Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, and has its flagship property in Thailand, plans to open a resort with 59 villas with private pools in Kerala next year. (Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, and has its flagship property in Thailand, plans to open a resort with 59 villas with private pools in Kerala next year.)
Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, and has its flagship property in Thailand, plans to open a resort with 59 villas with private pools in Kerala next year.
(Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, and has its flagship property in Thailand, plans to open a resort with 59 villas with private pools in Kerala next year.)

Southeast Asian luxury hospitality operators tap India’s rich

Luxury hoteliers eye a growing number of upper middle class households for luxury services such as spas, say experts

New Delhi: With the economic down cycle continuing in the US and Europe, many Southeast Asian luxury hotels are turning their attention to India’s growing number of wealthy families.

In October, Thailand-based Six Senses Resorts and Spas, which has 10 properties in Europe and Asia, opened a spa in a Jaypee group hotel in Greater Noida.

“India is an emerging market in its appetite for luxury experience," said Samir Patel, managing director of Six Senses Spas. The luxury hotel operator has two more projects coming up in Pune and one in Mumbai. “We will also bring our second brand, Evason, in India after Six Senses," Patel said.

These luxury hoteliers will also be eyeing the increasing number of upper middle class households for luxury services such as spas, say industry experts.

“Since a couple of decades, wealth shift is happening towards Asian countries, so luxury companies are trying to establish their presence in India and infusing capital," said Abhishek Dadlani, founder and chief executive of Lushescapes, a travel firm that promises luxury holidays. “In India, there is a growing number of billionaires."

Forbes magazine featured 55 Indian billionaires in its rich list for 2011 with a combined wealth of around 11 trillion, against eight Indians in 2004 and only three in 1996.

Kotak Wealth Management and Crisil Research in a recent report said, notwithstanding the economic slowdown, the number of wealthy households in India is estimated to have grown 30% to around 81,000 in 2011-12, and is expected to triple to around 286,000 over the next five years. Their net worth is estimated to surge from 65 trillion in 2011-12 to 318 trillion by 2016-17. A wealthy household has a minimum net worth of 25 crore.

Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, and has its flagship property in Thailand, plans to open a resort with 59 villas with private pools in Kerala next year, followed by a property in Goa.

“The fast economic growth in the last five-six years has added a large number of high net-worth individuals who are well exposed to international luxury and lifestyle," said Abid Butt, global chief executive, Banyan Tree Hotels. “Indians are travelling to niche or offbeat destinations and demanding top quality facility and unique experiences."

The company owns 30 hotels and resorts, 64 spas, 78 galleries and two golf courses in 28 countries.

Several other luxury hotel operators are strengthening their hold in India. Bangkok’s Lebua Hotels and Resorts, which ventured into India with a luxury property in Delhi late last year, will open its second property in Goa by next September. Another Bangkok company, Dusit International, is set to open five properties in India by 2013, starting with its most luxurious brand Dusit Deverana.

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