To add over 3,000 rooms entailing investment of Rs 2,400 cr in three years

Leading hotelier Arun K. Saraf, who owns many of the properties managed by Hyatt in the country, has teamed up with the Bihar Government and Magadh University to develop a resort at Bodh Gaya through the public private partnership model.

Saraf has floated a special purpose vehicle, Footsteps of Buddha Pvt Ltd, for the project . While the government of Bihar has allotted 25 acres of land near the Mahabodhi temple, the company will invest around Rs 140 crore to build a 160-key resort, in the first phase, with a convention space that can accommodate 1,000 people.

Japanese connection

According to Saraf, a lot of Japanese corporates have expressed interest to chip in with funds for the project.

“Though we have not yet decided, we may consider taking some of them on board,” he said. The Japanese companies may be given a 35 per cent stake and “we can, in fact, have a zero-debt company,” he adds.

Other projects

In addition, he is building nine upscale and mid-market hotels in various cities such as Raipur, Hampi, Lucknow, Sarnath, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Jaipur, and Thiruvananthapuram.

These projects are being developed by two of his companies: Juniper Hotels Pvt Ltd and Chartered Hotels Pvt Ltd.

These hotels will be managed by various Hyatt brands such as Regency and Hyatt Place.

Saraf, Managing Director of Asian Hotels East Ltd (a listed company), has six properties in India and Nepal with a total inventory of over 2,000 rooms, and majority of them are being run by Hyatt.

investment

And, the upcoming properties will add another 3,000 rooms taking the total to 5,000 rooms by the end of 2015. The investment tab will be Rs 2,400 crore, which will be a mix of debt and equity.

Responding to a question on the drop in demand and increasing supply in the Indian hospitality industry, he said at present there may be a glut in supply, but in the next two to three years it will be absorbed.

slowdown

He says though there is a general slowdown, things will bounce back soon.

The Indian growth story has not ended. “In my opinion, it is yet to start. We are just scratching the surface now,” he said.

ravikumar.ramanujam@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 5, 2012)
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