Mumbai: After building a sizeable number of economy and mid-scale hotels in India, Europe’s leading hospitality firm AccorHotels has lined up a new pipeline of hotel brands in luxury and service apartment space, a category which has seen growing interest from major hotel chains like Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Marriott International Inc.

In an interview with Mint, Jean-Michel Cassé, chief operating officer (India and South Asia) at AccorHotels, said the company is in advanced stage of discussion with a real estate developer in Gurugram to launch its first global apartment hotel brand, Novotel Suites, in the country. Construction of the project which comprises around 100 apartments is likely to start in the next few months, he said.

The Paris-based hotel company owns and runs around 20 brands across 92 countries. In India, it currently operates around 47 hotels under 10 brands, including Sofitel, Novotel and Ibis, in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

“We are working on some projects in terms of offering serviced apartments. One or two projects are under development. We will be launching our pure standalone apartment hotel brand Novotel Suites," Casse said. At present, the hotel company operates service apartment business under the Novotel brand in Kolkata and Visakhatpatnam and Grand Mercure in Bengaluru.

Besides the Gurugram project, the company is exploring an opportunity to launch its service apartment business in Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh.

“Up to 15% of online travellers in India are using non-hotel accommodations, including home rentals and services apartments. The demand is growing for this space. Four years back, it was about 10%. There has been also been a growing demand from corporate executives for long stay and such apartments provides a convenient option," said Chetan Kapoor, research analyst (Asia Pacific) at Phocuswright, a travel research firm.

AccorHotels is also at an advanced stage of discussion to launch its global luxury brands Raffles Hotel and Banyan Tree, Casse said, adding that up to four hotels are likely to be launched under these brands.

“We want to develop a strong pipeline in the luxury space while we also see more opportunity to strengthen our existing brands as we get more recognition in the local market. We are aiming to open our luxury brand Raffles and also few Banyan Tree hotels in India," he said.

At present, the company operates four luxury hotels under Sofitel, Fairmont, Pullman and Swissotel brands across Mumbai, Jaipur, New Delhi and Kolkata. It is also looking develop more Fairmont hotels in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai, he added.

“We would be happy to develop more Sofitel hotels in locations like Goa. In the luxury space, we have shown interest among property owners in bringing The Banyan Tree, a luxury resort brand," he said.

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