LESSONS FROM THE LEGACY

Qatar Today - - BUSINESS > LISTENING POST -

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.

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