Seeing occupancy at nearly 60%: Leisure Hotels

Garima Singh New Delhi | Updated on September 22, 2021

Vibhas Prasad, Director, Leisure Hotels Group

Business has started bouncing back from July onwards

The adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being shrugged off and tourists are returning in higher numbers according to Vibhas Prasad, Director of Leisure Hotels Group.

“We used to do 45 per cent occupancy in any given year between July and September and are now doing 60 per cent during this three-month period from July onwards,” Prasad told BusinessLine.

Commenting on the reasons for this growth, he said, “We are largely in the north, and our source markets cover Punjab, Haryana, Delhi-NCR, and Western Uttar Pradesh. Most people who come to our properties drive down. Some are travelling multiple times in these few months. People are happy to travel to experiential destinations, that is a trend that has caught on. The rates have also gone up because of higher demand. So, rates have increased and occupancy has remained the same.”

It saw good business from October to March this year. And ended the year at roughly 60 per cent of the previous year (2019-2020). The payroll and staffing got rationalised so company gained from that,” he added.

Prasad said, “We were hoping for an improvement from March 2021, but the second wave caught us unaware and while the centre did not lock us down, the State did. So, we could bring in guests and lost the key months of April and May all over again. This period constitutes almost 40 per cent of the annual business.”

But business has started bouncing back from July onwards, and people have begin to travel again.

The firm is witnessing social gatherings, small corporates, frequent individual travellers and according to Prasad company is doing much better numbers than it was doing in 2019-2020.

Prasad said that the investment plans of Leisure hotels was impacted by Covid-19 and there were delays in project implementation.

“We had a couple of projects in the pipeline pre-Covid. We were opening a business hotel in Greater Noida at that time, our first hostel in Rishikesh, we had also started for a very ambitious property for the Taj group in Pilibhit, Haridwar. These properties we completed on time pre-Covid but had to promptly shut them down,” he said.

Investment plans

On the immediate investment plans, Prasad said, “The cost of borrowings has also been reduced marginally, so we had some unfinished business, such as adding 12 rooms in the Taj Corbett property. We also have a management vertical through which we have three new hotel openings, in Bhimtal, Dharamshala, and Varanasi. Under this vertical we do not own the property but just manage it. These are expected to be opened in the current financial year.”

Published on September 22, 2021

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