The Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts is looking to expand its presence in the international market over the next 12 to 18 months, said Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer of the company. The luxury hospitality chain is scouting for places in the Maldives and the Middle East. In the long term, it plans to expand into long-haul international markets that serve the Indian diaspora. Closer to home, the company has plans to add 15 per cent more keys through acquisitions to its overall portfolio of 3,500 keys.
“With the reopening of outbound markets and the hospitality industry back on track, we are seeing positive macroeconomic indicators. Corporate travel is picking up, ARRs are higher, and occupancy rates are good. While weddings drove the industry last fiscal year, the outbound market will play a crucial role this year, and we anticipate its return by Q2 of the upcoming fiscal year,” Bhatnagar told businessline
He said that the company is looking at expanding its international segment. “We see potential in this segment. We are picking markets like the Maldives and the Middle East. Both these destinations enjoy heavy traffic from India, and the potential for brand recall is much greater here. Our aim is to enter these markets in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Speaking about the long-term plans, he said that the company would be on the lookout for properties in the long-haul markets, potentially in Australia, Canada, and others that cater to higher Indian diaspora.
Closer to home, the company is expecting the growth to come from its city hotels this fiscal. For the previous fiscal, resorts were growth drivers for the company.
The company has 3,500 keys in its portfolio, of which 1,216 are owned by the company. “Looking at the growth domestically too, we are now looking for growth over and above the charted business plan. We plan to add 15 per cent more keys to our owned portfolio.”
On management contracts, he said, “Our focus is on the luxury and ultra-luxury segment, and we would like to maintain the quality of the resorts, so, we will tiptoe when it comes to management contracts.”
Speaking about a few industry trends, Bhatangar said that he doesn’t see reversibility in the average room rates in the luxury and ultra-luxury segments in the near future. “India is grossly underpriced among all Asian markets. Covid has given an understanding to hoteliers that they can charge more.”