Watch out for!

Comment, Hospitality Trends

The spotlight is clearly on the hotel-owning community, on project managers and project management companies, designers, architects, et al. From new entrants in hotel development to older and more established players, entrepreneurs with big dreams to institutional investors, the plans on the drawing board are big and grandiose.
Overcoming the challenges of a tough operating environment, hotel developers are opening up new frontiers. Some see potential in the business segment in towns and cities, while others seem inclined to consider virgin locales to build up leisure tourism. The potential is as huge as the country is vast.
In this land of opportunity, the pitfalls are numerous. The good news is that there is increased awareness of the role of professionals in developing new hotel projects. “Hotel projects are complex as per brand standards of international operators. It’s important to make detailed execution plans, project schedules and budgets that incorporate particular requirements before embarking on a journey,” says Manish Sachdeva, associate director, Archetype Group.
“There is a lot we, in India, can learn from with the help of our western counterparts in the developed world, especially when it comes to planning and management,” concurs DK Jain, GM, projects, InterGlobe Hotels.
As the industry enters an exciting growth phase, what is clear is that the last few years, gruelling as they have been, have seen the men being separated from the boys. The newbies who continue to foray into hospitality have been forewarned, and therefore, one would hope, are forearmed. Featuring (in alphabetical order) are those who we think have the potential to shape the future in this space. Our list comprises the new, young and ambitious to the older and more established but no less hungry. Read on!

ANSHU SARIN, CEO, BERGGRUEN HOTELS
With 15 properties across India at key tourist destinations such as Mahabaleshwar, Aurangabad, Shirdi and Goa as well as around business hubs like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru and Jaipur, Berggruen Hotels already has an expanded presence with its Keys brand of hotels and resorts across several locations.
With an eye to establishing its footprint with at least one property at every major destination in India, Berggruen boasts a healthy run rate of new hotel openings. It launched four properties in 2014 and is expecting to open seven more by the end of this calendar year.
This would take its tally to 21 operational hotels and resorts.
Focusing largely on brownfield projects, the company is targeting 50 properties across the country by fiscal 2017, as it follows an asset-light model, squarely focused on the management and franchise routes.
Anshu Sarin, CEO, Berggruen Hotels, says, “We are always looking out for cities that have a population of 10 lakhs and above, and those that are well connected via airports and railways in addition to having good surface transport connectivity. These could be metros and mini metros, state capitals, trade capitals, industrial towns, pilgrimage and leisure destinations.”
With $75 million invested in the business already and another round of funding earlier this year, Berggruen Hotels is surely one to watch out for.

ASHISH JAKHANWALA, FOUNDER & CEO, SAMHI
Set up as a specialised hotel investment and ownership company, SAMHI operates nine hotels. It has 14 properties under development with another four-five set to open by the end of the year. Keen on investing further, SAMHI founder & CEO Ashish Jakhanwala says there is no pre-determined target. “We’ll respond to opportunities and remain interested to expand our portfolio. When you’re expanding in India, there’s a great deal of opportunity in tier II and tier III cities. But, because we are fairly financially motivated, we see a bulk of our concentration in big cities and the large tier II cities,” he says.
Since its inception in 1999, SAMHI has established a presence in all key metros in its first phase of growth and has started to expand into tier II locations.
While the company has mostly developed its own hotels, the last two years have seen a slight shift to buying distressed assets. Jakhanwala says, “We kept buying what we thought would make financial sense and that is why we believe our company has grown faster than some of our peers, because we aren’t encumbered by any one single brand.”
SAMHI’s experience with the hotels that it acquired and opened two years ago has been good thusfar even as some of those hotels are still ramping up. “Overall, we remain satisfied with the progress so far,” Jakhanwala says.
With a highly focused, PE-style investing philosophy, SAMHI could well be among those set to see the best returns on their capital invested.

