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Indian Hotels plans more properties in Bengal

Puneet Chhatwal says Calcutta could be a launchpad for expanding the Ginger brand in eastern parts of the country
Puneet Chhatwal
Puneet Chhatwal
File Photo

Pinak Ghosh, Sambit Saha   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.05.22, 03:29 AM

From luxury homestays to lean-luxe hotels, Indian Hotels Company Limited, the flagship hospitality venture of the Tata Group, plans to bring more brands and add more properties in Bengal.

Having inaugurated the second Taj hotel in Calcutta at New Town on Saturday in partnership with the Ambuja Neotia group, IHCL will bring the Ginger brand and is exploring partnerships under its luxury homestay brand Amã.

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Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO, IHCL on Saturday said Calcutta could be a launchpad for further expanding the Ginger brand in eastern parts of the country.

 “This will be the best year for openings for Ginger. We plan to open anything between 7-10 Ginger hotels,” he said at the sidelines of the inauguration of the 137-room Taj City Centre.  IHCL’s presence in Bengal  includes two hotels in Calcutta and one in Darjeeling under the Taj brand, one each under SeleQtions and Vivanta in Calcutta, and a convention centre. In addition, there is a villa in the city and two bungalows and cottages in Darjeeling under Amã.

 Nationally, IHCL has significantly expanded its presence in the homestay brand Amã with around 80 properties across 40 destinations.

“We have a good relationship with the state tourism department and we would be looking at more opportunities to bring newer brands to Bengal. This includes our venture into the homestay market through our brand Ama,” said Chhatwal adding that the company is exploring partnerships for the same.

Bengal tourism secretary Nandini Chakravorty welcomed the interest of Taj Group in developing more homestays . “If they come up with new proposals, the state government will extend all support,” Chakravorty said.

 There are 900 homestay accommodations in Bengal and the number is growing at a 25 percent compounded annual growth rate. The state hascome a homestay policy. 

However, IHCL will operate homestay at a higher price point than most with Amã. At present, the company offers the service in Kurseong’s Makaibari tea estate and within Vedic Village near Calcutta. The third one, Puttabong Cottage, recently opened in Darjeeling.

Harshavardhan Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Neotia group, said that the immediate focus is to complete the projects at hand which are in partnership with IHCL, but there is scope to explore more projects in the future.

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with IHCL once again,” he said.

Chhatwal said the company is on track with its plans to  open around a hotel a month. Having started the year with a portfolio of 215-plus hotels, IHCL could end up adding 18-20 more hotels in 2022-23.

“We have announced that we would open one hotel a month. Last year we opened 13. I think this year we will open 20.”

IHCL has already seen its average rates in the domestic properties reaching close to the levels seen in 2019-20. There was a 94 per cent recovery in the average rate of rooms per day in 2021-22 while domestic occupancies have reached 81 per cent of the pre-Covid numbers in 2019-20.



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