Founded by John Spence, the hospitality firm plans to set up four new resorts in India over the next couple of years. The Australia-based firm is also looking to tap into private equity investment, and raise debt to fund its expansion.
“In the early days, we focused very heavily on India. We want to refocus on the country. The plan is to have two resorts a year in the next two years," Spence told Business Standard. Karma Group currently owns and operates properties in Goa, Kerala, Dharamshala and Jaipur, under brands, including Karma Royal and Karma Royal Residences.
The expansion will be a combination of organic and inorganic, in destinations popular among Indian and international travellers, he said. This time, Spence is showing keen interest on properties near the Himalayas, in Rajasthan and in some other hill stations. Karma's business is based on attractive private club memberships for 28 resorts in 10 countries, including India, Australia, Southeast Asia, France and Germany. Indian businesses account for 40 per cent of company's global revenue.
The average occupancy for Karma properties in India has been close to 80 per cent — one of the reasons behind the group’s renewed vigour to enhance its India footprint.
With the concept of holidaying having undergone a sea change, Karma is sharply focused on offering travellers an enriching experience, said Spence.
"We always say that we are not into just lodging business, but into entertainment. Our resorts offer a platform, canvas to provide entertainment," he said. Some of the properties of Karma Group even make its own wine and olive oil, he said.
Unlike other luxury international hotel chains, Karma owns the assets through long-term lease contracts. Typically most of them comprise 30 to 100 rooms, and boasts of fitness programmes, spas, recreational facilities, including sports, entertainment.
In India, Karma Group competes with Mahindra Holidays & Resorts, a vacation ownership company that owns the Club Mahindra brand.
Adding to its bouquet of offerings, Karma has recently introduced an event named 'Glamping', where it is incorporating tents, yacht at its resorts. It has recently signed a contract to take this to a few festivals in Chella, (US) and in England.
A Google India-BCG report released last year projected the overall Indian travel market to reach $48 billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 11 per cent to 11.5 per cent.