Is Kashmir turning into a hot property for hotel chains?

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Kashmir Wire

Srinagar

Yes, going by a report carried out by a leading English daily, Economic Times on December two.

It said hotel chains, ignoring threat of disruptions, are setting up new properties in the scenic hills that have earned the moniker of the Switzerland of India.

Local hotel owners, too, are partnering with bigger brands for management contracts, the report said adding the Taj and the Lalit have traditionally had hotels in Kashmir, and others are now following their lead.

ITC launched its Fortune Resort, Heevan, in Srinagar in August this year, and its WelcomHotel Pine N Peak in Pahalgam will open to guests this month. Another hotel, ITC Nedous, in Srinagar will be launched by 2020, the report revealed.

It also disclosed that the Mid-market chain Lemon Tree will launch its maiden hotel in Srinagar by March next year, and is in talks for more properties in hill resort of Gulmarg. In north Kashmir.

“We have signed a Lemon Tree hotel in Srinagar. It needs some work with the branding and we will flag it by early March. We are in talks for a property in Gulmarg. Economically and politically, the issue has been about people’s certainty and commitment to make investments there. But, thankfully, in the main cities safety is not an issue and there is more confidence now,” Rattan Keswani, deputy MD, Lemon Tree Hotels told economic times.

Carlson Rezidor, which runs Radisson, Radisson Blu and Country Inn and Suites, said it will launch its Radisson hotel in Srinagar this month.

“It will be our first Radisson in Kashmir. Next year, we will look at Radissons and Country Inns and Suites in Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonmarg. Every Indian wants to experience a piece of Kashmir and they need good, branded accommodation. As things improve, we should make international brands available so that both domestic and international tourism prosper,” said Raj Rana, CEO, South Asia, at Carlson Rezidor.
It signed a portfolio agreement with the Mushtaq Group of Hotels to open seven properties, offering 817 rooms in Jammu and Kashmir.

Marriott has also inked agreements for its Four Points by Sheraton and Meridian brands in Kashmir, according to industry insiders. Marriott didn’t respond to an e-mail query.

Romesh Koul, CEO of consulting firm Naaz Hotel Consultants, said his company had been involved with at least five operator searches for Srinagar.

“Existing projects are doing well and the majority of the traffic is domestic. Despite its perception as a stressed tourist market, occupancies and room rates for existing properties have been impressive and you may not find such a performance even in the NCR market for some chains” said Koul.

Ahad Hotels and Resorts tied up with ITC for its Fortune Resort, Heevan hotel and WelcomHotel Pine N Peak property in Pahalgam.

Ahad’s MD Asif Iqbal Burza said he hoped the tie-ups will lead to economic integration and more opportunities for the local people.

“High-end infrastructure was the need of the hour. We are investing in the valley but we needed to tie up with companies that could also bring in their expertise. There were very few high-end hotels here. The presence of known names in hospitality will make it easier for people to come here,” said Burza, who is also working on setting up projects in other parts of the Valley. (Kashmir Wire)

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