The concept of staycations, workcations and weekend getaways to drive-to destinations — which gained traction after the first wave of the pandemic — continues to remain popular among Indian travelers.
“Staycations and workcations continue to be the trend even today. We are seeing this in most of our properties. People continue to come out of their homes on weekends or whenever there is a lockdown, check-in into our hotels, spend the weekend, and checkout on Monday. This trend continues most of the weekends,” said Zubin Songadwala, Area Manager – ITC Hotels South, and General Manager – ITC Grand Chola.
“Since people have not mustered up the courage to go on long-haul holidays, they are breaking them up instead. Instead of taking 10 days of holiday every six months, they are now taking 3-4 days every break every month and sometimes work from the hotels. I believe this trend is here to stay,” he added.
Songadwala said resort destinations, hotels in drive-to destinations, beach resorts, hill station hotels, jungle lodges and properties have all grown their business over pre-pandemic levels while business hotels (located in city) have recovered to anywhere between 65-75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
ITC recently opened a new property under its ‘Welcomhotel’ brand in Guntur. The new hotel, which has 104 guest rooms — including a presidential suite, four executive suites and four standard suites — is the first five-star hotel in the district and the first LEED platinum certified hotel in Andhra Pradesh.
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“We are witnessing great traction in the new facility. Going forward, we have got an opportunity to even expand our inventory in this facility by another 40 rooms, once we see the business start picking up,” said Songadwala.
Located at an hour-and-half distance from Andhra Pradesh capital Vijayawada, Guntur is known as the chilli capital of India. It is renowned for its vibrant commodity market including spices, cereals, grains, cottons and fruits.
“We have a great untapped market in Guntur. We know for the fact that there is a matured market in terms of the trading community. Anyone who is trading commodities produced in Guntur has to come and stay here. There were also lot of international buyers who have traditionally been coming to Guntur but, due to a lack of proper accommodation, must either use guest houses or stay in Vijayawada,” Songadwala said, adding, “As the market opens and travel starts easing, we are also expecting international guests to stay at this facility.”
Pent-up demand for halls
On the demand for banquet halls, Songadwala said that there has been pent up demand for hosting big weddings and large celebrations since people have been putting off big events in the last two years due to restrictions and fear of infection.
“We have got 63 auspicious dates in FY23. We believe that there is a huge opportunity because of the large number of auspicious dates in the fiscal coupled with the pent up demand (for big celebrations),” he said.