BINOD CHAUDHARY, CHAIRMAN, CHAUDHARY GROUP
A s high-profile announcements go, this one is way up there. Last month, Nepalese conglomerate CG Corp Global, owned by Nepal’s first and only billionaire Binod Chaudhary, took a significant stake in India’s Concept Hospitality for close to Rs 50 crore.
CG Hospitality is now targeting 200 hotels by 2020 across Africa, ME, China and South Asia but Chaudhary says these plans are on the drawing board. However, he reveals a “large chunk” of the hotels will be in India as he explores opportunities to expand Concept’s three existing brands.
Moreover, he is looking to bring in CG Hospitality’s Zinc brand of hotels. “We are very anxious to have some of these flags flying with at least one Glow in Mumbai, maybe very soon,” he told Hotelier India.
CG Corp runs five segments of hotels under the Zinc brand in 11 countries. It also has a 50-50 joint venture with IHCL’s Taj Asia and collaboration for Taj Safaris.
How does Chaudhary view the competition?
“Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches,” he says. “We know what the limitations of a developer are in compelling and difficult periods, like in current times. We totally understand because we don’t only wear an operator’s hat; we also wear an investor’s hat,” he adds.
With deep pockets to sustain his foray, a global perspective and strong local partner of excellent repute, watch out for CG Hospitality, the newest entrant in India’s growing hospitality industry.

DHARMENDRA BHANDARI, MD, BESTECH GROUP
Owned, managed and led by Dharmendra Bhandari and Sunil Satija, Bestech Group expanded into hospitality with Bestech Hospitalities in 2002. It currently has three operational hotels and three more in advanced stages of construction.
In addition, Carlson Rezidor and Bestech have joined hands to invest $ 42 million in a joint venture to develop the first two hotels, Park Inn by Radisson Gurgaon and Park Inn by Radisson Chandigarh, Mohali. While the construction for the hotel in Mohali is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2015, work on the property in Gurgaon is scheduled for the end of 2016.
The company also has exclusive development rights for Park Inn by Radisson and is targeting to develop 49 Park Inn by Radisson hotels by 2024. “We have a definitive development schedule of opening these properties in the next 13 years with prospective partners,” says Dharmendra Bhandari, MD, Bestech Group.
He adds, “For Radisson Red and Park Inn, we are focused on cities in central and north India including Chattisgarh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh as well as Uttrakhand.”
With a proven track record, Bestech has been around for over two decades and its projects outside hospitality range from residential and commercial complexes to integrated townships, shopping malls and IT parks.

HARSHAVARDHAN NEOTIA, CHAIRMAN, AMBUJA NEOTIA GROUP
It’s all under wraps right now at Ambuja Neotia Hospitality, the hospitality business of one of India’s most prominent and recognisable real estate groups headquartered in Kolkata.
The company has stepped up several gears. It has eight properties under construction in its focus areas, i.e., north and south Bengal and Sikkim. All are with “international luxury operators” and the aim is to have these boutique resorts operational by 2020, taking the total tally to 10 along with two existing properties, Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista and The Ffort at Raichak on Ganges.
The group has ventured into virgin locations in the Sundarbans, the first company to do so. It is also coming up with a property at Makaibari, renowned for the world’s oldest tea factory and for teas fetching a record $1,850 per kg.
“Domestic tourism to east India is surely going to grow. Other parts of India are already established. People need new locations,” says Harshavardhan Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group.
To be sure, while travelling to eastern India was always a little difficult, with the new airport expected in Gangtok by the end of 2015, more flights directed towards the area, highways being widened and other incremental developments in infrastructure, travel conditions are expected to ease. That can only bode well for anyone who boldly goes where no man has gone before.
Comparably low-profile thus far, Ambuja Neotia is one to watch out for as it looks to catapult into the big league in hospitality with just a single throw of the dice.

JB SINGH, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTERGLOBE HOTELS
Truly unique in its setup, with InterGlobe and Accor owning equity in each of the other’s global parent companies, InterGlobe Hotels has proven itself with 10 operational properties and a robust pipeline of nine hotels, set to turn incrementally operational by 2017, by which time, the company would have 19 operational hotels.
Established to develop Ibis hotel properties, JB Singh, president & CEO, InterGlobe Hotels says that the plan is to continue to sign deals for more Ibis properties.
Singh says, “The strategy was always to create a brand presence. To begin with, the idea was to get into all tier I markets which could take more than one hotel and that’s what we did. We are very clear which markets and micro-markets we want to go to. Right now, there are a few more in Mumbai we can do. We are looking at the airport and around the suburb of Malad. In Gurgaon, we’d like to do one more as well as in Bengaluru, possibly. In Delhi, we’d like to do as many more as we can.”
Clearly, InterGlobe is on track and owing to its sheer scale and unique setup, derives a number of inherent advantages. “The learning comes as you build each subsequent hotel. Staying with a brand ensures that the learning gets refined. It’s now got to a point that it’s become almost a cookie-cutter model for us, whether it is acquiring the land or building these hotels or even operating them,” says Singh. Watch out for InterGlobe Hotels because size matters.

