Indian Hotels Company announces its debut in Saudi Arabia

Makkah

Indian Hotels Company has announced its debut into Saudi Arabia, with a 340-key property that is scheduled to open in Makkah in January 2023.

It has partnered with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction to build the Taj hotel that will be located in King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) project in Makkah.

It will be located within walking distance to the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram) and in close proximity to commercial offices, retail stores and restaurants within the KAAR project.

This property will be the hospitality company’s fourth venture in the Middle East. IHCL manages Taj Dubai that’s located in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa downtown area. It plans to open another two hotels in Dubai in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We are honoured to partner with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company in bringing the first Taj hotel to Saudi Arabia. This signing is aligned to our strategy of a strong focus on global growth markets and to be present where our guests travel to. We are committed to expanding our presence in the MENA region,” says Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO at Indian Hotels Company.

tajhotels.com

Indian Hotels Company has announced its debut into Saudi Arabia, with a 340-key property that is scheduled to open in Makkah in January 2023.

It has partnered with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction to build the Taj hotel that will be located in King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) project in Makkah.

It will be located within walking distance to the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram) and in close proximity to commercial offices, retail stores and restaurants within the KAAR project.

This property will be the hospitality company’s fourth venture in the Middle East. IHCL manages Taj Dubai that’s located in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa downtown area. It plans to open another two hotels in Dubai in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We are honoured to partner with Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company in bringing the first Taj hotel to Saudi Arabia. This signing is aligned to our strategy of a strong focus on global growth markets and to be present where our guests travel to. We are committed to expanding our presence in the MENA region,” says Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO at Indian Hotels Company.

tajhotels.com

Marriott loyalty programme merger details

Rag-n-bone

Marriott and SPG clarify loyalty programme merger details

 

As we detailed a few days ago, Marriott and SPG have announced many details about the merging of their loyalty programmes (and indeed Ritz Carlton Rewards).

 

http://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/04/16/marriott-outlines-plans-merging-loyalty-programmes/

 

A few details yet remain, including the name of the combined programme, which will not be announced until next year, mainly because of the large amount of marketing collateral that would have to be prepared for all the 5,000+ hotels in the programme, according to

 

Speaking with Andrew Watson – Vice President – Digital, Loyalty & Portfolio Marketing, Europe for Marriott (who is ex-Starwood), he was clear that the intention was to try and preserve the appeal of the PSG programme while continuing a successful merger.

 

For many readers, one point of interest may be whether their status in SPG is retained in the new programme. This is because through American Express Platinum card, one benefit was securing Gold in the SPG programme. This gave the member a late check-out (4pm) and room upgrade, along with complimentary breakfasts.

 

SCREEN GRAB

 

As can be seen from the table below (supplied by Marriott), it wasn’t clear whether that this SPG Gold status, when transferred over to Marriott Gold, would then become Gold Elite or Platinum Elite in the combined programme.

 

In the event, we learned that if you are SPG Gold you will go across to the combined programme’s Platinum Elite until the end of the year.

 

 

Elina Zois, Director Loyalty Europe

 

 

Q&A with the Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of Tourism

An airplane flies above the Qutb Minar Complex in Delhi

Business Traveller India speaks to Suman Billa (IAS), Joint Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India with regards to the country’s travel industry.

How well do you think tourism will do in India in 2018? 

I think we are doing very well. January arrivals have been excellent. After all we are a 5000-year-old civilisation with amazing, incredible stuff around. With 8,500 km of sea coast, backwaters, the desert, the tropical forest and the hills, we have a lot to offer to the tourist. 

Where are you looking for the biggest growth from? 

Western Europe, USA and Southeast Asia. We are going to promote Buddhist pilgrimage in a big way because Buddha lived in the Indian states of Bihar and UP. The Buddhist pilgrimage circuit is going to be extremely important for us. We also want to promote adventure tourism with 70 per cent of Himalayas, fantastic mountains and hills and freshwater rivers found here. 

When international tourists come in they are mainly going to use flights to get around, as opposed to the road or the railway. What are your thoughts? 

Yes, we see flights are the easiest things to move around because India is extremely well connected. We have whole lot of airports everywhere. But of course, for the very sophisticated people who really want to savour in India we have Palace on Wheels that travels to various Indian destinations. They are little expensive but then I think its really worth it. 

