Tuesday, August 3

Kolkata star hotels bet on staycation to boost business

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Star hotels in the city are now betting on staycation to keep their business afloat in the pandemic. Most hotels have been witnessing a rapid drop in business in the past two to three months, when the second wave of the novel coronavirus peaked. They had, however, had a better time in December to February, after Covid cases declined following the first wave and travels picked up.

But ever since the restrictions were imposed to tackle the spread of the virus and consequently, travel—both for pleasure and business—declined, star hotels in the city, including ITC Royal Bengal, Westin, JW Marriott, Lalit Great Eastern and Holiday Inn, have been hit hard. They are all now relying on staycation packages, trying to attract the residents of Kolkata with the offer of a luxurious, pampering vacation within the safety of their hotels within the city. Most of the guests, hotel officials said, were from the city and nearby locations, within “car-friendly distances”.

A spokesperson for ITC hotels pointed out that domestic travellers were “indulging in safe city staycations or safestaycations”. As the name itself suggested, he said, people from within the city were expected to check into the hotel for a break from the drudgery of being confined to their homes, with nowhere to go. Also, travellers from different cities in India, largely those close to Kolkata and could be driven to by cars were also the target population. “Even in pre-Covid times, ITC Hotel staycations have been immensely popular, especially at ITC Sonar and ITC Royal Bengal. Requirement for safe staycation has increased manifold. Residents may want to take a break from their homes opt for a brand and location they trust,” the spokesperson added.

Rishi Jain, director of Holiday Inn, said it was getting good response for its staycation packages. He claimed they were receiving more than 30% occupancy from these packages. “A lot of people are preferring to stay at our hotels for a few days to break the boredom at home. We are getting a lot of corporate clients who are utilizing their travel allowances by staying in luxury comfort. This, despite the fact pools and spas are now not operational owing to the restrictions,” he added. According to Jain, guests were being served food in their rooms as restaurants in hotels were also shut under the safety rules.

The general manager of Lalit Great Eastern, Dilip Mishra, felt the packages and the business would gain momentum from July. “We have staycation packages but we have not received much response so far. Things may change once the restrictions are lifted. The wedding season will soon start and business will improve,” he added. Echoing him, JW Marriott general manager Sumeet Suri said that occupancy now was not very encouraging but July was likely to be better. “The wedding season and gradual unlocking will boost business,” he added.

Subhas Sinha, general manager of Westin, pointed out that some people, who had got both the doses of Covid vaccines, were coming booking stays at their hotel. “People are getting bored at home. So, they are opting for a hassle-free break in five-star comfort at an affordable price,” Sinha added.

Source: Times of India

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