NAVEEN JAIN, PRESIDENT, DUET INDIA HOTELS
Credited for bringing the Holiday Inn Express brand into India, Duet India Hotels is now intent on expanding its presence, first in the major markets of Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi-NCR and Goa, where it doesn’t have a presence yet before it evaluates potential opportunities elsewhere.
“We are looking for sites in these places but we have to get the right place and at the right location because to create a mid-market hotel, you’ll definitely need a commercial hub around. We’re trying because we don’t need more than 1,00,000 sq-ft of area to be constructed. It can even be slightly less than an acre,” says Naveen Jain, president, Duet India Hotels.
Given its focus on the mid-market category with Holiday Inn Express, Duet’s strategy is to identify micro-markets in dense commercial areas where there is demand but where supply is lacking.
Jain is not keen on the leisure segment. “It is a huge investment in the leisure segment and it’s also a seasonal business. However, Goa is a good market for our class of hotel merely because of the potential. We are also present in Jaipur as this is a good city because of the combination of both business and leisure. Beyond these, we don’t want to go,” Jain states flatly.
With nine hotels across seven cities, of which five are operational and four under various stages of development, watch out for Duet India Hotels, one of only a handful of private equity funds out there developing hospitality assets.

NITAN CHHATWAL, CMD, SHREM GROUP
Shrem began its journey in hospitality from Goa, successfully developing two hotels, one operated by Novotel and the other by Grand Mercure, both recent openings. Novotel Goa Shrem Resort is undergoing expansion and Shrem has decided to diversify its portfolio in Goa by developing service apartments in the northern part of the state.
The company has identified two land parcels — 11,000 sq-m in Baga and 8,000 sq-m in Siolim, for development. “Brands that have shown interest and are currently negotiating are Hyatt House, Marriott Executive Apartments and Element Hotels by Starwood,” says Nitan Chhatwal, CMD, Shrem Group.
Element Hotels is one of Starwood’s three select service brands that is not yet present in India.
Chhatwal reveals his objective “is to grow in the mid to upscale segment of hotels” even as he points to the “large gap between the supply and demand in this segment”.
Shrem is also in advanced stages of discussions for two more land parcels in Udaipur in Rajasthan.
Actively seeking to achieve its five-year target of an inventory of 1,000 rooms, the company also has plans to expand in the state of Maharashtra, besides Rajasthan and Goa.
A diversified and profitable business house with a presence in real estate, mining, technology, finance, aerospace and health care, Shrem Group looks to create a mark in hospitality with fine upscale properties in select destinations.

NIRUPA SHANKAR, DIRECTOR, BRIGADE HOSPITALITY
A company is known by its leadership and Brigade Hospitality exemplifies the new-age, nimble-footed organisation, professionally run and in the very capable hands of its director Nirupa Shankar who joined the business only as recently as just six years ago.
Responsible for the group’s hospitality ventures, Shankar has set up two hotels while two more — Grand Mercure, Mysore and Holiday Inn Chennai OMR — are under construction.
Brigade also has an understanding to develop 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels.
With a presence in two key locations in south India and expanding fast, Shankar says the group’s hospitality foray has been very good thus far and this is what has given it the confidence to look at more projects.
Shankar is cognisant of the pitfalls such as ‘over specking’ a product or an ineffective location. “First of all, we decide on whether we’d like to do a hospitality project or a residential one based on the locale and catchment area,” she says. With the Chennai property due to open shortly, she is keeping her fingers crossed. Situated opposite Tidal Park, a prominent IT park, Shankar believes the location is a good one but is nevertheless slightly nervous due to the upcoming supply in Chennai.
However, if past experience is anything to go by, Brigade Hospitality looks set to replicate its success with subsequent hotel openings and over time, establish a major presence in hotel development. With two hotels on home turf that are doing well, it’s already been a good beginning.

RAHUL RAI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNIQUE MERCANTILE INDIA
The story of Rahul Rai and Unique Mercantile is an engaging one. Starting off as insurance brokers in rural India in the mid-1990s when the population was ripe for the pickings, Rai quickly had a database of over 24 lakh people. “The basic aim”, admits Rai “was to create a marketing platform from where we could launch various products and services in future.” Then, the government introduced foreign direct investment in insurance in 1999.
Rai had to come up with something different fast. He tied up with 30 hotels within India and five abroad, and launched a “timeshare kind of thing”. While it was never his intention to make this the main line of business, the response was so good, says Rai, that he ended up with over 2.5 crore customers between 2001 and 2006.
As this business grew, Rai faced overbooking problems and made losses as he purchased room inventory from the open market. That’s when he was struck with the thought that he’d be better off if he owned hotels and not have to buy rooms.
So he went to the US and succeeded at opening doors at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The rest, as they, is history, as Rai introduced Howard Johnson, positioned as a mid-market hotel. In late 2014, Rai announced jointly with Wyndham, that they would be building 35 of these hotels, so far one is operational and 13 are under construction.
“We feel hospitality has not seen the kind of revolution like airlines or telecom,” says Rai. Watch out for this go-getter as he looks set to deliver on his promise of 35 HoJo’s in the next 15 years or so.

