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Taj focus on Gateway growth

Prabhat Verma and Deepa Misra Harris in Calcutta on Wednesday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

Calcutta, Dec. 18: The Taj Group of Hotels is planning to commission five properties under the Gateway brand in 2014.

The expansion is part of the group’s “asset light” strategy to manage properties built by real estate developers.

Prabhat Verma, chief operating officer of The Gateway Hotels & Resorts, said the turnover of the brand after the five hotels start operations could increase to Rs 500 crore by 2014-15 from Rs 350 crore in 2012-13.

“We have plans to open hotels at places such as Damdama (Gurgaon), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Hinjewadi (Pune), Kohlapur (Maharashtra) and Corbett (Uttarakhand),” Verma today said while inaugurating a 197-room Gateway in Calcutta.

Taj Group has taken the management contract of the city property, set up by a private developer at a cost of Rs 150 crore. All the five properties taken together will add over 500 rooms. On the planned investment, Verma said a good rule of thumb was Rs 60 lakh per room.

He said that about 17 to 18 Gateway hotels were under construction, mostly in smaller towns, with the maximum of them being management contracts. At present, the group has 24 properties under the Getaway brand.

Deepa Misra Harris, senior vice-president (sales and marketing), said the Taj group had been able to maintain an average 65 per cent occupancy rate against 58 per cent for the industry.

The new hotel in Calcutta is the first Gateway in the city and the second Taj hotel to be commissioned 24 years after the launch of Taj Bengal in 1989. She said the group was looking at various opportunities in Calcutta and might consider bringing other brands such as Ginger and Vivanta to Bengal.

The group operates four brands — Taj, Vivanta, Gateway and Ginger.

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