Luxury hotel chain Raffles bets big on India

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on September 27, 2021

Aims to launch mixed-use properties, resorts and retreat-like hotels

Raffles, the century-old luxury hotels brand, is betting big on India, with plans to launch mixed-use properties and ephemeral spaces, in addition to resorts and retreat-like hotels.

‘A strategic market’

“India is a strategic market for us both Raffles and Accor in terms of long-term growth potential. We’d like a resort and retreat-like properties in India. Also, mixed-use properties between residential, workspaces, suites, health and well being. Right now we have a team looking at multidisciplinary galleries, ephemeral spaces, so we are not stuck to one idea,” Stephen Alden, Chief Executive Officer of Raffles & Orient Express, Accor Group, told BusinessLine.

Globally, Raffles has 16 hotels. In India, it launched a luxury hotel in Udaipur in August. Raffles is known for its unique concepts across the globe.

It has managed to convert palaces and old war rooms to residences and hotel suites. Its umbrella of spaces include resorts, suites, residencies, hybrid hotels, mixed-use hotels and ephemeral spaces.

“Each of our hotels is unique, and has become a landmark for the said destination,” said Alden. For example, in August this year, Raffles launched its first palatial resort on a 21-acre private island in the heart of Udai Sagar lake in Udaipur. It is also set to launch its second palace conversion in Jaipur soon.

“We managed a 10-15 per cent higher occupancy than expected. We’re very optimistic that with the onset of the festival period, our bookings will be robust,” said Alden. Another example of a unique conversion is its latest project with the Hinduja Group – the Old War Office (OWO) building in London has been transformed into a multi-hundred-room hotel and residencies.

When asked if the company sees a potential to convert such properties in India, he said that Raffles would like to explore different kinds of properties than being stuck with one or two types of properties.

“India has diverse markets. We don’t want to keep ourselves in a stringently strict model, whether it is through Raffles or other brands within the group,” he said.

Emotional wellbeing

Across the multiple hotels that Raffles owns globally, it implements an ‘Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles’ programme, which guides its guests through thoughtfully curated programmes, spaces and rituals, resulting in a sense of calm.

Alden said he would like something like that in India, where people could just sit back and relax. “We’d like a resort and retreat-like properties in India,” he said, adding that mixed-use properties, including residential, workspaces, suites, and healthy options, are also something that the company could explore.

“While I am not allowed to disclose much, but we have signed three Michelin star chefs who are going to take on our projects, and we are sending a very strong signal about where we are coming from when it comes to restaurants,” said Alden.

Published on September 27, 2021

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