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Global hotel majors eye India

May 05, 2007 09:34 IST
International hospitality majors such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Jumeirah International are all planning to establish their presence in the country.

Four Seasons is exploring opportunities in Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan.

"We are looking at places, which have international appeal and provide an easy access. Unique destinations provide huge growth in the spa section. With business travels in India increasing by leaps and bounds, the number of resort destinations have also grown. The country is attracting a lot of tourists, and it is just the infrastructure that needed to be put in place," said Christopher S L Wong, vice-president, business development, Asia Pacific.

The hospitality major has one hotel under construction in Mumbai, and is planning to set its foot in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts, on the other hand, is focused on building business hotels and resorts in India.

"At present, we have 23 hotels in India, either in operation or under construction. The pace at which work is going, there is no reason we cannot have 100 hotels in operation in the next five years in the country. We are in the process of finalising the sites of the proposed hotels," said Thomas J Monahan, senior vice-president, Acquisitions and Development.

Starwood has also set its eyes on Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala to set up its resorts. "There are a number of resort destinations in India, we would love to get into. We are in the process of setting shop in Goa, and are exploring opportunities in Rajasthan, Kerala and Pondicherry. We are interested in partnering local developers for the purpose," said Monahan.

In Asia, about 35 per cent of Starwoods inventory is in resorts. It is planning to bring all its brands including Westin, St Regis (luxury collection), Sheraton and W Resorts to India.

Globally, the spa industry is $24.5 million business, and is growing at an impressive rate.  In India, it gained prominence only in the last five years. Local brands occupy about 70 per cent of the beauty and spa market in the country. 

There are around 20-25 major spa centres across the counztry, with most of them located in Kerala a Luxury hotels are increasingly giving prominence to spas as it is a good way to market the property. The earning from such properties are also high.

Analysts predict in the next five years, as the infrastructure improves and ground operators develop, India will get more business travellers, and that's when the resort market will boom.

Kalpana Pathak in Mumbai