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Big luxury hotel chains eye North-East

November 09, 2007 15:28 IST
North-Eastern states are on the hotel industry radar. With real estate development speeding up, hotel companies are cashing in on the boom.

More than six hotel chains are looking at either building properties or expanding their presence in these states.

ITC's WelcomHeritage brand, for instance, is scouting for properties in Nagaland and Kaziranga, Assam. The hotel, however, is already there in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.

Sarovar Hotels, which has its three-star Portico brand in Tezpur (Assam), is also looking at having two new properties in Guwahati and Shillong. Roots Corporation's Ginger Hotels too has a presence in Guwahati and Agartala, and is now looking at expanding its chain in the region.

While many international hospitality players are studying the market in this region, few companies such as Wyndham Hotels, Berggruen Hotels and Choice Hotels have decided to make a foray.

According to Sunil Mathur, director, Wyndham Hotels, "North-East is on our list. We see a good business potential in that region and would pursue the same."

Wyndham Hotel, a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, recently tied up with engineering and construction company Gammon India to launch Wyndham's mid-market brands - Super 8 and Days Inn - in India.

Since integrated townships, retail and a lot of development is taking place on the real estate front in Guwahati and Shillong, hoteliers consider these cities as the best bet.

"Lack of proper infrastructure had kept potential investors away from this states. Now the situation is improving, hotel companies along with other corporate investors are looking at these destinations. Few big brands are looking at establishing resorts and wildlife lodges," says an analyst.

North-East has an untapped tourism market. Since new-age travellers prefer adventurous destinations, these states hold a good potential.

Rakesh Mathur, president, WelcomHeritage hotels, says, "We consider North-East a lucrative option, as this part of the country has remained largely untapped by hoteliers. Besides, tourists don't have large exposure to this part which assures a good crowd in these areas."

With other local hotels doing brisk business in the region and charging rates equivalent to that of five-star, a lot of hoteliers have decided to move in.

Tirthankar Banerjee, general manager, Retail, JLL-Meghraj, says, "For hotels its a matter of profitability. When the local hotels charge tariff as high as any five-star hotel, they prefer in bringing their brand and cash in on the same. Other then, they also want to have the first mover advantage."

He also added that budget hotels are the most suitable for these destinations.
Kalpana Pathak in Mumbai