|By Sudipto Dey, The Economic Times, India|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 10, 2005 - New Delhi - Lalit Suri - promoted Bharat Hotels plans to re-position its Delhi property, InterContinental The Grand, as a luxury 5-star hotel targeting the high-end business traveller, with a Rs 40-crore facelift.
The renovation work -- slated to begin in April and to be carried out in two phases spread over 18 months -- is part of the group's Rs 1,000-crore expansion plans, that includes opening new properties in Amritsar, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bekal (Kerala) and Hyderabad.
Bharat Hotels currently runs seven properties across the country -- four under the InterContinental The Grand brand at Delhi, Srinagar, Mumbai and Goa, and three under its own brand, The Grand, at Bangalore, Udaipur and Khajuraho.
The group plans to position all its properties -- both under InterContinental and The Grand brands -- in the luxury 5-star category, Lalit Suri, managing director, Bharat Hotels told ET.
Suri said the 445-room strong Delhi property, at the heart of Capital's centre business district, will sport a new-look with the top four floors dedicated to high-end business executives, with bigger rooms and more hi-tech amenities.
The night club, coffee shop, restaurants and lobby too will be redone. Riding on a surge in tourist traffic, InterContinental the Grand has experienced a 15 percent rise in occupancy levels over the last one year, even as average room rent has gone up 20 percent in the same period.
A marginal rise in the tariff card is also expected in keeping with the property's high-end positioning after the renovation.
Talks are on with its partner, InterContinental group, to extend the existing franchise-and-management arrangement to all the properties. Though Suri was not keen on equity participation from the InterContinental group at the time of entering into the arrangement in 1999, he is now open to off-loading up to 30 per cent stake in newer hotel projects.
The new properties are expected to be up and running over the next two years. The group has been scouting for a property in London.
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