RANJIT BATRA, PRESIDENT, HOSPITALITY, PANCHSHIL REALTY
With six hospitality projects across different categories of hotels including serviced residences, Panchshil Realty is also the developer of what is to be India’s second Ritz-Carlton, located in Pune, its sole ongoing project.
Panchshil’s key partner is Marriott International with whom it has already developed two properties, also in Pune.
“Since we are active owners, we have always been involved in the asset management of the hotel in both the pre-opening and post-launch stages,” says Ranjit Batra, president, Panchshil Realty.
The company’s strategy is to now acquire hotels that are in distress. “We have aligned ourselves with a US-based private equity fund to acquire properties that can be purchased at a realistic price,” says Batra.
To be sure, with escalating land prices posing the major challenge to real estate projects, Batra, like others of his profession, believes that this is not just a faster but also a more efficient method of building a portfolio.
He reveals Panchshil is in talks with two five-star hotels in Ahmedabad and that both deals are expected to fructify soon.
If the key to building and operating great hotels is great relationships, then Panchshil Realty is already off to a great start. The industry can expect more projects focused on the premium segment in future.

SHAPATH PARIKH, DIRECTOR, PARIKH INN PRIVATE LIMITED
For sheer simplicity in thought, word and deed, Shapath Parikh, director, Parikh Inn, makes the cut. Moving back from Lehman Brothers in New York to the India office in Mumbai, Parikh moved to Barclays when the “ship sank”. After 12 years in I-banking, he joined the family business, specifically to grow the hospitality vertical that consisted of all of one hotel — the Fortune Hotel Centre Point in Jamshedpur.
He’s already acquired an under-construction property, set to open under the Lemon Tree brand in Gujarat. Plans are afoot to develop two more hotels — one more in Jamshedpur and the other in upcoming steel hub, Kalinganagar in Odisha.
Already well-established in automobiles with several dealerships and service centres across Jharkhand and Odisha in prime locations, Parikh plans to redevelop these land parcels into mixed-use projects with a hotel.
He plans to expand in tier II and tier III cities, where he has land and where the “demand supply dynamics are ripe for hotels”.
In Gujarat, Parikh plans to pursue acquisitions: “What I’ve seen is houses that try to expand aggressively in capital-intensive businesses, find it difficult to sail tough periods”. Nevertheless, pushed for a number, he reveals a target of eight operational hotels by 2020.

SOUVAGYA KUMAR MOHAPATRA, ED, MAYFAIR HOTELS & RESORTS
With a mission to promote the eastern and north-eastern parts of India as attractive tourist destinations, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts is working closely with various stakeholders to identify potential tourist sites it can develop into hospitality properties. “We are also committed to putting Odisha tourism on the global platform,” says Souvagya Kumar Mohapatra, ED, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts.
At present, the Bhubaneswar-headquartered group owns and operates nine high-value properties. Plans are afoot to set up a five-star property in Kolkata and boutique hotels in Siliguri, Raipur and Paradip shortly. Land has been acquired for the proposed properties in Siliguri and Kolkata and the former is expected to be operational by the end of 2016. The Kolkata property is slated to open the next year. All of the group’s hotels are Greenfield projects as Mayfair looks to differentiate itself by integrating architecture with ecology and aesthetics. It plans to continue operating its own brand of hotels and resorts, without considering tie-ups with other operators.
With a clear focus on steady growth in little-known, resort-worthy locations in as yet unexplored parts of the country, watch out for this group as it develops not just hotel properties but also brings to the fore some exciting locations.

