Hotels get a makeover as demand picks up

An increasing number of hotel properties are getting rebranded in India with a revival in demand and a drop in the supply of fresh inventory. Hoteliers said the pandemic acted as a catalyst for rebranding opportunities, with a swelling list of asset owners approaching brands to manage their hotels or considering shifting to rival brands.

The activity is likely to gain momentum as the market evolves, they said.

The Glasshouse on the Ganges in Rishikesh has been rebranded as Anand Kashi by the Ganges, Rishikesh, under IHCL SeleQtions, and the hotel, under its new SeleQtions avatar, opened in April this year.

In August this year, Hyatt announced plans for the debut of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand in India with the signing of a management contract for Bhopal’s Noor-Us-Sabah Palace. Earlier this month, Marriott International announced the opening of the St Regis Goa. The iconic Cavelossim beachfront property in South Goa, sandwiched between the Sal river and the Arabian Sea, was previously The Leela Goa.
An IHCL spokesperson said a number of recent contracts of the chain include properties that are being rebranded.

“The recent ones include upcoming SeleQtions hotels in Dharamshala, Dudhwa, Manali, Raajkutir, an IHCL SeleQtions hotel that has opened in Kolkata and Ginger Ahmedabad, RTO Circle, to name a few,” the spokesperson said. “A number of these conversions are under IHCL’s SeleQtions brand. The brand offers owners the opportunity to retain their properties’ distinctive character, name, and individual style without the need to switch to a straight jacketed brand, which is a very attractive proposition for owners with bespoke properties.”

Mandeep S Lamba, president for South Asia at HVS Anarock, said with buoyancy returning to the sector, and a drop in the fresh supply of inventory, operators are actively seeking rebranding opportunities to expand their portfolio.

“Equally, with rates and occupancies getting back and in the leisure sector, often exceeding pre Covid numbers, owners are also seeking to upgrade their assets and reflag them with a brand that is perceived to have better positioning and distribution,” Lamba added.

Nikhil Sharma, regional director for Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, EMEA, said about 40% of the chain’s India signings were converted via rebranding of an independent or branded property in 2020 and 2021.

“Property rebranding has started picking up in the market where independently owned hotels are now moving to brands, and few branded hotels are getting reflagged,” he said.

Anil Chadha, divisional chief executive at ITC Hotels, said the market has been robust as projects have been revived and new hotel projects have entered the branding and planning stage.

“Expiry of management contracts also presents an opportunity for hotels to reposition, renovate and rebrand. As the market evolves, we are likely to witness more rebranding opportunities and ITC Hotels would be keen to evaluate these opportunities under the Mementos, Welcomhotel, Fortune and Storii brands,” he added.

Deepak Jain, founder of MayFair Consultants that specialises in hotel, restaurant and real estate consulting, said he has mandates for rebranding of two hotels in Goa and a hotel in South Delhi for an international brand.

“The current market is a mix of both opportunities where unbranded hotels are opting for international branding and other hotel owners are exploring new management contracts with different international operators,” Jain said.

A hotel in Saket, New Delhi has been rebranded under THE Park hotels portfolio as Zone Connect Saket.

“It has been soft opened and will be launched by the end of the year, post upgradation.Our upcoming hotel in Dimpaur, Nagaland was a standalone hotel, which is now Zone Niathu by The Park. This hotel is expected to open in December 2022,” said

Vikas Ahluwalia, general manager and national head, Zone by The Park.

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