WHITHER SLOWDOWN?

Despite the uncertain consumer sentiment, hotels rang in the New Year with a full house. Across metros, hotels said they managed to attract a good number of people for New Year eve parties and overnight stay. However, so as not to dampen the mood, several hoteliers said they avoided steep hikes in cover charges.

Ravinder Kumar, Corporate GM-Food and Beverage, The Lalit Hotels, said, “Considering the market sentiment, we kept the pricing for New Year’s eve celebrations the same as last year across all our properties in the country. But, despite the slowdown, we did not see a drop in bookings for food and beverage or stay offers.”

Overnight stay

He said that over the years, the number of guests opting for overnight stay packages had increased in all their hotels.

“Due to increased vigilance against drunken driving on New Year’s eve, guests prefer to stay back at the hotel after the celebrations. Our hotels in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore reported very high occupancy on December 31.”

Lalit Delhi’s overnight stay packages started from Rs 13,500, while it charged a couple in the range of Rs 7,500-8,500 for special dinner packages at its restaurants, in addition to a ‘brunch’ for Rs 3,000 on Wednesday morning.

Balan Paravantavida, General Manager of the recently opened JW Marriott Hotel in New Delhi, said most bookings for New Year packages came over the last five days, which indicated that consumers had more options to choose from this year.

Inflation adjusted

Gurgaon-based leisure destination, Kingdom of Dreams, which offered eight different themed parties, said it decided to tweak packages to ensure they fit the budget of inflation-hit Delhiites.

Hotels in Bangalore, too, more or less kept the tariff at last year’s levels. Hotel Leela Bangalore charged Rs 15,000 a couple for New Year party packages compared with Rs 13,000 in 2012. Vivanta by Taj, at three different locations in the city, maintained last year’s rates.

In Chennai, most big hotels claimed their New Year bashes were sold out. As in other metros, the hotels in the city tried to woo party-goers with stay packages offering late check-in options.

Shabin Sarvotham, General Manager of Radisson Blu Temple Bay, a holiday resort at Mahabalipuram, South of Chennai, said, “Priced at Rs 3,300 a person, we sold over 200 tickets.”

HUGE response

Hyatt Regency said it closed its counters hours ahead of the New Year event and sold tickets starting from Rs 3,500 a person. “The response this year has been really overwhelming,” said a spokesperson of the hotel. The hotel charged a couple Rs 6,000 to stay the night, inclusive of breakfast the next day. The one-year-old Park Hyatt at Chennai, which came out with an early bird offer of Rs 9,500 for a couple, hiked the charges to Rs 11,000 for unlimited food and beverages and a chance to shake a leg with Bollywood diva Priyanka Chopra. “It was a pleasant surprise for us to realise that we were chock-a-block,” said Shika Singh, Director (Sales and Marketing), Park Hyatt.

Theme parties

Kolkata was not far behind. Park Hotels said it saw a substantial increase in bookings despite a 10-15 per cent hike in cover prices. “Theme parties are a rage this year, like the Gatsby Gala at The Park,” a spokesperson said.

Another five-star hotel, Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista, witnessed a surge in bookings after it announced an offer of free party passes against room bookings at Rs 9,999. Marco Saxer, General Manager, Swissotel Kolkata, said: “We organised five events for the New Year, including dinner and DJ parties. We saw a surge in bookings this year over last year.”

(With inputs from Meenakshi Verma Ambwani in New Delhi, R. Ravi Kumar in Chennai, Ayan Pramanik in Kolkata and Anil Urs in Bangalore)

(This article was published on January 1, 2014)
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