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IHCL enters homestay segment, to open one hotel every month in the next fiscal year

The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) Tuesday announced that it has entered the homestay market in India with the launch of ‘Ama Trails & Stays’ brand. These are a group of guesthouses and heritage bungalows in unique locations across India. The company has already inked management agreement for nine heritage bungalows with Tata Coffee in Coorg and Chikmagalur, the bookings for which will begin from 1st March this year. It will also add two more properties in Candolim, Goa, and aspires to have a total of 100 such properties, which will also comprise of the non-group bungalows, under the Ama umbrella pan India by the end of 2020, informed Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, IHCL. The development is a part of the company’s five-year business strategy Aspiration 2022.

“We will be opening one hotel every month in the next financial year,” affirmed Chhatwal about IHCL’s foreseeable target under Aspiration 2022.

Furthermore, the company will be launching the “Seleqtions” brand in April 2019 which will be a collection of hotels with a story underneath either of the historic lineage or design principle. “Fortunately, we have won the bid for The Connaught in Delhi, which will be a Seleqtions branded hotel,” said Chhatwal. “We have the ambition to start with 10 properties under the Seleqtions brand,” added Chhatwal.

Underscoring the importance of F&B business for IHCL, “F&B contributes to 40 per cent of IHCL’s total revenue consolidated, but if we go to India only, the contribution is as high as 47 per cent,” said Chhatwal. “We are now also having our own online portal for challenging the likes of Swiggy, Eazydiner,” added Chhatwal.

The company, as part of its business strategy, is also considering monetising some of its assets. “We recently sold one property each in Visakhapatnam and Trivandrum. We will hopefully also sell three or four apartments in the next month in Mumbai,” said Chhatwal.

Speaking about IHCL’s recently revamped Ginger brand introduced into the lean luxe category with the opening of its first prototype hotel in Panjim, Goa in December last year, Chhatwal said that the brand is flexible to be placed in any part of the country, be it primary, secondary or tertiary markets in India. “It is a model that has evolved not today, but over the years since it started in 2004,” Deepika Rao, MD & CEO, Roots Corporation Ltd., said. “As part of the repositioning of Ginger, we have included subtle touches like improving the in-room amenities, introducing high energy glocal music while keeping the prices affordable, to make the brand more stylised and aspirational,” Rao told Express Food & Hospitality.

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