Business Traveller India speaks to Suman Billa (IAS), Joint Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India with regards to the country’s travel industry.

How well do you think tourism will do in India in 2018? 

I think we are doing very well. January arrivals have been excellent. After all we are a 5000-year-old civilisation with amazing, incredible stuff around. With 8,500 km of sea coast, backwaters, the desert, the tropical forest and the hills, we have a lot to offer to the tourist. 

Where are you looking for the biggest growth from? 

Western Europe, USA and Southeast Asia. We are going to promote Buddhist pilgrimage in a big way because Buddha lived in the Indian states of Bihar and UP. The Buddhist pilgrimage circuit is going to be extremely important for us. We also want to promote adventure tourism with 70 per cent of Himalayas, fantastic mountains and hills and freshwater rivers found here. 

When international tourists come in they are mainly going to use flights to get around, as opposed to the road or the railway. What are your thoughts? 

Yes, we see flights are the easiest things to move around because India is extremely well connected. We have whole lot of airports everywhere. But of course, for the very sophisticated people who really want to savour in India we have Palace on Wheels that travels to various Indian destinations. They are little expensive but then I think its really worth it. 

Marriott outlines plans for merging of loyalty programmes

St Regis Maldives

Marriott International has unveiled plans for the merging of its three loyalty programmes over the next six to 12 months, with members able to combine their accounts under one platform starting August.

Members have been able to link their accounts, transfer points and status match since 2016, but this goes one stage further, combining accounts under one as-yet-unnamed platform.

The Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG brands will continue to exist until early 2019, when a new single name will be announced for the unified scheme.

Asked why Marriott had decided to take this two-step approach, rather than launch the new name and combined accounts together, David Flueck, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty at Marriott International said that “we knew our members wouldn’t want to wait”.

“For us to develop a new name and roll it out globally is a very long and complex process,” said Flueck. “We have thousands of websites as a lot of our hotels have independent property sites, and we have collateral on all the hotels and all of our digital assets.”

Members of all of the programmes – a total of 110 million across the three schemes – will be emailed over the course of the next few months, explaining how they can combine their accounts in August.

At this point all members will be able to book reward stays across Marriott’s entire portfolio of 29 brands (there are in fact 30 brands, but Bulgari Hotels and Resorts do not participate in any of the schemes) at marriott.com, spg.com, the Marriott and SPG apps, or by contacting customer service centres.

One currency will be created, with SPG Starpoints multiplied by three during conversion. Going forward members will earn ten points for every US$1 spent at hotels (five points per US$1 spent at extended stay brands).

Also to follow in 2019 will be peak and off peak reward night pricing, with off peak rates to be set around 20 per cent lower.

There has been much discussion on travel forums over the last couple of years as to how the Marriott and Starwood programmes would be combined, and which members might lose out as a result, but Flueck attempted to assuage these concerns.

“There’s been a lot of anxiety from members, and a lot were concerned that when we combined the programmes that we would make it less rich,” said Flueck.

“In fact we’re making the programme more rich which is going to be incredibly exciting news for our members. On average our members are going to earn 20 per cent more points on their spend in our hotels, we’ve brought the very best of our lead benefits together, and made elite status easier to achieve. We continue to have no blackouts, and as we go to one awards chart we actually have more hotels that are going down in cost than up in cost.”

A new awards redemption chart was set to go live as we went to press on this article, although it will be a few months before all 6,500 properties are assigned to the chart.

“To give members the confidence that in fact hotels aren’t going up in price, we’re showing five key cities and the top redemption hotels in New York, Paris, Bali, Dubai and Caribbean and Mexican resorts,” said Flueck.

In terms of the number of nights needed to achieve tier status under the unified programme, Silver Elite status will be earned after ten nights, with Gold Elite after 25 nights, Platinum Elite after 50 nights, Platinum Premier Elite after 75 nights, and finally Ambassador for those surpassing 100 nights and US$20,000 of spend.

In August members will also see their amassed stays across the programmes combined into one total, with Flueck saying that “many of our members will find that they hit the next tier of elite status” as a result.

Note also that Marriott confirms that “members who have achieved lifetime status will continue to have their status recognized”, and the free breakfast for Platinum Elite tiers and above will be expanded to 23 brands.

