place is reserved for an exclusive food court and multiplex. The amusement park too will be zoned and each zone will have carts, kiosks and themed food courts.

There will be one park entry ticket for as many rides (there will be a total of 40 rides), which will be reasonably priced. With IRRPL tying up with Cartoon Network for the amusement park in Noida, kids can expect to bump into their favourite cartoon characters! And the 150-acre project will have an internal monorail system to ferry visitors from one part to the other.

The USP, they claim, is that the amusement park is right in the city, unlike most others internationally or in India, which are usually outside the city.

IRRPL has a similar development in Rohini, in Delhi. The latest is that they are developing an entertainment city in Chandigarh as well.

DLF too is building a 1.5 million square feet mall on 14 acres in Sector 18, Noida. The Mall of India they are planning will be a 3.6 million sq feet mall on 32 acres on NH8 in Gurgaon. It will have a large entertainment area, large city town squares, perfectly zoned, offering a total retail experience as well as f&b offerings.

"The Mall of India will be a complete next-generation mall," says Ajay Khanna, executive director, DLF. The huge mall will have indoor amusement rides in open areas and other entertainment options as well. Outside, there will be specially treated external areas with innovative water works.

"A leisure complex is not a commercially viable project. Retail, hotel and conference facilities help subsidise the leisure facilities in such large projects," says Mukesh Khandelwal, president of the infrastructure advisory division at Feedback Ventures. He fathoms that after the initial novelty wears off, visitors into Delhi may be the big business for these complexes.

The 10,000-acre Lavasa project, which is a tourism centric city near the western ghats in Pune, too will offer integrated business and leisure options, including hotels, adventure and nature tourism. 

Market sources have revealed that international leisure biggies, Warner and Disney, have been evaluating projects in India, but are not very enthused by India. They feel the Indian market is not mature enough for them yet.
Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi
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