ZAID SADIQ, ED, LIAISONING & HOSPITALITY, PRESTIGE GROUP
One of south India’s leading property developers, Prestige Group’s recent successful hospitality forays have given it the platform needed to launch more projects. It has four operational properties and three under construction, namely, a Conrad hotel (a Hilton brand), the Sheraton Bengaluru Whitefield and a Marriott property.
Zaid Sadiq, executive director, Liasoning & Hospitality, Prestige Group, nevertheless refuses to be drawn on whether the group is targeting any specific numbers of hotels.
“We are planning to do more projects but we want to first stabilise what we have already built. We will then go in for the next step. It could be in Bengaluru or anywhere in south India,” he says.
Sadiq reveals Prestige’s plans to launch its own brand of hotels: “There’s huge demand for mid-segment hotels in the three- and four-star categories, which is a much disorganised segment. We’re going to look at how we can build a brand ourselves for Prestige and we’ll be looking for more agreements as well. In the long-term, we want to start our own mid-segment hotel brand.
With a plan to establish a dominant presence in hospitality in southern India, Sadiq says the group will “scale up slowly but surely”.
While developers would really like to be known as hoteliers, watch out for Prestige who has chosen the difficult path to transform into one.

Also, profiled below are some of the best project heads in the country (in alphabetical order)

BABUL GANGULY, COO, PROJECTS, DUET INDIA HOTELS
With over 25 years of experience in the real estate space with Kuljian Corp, Taj, GE Capital and now Duet, Babul Ganguly, COO, Projects at Duet India Hotels has successfully delivered several landmark Greenfield developments across various industry segments over his career.
With significant international exposure delivering projects in countries such as the US, UK, Poland, Romania and Philippines, Ganguly now heads Duet India’s expansion portfolio comprising four under-construction hotels among a target of 25 hotels to have within the next three years. Of the 25 hotels, 19 are to be IHG’s Holiday Inn Express brand of mid-market hotels.
Ganguly says, “At Duet, what we do to manage cost is relentless simplification and standardisation of design to leverage scale and deflate cost. Indigenisation is another lever we can push to mitigate imports and hence cost compression. Peer reviews of the designs also help manage costs effectively.”
With a strong belief in delivering international quality products with a local affinity, he emphasises that it is absolutely critical to have the right fitment of contractors to the project’s profile since they can make or break a project. “Having horses for courses is the name of the game,” says Ganguly.
With him, an IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta alumnus, at the helm of all new developments in the coming years at Duet, what’s clear is that the company is certainly betting on the right horse.

CARLOS KUSAKA, VP, TECHNICAL SERVICES, SE ASIA & INDIA, HILTON WORLDWIDE
Based out of the Asia Pacific office of Hilton Worldwide in Singapore, Kusaka’s responsibilities extend to North Asia, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and India regions. In India, Hilton has 14 hotels and resorts under four brands across 11 cities and a healthy pipeline of 17 hotels and resorts.
Kusaka says the focus in these upcoming properties is to apply sustainable architectural designs with an emphasis on optimisation and better use of spaces. He would also like to enhance utilisation of natural light in public areas and back-of-the-house spaces. Introducing alternatives to reduce water consumption is also a priority along with improving energy efficiency.
“Simplifying and optimising building facade and/or interior designs that contain complicated structures and intricate details, translates into time and cost savings to the owner,” Kusaka points out.
With over 28 years of international experience in developing and managing large scale hospitality and commercial projects, Kusaka was earlier with Swire Properties as a key contributor in the strategic development, design, cost and planning of Dazhong Li mixed-use commercial development in China.
Prior to this, he completed The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel, a landmark project, as project director with the owning company of the hotel. With Hyatt from 1988 until 2001, he managed a team of professionals dedicated to assisting in the development of new and existing hotel projects internationally.

DK JAIN, VP, PROJECTS, INTERGLOBE HOTELS
With about three decades of experience, DK Jain, VP, projects, InterGlobe Hotels, has worked in the past to build some of The Oberoi group’s finest properties such as The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur and The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, apart from Trident Agra and Trident Ahmedabad.
Working with InterGlobe Hotels for eight years now, Jain has opened all of the ten currently operational Ibis properties starting with the first, Hotel Ibis Gurgaon as well as the largest one (with 315 keys) in the company’s portfolio, Hotel Ibis Delhi Airport.
With InterGlobe notching up a healthy run rate in terms of Ibis openings, Jain has his work cut out.
“Managing multiple sites with multiple contractors is the key challenge we face,” he says. “To keep pace with this fervent growth rate, our planning department needs to be strengthened and made responsible for keeping track of the project’s physical and financial progress. Keeping track of the procurement plan and tendering process in order to deliver the projects on time and at the right cost is another challenge,” he adds.
Additionally, Jain also needs to keep pace with new developments in construction and constantly work on ways to reduce both time and project costs. But he is hopeful as he says the government has helped the sector which now “views 2015 with a positive outlook. The government has put in place measures favourable for growth,” says Jain.