It’s not clear what will happen to the co-branded Starwood SPG credit card in the UK once the merged loyalty programme name is unveiled (and SPG name presumably disappears), but for now at least Flueck says that the Starwood Amex card will remain, with members earning a tripled rate of points to reflect the 1:3 conversion rate outlined above.

Finally Flueck said that the Marriott Moments experiential platform will continue to grow.

“We know that when our members travel they want to explore the area – they want to go zip lining in the Costa Rican rainforest, or explore Paris like a local, so we are expanding moments – we’re bringing in 110,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations – and then we have 8,000 Moments which are for members only to redeem their points, from attending world class sporting events, going to the F1, going to the World Series, to private concerts for our members, or attending shows – we have VIP seats at the O2 London as well as Madisson Square Gardens in New York.”

marriott.com

SpiceJet adds Adampur as its sixth destination under UDAN

SpiceJet

SpiceJet has announced the launch of its operations for the un-served market of Adampur (in the state of Punjab), starting May 1 onwards.

It will deploy its Bombardier Q400 aircraft on the route. SG 8731 will take off from Delhi at 1530 and reach Adampur at 1645. The return flight, SG 8732, will take off at 1705 and reach Delhi at 1815.

SpiceJet was awarded Adampur under the first round of UDAN. You can read more about India’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN here.

This low-cost carrier is the first and only airline to connect Adampur to Delhi with direct flights. This marks SpiceJet’s sixth destination under the regional connectivity scheme. Last year, the airline had launched services on the Mumbai-Porbandar, Mumbai-Kandla, Jaipur-Jaisalmer and Hyderabad-Puducherry routes under the UDAN scheme.

SpiceJet also recently announced the Hubli-Chennai and Hubli-Hyderabad UDAN routes which will be in operation from 14 May.

 “SpiceJet has been among the pace-setters for UDAN which we believe has the potential to democratise and broaden air connectivity to the last mile in a country where flying is still beyond the reach of most. We are proud to add Adampur on to our pan-India network. We expect businesses and industrial trading to receive an immediate boost from the direct connectivity while promoting medical tourism and strengthening the economy of the city. Our flight will also offer immense flexibility and convenience to frequent NRI travellers residing in this region,” says On the occasion, Shilpa Bhatia, chief sales and revenue officer, SpiceJet. 

Travellers would have to travel to Delhi via an Amritsar flight, since Adampur lacked direct connectivity. Adampur houses a large number of non-residential Indians from Doaba, the NRI belt of Punjab and is the second largest military airbase of India.

spicejet.com 

To celebrate the launch, SpiceJet has announced a limited period special introductory all-inclusive one-way fare of Rs. 2062/- for Delhi-Adampur and Rs. 1953/- for Adampur-Delhi. The offer is applicable for bookings made on a first come first serve basis.

SpiceJet has announced the launch of its operations for the un-served market of Adampur (in the state of Punjab), starting May 1 onwards.

It will deploy its Bombardier Q400 aircraft on the route. SG 8731 will take off from Delhi at 1530 and reach Adampur at 1645. The return flight, SG 8732, will take off at 1705 and reach Delhi at 1815.

SpiceJet was awarded Adampur under the first round of UDAN. You can read more about India’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN here.

This low-cost carrier is the first and only airline to connect Adampur to Delhi with direct flights. This marks SpiceJet’s sixth destination under the regional connectivity scheme. Last year, the airline had launched services on the Mumbai-Porbandar, Mumbai-Kandla, Jaipur-Jaisalmer and Hyderabad-Puducherry routes under the UDAN scheme.

SpiceJet also recently announced the Hubli-Chennai and Hubli-Hyderabad UDAN routes which will be in operation from 14 May.

 “SpiceJet has been among the pace-setters for UDAN which we believe has the potential to democratise and broaden air connectivity to the last mile in a country where flying is still beyond the reach of most. We are proud to add Adampur on to our pan-India network. We expect businesses and industrial trading to receive an immediate boost from the direct connectivity while promoting medical tourism and strengthening the economy of the city. Our flight will also offer immense flexibility and convenience to frequent NRI travellers residing in this region,” says On the occasion, Shilpa Bhatia, chief sales and revenue officer, SpiceJet. 

