'Aiana Hotels is all about Hospitality 2.0'

'Aiana Hotels is all about Hospitality 2.0'

'Aiana Hotels is all about Hospitality 2.0'

Aiana Hotels and Resorts is one of the newest players in the Indian hospitality space, which is facing a rather topsy-turvy turn. With its differentiator and unique product strategy, and properties planned in India and the Gulf, the hotel chain’s Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Amruda Nair tells Deccan Herald’s Hrithik Kiran Bagade, what’s the journey forward. 
Could you share the story of Aiana Hotels and Resorts? In what category of properties do you rate yourself?

Aiana Hotels and Resorts is an independently owned, completely new brand of hospitality. My partner in this business is Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, one of Qatar’s leading entrepreneurs and Chairman of Al Faisal Holding. I would call it a meeting of minds that’s redefining hospitality.

We aspire to becoming a global hospitality brand, with a presence across the West Asia, the Indian Sub-Continent  and South East Asia. Aiana will cater to the upper-upscale category of hotels with fresh and relevant product design complemented with immersive,  experiential concepts.

How do you view the Indian hospitality space, given the sector is going through challenging times?
As a management company, we are very optimistic about the Indian hospitality space, particularly the strength of the domestic leisure market.
Our first property under management in India will be a 33-villa resort in Munnar, which has been designed and developed by Moonriver Resorts, which is due to open this year. With Ferns Estates in Karnataka, we are looking at four resorts across the various leisure destinations that the state has to offer. We believe that holiday resorts within a four-hour driving radius of an Indian metro will continue to gain traction in terms of domestic travelers.  

What’s your differentiator?
Aiana’s authentic service, design, and operating philosophy is geared to exceed the expectations of a new generation of savvy travellers and explorers. We call it ‘Hospitality 2.0’.
Our USP will be our Indian service ethos, commitment to the environment and community, signature restaurant and spa concepts. For all the resorts we have announced to date, we are looking at the fractional ownership model which is a first in the country, and a strong differentiator.    

What are your plans for the India and West Asian markets?
We currently have hotels under construction in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and India. Our flagship hotel in Doha is a 180-key hotel apartment complex located in the Diplomatic and Financial District of Doha. We also have a 574-room hotel in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which will cater to religious travel. Both hotels are scheduled to open this year.

What is your strategy for the Indian market?
In India, we are looking at a cluster strategy with urban hotels in key gateway cities, which form the hub and multiple leisure resorts within a four-hour driving radius that form the spoke.

Our present focus is on South India, particularly the leisure circuits in Kerala and Karnataka. We will then look at having a presence in key leisure destinations in the North, such as Agra and Jaipur.

While a lot of hotels are bullish on business guests, you claim a leisure to business ratio of 75:25. Could you describe your focus customer base?    
Aiana is all about experiences, whether in a leisure or urban environment. The emphasis we lay on local relevance, intuitive service and authenticity matches the leisure mindset of the traveler. While we have many urban hotels in gateway cities under construction, our primary focus shall be leisure travel. Even in city locations, Aiana endeavours to create ‘urban retreats’ that offers our guests a break in monotony, and a calm and relaxed atmosphere to unwind.

Experts say that domestic tourism has picked up in India. How do you see this trend affecting your business?
We have, as a brand, always been very bullish on the prospects of the Indian domestic market. Our reading of the market indicates that this is perhaps the fastest growing segment globally (especially in the wake of indications of a slowdown in the Chinese economy).
The Indian domestic market is yet to be penetrated and serviced to its potential — this segment is therefore growing at a double-digit CAGR and will continue to grow for the next decade, steadily.

As a brand, our focus is entirely on this segment in India, and all our hotels are planned and designed to serve the growing Indian domestic market demand.
DH News Service