JK CHAWLA, EXECUTIVE VP, PROJECT & ENGINEERING, THE LEMON TREE HOTEL COMPANY
An engineer from Pusa Polytechnic, New Delhi, Jagdish Kumar Chawla has two decades of experience with the Taj group of hotels, including as chief engineer of Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi. A senior member of the team that built the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel, Jaipur and Taj Residency Hotel, Lucknow, Chawla now brings his vast expertise to bear at one of India’s youngest and most rapidly growing chain of upscale, mid-scale and economy hotels.
Founded in September 2002, Lemon Tree already has 27 operational hotels in 16 cities and aims to more than double this number to 60 hotels across 30 major cities by 2017-18. By this time, the rooms inventory will almost triple from 3,000 rooms at present to over 8,000 rooms.
“We are quite satisfied with the speed of delivery of our projects,” says Chawla, even as he reveals he is looking to hire across functions to keep pace with the rapid rate of hotel openings.
Chawla says he is looking to strengthen the in-house design as well as interior design teams, broaden the vendor database and implement project management tools and software.

MANISH SACHDEVA, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, ARCHETYPE GROUP
With over 18 years of experience as an architect, design manager and pre-construction head for hotel and commercial projects, Manish Sachdeva leads the development of new projects from feasibility through pre-construction and advisory services as associate director at Archetype Group. Currently working on seven projects in India, he has completed six in the last two years, three of which were done in record time. He has completed a 522-key Greenfield JW Marriott in Delhi in less than three years, a 150-key Brownfield Fairfield in a year and a 176-key Greenfield Hyatt Place in Gurgaon within 22 months.
“We are proud of these. In both [the JW Marriott and Hyatt Place], we achieved the project goals of time and cost by following project management principles by the book,” Sachdeva says. However, with the project management business still evolving in India, the role that companies like Archetype play is not yet clearly understood. Sachdeva laments, “Unfortunately, project management has no industry standards nor any industry-specific certification programme in India. Therefore, it lets in many unprofessional operators, who mar the reputation of the industry. Also, here, project management is often confused with site supervision and/or, at best, construction management. Project management is actually all about leading the project to delivery by meeting the project goals of time, cost and quality from project initiation through design, procurement, construction and commissioning.”

PREM THAKUR, Senior MANAGER, GLOBAL DESIGN, ASIA PACIFIC, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL
Based in Marriott’s regional office in Mumbai, Prem Thakur, senior manager, Global Design — Asia Pacific, Marriott International, handles the company’s various projects across the subcontinent.
He brings to his role almost two decades of experience in project design and management, engineering operations, architectural and engineering consulting services, budgeting, cost control, engineering design review, value engineering and systems installation management.
He has extensive experience of managing engineering operations of complex properties like Renaissance Mumbai, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, and The Oberoi, Mumbai.
An Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) accredited professional, he is a member of IGBC Mumbai chapter’s core committee and has been instrumental in carrying out initiatives on green revolution in the region. He is also a member of the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air-conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), Mumbai.
Thakur’s role is cut out for him as in India alone, Marriott boasts a robust pipeline of approximately 50 hotels amounting to over 9,000 keys. And with a little over 25 hotels already operational, Marriott has already come a long way in India. Thakur says the company has gained necessary expertise to complete each project successfully.

SUJEET SINGH, VP, PROJECTS, THE LEELA GROUP
Sujeet Singh, VP, projects at The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts believes cost certainties can be achieved when all project activities have been properly completed.
“Project cost control, like any form of control process, is not about collecting and measuring how much cost you have expended, simply looking at the budget and deciding what’s left to finish the project,” he says. “Cost control consists of measuring, comparing to a baseline and then taking positive action where necessary. Taking the necessary positive action is the key to retaining control of a project’s costs, but there is no magic formula for it.”
With over 24 years of experience, Singh has a proven record in people management with consultants, contractors and statutory agencies.
He has extensive experience in project management, planning, monitoring and technical/commercial control across sectors like port facilities, hotels, hospitals, industrial projects, corporate buildings, IT software parks, etc.
In his six years with the Leela Group, he has completed and delivered two major landmark projects, one at New Delhi and the other in Chennai’ both have certified platinum LEED ratings.
With The Leela now targeting four hotels across Nepal (The Leela Kathmandu is expected to be completed in three years), there’s none better equipped than Singh to head the company’s expansion plans.

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