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'We are happy being a small company'

Last updated on: December 21, 2009 12:13 IST
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Rattan Keswani Trident Hotels, the premium business hotel brand which belongs to the Kolkata-based East India Hotels, is now looking at tapping the leisure travel market.

The brand would thus extend beyond metros, and will now be seen at leisure destinations, too, Trident's president Rattan Keswani tells Swaraj Baggonkar. EIH also owns and operates Oberoi Hotel and Resorts.

Edited excerpts:

The scheduled opening of the Bandra-Kurla Trident was 2008. Why did it get delayed?

It has taken about two years and six to seven months to build the hotel, which is close to the average time frame required to build a Trident. We have spent more than Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) in building the property.

How different is it from the Nariman Point (Trident) hotel?

We have renovated almost 80 per cent of the Nariman Point property and a customer will find total similarity between this property and that.

Barring the age difference between the two properties, most offerings such as lounges, suites and guest rooms are similar.

How much time will it take for the BKC property to break even?

Normally, it should take five to seven years and it should happen within that, if not before, because we are very well located.

The property has 436 guest rooms, including 24 suites. In addition, there is O22 -- an all-day dining restaurant featuring a sushi bar, lounge bar and wine tasting room. The hotel also has Botticino, the Italian speciality restaurant, and Maya, the Indian speciality restaurant.

What occupancy levels are you expecting?

It should be 30-40 per cent in the initial months. It takes time for people to get used a hotel. We should do 70 per cent or higher later on. We do not see major corporate movements in December, as it is holiday time, but from January onwards, it looks good.

At what capacity are you operating the Nariman Point property?

Last month, we were at 73 per cent occupancy there. Corporate travel gets reduced after December 20 and dips to 65-70 per cent levels.

Could we confidently say that the hotel industry is back at the earlier growth trajectory?

I would say the recovery will start to show signs only after 14-18 months, if all things remain constant.

You have nine properties running currently. What is the plan of expansion?

We are building new Tridents, one each in Hyderabad, Bangalore airport and a place close to Dehradun. Construction is on schedule. The Hyderabad and Dehradun property should open by the end of 2011. Bangalore airport will follow later.

These are reasonably large hotels, with Hyderabad and Bangalore having over 320 rooms, while Dehradun has 110 rooms.

Will these properties be managed or owned?

In the Hyderabad property, we have a stake of 16 per cent, in Bangalore, we have 26 per cent stake, while Dehradun will be managed. There will be an Oberoi property next to the Trident at Bangalore.

The Bangalore property is witnessing some changes because Larsen and Toubro (which is constructing the project) needs some changes with the height. The Hyderabad property will be Trident and Oberoi together.

Does it bother you that Trident has just nine properties and nowhere close to Taj or ITC?

We were never interested in being a large company. We are happy being a small company which will hopefully deliver the best service standards. We never had aspirations of being a huge company.

Image: Rattan Keswani

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