LESSONS FROM THE LEGACY
hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in the Middle East, Indian Sub-Continent and South East Asia, with Sheikh Faisal as the Qatari partner.
“Aiana has two meanings: eternal blossom in Sanskrit and a place of refuge or retreat. This has a connect to hospitality,” says Nair. “The two powerful and evocative images represented as the universal symbol of the mandala in the brand logo come together to represent the unique experience of Aiana.”
While the company has already commenced acquiring properties in India, a service apartment complex in the West Bay will be the first completed project.
Nair strongly believes that the service apartment segment will work well in the country, given the floating population it welcomes. Being the first Indian brand targeted for tomorrow's travellers, Aiana's USP will be its Indian restaurants and the service ethos that is typical of the Indian culture.
The Middle East is not Aiana's only country of operation; Nair has worked on a concept that is “universal, yet with a strong Indian soul,” as the connection between these two regions has been forged ages back when trade relations were much stronger between the Middle East and India.
“Aiana is different from the current hospitality luxury players in terms of positioning and signature elements. It is more approachable and the idea is to be able to cater to the upscale segment. It is the entry-level five-star which makes it much more accessible. It's the kind of place that you can go to without waiting for a special occasion or plan extensively for that muchneeded respite. The appeal is to a younger audience; hence the offerings will be much more experiential, local and activity-based. It is different from what is being offered to an Indian audience too,” explains Nair. “Our distinction will lie in the unique, location-specific, interest-led itineraries that foster connectivity and bonding. This is particularly relevant in our resort destinations that cater to multi-generation family and group travel,” she says.
The planning for Aiana started long ago as Nair wanted to have all the boxes ticked before she embarked on a venture. “We might not be so focused on getting the numbers but we will make sure that what we do is sustainable. The infrastructure that we are building is for the long term. Both Sheikh Faisal and I are in this to continue our legacy in hospitality and realestate,” says Nair.
Seven hotels in the next five years is Aiana's plan, with announcements to be made on the properties in South India in 2016. “Phase I will be focused on India and the Middle East while in Phase II we will be venturing out to South East Asia; Thailand, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Singapore. A fourhour flying time radius from the Middle East or India was the intention,” says Nair.
Everything down to a five-year and a tenyear plan in place with a clear strategy and positioning, Nair seems to be guided by her legacy in hospitality.