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The dapper managing director of the realty major ABIL Group is known for his tenacity and for making things happen despite all odds. While the ABIL Group was founded by his father, Avinash, Amit Bhosale is most passionate about the hospitality segment. Among the big moves ABIL has made this year is the acquisition of an eight-storey commercial building at Trafalgar Square, a prime location in London, for nearly £100 million, or INR 900 crore. The investment marks ABIL’s foray into the international markets for the group’s hospitality business.
In a statement after the sale, Bhosale said. “We have always developed hotels at landmark locations. London ranks in the top three choices when one is considering global expansion. This is an exciting opportunity for us as Trafalgar Square is a globally recognised location.” The freehold property, 5 Strand Trafalgar Square, will be redeveloped into a five-star hotel with 210 to 230 keys inventory at an additional investment of over £80 million. This brings ABIL’s portfolio of luxury hotels to five.
While it was his father who embarked on the hospitality journey by bidding for a Holiday Inn property in November 2002, Amit gained formal education in the hospitality industry through a rigorous course at Switzerland’s Les Roches. His first experience at running the hotel was with The Westin Pune, where he was involved with every decision — from procuring the land to conducting a market survey, meeting architects and consultants, working with structural engineers, negotiating with hospitality brands, acquiring sanctions and commissions, and liaising with the contractors and vendors during the construction phase. The other three luxury hotels in Pune were doing great business in the early 90s, with ADRs touching INR 8,000-9,000 and it was a fortuitous time to make his debut as a hotelier. Bhosale went on to open Shangri-La in Mumbai’s Palladium Mall (which is now St Regis Mumbai) and then W Goa. Interestingly all three global brands made their debut in the Indian market with ABIL.
After the planning stage, Bhosale prefers to step back and leave the job to architects and contractors, moving on to strategise on how to market and position a hospitality project. His focus remains on Tier-I cities or travel destinations such as Goa, and now London, and he steers clear of B-towns. Unlike other hoteliers he believes that while the land cost is cheaper in these regions, the development cost continues to be high, the spending power much lower than cities, and infrastructure issues such as lack of good air connectivity is an issue.