Oversupply of room inventory has led to a major correction in hotel rates across the country. There is, however, no stopping developers from creating hotel complexes boasting shopping malls, entertainment and convention centres.
Nearly 1,000 hotel rooms, restaurants and 180 serviced apartments are forming part of an expansive commercial hub in Mulund, a suburb of Mumbai, also the unlikeliest of destinations for a luxury hotel.
Mulund is the last suburb on the eastern side of the municipal city limits of Mumbai, bordering Thane. The area is more popular for commercial activities and residential hubs than business activities.
However, senior management at Accor, a French hotel group, also the largest operator in Europe, believe the development plans of Mulund would be similar to that of the Bandra Kurla Complex, a business district.
Nirmal Lifestyle Group, a Mumbai-based developer, is investing about Rs 1,500 crore in developing the said properties. The group has signed contracts with Accor for managing five properties, including four hotels, in the mid-scale to luxury segment.
This would be the first time in India that a hotel group has signed contracts for properties under different brands centred in a single commercial complex. Besides hotel rooms these will boast of convention halls, meeting rooms, boardrooms and ballrooms and integrated malls.
Two hotels under the Sofitel brand, Accor's luxury brand, will be the first to come up in 2015. With 235 rooms the 'Sofitel' would be on the upper level of the building while the 'SO', a Sofitel sub-brand specialising in design boutique concepts will form part of the lower level with 191 rooms.
Further, Novotel, a mid-scale brand will also open in the complex with 250 rooms and Ibis, a economy brand will also welcome guests with its 200 rooms.
A serviced apartment project, under the brand Grand Mercure Residence having 180 units will also come up within the complex.
Markland Blaiklock, Head and Senior Vice President, Sofitel Asia Pacific, said, "The opportunity came to us by a developer who had a vision for something really interesting and iconic development in an area that is going to undergo a change. Ten years ago who would have thought BKC would have developed the way it has, so we see the same opportunity there (in Mulund)".
The hotel complex will have close proximity to a shopping mall and entertainment complex of over 3 million sq ft having parking for over 2,500 cars and a rooftop landscaped garden measuring over 7 acres.
With its luxury properties under boutique and heritage, Sofitel is at the top of the brand pyramid in the account of Accor group. Sofitel competes with Taj and Leela in the segment with prices starting at about Rs 10,000 per night.
A Sofitel is already operational in BKC since February this year with occupancy rates at about 50 per cent. Oberoi's Trident, which was also the first 5 star property inside the business district is located next to it.
Accor, which is 19 properties old in India, is scouting for expansion in other parts of the country for Sofitel and is presently in talks with various developers. The company intends to bring up the luxury brand in traditional expensive markets like the metropolitan cities and tourist destinations.
"We have had discussion with various developers for hotels in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and even resorts in Goa. So we should be able to have 6-10 properties under the Sofitel brand by the turn of the decade", added Blaiklock.