Hotel chains warm up to the city of joy


Hotel chains including ITC, Accor, Lemon Tree and IHG are warming up to Kolkata, the City of Joy, the otherwise neglected metro that was often referred to as the “poor cousin” in the hospitality industry.

Greater development, improved infrastructure and access to the Far East are reigniting interest in the city, they said.

ITC Hotels will launch the Royal Bengal in Kolkata in April. The 456-room hotel includes 82 service apartments and is located adjacent to the chain’s first property in the state, ITC Sonar. Together, the two hotels will offer about 700 rooms, over 15 dining options, 22 meeting and convention venues and three lounges.

Mandeep Lamba, president, South Asia at HVS Anarock said Kolkata is seeing a spurt in hotel room supply with 971 rooms under development across luxury, mid scale and economy brands which will get operational over the next 18 months. Lamba said the inventory is likely to get absorbed with causing any significant impact to the performance of operating hotels.

Accor will start the Ibis Kolkata Rajarhat, its first Ibis in the city, this month. Accor is already present in the city with two other brands – Swissotel and Novotel.

According to a top Accor official, multiple factors have contributed to the growth in demand for hotel rooms in Kolkata, including promotional efforts aimed at increasing international and domestic conferences and events.

“Improved and increased connectivity by flight, road or rail, has led to Kolkata becoming the first choice as a vacation destination among neighbouring states,” said Jean-Michel Cassé, chief operating officer, India and South Asia, AccorHotels. “The city is also witnessing an influx of both domestic and international leisure and business travellers, given Kolkata’s rich culture and heritage as a tourist destination and its development as a business hub.”

Lemon Tree will open its hotel in the city in April at an investment of Rs 140 crore. Intercontinental Hotels Group partnered with SDB Developers last year for a second Holiday Inn in the city. IHG has the 150-room Holiday Inn at Kolkata airport.

“We have witnessed a growth in demand in Kolkata owing to an increase in domestic travel as well as international arrivals. We currently operate one hotel in Kolkata – Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport and overall, in 2018, we witnessed occupancies close to 75% and a positive growth in average daily rate as compared to 2017,” said Vivek Bhalla, regional vice president, South West Asia at IHG.

“Kolkata was often cited as the poor cousin among all the metros and was in the dormant stage but now it is catching up. With JW Marriott getting accepted very well in the market and improved development and infrastructure, people are taking an active interest in the city,” said Romesh Koul, CEO of Naaz Hotel Consultants.

Double-digit growth in the hotel segment was expected only in two cities – Mumbai and Kolkata – during financial year 2020, investment information and credit rating company ICRA said in a note in September.

“Currently, the supply additions are happening at a moderated pace following 8% compounded annual supply addition witnessed over financial year 2011-18,” ICRA said in the note.

Sweet and snack manufacturer Haldiram’s is considering converting one of its land plots close to Kolkata airport into a hotel, industry executives familiar with the developments said.

“They have a parcel close to the airport and they were evaluating converting that into a hotel project. This is close to their outlet at the airport. The project had been in dormant stage for a few years,” they added.