Travel Trade Journal

Lords Hotels and Resorts, on an upward growth trajectory

- Prashant Nayak

Lords Hotels and Resorts has become an eminent name in the Indian hospitalit­y scenario within a decade of its inception. It is one of the fastest-growing and leading mid-segment hotel chains in India and Nepal. With over 45 hotels across both countries, it is looking further to expand its presence across India and beyond. The hotel chain’s growth is evident with a portfolio of new properties signed and introduced in recent months. Pushpendra Bansal, COO, Lords Hotels and Resorts, is more than happy to share its growth story, despite the uncertaint­ies and the ups and downs of the pandemic.

Lords Hotels and Resorts’ distinct properties in the 13 states of India make up for a unique collection of independen­t and pleasant hotels. With their four categories of accommodat­ion to choose from, Lords Plaza (4-star property), Lords Inn (3-star hotel), Lords Eco Inn (economy hotel), Lords Resorts (upscale property), their penchant for perfection lies in the fact that they have always been a preferred choice of the travellers, whether for business or leisure.

Each of the brands is distinguis­hable by its infrastruc­ture and facilities availed. e.g., in Lord Plaza, their top brand, each property should be of 80 rooms, and the air-conditione­d room will be at least 290 square feet each, along with all other 4-star requiremen­ts and facilities. Lords Eco Inn brand believes in the concept of economy and ecology. For a resort property, it is a must that the constructi­on should not be over ground plus two, and it should have about two and a half acres of land, and it should have a green cover.

Over the years, Lords Hotels have broadened their portfolio of hotels to accommodat­e better the needs of the leisure tourist, the business traveller, the bag-packer, and the pilgrimage tourists, thus covering the entire spectrum of tourist segments.

Speaking about the USP of the hotels, Bansal says, “The USP for our guests is that our brands are of internatio­nal standard with the Indian tadka. We have been able to successful­ly offer our guests the best of services and amenities bundled together at economical tariffs, which are premium

accommodat­ion at attractive prices.”

Bansal further adds, “Our USP, which attracts investors and franchises, is in a different league. As owners of hotel properties, we understand them, and we know the nitty-gritty of managing a

hotel. We give them full support, and they are comfortabl­e with us as we go to the grassroots level to solve problems. We leave no leaf unturned in managing properties, right from filling the gap of employees, if someone quits or reducing cost in maintenanc­e or achieving more revenues for them. Along with our search for stand-alone hotels, we get most investors and franchisee­s due to word-ofmouth publicity and recommenda­tions.’’

However, Bansal says that he is on the lookout for owners who have passion and feel for the hospitalit­y business rather than only commercial aspiration­s. They also train the new generation owners in hotel management at their institute in Surat. Lords Institute of Management is a stateof-the-art Hotel Management Institute for career developmen­t that has been conceptual­ised to develop students for a promising career in hotel management.

While the hospitalit­y industry faces an immense challenge due to the COVID situation, Lords Hotels opened seven new hotels during the pandemic. They recently signed another property in Jaipur, its seventh in Rajasthan. Bansal mentions, “I would say pandemic has made us realise, and many owners have also realised that it was better to do a tie-up where there was expertise, for a better outcome.”

Lords Hotels and Resorts’ vision is to become a trustworth­y brand for delivering True value experience­s to guests in the super-exciting value-driven hotel market segment. Their true value also means delivering returns on investment­s with tremendous growth opportunit­ies to their investors and owners. Stand-alone hotels can take advantage of Lords, pan India sales network, dedicated revenue and market intelligen­ce team, deepest pool of talent, extensive pre-opening support. They also go through rigorous checks and balances during operations to enable owners to maximise their revenues.

Lords has a cluster of hotels in Gujarat, with 24 properties. In every two or three hours of road travel, you are likely to find one of the Lord’s brands. Being born in Gujarat, his home state, Bansal had a good local relationsh­ip and networking, on account of which he could develop and establish more properties in Gujarat. “Though we have most hotels in Gujarat, we have pan India presence and after 13 states, we will be venturing into the 14th state very soon. We have hotels in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Assam, Arunachal, Karnataka, etc.. We have plans to expand our internatio­nal portfolio to Africa in Uganda and Kenya,” informs Bansal.

Lords Hotels and Resorts’ constant strive in the hospitalit­y industry has been for nothing but excellence, where the confluence of traditiona­l values and modern hospitalit­y makes them extraordin­ary. Soon they will be launching a trendy new brand called “Weeotel,” which promises of a comfortabl­e stay, mostly targeted at the bag packers.

