Hindusthan Goes Global

EXEC talks to DK Jaiswal, Chairman and Managing Director of the Hindusthan Hotels International (HHI) group of hotels, which, having carved a niche for itself in Kolkata, is now looking to spread its wings and percolating the international market.

A journey that began in 1969, near Kolkata’s Park Street, is all set to sail into international waters, when the HHI group of hotels makes its way to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, soon.

It is for good reason then, that DK Jaiswal, MD of the hotel group, is hailed as a visionary of sorts in the hospitality industry. With five successful functional properties in India, two luxury properties in the works, and the intent of adding another 500 rooms by 2015, the group sure has its task cut out- while the man behind it all remains a picture of calm.

A niche across segments

While the Kolkata property remains the flagship, the group has now made its presence felt in Pune, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar and Bangalore too. “The hotels in Kolkata and Bhubaneswar fall in the five-star segment, The Emlion Hotel in Bangalore is one of the best located business hotels in that city, while HHI Varanasi, is one of the biggest names in that city. In Pune, we have a boutique hotel that was launched on April 6 this year. With plush spas, state-of-the-art rooms (the décor was done by a top designer from Los Angeles) and top-class F&B outlets, the trendy 50-room hotel is already making waves in Pune…a city that has one of the highest concentrations of hotels in the country. The nightclub, I Club, in particular, is already very popular,” revealed Jaiswal. Located in the business hub of the city, it offers a comprehensive range of leisure and business facilities, with two well-equipped banquets halls, and amenities that are ideal for meetings, seminars, business events and social gatherings.

Exploring new markets

“We’re currently working on a Goa property which is located in Varca Beach. It will be a five-star deluxe property, spread over 18 acres of beach, with 40 villas, each of which will have a treadmill pool,” said Jaiswal, “Next, we will begin work on a hotel in Patna, a city that doesn’t have too many good hotels.” The hotel group is also taking over management of two hotels in Raipur and Guwahati. “The plan is to add 500 rooms by 2012- we have 550 now, so we’re looking at doubling the number,” he explained.

Growth of 20 percent per year

According to Jaiswal, the yearly increase in turnover has been nothing short of encouraging. “We’ve been seeing a yearly growth of more then 20 percent, and the turnover this year was over 100 crores. Next up, we want to branch out into B-grade cities with a range of budget and business hotels. The cities we’ve been looking at are Raipur, Indore, Bhopal and Rae Bareli.”

Staying ahead of the competition

The chairman believes that most hotels these days offer all the facilities that a guest could possibly want. “So, when it comes to staying ahead, it boils down to smaller details,” said Jaiswal, “For example, guests love it that we offer a complimentary spa treatment for every room. Also, we provide a business centre in every room, which includes free wi fi, a copy machine and fax machine.”

Business travellers love the pampering

HHI is one of the few hotel groups that provides a free business centre in every room, a feature that business travellers are only too pleased with. Surprisingly, however, Jaiswal points out that executives are most excited about the free spa treatment. “They love it, because it relaxes them after a hard day’s work. Foot spas are very popular among them, as is the service of qualified personal trainers. These days, fitness and health facilities have become deciding factors for executives when it comes to choosing a hotel.”

Another feature that roving businessmen love is the nightclub option. “The allure of coffee shops is dead, and we have several executives who visit the lounges for informal meetings. In fact, our drinks and short eat menus are designed keeping them in mind.”

Occupancy of 87 percent

There is no doubt that the brand is very popular, but the chairman revealed that there is occupancy of 87 percent all around. “Even in Kolkata, in spite of all the competition, we have managed to achieve that number. Our ARRs are very healthy, and growth is amazing.” As for the MICE facilities, the hotels offer terrific conference facilities, business centres, boardrooms and banquet halls. “We’re booked all the time for MICE functions- in fact, this month we are hosting the government business fare.”

The future

Without doubt, the biggest thing in the horizon for the hotel group is the property in Kigali, Rwanda. “That apart, we’re looking to strengthen our existing properties. I believe spotless marketing is the way forward. HHI has offices all over India and a very strong marketing network, and we want to capitalise on the surging demand from guests.”

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