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The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group is planning to open a high-end boutique hotel in London by the end of 2014. It has paid £15 million (around Rs 129 crore) to acquire a heritage building, which will be converted into a hotel. This is the third hotel property acquisition by an Indian company in London over the past two years. After Sahara’s Grosvenor House and Bird Group’s purchase of Royal Park Hotel, the Suri chain is about to realise its ‘long cherished dream’ of having ‘The Lalit, London’.
Located in the heart of London, near the city’s famous Tower Bridge, the group has bought the heritage building—St Olave’s—from Berkeley Homes. St Olave’s was a grammar school earlier. The company will start the restoration and development work to set up a 70-room luxury boutique hotel by early 2013 at an additional investment of £12-13 million (around Rs 112 crore). The company plans to open the hotel by the end of 2014.
“Experts from their respective fields have been commissioned for the project. The Lalit London is expected to attract significant corporate and leisure demand from all over the world,” said Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director.
Major acquisitions of Indian hotel companies in the overseas market
While Suri denied there was any pressing need for Indian hotel chains to expand abroad in the backdrop of international hotel brands setting foot in India, she said theirs would be the first authentic Indian chain to set up a high-end luxury boutique chain abroad. The group would own and manage the London property and would tweak its product to suit the local tastes and preferences, including an al fresco restaurant, smoking zones etc.
The Sahara group, which acquired the Grosvenor House in London and The Plaza in New York had given the management rights of the properties to Fairfield and JW Marriott, respectively.
The Taj Group of Hotels, too, has two properties—the Crowne Plaza and 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residence in London. The group had bought the St James Court property in Westminster for a hefty but undisclosed sum in 1982, a year after it secured its properties in Washington and New York.
Kicking off its international expansion, the Lalit Suri group is also expanding in Thailand and Dubai, as a part of its overall expansion plans. It plans to open 25 hotels under its mid-market brand “Traveller” and four luxury hotels, “The Lalit” in the next five years in cities including Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Pune and Dehradun. The group has invested Rs 1,000 crore over the last five years, and will put in another Rs 1,200 crore in the next three years to fund its expansion plans.