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Taj's Vivanta enters Gurgaon

March 08, 2013 10:20 IST

Taj VivantaIndian Hotels Company, which operates the Taj hotels and resorts, is planning to increase its bouquet of hotels to 200 in the next six years.

The hospitality chain wants to double its room inventory to 30,000 in that period.

The company opened its 100th property in India today, the Vivanta Gurgaon, marking its entry into the city.

“It was about time we entered the market. It took us much longer than others but we are there.

“We have been very aggressive in our growth,” said Raymond Bickson, managing director.

Grappling with lease renewal issues for two of its iconic properties in recent times, IHC indicates it is confident of retaining these.

On the Taj Mumbai’s property lease with the Mumbai Port Trust, Bickson would not comment, saying the matter was under adjudication.

On the proposed auction of the Taj Mahal in this city by the New Delhi Municipal Council, he said, “We are prepared. We have been partners (with NDMC) for many years.”

The company, meanwhile, feels it is important to expand its presence internationally, to “protect its market share” with competition intensifying in the space.

It plans to build presence in markets such as China, Africa, West Asia and Cuba, by opening 10 hotels in all, primarily luxury properties of the Taj and a few of Vivanta.

It operates 17 hotels internationally.

While inorganic growth is an option, the chain's talks for buying Orient-Express have not moved further and the matter remains ‘status quo’, said Bickson.

At present, Indian Hotels has a market share of around 22 per cent.

In the luxury segment, it claims 30-32 per cent.

In the premium category, Vivanta, launched in September 2010, has 18 per cent.

With the latest property, the hospitality company now has 26 Vivanta hotels and plans to add 15 in the next five years.

Of the existing hotels, 12 are newly built and 14 were converted from Taj to Vivanta, as a part of the group’s brand restructuring exercise.

“We have done large consolidation in the last 10 years and we continue to do it whenever we feel there is a need,” Bickson added.

He said if any hotel rebranded as Vivanta did not meet the brand requirement, he would give an ultimatum to match up in two to three years or give up the brand name.

Vivanta, Gurgaon is a 210-room property, built at a cost of Rs 1.8 crore (Rs 18 million) per room.

Currently, the Vivanta hotels contribute 35 per cent to overall revenue.

As the number of properties in this segment increases, this share is expected to rise.

With occupancies and room rates taking a hit due to the global economic slowing across the hospitality sector, Bickson is hopeful of a better year ahead.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. Business is improving, especially from the European markets, which kind of retracted in the last two-three years,” he added.

Indian Hotels also operates the Gateway brand in the three-star category and Ginger in the budget segment.

The company has also been considering the idea of launching another brand between Gateway and Ginger but nothing has been finalised.

“We don’t have a name for it yet. We want to consolidate the rest of our brands first,” said Bickson.

BS Reporter in New Delhi
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