First Indian brand to open hotel in Mecca soon
Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Aiana Hotels and Resorts that has crossed eight hotel projects between India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar is looking at a hub and spoke model for growth. “Going forward, we are taking on projects which fit into existing circuit or completing something we have not ventured into yet. We have crossed the 1000 room mark, and are in a comfortable position as a new business in terms of stability,” said Amruda Nair, joint MD and CEO, Aiana Hotels and Resorts. Nair is looking at more projects in Kerala to complete the whole experiential circuit. “We have started with Munnar, Aiana is all about experience so we want to do projects by the backwaters, by the beach, also religious destination like Guruvayur which has no branded products. We want to extend the brand across the circuit so that someone who comes to Kerala can stay with Aiana for 15 days,” she mentioned. Similarly in Karnataka, a 50 acre site with 75 villas will come up at Hassan in fractional ownership model. It is a unique coffee plantation project. Following this Nair is keen to do a sanctuary project in Karnataka and a tea experience project in Coorg. “The idea is to create a circuit where the guests stays in multiple properties,” remarked Nair.
According to her the hub and spoke model has worked, particularly with new owners. “The good thing is that we are doing multiple projects with the same owner. We can benefit from economies of scale. We are lucky to have found owners who want to be with a new brand. For many owners the comfort is that as opposed to larger organisations we are a small lean company, they talk to me directly. My Qatari partner is also an owner himself, he owns 30 hotels across the world,”she stated.
Aiana is the first Indian brand to enter Qatar, and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. After a few months a 614 rooms property will be launched in Mecca. “We are doing a big pilgrimage product and once we have a presence in the Holy City, the country knows your brand and then we can look at extensions,” remarked Nair, adding that in Saudi specially, the company is looking at a mid market play, as a long term strategy.
Nair wants every property to be unique, there is no cookie cutter approach. “We don’t want every Aiana to look the same, there has to be local elements – colour, texture, art, to give a sense of place. In terms of being a new brand we have done things that are different,” she affirmed.