Interest rooted in mid-life rebranding exercise
Orient-Express Hotels (OEH), the Bermuda-based owner and operator of luxury hotels, trains, river cruises and restaurants, is open to expanding its global reach, which could include a base in India.
Sources familiar with the developments said the NYSE-listed OEH could be exploring possibilities of entering India if there were ‘opportunities’. The company has started the process of scouting for management contracts globally, for new properties.
“We are always looking at possibilities for acquisition and expansion into management contracts but do not have anything to report at this time,” said a spokesperson at OEH, in an email response seeking to know if India would feature on its list of future markets.
OEH’s India interest is rooted in the mid-life rebranding exercise it is undergoing. The company has rebranded almost all of its properties under a new brand called Belmond.
The company has retained its long-term licence agreement with SNCF, the French transportation company that owns the Orient-Express trademark, for the Venice Simplon-train. With the decision to introduce the Belmond brand, the company also entered into an agreement with the French company to terminate the existing Orient-Express licence for hotel use.
OEH hit the headlines when Tata Group-promoted Indian Hotels Company, in a rare show of aggression, launched a $1.86-billion takeover bid in October 2012. The bid was declined by OEH the following month, saying it was undervalued.
Though India has seen the entry of almost every major luxury hospitality brand, ranging from Four Seasons to Shangri La to Fairmont, the country has been missing from the radar of Orient Express.
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