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ITC to Expand Fortune Chain to 100 Hotels

ITC Ltd., the Indian partner of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., plans to expand its brand of cheaper lodgings to 100 to tap demand in smaller towns.

``The rural market is today the buzzword,'' Nakul Anand, chief executive of the hotel division, said in an interview. ``Companies are going to send people who will require accommodation. This business is going to grow.''

ITC, through its unit Fortune Park Hotels Ltd., will cater to executives selling mobile phones, toothpaste and financial services to the three-quarters of India's 1.1 billion people who live in rural areas.

``The India growth story is percolating down to the smaller towns,'' said Sudhir Nair, head of research at Crisil Ltd., the Indian unit of Standard & Poor's. ``If you look at the profile of the people traveling and give them a value proposition, it is a good business model.''

Spending in towns in villages is forecast to rise 60 percent to $18 billion in five years, spurring Deccan Aviation Ltd. to add flights and Indian Hotels Ltd., the nation's biggest operator, to open budget properties.

Fortune Park will run the hotels and inns with as few as 20 rooms each in the next five years, Anand said in an interview in Gurgaon, where ITC's hotel division is based.

The subsidiary, which runs 18 hotels and has another 19 alliances in place, is seeking to locate about a quarter of its properties in small towns, said Pawan Verma, executive vice president, operations.

Source: Bloomberg

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Choice Hotels plans expansion

Choice Hotels India (CHI) plans to have around 80 hotels in the country in the next three years.

While the company, a part of Choice Hotels International, has 30 hotels operating at present under its three brands— Comfort Inn, Clarion and Quality Inn— it will expand its portfolio by adding another 50 hotels under these brands.

It has also got into a contract with The Royal Indian Raj International Corporation to build over 30 hotels in the next three years. RIRIC has pledged around Rs 17,000 crore to build over 100 hotels in the next seven years in India.

In the first phase of development, RIRIC will make the necessary investments for construction of 30 hotels. Choice Hotels will manage these hotels. While CHI will hold 30 per cent of the share in the hotel properties, the remaining will be shared by RIRIC.

“We are bullish on the south and western markets. We have a presence in key metros and we also plan to take our hotels to all possible destinations,” said Reyaz Mama, director, CHI.

The company which at present has two hotels in Mumbai is looking at having two more hotels in the metro. At present it is in negotiations to have a hotel in Panvel, Navi Mumbai.

Choice Hotels is looking at having a hotel in Kolkata and also in the eastern parts of India. “We did have a couple of offers from developers in the east, but at present we do not understand the market in east. We would like to study it and certainly have a presence there too,” added Mama.

By this year end, Choice Hotels will roll out its new budget hotel brand — Sleep Inn in the market. The first Sleep Inn will be operational in Pune.

A Sleep Inn would have anywhere between 60—150 rooms and will be priced anywhere between Rs 1500-2,000 depending on the location.

The company is targeting all tier II and tier III cities to build its Sleep Inn brand. It is targeting an occupancy of 80 per cent plus for the Sleep Inns.

“Our objective is to price our rooms at a 25-30 per cent discount to full service hotels and with our room rents it should not be difficult to achieve occupancies of 80 per cent plus.”

For its hotels, the company is creating a model where we will have a set design for its properties so that it does not need a re-designing. The hotel will target at domestic business travellers, domestic leisure travellers, mid-market international tourists and chartered business travellers.

Source: Business Standard

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Muthoot Group to construct five-star hotel at Kochi

Kerala-based Muthoot Group proposes to set up a Rs 150 crore five-star hotel in Kochi, Kerala's commercial hub.

The construction work for the hotel, that will have 300- plus rooms, will begin next year, group's Managing Director George Alexander Muthoot told reporters here on Friday night.

The Muthoot group was one among the few to identify the vast potential offered by the hospitality and tourism industry of Kerala, he said. Muthoot Cardamom County, a four star classified resort, in Thekkady is a well-known tourism spot in the state.

The Group, which has launched a new company called Muthoot Wealth Management Services Pvt Ltd, would have 50 independent offices by the end of this fiscal. Already 25 offices have been opened.

It would be catering to investors by giving advice on sectors such as life insurance, non life insurance, Mutual Funds, share trading and gold investment. It has tie-up with several insurance companies, Mutual Funds and share trading companies.

The Rs 7000-crore group has presence in varied sectors such as banking and finance, real estate, agriculture, horticulture and plantations industry, hotels, IT, Health care services, Non-conventional energy.

"We are also in the process of reaching out to new areas and segments by adding more value added services and products," Muthoot said.

The Muthoot Finance, the non banking financial company, was also keen on launching its credit card for which it was awaiting RBI clearance, K Padmakumar, one of the Directors of the company said. NBFC is prevented from issuing credit cards at present, he said.