Vikram Madhok elected as Chairman of PATA Industry Council

vikram madhok, chairman of pata industry council, pata, pacific asia travel association, pata industry council

Vikram Madhok, Honorary Treasurer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) India Chapter has been elected as the next Chairman of the PATA Industry Council for the term May 2016–17. In addition to assuming this global responsibility, Madhok will also sit on the PATA Executive Board. Madhok has had an illustrious career and over the years specialized in luxury tourism and hospitality.

He has served on PATA India Chapter for over 20 years and was also the Chairman of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) India Initiative. He has also held important positions like President of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (NI), EC Member– IATO & several other positions.

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Quintessentially a true Banarasi experience at Brijrama Palace

With such a scenic and pious location on the banks of the holy river Ganga, Brijrama is indeed the jewel of Varanasi. A palatial hotel, which was once the residence of Maharaja Darbanga and his wife, the palace dates back to 1798 and has one of India’s oldest lifts. Telling more about the property’s distinct features and charm, Udit Kumar, Joint Managing Director, 1589 Hotels, shares more.

Mr Udit Kumar, Joint Managing Director, 1589 Hotels

Inputs by Mr. Udit Kumar, Joint Managing Director, 1589 Hotels:

Having taken over the charge of the palace a decade ago, there has been a constant effort to restore the palace to its original charm. The palace is his Grandfather’s much cherished project, who took it upon himself to give this project life. Being the resident of Varanasi himself, it has been completed by him along with the professional guidance of renowned architects. Given the city’s cultural lineage and company’s immense fondness for this city, the location couldn’t have been better.

Hinting upon the property’s uniqueness, Udit says “Brijrama is truly one of a kind. Today, all luxury hotels offer the same services, from personal butlers to a highly efficient and operative concierge. We have all of this and in the luxury segment, such services seldom set properties apart. Our most outstanding feature is the essence of the Varanasi Ghats, undeniably, an exceptional one. The palace is located on the banks of river Ganga, you arrive at the hotel via a Bajra (traditional banarasi boat) on which you are checked in to your room. The F&B outlets of the property overlook the Awe Inspiring view of River, Ghats and the Sunrise to Sunset. Here guests can experience at leisure the Serenity and Heritage of the oldest living city.

He further says, “During its restoration, we came across multiple carvings and sculptures emulating our national bird, the peacock and as a result the palace carries the same theme forward. The Palace has 32 keys, 3 F&B outlets and an Al Fresco venue to accommodate approximately 100 people . Brijrama is a palace which will provide an uber luxury experience to the guest.  We are also keen in restoring the beauty and charm of the ghats and is one of the few fighting for the cleanliness of the holy river Ganga.”

Adding further, Udit shares, “The complete palace has been furnished with pure Banarasi silk. We have come down to the simple things that Varanasi offers and we bring that to our guests, from chai being served in Kulhads to types of thandai and the most famous Aalu ka rassa. The interiors of the palace have been carefully hand painted with primarily gold leaf work to provide royal aesthetics to the guests. There are so many facets that truly set this property apart.  For someone looking to experience Varanasi and luxury; this is definitely a setting where they should be heading to.

1589 Hotels

Hotel Industry on high optimism for 2016

So, the year 2015 has gone by and the industry swayed along the year’s highs and lows. As we went on to interview some of the leading hoteliers, the reactions were mixed, some looked buoyant about 2015 others were unhappy with the number of issues the industry faced this year. Nonetheless one thing that remains same was their cheerfulness and high expectations from 2016.

Rachita Sehgal

Anil Madhok
Managing Director
Sarovar Hotels and Resorts

The year was good compared to the previous year, though the high season start was a bit late but to sum up 2015 was a fine year for Sarovar hotels and resorts. Compared to last five years we have seen an 18-19 per cent growth in number of footfalls and room supplies. As Delhi welcomed ‘Aerocity’ this year, we as an industry were skeptical about the impact it will create on the city hotels but to all good news it did not create any bad blow. Also, considering the number of hotels that opened this year a misbalance was feared but the growing market has indeed helped, the competition is good and as far as international chains are considered they are not a threat to us, we cater to different type of clientele. I believe, in next five years we will see huge growth and a lot of properties will come up. We at Sarovar hotels and resorts are planning to open properties in Bengaluru, Chennai, Raipur, Dehradun, Noida, Bhavnagar, Amritsar, Aerocity etc.

