Dubai’s UWI to Launch Ho­tel Startup in In­dia

Co inks JV with Ar­jun Bal­jee, to lease mid-mar­ket ho­tels and up­grade them

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands -

Divya Sathya­narayanan

& So­bia Khan

Mum­bai | Ben­galuru: Dubai-based global in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and devel­op­ment firm United World In­fra­struc­ture (UWI) has part­nered with Royal Or­chid group scion Ar­jun Bal­jee to launch a mid-mar­ket ho­tel start-up in the coun­try. The JV — In­dia Hos­pi­tal­ity In­vest­ment Com­pany — will lease ex­ist­ing mid-mar­ket ho­tels from in­de­pen­dent prop­erty own­ers and in­vest in up­grad­ing them.

This is the maiden ho­tel in­vest­ment of UWI, which col­lab­o­rates with gov­ern­ments world­wide to in­vest, build and op­er­ate real estate and in­fra­struc­ture as­sets.

“The ini­tia­tive will not only pro­vide ho­tel own­ers with an ideal op­por­tu­nity to man­age op­er­a­tional risks but ad­di­tion­ally, it con­trib­utes to eco­nomic free­dom in the form of as­sured and sta­ble monthly lease in­come,” said Im­ran Markar, prin­ci­pal at UWI. Markar leads strate­gic re­la­tion­ships with in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors, gov­ern­ment linked agen­cies and fi­nanci- al in­sti­tu­tions for UWI.

Bal­jee said In­dia Hos­pi­tal­ity In­vest­ment Com­pany is ma­jor­ity owned by UWI, with­out di­vulging the ex­act de­tails of own­er­ship. Ar­jun, the el­der son of Royal Or­chid Ho­tels founder Chen­der Bal­jee, will be head­ing the JV in In­dia.

Ar­jun quit his fam­ily-run Royal Or­chid chain of lux­ury ho­tels in 2008 to launch his own bud­get chain called Pep­per­mint Ho­tels in 2010. Over the past one year, he has built a new man­age­ment team to look at


the growth of Pep­per­mint and will now fo­cus on the new JV. “We changed the way bud­get hos­pi­tal­ity was per­ceived with Pep­per­mint, and are now go­ing to cre­ate a tech­first, mo­bile-first ho­tel brand that caters to the new mil­len­nial,” said Bal­jee, di­rec­tor, In­dia Hos­pi­tal­ity In­vest­ment Com­pany.

Bal­jee did not di­vulge the brand name of the new chain, but said the first prop­erty is ex­pected to be open in the next cou­ple of months.

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