The promoters of Bengal-based 89 Cinemas, which was later merged with Inox in 2007-08, have forayed into the hospitality industry with the launch of their first hotel project in the pilgrimage town of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. The company has lined up five more launches under the ‘Daiwik Hotels’ brand and will focus on pilgrimage destinations.
Debashis Ghosal, managing director and chief executive officer of Daiwik Hotels Private Limited, said that the company was planning to create an inventory of 530 rooms over the next two-and-a-half years with an investment of around Rs 180 crore. The proposed projects will be funded through a mix of debt and equity in the ratio of 60:40. While the initial equity portion will be from the promoters, the company is also open to private equity funds, provided the brand is not diluted, he said.
The first property of the company was inaugurated at Rameswaram, which will be followed by a property in Tirupathi. The company is also planning to expand into Madurai, Kanyakumari, Thiruvananthapuram and Srisailam in the southern region, and Dwaraka and Vaishnodevi in north.
“We are having the first-mover advantage by identifying the need-gap for pilgrimage hospitality. With the growing influx of middle-income and high-income group pilgrims, there is a huge unmet demand in the contemporary pilgrim requirements of quality hotels and a stress-free holistic pilgrim experience, which so far is largely unorganised,” Ghosal said.
In the 2010 financial year, the domestic travel industry registered 740 million travellers, of which 450 million were pilgrimage travellers. The number is growing at around 13 per cent every year, he added.
As many as 9.8 million visited Rameswaram in 2011, an important Char Dham and one of the 12 Jyotirlingams. Daiwik Hotels’ Rameswaram marks the first organised hospitality venture in the district with its four-star property. With an investment of Rs 29 crore, the 61,000-sft property is built on 1.1-acre with 90 rooms.
The flagship project from the brand will come up in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, by the end of next year. To come up on 1.5 acre, the 115,000-sft property will have around 140 rooms. The hill town of Tirumala receives 23 million visitors annually, Ghosal said.
The four-star Daiwik Hotels’ Tirupati property will provide a host of knowledge-based services like guided tours, historical information about the place, an area for religious discourses and recreational activities like yoga and ayurvedic spa to cater to every essential necessity of a modern-day pilgrim.