Thai chain Amari forges ahead with Lamba tie-up

News, Hospitality Trends

Thai hospitality chain Amari inked a joint venture deal with Mandeep Lamba this February, which now gives them a stronger foothold into India with a full-fledged infrastructure in place.

“We wanted to send a message to Indian developers that there is a skilled, competent team on ground in India, with full backing from Thailand,” said Mandeep Lamba, MD and CEO of Onyx Hospitality India.

The Group has gone in for a total repositioning, with the parent company now known as Onyx Hospitality Group.

Within this are three brands, the best known of which is Amari, in the upscale four-and-a-half segment, Saffron in the luxury segment, and Ozo in the budget space. “While we are very, very keen to do Ozo, that and Saffron are still in the nascent stages, so our largest concentration will continue to be Amari,” said Lamba.

Lamba is of the opinion that the downturn is the best time to make an investment, as all businesses are cyclical at the end of it. “Anyway, you need not be concerned about recessionary trends in India as a market if you are a long term player,” he said. “Quite simply, the Amari logic is that India is one of the fastest growing countries in this region. Secondly, the proximity both in terms of distance and culture. Thirdly, outside of the local Thai population, India is the largest in-bound tourism for Amari,” added Lamba.

The company is looking across the board and is in active talks with investors; “Even as we speak, I’m in dialogue with every big city – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Dharamsala, Goa and Guwahati actively. Hopefully we should be able to make announcements this year,” he added.

Amari had allocated a budget of US $44 million on its expansion plans, however, says Lamba, there is no fixed bifurcation to this budget, which will be allocated depending on where the requirement is. “Amari is a private company, so if there’s a requirement to tweak it that can always be looked at. The money is not towards acquiring assets on the ground. It’s to build our management capabilities in various countries,” explained Lamba.

Reacting to what Amari can bring to India that’s different, considering there are other Thai players like Dusit and Anantara also marking their Indian debut, Lamba said quite clearly where they are different is that Amari is one of the largest players that own as well as manage hotels. “Plus, we have 45-years of experience behind us –Amari is a household name in Thailand. The smallest inventory is 56-rooms and the largest is 570 so, it’s a diverse portfolio and we understand how to manage resort destinations as well as city centre hotels. There will be competition, but there’s room for everybody,” added Lamba.

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