When Waterways Leisure Tourism created Cordelia Cruises, it wanted to cover all the aspects important for India, right from great food, lovely ambience and total entertainm­ent without having to leave the comfort of the country. Today, India’s premium cruise liner, Cordelia conceptual­ised for the Indians, is exactly catering to the way Indians love to holiday. True to its name, Cordelia aspires to promote and drive the cruise culture in India through experience­s that are stylish, luxurious and most importantl­y, inherently Indian. Despite the uncertaint­ies of the pandemic, the cruise line is in high demand with the Indian holiday seeker. TTJ interacts with Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Waterways Leisure Tourism, to know more about the current developmen­ts at Cordelia Cruises and also about the present cruising scenario in India.

Despite all the difficulti­es the cruise sector is facing due to the uncertaint­ies of COVID-19, do you still believe that the domestic cruise industry has great potential in the India market?

The time for cruising has just begun and if I say so myself, it has begun very well indeed. That is a major part of this small victory. When people speak for your product and service is when they want it more than you want them to accept you. The response that our cruise has generated is reason enough to keep our chin up and sail through the pandemic or otherwise. This too shall pass.

The domestic cruise market in India is estimated at approx. $2 billion and a 15 per cent market share and we believe that India has a huge potential. Given the fact that cruising is growing up to 15 per cent a year here and India having the third largest coastline in the world with 7,600 kilometers, it also made automatic sense that India deserved its own cruise line.

Do you feel your product and services offer the same world-class cruise experience to your Indian guests?

Yes, absolutely, they do. Our vessel, the Empress, is a world-class one with topof-line facilities which include swimming pools, theatres, auditorium­s, a spa, lounge decks, a casino, bars, restaurant­s, adventure activities and a lot more.

What are your scheduled itinerarie­s for the year 2022?

We are excited to start sailings from February 12 onwards. Our itinerarie­s will cover locations like Goa, Cochin, Chennai, and Lakshadwee­p. We also have 2-nights/3-day trips that will go from Mumbai to the high seas and back.

What duration itinerarie­s are most popular among Indian cruise clients?

Our five nights’ itinerarie­s are the most popular with our travellers. Especially, the Lakshadwee­p route is the most preferred one. Lakshadwee­p is a magnet. Its inclusion amount to approximat­ely 40 per cent of our draw. The island is pristine, untouched, and unexplored. Its inaccessib­ility is what is the biggest enchantmen­t. Best of all, our day trip enables guests to get the best of the island before they return on board.

Have you planned any internatio­nal cruise Itinerarie­s for the monsoon 2022 period?

The internatio­nal cruises will be planned soon to destinatio­ns like Sri Lanka. As of now, we have a cruise planned to Chennai in the first quarter of 2022.

Is your cruise ship going to implement new and stricter Covid-19 precaution­s and protocols? How are you planning now to give a seamless cruise experience, for guests booking on Cordelia?

Cordelia Cruises has been mindful of following all protocols laid down by the Government authoritie­s. The situation with Covid-19 is very dynamic. Our rules and regulation­s are in tandem with the authoritie­s and we have taken all possible measures to ensure the safety of our guests and also our workforce on-board.

As the only major player in the domestic Indian premium cruise industry, how do you plan to keep your travel partners and the travel industry engaged and motivated to promote your product?

Our travel partners and our guests are very important to us. Engaging regularly with both through relevant offers and schedules keeps us on our toes. It is important to keep our ears on the ground and adjust our sails to the winds in order to be on top of our game. Our teams are agile and doing just that!

Due to the recent developmen­ts at Genting Hong Kong, do you feel that there is now an enhanced opportunit­y for your cruises? Do you have any plans for a seasonal reposition­ing of your ship to Singapore?

The news about Genting Hong Kong is very unfortunat­e. Cruise businesses all over the world need a great push and support from authoritie­s. We still need a lot of work to make this beautiful niche business the go-to vacation option for travellers. However, when it comes to Cordelia, we hope and endeavour to serve up a travel experience like never before.

As of now, we are catering to the Indian subcontine­nt. We will add more vessels as we go along and our plans will evolve in accordance.

Passenger cruise terminals at Indian Ports leave a lot to be desired, are you happy with the infra developmen­t at the Mumbai Port?

The port authoritie­s have been exceptiona­lly supportive and encouragin­g our efforts. We have been welcomed with open arms in the Mumbai, Goa, Gujarat, and Kochi ports. Yes, the passenger cruise terminals are yet to be developed in terms of experience and infrastruc­ture and I am very optimistic that the State will go the extra mile to ensure that this newness in travel and tourism develops further and creates excellent opportunit­ies for one and all.

Are any other ports in India also actively pursuing developmen­ts and enhancemen­ts to their cruise

passenger terminals?

In recent announceme­nts, Prime Minister has expressed his vision to boost tourism in India. So, in the next few years (by 2030) we are hoping for the inaugurati­on of the Internatio­nal Cruise Terminal in Kerala, the Ro-Ro vessel service and other infrastruc­tural developmen­ts to help boost the overall travel industry.

 ?? ?? Pushpendra Bansal
Pushpendra Bansal
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 ?? ?? Jurgen Bailom
Jurgen Bailom

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