|By Avinash Nair, The Economic Times,
IndiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 05, 2011--AHMEDABAD -- Pune-based ST Laurn Hotels and Resorts plans to invest an estimated Rs 3,000 crore in opening 15 new hotels by 2015. One-third of the new hotels will be in Gujarat, where the hotelier is eyeing destinations like Surat, Ambaji, Rajkot, Vadodara and Jamnagar.
"Gujarat is one of the biggest growth areas for us. We already are present in Ahmedabad since the last two years and we are looking to expand to other cities in the state," Suunil Kariyaa, director operations, ST Laurn Towers told ET.
The group which operates four properties in Pune, Shirdi and Ahmedabad plans to develop a 50-room designer spa hotel on the fast developing SG Highway in Ahmedabad. This boutique hotel, that will take shape in three-years' time, will be the group's second property in the city. The group already operates a meditation and spa resort in Shirdi.
"We have already bought land for a 200-room hotel in Surat. This hotel is expected to be ready by the end of 2012. We are also planning a hotel in the pilgrimage town of Ambaji," Mr Kariyaa said. The company will be investing about Rs 1,000 crore in Gujarat, most of which will be sourced through internal accruals and debt.
Both the hotels in Surat and Ambaji will be developed through joint-venture agreements, while the one in Ahmedabad will be wholly-owned.
Apart from Gujarat, the company also plans to open hotels in Jaipur, Ranchi, Raipur and Panvel.
According to Hari Nair, founder and CEO of travel portal HolidayIQ, the cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat account for 85 percent of the domestic travellers (does not include corporate and business travellers) coming to the state.
"There are over 500 million trips taken by domestic tourists in India. Most of them are to little known destinations like Panchmarhi (MP), Coorg (karnataka), Sasan Gir (Gujarat), Gopalpur (Odisha), Digha (WB), etc.," Mr Nair remarked adding that there was a lot of business potential in smaller destinations in the country.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Economic Times, India
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