The hospitality industry in Kolkata will take yet another significant step on Tuesday when ITC Royal Bengal open its doors for guests. Doubts had been raised in 2015 when around 1500 rooms in the five-star category were proposed in the City of Joy, more than doubling the capacity from just 1300 odd in Kolkata then. It all started with the opening of J W Marriot in late 2016 that was followed closely by several others – notably Westin, Holiday Inn and now ITC Royal Bengal. It is learnt that Oberoi Grand is also planning to add 50 rooms by the end of 2020. However, hospitality experts opined that the city hospitality space is the biggest example of the classical economic theory of supply creates its own demand.
Till October 2018, there were four five-star deluxe biggies — Oberoi Grand, Taj Bengal, ITC Sonar and Hyatt — which together offered 896 rooms. Besides, there were other five star properties like Novotel, The Park and Lalit Great Eastern. Now, the total number of rooms at these properties would be more than 2,750 and most of them are doing good business. The occupancy ratio, the benchmark of the hospitality industry, has actually gone up.
Atul Bhalla, Area Manager East- ITC Hotels & Cluster General Manager ITC Royal Bengal & ITC Sonar, pointed out that the occupancy rate for ITC Sonar has gone up in the last 2-3 years. According to him, ITC Royal Bengal has 456 rooms, which makes it the biggest in the five-star or five-star delux category. “Taken together, ITC Sonar and Royal Bengal, the cluster will have 693 rooms,” he added. Bhalla pointed out that ITC Sonar has an occupancy of healthy 75-78%. MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions or events) has also gone up,” he added.
Most of the top hoteliers argue that it is both a challenge as well as an opportunity for the hospitality industry here to reinvent Kolkata, once the jewel of the east. According to an expert, Chennai, too, had gone through the same scenario in 2012, when there was an introduction of almost 1,200 star category rooms. A section of hospitality industry insiders had predicted a fall in occupancy there. However, it jumped by 4% year-on-year. “This happened because of the shift from Mumbai and Hyderabad to Chennai owing to cheaper options in MICE and room rates being offered there,” the expert added.
Rishi Jain, the director of Jain Group that owns Holiday Inn, feels that more rooms and banquets means more events in the city. “The same thing happened in Thailand and Goa also. For us, the occupancy is 80%,” he added. Incidentally, Holiday Inn has 237 rooms.
Rahul Maini, GM of Westin pointed out that though it is only one year old but it is getting a fair share of the hospitality market. “With the increase in inventory the occupancy has also gone up in the city.Our average occupancy is 60-70% but in the peak season it is much more,” he added. Westin has 304 rooms.
Source: Times of India