Travellers would have to travel to Delhi via an Amritsar flight, since Adampur lacked direct connectivity. Adampur houses a large number of non-residential Indians from Doaba, the NRI belt of Punjab and is the second largest military airbase of India.

spicejet.com 

To celebrate the launch, SpiceJet has announced a limited period special introductory all-inclusive one-way fare of Rs. 2062/- for Delhi-Adampur and Rs. 1953/- for Adampur-Delhi. The offer is applicable for bookings made on a first come first serve basis.

Q&A with India’s Minister of State for Tourism

An airplane flies above the Qutb Minar Complex in Delhi

Business Traveller India speaks to K.J. Alphons, Minster of State for Tourism, India with regards to the country’s travel industry

How well is Indian Tourism doing in 2018, with regards to business travel and leisure?

In terms of number, last year we grew 15.6 per cent more than the previous year. In terms of revenue, compared to last year we are up by 20.5 per cent. In my opinion, we have beaten the general world pace. We hope to do much much better! 

Do you think you have got enough depth in the hospitality industry in India? 

Most of the hotels which we have are in the luxury segment.  We are missing out the piece on this US$100 per night model segment, which is typical business travel. We are working with the states to make land available exclusively for the purpose of building these hotels. We’re also constantly looking for ways and means to provide incentives for them to come and do business here. One possibility is ensuring that the land comes at an affordable cost so the room tariffs can be affordable. We’re working on such options. 

And facilities for MICE groups? 

In Delhi, just next to the airport we are building a convention centre that can seat 5,000 people with ten hotels around. Another 5,000 seater auditorium convention centre is being built at Delhi’s traditional exhibition area Pragati Maidan. There will be a lot of hotels around there as well. We already have world class infrastructure in cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai.

The challenge for us is going to be able send the message across to companies abroad and invite more delegates to visit India. 

And how do you get the message to the world that things are improving? 

We have India Convention Promotion Bureau that has been tasked to bid and get more conferences to India. Secondly, we are focusing on specialised MICE properties. We are restructuring our work fundamentally; Indian Convention Promotion Bureau is the national body, but there will soon be state chapters at local levels so that it becomes a robust mechanism. 

For the next 12-18 moths what are the plans to encourage business tourism?

It’s important to note that the US is our number one source destination for business travel. Having come so far, they also take time off for leisure. Most of the people who travel from Europe come for leisure trips. The Make In India initiative is also inviting a lot of investment in the tourism sector. 

How are we doing with the airport infrastructure?

Our airports in Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are of world class quality with amazing infrastructure. Out of 50 airports in India, 20 are international airports. We want to either upgrade or develop around 150 more airports in the next five years. By 2020 we are projected to become the third largest aviation market in the world. We have opened out the rural areas in the really backward regions of the country by giving license to 363 persons to operate flights right up to the village level. I think these are fantastic moments. 

Business Traveller India speaks to K.J. Alphons, Minster of State for Tourism, India with regards to the country’s travel industry

How well is Indian Tourism doing in 2018, with regards to business travel and leisure?

In terms of number, last year we grew 15.6 per cent more than the previous year. In terms of revenue, compared to last year we are up by 20.5 per cent. In my opinion, we have beaten the general world pace. We hope to do much much better! 

Do you think you have got enough depth in the hospitality industry in India? 

Most of the hotels which we have are in the luxury segment.  We are missing out the piece on this US$100 per night model segment, which is typical business travel. We are working with the states to make land available exclusively for the purpose of building these hotels. We’re also constantly looking for ways and means to provide incentives for them to come and do business here. One possibility is ensuring that the land comes at an affordable cost so the room tariffs can be affordable. We’re working on such options. 

And facilities for MICE groups? 

In Delhi, just next to the airport we are building a convention centre that can seat 5,000 people with ten hotels around. Another 5,000 seater auditorium convention centre is being built at Delhi’s traditional exhibition area Pragati Maidan. There will be a lot of hotels around there as well. We already have world class infrastructure in cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai.

The challenge for us is going to be able send the message across to companies abroad and invite more delegates to visit India. 

And how do you get the message to the world that things are improving? 

We have India Convention Promotion Bureau that has been tasked to bid and get more conferences to India. Secondly, we are focusing on specialised MICE properties. We are restructuring our work fundamentally; Indian Convention Promotion Bureau is the national body, but there will soon be state chapters at local levels so that it becomes a robust mechanism. 