Rattan Keswani
Deputy Managing Director
Lemon Tree Hotels

With the new Government in place the world around us changed in last 12-14 months, but I believe year 2015 did not live up to the expectations we had as an industry. At the same time this has been the largest bottom cycle of the hospitality, this is the first time in so many years that a bottom of cycle which began in early times of 2008 the industry has still not come out, therefore it is a bit of a challenge. The positive part of this year is that because the previous four to five years were top of cycle a lot of supply came into market, a lot of hotels were built, and an year on year supply infusion in the hospitality has almost been 15-16 per cent and to our surprise the demand too shot up by 12 per cent. And this particular demand supply ratio created a misbalance in the industry and the gap was expected to be filled up by end of this year, which obviously did not happen. On a percentage basis occupancies have only grown up by 1.25 per cent. But what has happened good for Lemon tree hotels is that no matter how bad the market was in shape our occupancies have been much better, we have been able to achieve 74 per cent occupancies across our brands as an average. And we at Lemon tree hotels are all optimistic for the year 2016 and I hope the year will turn out good for the industry. We are planning to tap markets like Bodhgaya which are famous for religious tourism and by end of January 2016 Lemon tree is welcoming its Resort in Manesar.

Atul Lall
Vice President Hospitality and General Manager
The Claridges New Delhi

atul lall, the claridges, general manager

This is has been better than last year for sure, in fact better than last three to four years, but not as good as everybody expected it to be. The euphoria around Modi government was huge and so were the expectations, all the noise around e-visa was too much, we all thought India will be swamped with tourist which obviously did not happen. I guess everybody in the country got the meaning of e-visa wrong, it wasn’t visa on arrival or maybe it was just marketed in a wrong light and that really impacted the tourism. Other major factors have been the crunch times that the international markets are currently facing, Europe is going through hard times, and Russia is going through crisis. Another setback that the industry faced this year was the ‘luxury tax’, and the guest obviously doesn’t understand this, I believe there should be a reasonable tax structure, the taxes in India just keep adding up after the luxury tax now we have the new swachh bharat tax  and the impact of these taxes are obviously felt by the travellers. We also witnessed a number of properties built up around Delhi in 2015, which perhaps created a lot of misbalance in the market. We as an industry need to understand that just by adding supply we will not get demand too. Also, a lot of people confuse Delhi with Delhi NCR, if we look primarily only at Delhi no major development took place, in fact we as a Delhi hotel registered great numbers of occupancies, in fact around October-November we had around 85-57 per cent occupancies month round, even though occupancies were not affected by these new hotels but ARR’s were. We need to develop more demand drivers to avoid this misbalance in the near future. As for 2016 I wish and I hope that year turns out to be peaceful year because every time there’s a conflict in any part of the world tourism gets affected.

Faisal Nafees
Director Operations
Hotel the Royal Plaza

Faisal Nafees - Director Operations (1)

 

The year 2015 was good for us; we saw a great 30 per cent increase in occupancies. Though the ARR’s were affected due to number of hotels that came up this year, competition will perceptibly affect the hotels. One of the major reasons why India or Delhi as a destination has failed to attract travellers is the bad infrastructure of the state and that for surely has concerned the hotel industry. Even though India is now world famous we still need some growth drivers to attract the travellers, India has just started on the growth trajectory. Another major challenge that we are facing as an industry is the addition of multiple taxes, a lot of hotels are misusing the luxury taxes and misguiding the customers. The only solution to all these problems is that all the hotels should join hands and work towards a same objective. As far for 2016 I am all positive and sure that the year will turn out good for the industry and country.

