In the wake of Shanti Hospitality Management Services announcing an ambitious plan to expand its portfolio of hotels, its director, Sunil Ghadiok, says the optimism about industry growth is well-placed
Shanti Hospitality Management Services, which manages hotels and is associated with leading brands such as Hyatt, Marriott and Accor Hotels, is planning to expand its portfolio by taking more managerial contracts of hotels in the western and southern parts of the country. Elaborating on this expansion plan, Sunil Ghadiok, Director, Shanti Hospitality Management Services, said “We are now focusing on the western region of India. We are established in the north, but we are going to concentrate on asset-light initiatives through third-party contracts. Though we have our own properties there, we would like more third-party contracts in the west and south.”
The company also sees opportunities in places like Vijaywada, West Bengal and North East regions of the country. “We are establishing ourselves in a place like Vijaywada primarily because it’s bordering the new capital coming up there. We also see a lot of potential in the eastern region, particularly Bengal. We strongly believe that there is going to be a lot of business moving into West Bengal and North East India for tourism. So we are looking out there as well,” he added.
Shanti Hospitality Management Services is a subsidiary company of Shanti Hospitality Group. It operates and manages six hotels across India with more than 650 keys. Talking about the company’s global portfolio, Ghadiok said “We are focusing on India at the moment. Nepal of course as a close neighbour comes under our purview and if we find something in Sri Lanka we will definitely look at it, purely due to proximity and because it will be easy to manage.” Commenting on the growth of the hospitality sector, Ghadiok said, “We are driven by domestic consumption more than what we were relying on earlier. About 50 years ago when we had the Open Sky Policy, we had an Air India flying all over; today we have multiple airlines.”
Infrastructure Triggers Growth
“Connectivity has also grown. Now we have UDAAN that is taking us into sectors where at one time you either drove or went by train. More airports are opening up. So, with all this happening, the growth of the hospitality industry is bound to happen. It’s all a part of the overall infrastructure development and I think the government over a period of time has realised that hospitality has huge potential in terms of earning foreign exchange,” he added. Speaking about the potential of markets in Tier II and III cities, Ghadiok said, “The magic comes from Tier II and II regions. Tier 1 cities are next to impossible to build more because of the exorbitant real estate prices.”
“However, in Tier II and III cities if you are able to visualize well, that’s where all the business is. For instance, just about 10 years ago, a place like Haridwar couldn’t sustain a branded property. Today, I can tell you confidently that a city like Haridwar can sustain more than a branded property. So, these cities are actually growing and that’s what’s wonderful to see because it means that all of India is actually growing. Everyone is commenting about the big economic slowdown but I personally haven’t seen it happening,” he added. Shanti Hospitality owns hotels like Four Points by Sheraton in New Delhi and Hyatt Regency in Amritsar and manages Four Points by Sheraton in Dehradun.