Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), the country’s largest hospitality company, is eyeing 18-20 openings in the current year.
Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer, IHCL, said that a minimum of 18 hotels would be opened in the year and may even go up to 20.
Chhatwal was in Kolkata for the second opening this year -- the Taj City Centre New Town in partnership with the Ambuja Neotia Group. The partnership was for six contracted properties and the Taj City Centre New Town was the fourth. Incidentally, the launch marked the second Taj in the city after 33 years.
Of the 18 launches that IHCL is eyeing, 7-10 would be under the Ginger brand, “This will be the best year of openings for Ginger,” said Chhatwal. Explaining the rationale behind the strong pipeline of Ginger hotels, Chhatwal said, “It’s the way the country is moving. We need more hotels like that.”
IHCL has traditional brands like Taj, Vivanta, SeleQtions, and new-age ones like Ginger and Ama.
On the recovery of the hospitality sector, Chhatwal said that the months of March and April had gone beyond pre-Covid levels. “As of March, things have gone beyond pre-Covid level.”
Leisure travel, he said, has been higher than pre-Covid while business travel was between 70 per cent to even 90 per cent, depending on the brand and city. “We are trending in March and April higher than pre-Covid,” said Chhatwal.
But he was cautious and pointed out that these were just two months and the rest of the year was ahead.
IHCL, Chhatwal said, had an industry-leading pipeline. Of the 236 hotels in the portfolio, 59 were under development. The company is working towards having 50 per cent of its portfolio on asset-light from a current level of 46 per cent.