Sanzeev Bhatia
General Manager
The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa

Mr. Sanzeev Bhatia, General Manager, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa.jpg

2015 has been an exciting year and a momentous occasion for THE MET as it celebrated a historic past while looking forward to the future. Having officially opened its doors to its first guests in 2000, these 15 glorious years personify a sense of satisfaction, delight and accomplishment. Tourism in India is a highly taxed Industry, which makes India expensive over its competitive destinations. This is affecting the growth of the Industry in India. Various associations of hotels, restaurants and travel industry from a long-long time are following with the Government to sort out the luxury tax issue in Hotel Industry. Currently in Delhi Luxury tax is being charged on published/rack rates and not on the charged room rate due to which the per night stay cost becomes very high for the traveler. I hope Delhi Government will review the situation and do the needful. Due to easy visa policies by Government of India and Visa on Arrival facility is definitely helping in growth of tourism in India. After almost 04 years of down trend our Industry now has started picking up and I am sure the coming months are going to be the best for Hospitality Industry. The signals are positive.

Marco Saxer
General Manager
Swissotel Kolkata

Mr. Marco Saxer, GM, Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista.JPG

The year 2015 was just a fine year and nothing great. With Novotel in place now, I feel it’s a big challenge for us because both of us cater to the same clientele. Though 2015 has been better compared to last year but in terms of MICE events the numbers just went down, occupancies went up by 80 per cent this year but again if we talk in terms of ARR’s it went down. As for 2016 I expect it to be a good year for all of us in the industry, even though the challenges are there and the market is going slow but I am optimistic that we will overcome all these challenges.

Parmeet Singh Nayar,
General Manager
Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

Parmeet Singh Nayar, General Manager.jpg

This has been a great year for Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi. In constant pursuit of Shangri-La’s essence of business, to be the first choice of our guests, colleagues, shareholders and business partners, and to delight out guests every time by creating engaging experiences while offering hospitality from the heart. With technology making sturdy inroads in almost every industry, the Indian hospitality sector is also set to grow leaps and bounds using technology as a springboard. The use of information technology in the hospitality industry has grown leaps and bounds over the past two decades, making it a catalyst for the growth of this sector. The Indian hospitality industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next ​5 years. The contribution of the Hospitality industry to GDP is expected to rise​by 7.2 per cent per annum.​ With such promising statistics, the team at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi aims at making the hotel the one stop hub for our guests. The hotel is already moving towards reaching a goal to provide the best of the best and hope to reach that position by 2020.

 

Shiv Kr. Mehan
Director operations
1589 Hotels

Hotel 1589.png

2015 has been a great year in terms of Business with an average growth of 20% reflecting on performance by hotels. The Group has grown with more than 10 New Hotels adding to the portfolio and our Room Inventory growing 3 Times. The Online Business segment has seen a major growth and Domestic Tourism and Corporate Travel, has also been on the move urged on optimism on Economy growth and stability of the Government at the center. The Future is promising; Indian Hospitality has proven to be very flexible and pro-active with both domestic and International change in business patterns. It has adapted fast enough to keep pace with the demands and preferences of the clientele. We are keeping pace with Technology and rising costs as well, this allows us to navigate both deeper and shallower waters. We are seeing a slow but a steady bounce in the future.

Kerala Tourism to get global audience

Kerala’s nature, culture and cuisine are set to receive a global audience with two leading television channels deciding to air shows dedicated to the State. The crews of BBC World from the U.K. landed and the NTV Broadcasting Company of Russia is to reach here on January 15 at the invitation of Kerala Tourism. Both the shows, named ‘The Travel Show’ on the BBC World and ‘Let’s Go, Let’s Eat’ on NTV, will be shot at key locales.

kerala tourism, kerala tourism to get global audience

The BBC World team with the programme editor Mike London, producer Dawn Layke and presenter Henry Golding will showcase the backwaters, home stays, and village life, of Alappuzha and Kochi. To highlight Responsible Tourism (RT), the crew will capture the details on shell collection in Alappuzha before reaching Kochi to capture Kathakali make-up.