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Saturday, Mar 29, 2003

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Fisherman's Cove targets domestic travel for boost

Vinay Kamath

CHENNAI, March 28

FISHERMAN's Cove, the leisure beach resort of the Taj group of hotels near Chennai, will offer an aggressive mix of packages designed for different segments of domestic travellers.

The 28-year-old 5-star luxury resort, among Taj's oldest properties, which began looking at Indian travellers in the past two years, has seen a shift in its proportion of tourists. From 70 per cent foreign tourists streaming in in the peak season, now half the guests are domestic.

With foreign tourists tapering off, this is a strategy that the resort has consciously followed to keep the numbers of guests up. However, Mr Sarabjeet Singh, General Manager, Fisherman's Cove, said that the resort continues to be a destination for business travellers from overseas because of the advantage of being located close to a metro. "Business travellers from abroad see this as a quick get-away over a weekend," said Mr Singh. Peak season - December to February - sees the resort enjoying occupancy levels of 85-90 per cent.

The resort has just seen the completion of a Rs 22-crore revamp with design by Leo Designers and landscaping by Bell Collins of Singapore. The resort's 88 rooms, a mix of sea-facing rooms, cottages and luxury villas, have been completely refurbished as part of this exercise. The new feature of the resort is the setting up of an exclusive spa and salon, Spa Vyana, set up by the ayurvedic health care company Biotique, which offers a range of rejuvenation therapies such as aromatherapy and hydrotherapy. "We will be marketing the spa as part of the resort's USP," said Mr Singh.

As part of the range of holiday packages that Fisherman's Cove offers potential guests, are special spa holiday packages of different durations. With the peak tourist season tapering off, the resort has come up with summer packages that will target domestic travellers around the country. Said Mr Gitesh Aggarwal, Sales Manager, "After Chennai, Mumbai is our biggest market followed by Bangalore and Delhi; we are trying to drive more traffic from Bangalore, given the proximity to Chennai." Things such as the Apex fares offered by the various airlines have also helped the holiday packages. It has also unveiled a `premium' package for guests at its luxury villas as well as a senior citizens package and a `romantic package' for honeymooners.

Mr Singh also pointed out that the resort thrives on conferences, especially the high-powered ones. Last year, for instance, the entire board of Hindustan Lever met at the resort for an annual review. Almost 25 per cent of the hotel's revenues come from this stream. The city's much-touted IT corridor, which runs close to the hotel, has attracted software majors such as Wipro and Infosys and has also helped drive traffic to the resort, he said.

Fisherman's Cove, which lays claim to being an environmentally conscious hotel, has applied for the ISO 14001 certification for its environment management system. Much of the hotel's hot water is generated from solar power, while wastewater is recycled for use in the gardens. To add to its recreation activities, Mr Singh said that the hotel would soon have a tennis court with artificial turf as well as a badminton court.

Hotel tariffs too have been rationalised to suit the pocket of domestic traveller, said Mr Aggarwal. For a fully renovated hotel, he said, a guest would be paying perhaps the least in three-four years, also helped by the fact that hotel expenditure tax will be withdrawn and state luxury tax has been reduced. The investment in the hotel's renovation has been made. Now, it's payback time, he added.

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