For the next 12-18 moths what are the plans to encourage business tourism?

It’s important to note that the US is our number one source destination for business travel. Having come so far, they also take time off for leisure. Most of the people who travel from Europe come for leisure trips. The Make In India initiative is also inviting a lot of investment in the tourism sector. 

How are we doing with the airport infrastructure?

Our airports in Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are of world class quality with amazing infrastructure. Out of 50 airports in India, 20 are international airports. We want to either upgrade or develop around 150 more airports in the next five years. By 2020 we are projected to become the third largest aviation market in the world. We have opened out the rural areas in the really backward regions of the country by giving license to 363 persons to operate flights right up to the village level. I think these are fantastic moments. 

British Airways releases pricing for Hand Baggage Only (HBO) fares

BA economy B787

British Airways releases details about Hand Baggage Only transatlantic fares

 

 

British Airways has released details about its new Hand Baggage Only transatlantic fares.

 

The new fares called ‘Basic’ fares are Hand Baggage Only and were announced last month.

 

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/03/01/british-airways-announces-transatlantic-hand-baggage-fare/

 

The update today is over the pricing, which the airline says is up to £60 less than the standard fare.

 

The airline says that these fares will start from £143 each way, based on a return fare, and is available today on flights from London to Austin, Boston, Delhi, Denver, Dubai, Hong Kong, Oakland, Philadelphia, Punta Cana and Singapore.

 

British Airways is launching Basic fares in conjunction with its transatlantic joint business partner airlines, American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia.

 

Fares quoted start from

London to Dubai from £143,

Boston from £175,

Oakland from £185,

Denver from £191,

Delhi from £210,

Hong Kong from £228,

Singapore from £230,

Philadelphia from £234,

Punta Cana from £240

Austin from £246.

All prices are each way, based on a return fare.

 

The new ‘Basic’ fare includes in-flight meals, two-piece hand baggage allowance and use Avios as part payment to further cut the cost.

 

Adam Daniels, British Airways’ chief commercial officer, said: “We know that when our customers travel with us their needs vary from trip to trip – some will be flying on business, some for leisure, some will be on short hops, others will be longer stays. We need to ensure that the fares we provide reflect those differing needs so customers can select the best option for them on that occasion.

 

“Someone travelling for a short meeting or leisure break, who isn’t planning to check in a bag and is happy for us to allocate them a seat, will appreciate the option to secure a lower fare. They’ll still receive our generous hand baggage allowance, a seat allocated to them in advance, complimentary food and drink, in-flight entertainment, blankets and headphones, all at no extra cost. And those looking to make even more savings can use Avios towards the flight too.”

 

Customers will have their seat allocated for them by British Airways at check-in or can pay for seat selection.

 

Silver and Gold Executive Club Members can continue to select their seat at time of booking and Bronze Members can select their seat seven days in advance as they do now. The airline will also continue to seat families together in advance of travel.

 

Travellers who wish to check in a bag or allocate their own seats can still purchase the current standard fare or choose to add checked bags and seating before travel.

 

The hand baggage allowance is one handbag/laptop bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 40 x 30 x 15cm / 16 x 12 x 6in) plus one additional cabin bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 56 x 45 x 25cm / 22 x 18 x 10in)

 

Changes to the booking can be made for a fee, plus any difference in fare

 

Basic fares can be combined with other fare types e.g. basic fare outbound and a standard fare return

 

British Airways says it will try to seat families together several days ahead of travel, however they may be split across aisles or rows. Children under 12 will always be seated with an adult on the same booking.

 

Executive Club Members can still collect Avios and Tier Points on their bookings

 

 

 

Airbus and Zodiac reveal lower deck sleeping berths

Airbus Sleeping-berths-2

Airbus and Zodiac reveal lower deck sleeping berths

 

The berths would fit inside the aircraft’s cargo compartments on the A330 and A350 initially.

 

Airbus and Zodiac have revealed designs for lower deck sleeping berths on the A330 and A350 family aircraft.

 

The modules, which would fit inside the aircraft’s cargo compartments, would allow the airlines to sell additional sleeping seats to passengers.

 

The new passenger modules are intended to be easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers, possibly as quickly as a typical turnaround, Airbus says. The aircraft’s cargo floor and cargo loading system are not affected, as the passenger module sits directly on it.

