Bharat Hotels to spend Rs1,200 crore on expansion

Bharat Hotels to spend Rs1,200 crore on expansion

New Delhi: The family of Lalit Suri, a home-grown Indian hotelier who died two years ago, plans to invest Rs1,200 crore in adding 10 hotels to its chain and refurbishing seven properties over three years after a franchisee deal with InterContinental Hotels Group Plc. ends for its Delhi and Srinagar properties in 18 months.

Bharat Hotels Ltd, the family-controlled firm, has re-branded its properties here The Lalit, a name that will be used for the company’s hotels in Mumbai and Goa after the contract with Intercontinental expires, Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director of the firm, said here at a press conference on Wednesday. The Suri-run firm has hotels in Bangalore, Udaipur and Khajuraho, which too have The Lalit branding.

The chain has 10 hotels that are currently under development in Kerala, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Noida, Dehradun, Dubai and Thailand that are expected to be operational between 2009 and 2011.

The Delhi property is being renovated and will be ready by March-April next year.

“We are continuing with our development as scheduled and there has been no slowdown whatsoever on the development front," Suri said, adding the Rs1,200 crore spending will be funded equally through internal accruals and borrowings. An initial public offer is not on the cards in the next two to three years, she added.

Hotels in larger cities, are experiencing lower occupancy as businesses cut back on travel. Suri said Bharat Hotels was open to acquiring properties and was “waiting for the rates to drop further".

Well-capitalized hotel firms such as Bharat Hotels will move ahead decisively with their expansion plans, one expert said. Such firms “recognise the opportunity and are probably looking at a long term view and building right now so that when the economy turns around, which it will, they will be on their feet," said Sudeep Jain, executive vice president and hotels country head at the Gurgaon office of real estate consultancy JonesLang LaSalle Inc.