Travel Trade Journal
‘Being environmentally sensitive is not a business or marketing gimmick’
Having launched and being the driving force behind the phenomenal growth of the Fern brand, Param Kanampilly, CMD, Concept Hospitality, is regarded as one of the most poignant and impactful professionals in the hospitality industry and has been affiliated with numerous hotel groups. He is also credited with founding the eco-friendly concept in the hospitality sector and played a very important role in educating the hotel industry about sustainability. To get fresh insight into how the Fern brand is faring, we at TTJ interacted with the visionary and formidable environment champion who has been treading the sustainable path as a part of their brand commitment.
When Param Kanampilly came to Mumbai in the 1970s to pursue his career in Dentistry, he accidentally got into hospitality at the Dadar Catering College. The college was offering courses in Hotel Management with accommodation and hostel facilities, which he needed at that time, as he was not a resident of Mumbai.
Param took an opportunity to make a difference to the environment with regard to the hospitality business when he went on to set up and operate Asia’s first Ecotel Hotel- The Orchid Mumbai, which is now considered the hallmark of environmentally sensitive hotels. Thereafter, in 1996, he started his own hospitality management company Concept Hospitality. The brand, Fern Hotels and Resorts, is now a leading environmentally sensitive group of hotels and amongst the fastest growing hotel brands in India, with 88 hotels and resorts currently operational under management or opening shortly across 72 locations in India and internationally.
With the decline in COVID, the hospitality business is looking up lately and the occupancy levels have begun to get better with business and tourist travel increasing. “There has certainly been a lot of improvement as far as the occupancies are concerned. In fact, the weekend destinations and our jungle and forest resorts have been doing very good business. Even they are touching the pre-COVID ARRs and in certain cases surpassing them as well. The problem is more of the city hotels. Their ARRs have to improve significantly. However, it is the problem with all the hotels and not limited to Fern Hotels,” shares Param.
Concept Hospitality is a part of CG Corp Global, a multi-dimensional Nepalese
conglomerate. With major brands like The Fern and The Fern Residency, Zinc by The Fern, and Beacon Hotels in its portfolio, Concept Hospitality is a market leader in hotel management in India and has seen impressive growth. With an aim to reach its goal of managing and operating 100 hotels shortly, each project of Concept Hospitality aids in establishing brand philosophy as well as delivering end-to-end solutions, starting from design conceptualisation to viable operational management of each hotel.
When asked if the group is considering looking at new business models due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Param responds, “We are a hotel management company and we charge management fees for managing the hotels. We have been there in the business for a long and we are here to stay. Our business model is good and sustainable. The model is going to remain the same with a little tweak here and there.”
Fern Hotels and Resorts is a premium standard of amenities and services with a true passion for the environment. Luxury with elegance and personalised service, and all the contemporary facilities packaged together with minimal impact on the environment. “We are an environmentally friendly company, and take sustainable development seriously. Our tagline is hospitality with responsibility. For us, being environmentally sensitive is not a business or marketing gimmick. We are committed to the cause of the environment. We try to inculcate it among the entire staff,” reminds Param.
Despite the pandemic, India’s hotel business saw several new establishments, including the Fern brands. Adding to the scope of the hotels in the mid-market and budget segments, Param says, “India is a huge market and the biggest chunk of the market is in the budget and medium level hotels. The burgeoning middle class has become very brand conscious and is ready to shell out a little more if it comes to getting services. The biggest growth is happening in this segment. Even during the pandemic, we opened quite a few properties. That speaks highly about the Fern brand.”
Fern Hotels and Resorts has been expanding its portfolio across all brands. This year, they launched a few properties and will be opening at least six to eight more properties by the end of 2022.
On a final note, when asked what traits a successful hotelier should possess, Param advised, “Practicing the One Minute Manager Principle with the element of human touch and treating every guest/ customer as God and inspiring your team to believe in this mantra is what I believe in. Secondly, being honest and sincere in your profession is what matters the most, and it is significant in every field.”