Hospitality sector to end year on a high

Listiyo Ridawer

The hospitality and tourism sectors will end the year with a bang as bookings for Christmas and New Year parties and year-end vacations are at robust levels.

“If travel and hotel bookings are any indication of how the season will pan out, then it looks like an extremely good end to the year. The hospitality industry has witnessed about 125% growth compared to pre-pandemic levels and is all set to ring in Christmas and New Year festivities,” said Pradeep Shetty, executive committee member, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI).

Understandably, hotels and restaurants are putting their best foot forward. At the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, reimagined offerings at The Chambers, Luxury Residences, and the new avatar of restaurants such as Machan and House of Ming await guests. The hotel has experienced a significant increase in business levels across occupancies in accommodations and restaurants. Other IHCL hotels in the national capital — The Connaught and Ambassador continue to perform at high occupancy levels. Satyajeet Krishnan, area director, New Delhi, and GM, Taj Mahal, New Delhi, told FE, “We are seeing a robust rise in demand across segments. While domestic travel continues for business and leisure, the opening of international travel this year has seen a significant upward trend.”

Krishnan added: “The holiday season has begun and we continue to receive bookings for year-end festivities. Our Qmin Gourmet Stores are also doing good business. With the Connaught and Ambassador being pet-friendly hotels, besides other offers on rooms and F&B, we look forward to an encouraging and buoyant festive season.”

At the country’s top holiday destination, Goa, despite the Covid scare, hotels are running full. The Taj Holiday Village in Goa and and Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa are fully booked, with no Covid impact.

However, The St Regis Goa Resort has had a few cancellations already over the past couple of days. “This could be a matter of concern as international travel restrictions might impact business,” said R Srijith, director of sales and marketing, The St Regis Goa Resort.

“We have received an encouraging number of bookings across our three hotels in Delhi and Rishikesh. The mood is upbeat and we have designed various dinners, stay packages, entertainment programmes and gift hampers. India’s high vaccination rate and lower active case numbers will keep things euphoric this year-end,” said Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.

Beyond typical locations like Goa, people are travelling to Coorg, Gir, Shimla and Manali or making international trips to Singapore and Dubai. “People are willing to pay more for leisure, and this has become the trend. This Christmas and New Year’s will be the first ‘normal’ ones since 2020. If we were to look at December occupancy, some resorts are fully booked. Travellers prefer to visit newer destinations and experiences like zip lining, bird watching, stargazing and more,” said Kavinder Singh, MD & CEO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India.

Even city clubs like The Piano Man (TPM), a jazz club in Delhi and Gurugram, are gearing up for exciting events. A blues band, Guy Velvet and Blessing Chimanga, a band from Zimbabwe, will perform in Gurugram at TPM. “On New Year’s eve Lost Radio band will play in Gurugram and we have prepared all SOPs for masking and safety measures,” said Arjun Sagar Gupta, founder & owner, The Piano Man, adding, “The market is very similar to pre-epidemic settings. People are emerging and the pandemic anxiety is lowered down. We, over the past 15 months, have seen an increase in footfalls.”

Agrees Zorawar Kalra, MD, Massive Restaurants, who runs Farzi Café, Masala Library, Made In Punjab, Pa Pa Ya and several other brands across cuisines. “We are expecting a really interesting comeback,” he said.

Asif Fazlani, MD, Fazlani Natures Nest, near Lonavala, said, “We are fully sold out for Christmas and New Year. The fact that the Covid situation in India at present is under control has helped the industry to recover strongly. In case the government announces any SOPs for hotels, we will abide by their rules and regulations.”

Rajneesh Kumar, GM, Courtyard By Marriott, Aravalli, said, “We haven’t seen any dampening in reservations due to the Covid scare and we have an exciting line-up of events for guests.”

The reservation flow is better than ever this time for Priyank Sukhija, MD & CEO, First Fiddle Restaurants who runs Bougie & Noche in Delhi. He said, “We shouldn’t be worried unless the government comes out with some regulation. All our outlets are going to be packed with waiting lists.”

Footfall and reservations remain strong for Brajesh Arya, chief strategy officer, Gola Sizzlers in Delhi-NCR and Cafe Hawkers in Delhi. “We have celebrations with themed décor and eclectic cocktails and dishes.”

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