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NEWS| Intl| Blackstone moves fast to change Hilton

The shakeup of top managers at Hilton properties in Hawaii suggests that the hotel company's new owners are on an aggressive campaign to streamline operations and quickly increase profits even as demand for traditional hotel rooms slackens.

Since acquiring Hilton Hotel Corp. for $26 billion in October, New York-based Blackstone Group has replaced key corporate executives and is clearly imposing its brand of management on Hilton, which some industry analysts say was slow and bloated as its competitors charged past, especially in the development of time-share properties and ultra-luxury resorts.

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NEWS| Taj receives Michelin Star

First ever accolade for a South Indian restaurant in the UK

Taj's flagship property in the United Kingdom, 51 Buckingham Gate's South Indian restaurant, Quilon has received the Michelin star culinary accolade.

Quilon Restaurant in Victoria is one of the five London restaurants to be awarded their first Michelin stars. It is only the fifth Indian restaurant in the capital to win such an honour and in fact the only South Indian restaurant in the UK to do so.

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NEWS| Phoenix Group Global to set up hotels in India

UAE-based Phoenix Group Global, a major player in hospitality, realty and floriculture sectors is will make its presence felt in India by investing an additional Rs.1500 crore in the hospitality and realty sectors in a couple of years.

The group is setting up a deluxe five-star business hotel atWhitefield in Bangalore at a cost of Rs.100 -150 crore. Phoenix's director (RR and Communication) Priti Chand said that the hotel would be commissioned in the current year.

Apart from this the group is planning to set up hotels in Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and other major Indian cities.

Two major real estate projects are also being launched by the Group in Goa. The proposed projects consist of villas and apartment and they will come up in two plots of 150 acre and 200 acre.

In Goa, the group has the Radisson White Sands Resort and Country Inns and Suits. Radisson Plaza Resort and Spa at Kumarakam in Kerala was launched in 2006.

The group's Rs.150-crore floriculture operation is based in Kenya. It exports 100 million cut roses at present.

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NEW BUILDS| Vijaya Hospitality to launch its first five star property by 2011

Plans to build ten three star hotels in the next five years

Vijaya Hospitality and Resorts Ltd plans to launch its first five star deluxe hotel at Kundanoor in Kochi. It is scheduled to be operational by 2011.

Spread across an area of three acres of land, the property’s construction will start by the end of March 2008. “The property will be owned as well as managed, by Vijaya Hospitality and Resorts Ltd. We are investing approximately Rs 450 crore for the property,” says Kuriachan Palackal, Senior Manager, Marketing & Sales, Vijaya Hospitality and Resorts Ltd.

The 24 storey hotel will have 320 rooms, 11 banquet halls, 14 restaurants, four swimming pools, a game zone and three fitness centres. From the ground to the fifth floor, the hotel will host a commercial area, conference room, restaurants, banquet hall and a parking area. There will be residential rooms from the sixth floor onwards. The hotel’s terrace will have two helipads.

According to Palackal, the group also plans to build ten three star hotels across Kerala in the next five years. These hotels will include properties at Tripunithura, Vaikkom and Kottayam. The group also plans to start a resort in Kumarakom by 2011.

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NEWS| National Tourism awards presented in New Delhi

Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra and Taj Residency, Bangalore among hospitality award winners

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture announced the winners of the National Tourism Awards in 57 categories, at Vigyan Bhawan, Plenary Hall in New Delhi. Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister, India presented the awards at a function, which was presided over by Ambika Soni, the Minister of Tourism & Culture.

The hospitality segment of the National Tourism awards included recognition for the best classified hotels in the five star deluxe, five star, four star, three star, two star, one star, Heritage Grand, Heritage Classic and Heritage categories. The event also included awards for the best eco-friendly hotels and resorts; eco-friendly hotels and resorts (special prize) and convention centres. A special award for the best Private-Public enterprise providing facilities for the physically challenged, was also part of the ceremony.

In the five star deluxe category, the award went to the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra. The award was received by George Kuruvilla, General Manager, Oberoi Amarvilas; Aseem Tiwari, Sr Vice President (Corporate Affairs), Oberoi Amarvilas; Ketaki Narain, Director (Corporate Communication), Oberoi Amarvilas and Vijay Sharma, Asst Manager (Corporate Affairs), Oberoi Amarvilas. In the five star category, Saleem Yousuff, General Manager, Taj Residency, Bangalore, accepted the award for the Taj Residency, Bangalore.

Gateway Hotel, Residency Road, Bangalore was the recipient in the four star category. The award was accepted by Vinod Valson, General Manager, Gateway Hotel. In the three star grade of hotels, The Brunton Boatyard, Fort Cochin’s award was received by Shilendran, GM (Sales & Distribution), The Brunton Boatyard.

The two star division saw the victory of Resorte Marinha Dourada, Goa. Menino and Theresa Goes Proenca from the hotel were present to accept the award. Hotel Fifty–Five, New Delhi won the one star hotels category. Rajesh Khanna, Director, Hotel Fifty–Five and Mohan Joshi, Manager, Hotel Fifty–Five were the hotel’s representatives.

In the Heritage Grand class of hotels, Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur triumphed with Aditya Veer Singh, GM (Operations), Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur collecting the award. The Malabar House - Fort Cochin was awarded best hotel in the Heritage Classic category. Joerg Drechsel, Chairman, The Malabar House - Fort Cochin and Txuku Iriarte, Director, The Malabar House - Fort Cochin accepted the award. In the Heritage hotels division, Ankur Rara, General Manager, The Raj Palace and Jagdish Singh Bisht, Financial Controller, The Raj Palace received the award on behalf of The Raj Palace, Jaipur.

The best eco-friendly hotel & resorts award went to The Taj Westend, Bangalore. PK Mohankumar, General Manager, The Taj Westend represented the winning hotel. Best eco-friendly hotel & resorts (special prize) was won by ITC Maurya, Delhi. Dipak Haksar, Vice President (Operations) and GM, ITC Maurya and N Ramamoorty, Chief Engineer, ITC Maurya collected the award.

In the best convention centre category, Hyderabad International Convention Centre emerged victorious. Philip J Logan, General Manager, Hyderabad International Convention Centre and Saurabh Bharara, Asst Director, Hyderabad International Convention Centre were present at the ceremony. ITC Windsor, Bengaluru was awarded the prize for best Private-Public enterprise providing facilities for the physically challenged. Dipak Haksar, Vice President (Operations) & General Manager, ITC Maurya accepted the award.

The Chef’s awards saw Sanjeev Kapoor win Chef of the year. A special award was also given to P Soundararajan, Corporate Chef of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts. Manisha Bhasin was awarded Lady Chef of the year.

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