Unique Mercantile to open 20 Howard Johnson hotels

Sangeetha Chengappa Bangalore | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on October 12, 2014

A view of Howard Johnson’s newly opened hotel in Bangalore.

To invest ₹1,805 cr over the next five years, position brand as a mid-segment hotel

Howard Johnson, part of the US-based Wyndham Hotel Group, opened its first hotel in Bangalore on Friday.

Popularly known as HoJo, the brand makes its entry into India through an exclusive agreement with Ahmedabad-based Unique Mercantile India Pvt Ltd, to develop and operate a total of 35 Howard Johnson hotels over the next 15 years.

Wyndham Hotel Group is a hotel company with approximately 7,540 hotels and is part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. Designed to cater to the needs of the cost-conscious business and leisure travellers, the 117-room Howard Johnson hotel located in Hebbal, Bangalore is a ₹130-crore joint venture between Unique Mercantile and the MS Ramaiah Group.

Smaller towns

Rahul Rai, Executive Director, Unique Mercantile India, told Business Line: “Howard Johnson is a budget brand in the US. It became an upscale brand in China but, in India it is positioned as a mid-scale hotel brand, where the average size of a room is 350 sq ft and is priced at $100 plus (₹6,000 plus).

“We are investing ₹1,805 crore over the next five years to launch 20 Howard Johnson hotels in locations across India. The idea is to launch one hotel every six months starting with Vijayawada, Shirdi, Tirupati, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bhubaneshwar and Lucknow.”

The company will also focus on launching hotels in smaller towns across three verticals — adventure, beaches and pilgrimage — which will include locations like Kabini National Park, Udaipur, Goa, Puri, Kovalam and Katra.

Unique Mercantile will own equity in all the 20 hotels, 10 of which will be launched under the joint venture model, four under the leased model and six under the owned and operated model. Located close to Manyata Tech Park in Bangalore,

Howard Johnson has a captive clientele in the form of IT multinationals.

“IBM requires approximately 13,000 –14,000 rooms per annum and has signed up with us for 8,000 room nights per annum” said Rai.

New business model

Unique Mercantile follows an exclusive business model that is emerging in the hospitality sector which aims at investing in both incomplete and underperforming hotels in need of cash infusion.

Such hotels will be identified and converted into HoJo properties, Rai said.

Published on October 12, 2014
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