 

“This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort. We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups. We are pleased to partner with Zodiac Aerospace on this project which will introduce a new passenger experience and add value for airlines,” said Geoff Pinner, Head of Airbus Cabin & Cargo Programme.

 

The companies says that airlines will initially be able to choose from a catalogue of certified solutions by 2020 on A330 for retrofit and line-fit markets. Offerability of sleeper compartments on the A350 XWB airliner is also being studied. The innovation builds on both Airbus’ and Zodiac Aerospace’s experience in producing and integrating lower-deck crew-rest facilities.

 

The sleeping berths are a similar concept to the sleeping berths currently in place on the A380 which can also be removed when not needed for shorter legs. The sleeping berths have an emergency exit which can be seen in this photo. From a passenger point of view, sitting in this seat is a good option because of the extra leg room).

 

 

Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris announces partnership with Diversey

Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris has announced a strategic partnership with sustainable solutions company Diversey.

In line with Taj’s commitment to preserving the environment, its modern laundry system helps conserve water and electricity while also improving productivity. 

This programme was pilot tested at five Taj hotels and resulted in significant savings in man hours, electricity and water. About five million litres of water, 26,000 kilowatts of electricity, 1,47,000 kilograms of steam and 1,800 man hours have been saved. 

The positive results of the testing have encouraged the group to induce the programme to five more hotels by June 2018, and to 30 hotels by March 2019.

“We are committed to being a responsible citizen on this planet. We integrate sustainable development into our business practices and this initiative will help us conserve our natural resources,” says Ashish Seth, vice president materials, Indian Hotels Company Limited.

tajhotels.com

Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris has announced a strategic partnership with sustainable solutions company Diversey.

In line with Taj’s commitment to preserving the environment, its modern laundry system helps conserve water and electricity while also improving productivity. 

This programme was pilot tested at five Taj hotels and resulted in significant savings in man hours, electricity and water. About five million litres of water, 26,000 kilowatts of electricity, 1,47,000 kilograms of steam and 1,800 man hours have been saved. 

The positive results of the testing have encouraged the group to induce the programme to five more hotels by June 2018, and to 30 hotels by March 2019.

“We are committed to being a responsible citizen on this planet. We integrate sustainable development into our business practices and this initiative will help us conserve our natural resources,” says Ashish Seth, vice president materials, Indian Hotels Company Limited.

tajhotels.com

The Leela wins contract to manage Mahatma Mandir

The Leela Gandhinagar

The Leela Gandhinagar

The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts, commonly known as The Leela, has won the competitive bid to manage the 34-acre Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The 34-acre Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Center is one of the biggest in the country — an “environmentally-responsible complex” that can hold a total of 15,000 people. It includes a convention hall with a capacity for 6,000 people, as well as multiple exhibition centres and seminar rooms.

At a distance of 400 meters from the Mahatma Mandir, the homegrown luxury hotel brand is building The Leela Gandhinagar that is expected to open in January 2019.

Both buildings are a 25-minute drive from Ahmedabad international airport.

The contract for the government’s ambitious project to build a 5-star hotel above Gandhinagar railway station was signed on April 1 by The Leela, Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation (GARUD), a special purpose vehicle formed by the Government of Gujarat with the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC).

Commenting on the development, Vivek Nair, chairman and managing director at The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts said: “The addition of Mahatma Mandir and The Leela Gandhinagar to our MICE portfolio reinforces our plans to expand further into the international conferences and events space, and underscores our asset light growth strategy. The projects combine grand space with global standards of service and cater to the growing demand for world-class venues. Together with the government of Gujarat, our endeavour is to help transform Gandhinagar into the convention capital of India.”

On completion, The Leela Gandhinagar will be the first luxury hotel in the country to be suspended over a conventional railway station, 25 meters above ground. It’s three wings with ten floors and two eight-storey wings will hold 300 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a lounge and boardroom, and an 800 sqm meetings, conventions and event space.

R.K Beniwal (IAS), MD Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation said: “We are very confident that The Leela Gandhinagar and Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre will be ably managed for a wider global distribution and accentuated positioning in the International and domestic MICE market.”

With the signing, The Leela has expanded its hotel portfolio to ten properties across India. Upcoming projects include a resort in Jaipur, a palace hotel in Agra where every room will face the Taj Mahal, and business hotels in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

theleela.com