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Creating an Indian corner in Paris

New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on March 12, 2018

Jean-Michel Casse, COO, India and South Asia, Accor Hotels

Accor Hotels keen to bring 25Hours Hotels to India

 

France is currently the flavour of the season in India with the high profile visit of President Emmanuel Macron and his entourage. But a bustling quarter of Paris is being spiced up by an Indian theme created by 25Hours Hotels, a hip German boutique brand, in which Accor Hotels has taken a significant stake.

This is a brand that Jean-Michel Casse, Chief Operating Officer, India and South Asia of the French hospitality company Accor Hotels, hopes to bring to the sub-continent one day. “Even if we were to have only one, I believe we should have one in India and it should be in Mumbai because of its F&B and only F&B,” he says, pointing out how at 25Hours in Berlin, there is a queue at lunch time, at tea time and all day long. “All because the music, entertainment and F&B is so good,” he says.

So far 25Hours, a stylishly designed upmarket hotel that breaks away from the mass market standardised hotel format, has only a presence in German speaking parts of Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). Its first foray into a non-German speaking region will be in Paris, where it will open doors sometime this year. Casse describes the interesting India connect there. “The concept of 25Hours is that the brand immerses itself in the location for six months to define a theme in its design and food so that it totally blends with the locality and environment it is in,” he says.

As it happens, the particular location in Paris – near Gare du Nord – has a bustling Indian population with a significant Tamil speaking community from both India and Sri Lanka settled there. You have a Saravana Bhawan, a Sangeetha restaurant, Tamil grocery stores and so on in the area. Voila, no surprises that the concept of the hotel revolves around India.

It’s not just 25Hours that Casse dreams about bringing to India. “Through all the acquisitions we did recently we have new brands that have resonance to do well in the Indian market,” says Casse. For example he says, there are amazing requests in India to develop Banyan Tree, the Singapore-based Asian luxury hospitality brand. “When you speak of leisure and look at who is doing excellent business in Asia, it is Banyan Tree,” he says.

There have been reports of Accor Hotels already signing an agreement for iconic brand Raffles in Udaipur, which Casse says he can’t confirm until it is inked. However, he says, the addition of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel (it acquired these in a $2.7-billion deal in 2016) to the Accor portfolio has given it a different kind of edge in India, especially at a time when American behemoths Marriott and Starwood have merged and have a huge plethora of combined brands to offer. However Casse feels that each one of Starwood and Marriott brands will end up competing with each other, whereas Accor Hotels’s acquisition has brought in different brands into its fold. “We are giving out the message that we are going for quality and not for quantity,” he says.

For the record, Accor Hotel’s aggressive buying spree since 2016 has seen it acquire or take stakes in several regional brands, digital platforms, and alternative accommodation options such as John Paul, the world leader in the concierge market, TravelKeys, Rixos (a Turkish luxury chain), Brazil Hospitality Group, onefinestay, VeryChic, Jo&Joe among others. At a time when the industry has been disrupted by start-ups and digital platforms, it believes these deals will hold the key to growth.

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Published on March 12, 2018
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