Twenty14 Holdings, the investment portfolio arm of Lulu Group International, plans to invest close to Rs 2000 crore across India by 2025. The company already has a Tribute hotel, Port Muziris in Kochi, two properties are under construction in Bengaluru and four more will be finalised soon. It is looking at the North East region and Hyderabad for future footprint.
Speaking exclusively to Express Food & Hospitality, Adeeb Ahamed, managing director, Twenty14 Holdings, informed, “We operate hotels across Europe, the Middle East and India. Apart from Port Muziris, we have two hotels in the pipeline in Bengaluru, one next to the airport and the second in Electronic City. The airport one will be a Marriott property with 200 keys and a large conferencing facility and is expected to open in the third quarter of this year. The hotel in Electronic City will be a Hyatt Centric with 125 keys and is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2021. They are all entry level five-star properties.” The key growth pillars for India are hotels in the key cities, hotels near connecting channels (airports and railway stations) or connecting hubs and thirdly, hotels near religious tourism sites. The company is also looking at destination properties like beach resorts or hill station resorts. He added, “The main vision of creating Twenty14 Holdings is to become a billion dollar investment firm by 2025. We have currently invested close to US$ 650,000 million on assets. We have two assets in UK – one is the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian in Scotland and the Great Scotland Yard in London which opened recently. We have other two properties under construction in Zurich airport and in Amsterdam. We also have the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay in Dubai and the Sheraton in Muscat.”
He mentioned that the Marriott in Kochi, Courtyard by Marriott Kochi airport and Grand Hyatt Bolgatty were all part of the Lulu Hypermarket division. The division’s two more properties – a Hyatt in Thrissur and Taj Trivandrum will be operational soon. Elucidating on the slowdown and market sentiments, Ahamed opined, “There are still a lot of properties in the pipeline across India but they are all scheduled to open in the next five years or so. We have a very bullish feeling of India’s tourism sector in the next 5 to 10 years. Many people would be interested in investing in hotels with a construction period of next three to four years, so a lot of properties are going to go live.”
He agreed that there has been a strain as rates have not grown as expected. “Being a capital intensive sector, a lot of people expected growth to happen faster but that’s not happening. On a global tourism index we are not very high on the charts, many of our smaller competitor countries are receiving more tourists on a yearly basis. That means we have lots to do to up our ante in terms of making India more tourist friendly and bringing in lot more interesting properties in the market so that people find it an attractive destination to travel to. We still have pockets like Kerala, Rajasthan, Goa doing their side of the story but we want more states to do their bit,” he said.
Ahamed feels that a lot of brownfield projects are available in the market because of the banking sector’s NPA issues. “Brownfields reduce the time for entry into the market. However they come with their own challenges – not built to the quality or the layout does not fit into the operator’s criteria, etc. We have to do a lot of breakdowns on those projects. So every brownfield is not up for the grab but strong evaluation is being done by different investment houses to see which are the best ones and how they can be converted into good properties. While we are also evaluating greenfield projects, both the Bengaluru properties were brownfield projects for us. Port Muziris, a 52-key hotel was a buy out and conversion deal,” he stated.