Even as the global economic slowdown and a substantial increase in inventory continue to impact the hotel sector, Indian Hotels Company Ltd and the US-listed Orient-Express Hotels are eager to drive value and strengthen their balance-sheet. Both companies are on an expansion spree.

Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) which runs the Taj Group of hotels, expects its full-service Gateway brand to reach at least 50 Gateway Hotels in India by 2015. Gateway Hotels and Resorts is set to open at least five new hotels across different metros over the next two years.

Five Gateway Hotels are in the final stages of construction in Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hubli and Faridabad. The hotel in Chennai is to be inaugurated as early as March next year.

Though the Gateway Hotels and Resorts has eight properties in Kerala under the Gateway and Vivanta brand, the company plans to open more Gateway brands in the State, with a new one expected in Kochi’s IT hub Kakkanad by next year.

Tier-I and Tier-II cities are to host more Gateway City Business hotels and management contracts have been signed for some 10 other hotels.

Orient-Express

In order to further enhance its portfolio of luxury properties, Bermuda-based Orient-Express Hotels has announced significant renovation plans at two of its top-performing properties. In 2013, the company is to enhance two of its Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg and Charleston Place, South Carolina properties.

IHCL is working on a revised offer to acquire Orient-Express Hotels.

Orient-Express is said to be arranging a new $50 million loan for the renovation of Grand Hotel Europe. The renovation is to cost $26 million, while $5.2 million has been slotted for the repayment of debt and costs.

The company recently closed the sale of The Westcliff in Johannesburg. The purchaser is a joint venture between Albwardy Investment and Hotels Properties, a Dubai-based private investment company. Orient-Express is to be retained as the manager of the hotel for a year.

On December 14, Orient-Express Hotels said it would open El Encanto, Santa Barbara, in March. The meticulously restored El Encanto is part of the luxurious and iconic Orient-Express Hotels portfolio. The early 20th century property was once the favoured getaway of Hollywood’s elite.

amritanair.ghaswalla@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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