In his last two years as COO – India and South Asia, Jean-Michel Cassé has announced several big-ticket projects in the country. But the biggest has to be the announcement that AccorHotel’s uber-luxury brand, Raffles, will be in India soon. The legendary luxury brand is synonymous with glamour and extraordinary experiences across the world. The Indian editions will come up at Jaipur and Udaipur, the two Rajasthani cities known for their vibrancy, luxury and royalty-inspired lifestyle.
Cassé told Hotelier India at the launch of the brand, “We are seeing increasing demand for luxury travel in India and are looking forward to expanding Accor’s globally renowned portfolio of luxury brands in this incredible country. The addition of the iconic Raffles brand signals a new era for our group in the country.” Right now, Accor’s luxury portfolio is represented in the country by two Fairmont properties in Mumbai and Jaipur.
Accor is witnessing interesting times under the tutelage of the well-travelled and well-spoken hotelier, who brings his extensive global experience to the Indian market. He has helped shift the group's brand strategy from product-centric to client-centric, to meet the demands of the contemporary customers. Cassé is also driving the group’s mid-scale and economy portfolio aggressively, through the expansion of brands such as Novotel and ibis.
He sees a huge potential in India for premium and luxury Accor brands such as Banyan Tree, Delano, Mondrian, Hyde and Tribe. “We are also interested in the development of branded, private and serviced residences in the country,” he told Hotelier India earlier this year. For now, Accor’s pipeline includes 5,000 rooms.
Cassé, who has handled the Indian market since 2008, is credited with the expansion and spread of AccorHotels across the country. He has said, “Some of the key milestones we have achieved include building a strong network of close to 50 hotels represented by nine of our international and regional brands, nearing 9,000 keys and over 8,500 employees. Moreover, we consolidated our position in the mid-scale and economy segment with Novotel and ibis hotels respectively, and expanded our luxury offerings by bringing Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Swissotel and Grand Mercure brands to India.”
He terms himself a “self-motivated” man, who draws inspiration from people he meets and destinations he travels to. Cassé dreams of bringing the experiential, design-led Accor brand, 25Hours, to India one day. “Even if we were to have only one, and it should be in Mumbai, because of its differential F&B offerings.”