The Best Resort
Boutique resorts are leveraging innovation for quicker problem solving and enhanced guest experiences
By Vinita Bhatia
Till a few years ago, not too many hoteliers looked at the resorts business as a viable one. But a few forward thinking industry leaders persisted, and today there is an ever-growing presence of well-performing boutique resorts across the country.
One such company was Ambuja Neotia Group, which currently has a bouquet of four hotels, which includes two boutique and two upper-upscale hotels as well as four social clubs, six fine dining restaurants, a chain of Tea Junction outlets and some banquet halls.
Talking about the reason why they bet on, and continue to invest in, resort properties, Harshvardhan Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group said, “Leisure is clearly gaining traction in India, and we are seeing a lot of resorts come up in exotic locations where tourists are patronising them. Hence, I feel that boutique resorts would continue to be a major area of development as they are key experience differentiators for travellers.”
FOCUS ON INNOVATION
One of the advantages of being a boutique resort is that the developer has the freedom to leverage innovation before, during and even after the project goes live. This helps in quicker problem-solving and enhanced guest experiences, going a long way in building a service-oriented reputation for the brand. Understanding this, Ambuja Neotia Group has primarily grown its portfolio through greenfield projects. “As a group, we place a huge focus on design and innovation that is proprietary in nature, since this is an intrinsic part of our hospitality vision,” Neotia explained.
THE RIGHT COLLABORATIONS
Some developers of boutique resorts are collaborating with leading hoteliers as these partnerships can help them reach out to a wider client base. For instance, Ambuja Neotia’s Kolkata hotel is operated and managed by Swissotel, which is a part of the AccorHotels. It has also recently formalised an alliance with the Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts and Safaris for its upcoming properties in Darjeeling and Sikkim.
“Our room inventory currently is around 350 rooms in these four hotels, which are all in West Bengal and by 2020, we hope to add around 500 rooms. Most of these rooms will again be in West Bengal, including in some resort locations, apart from a hotel in Patna of 130 rooms and another one in Sikkim with 80 rooms,” informed Neotia.
As air traffic connectivity improves connecting small towns with big cities, the number of vacationers is also increasing. This has seen the resort business get a big shot in the arm.
Developers and hoteliers are keeping pace by ensuring that resorts function as full-service properties. As the rules of the resort business get rewritten, stakeholders are trying their best to stay one step ahead of the game.