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NEW DELHI : Araiya Hotels and Resorts, a hotel management firm run by Amruda Nair, granddaughter of late hotelier and founder of The Leela Group C.P. Krishnan Nair, plans to open five hotels under management contracts by 2024. The company will tap both greenfield projects and existing hotel properties to run them under different brands, said Amruda Nair, founder, Araiya Hotels and Resorts.

Araiya now runs a 25-room resort in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, which opened in 2019. Nair said the company’s upcoming properties will be in Ahmedabad, Calicut, Kannur, Alibaug and Mumbai.

To be sure, the Nair family no longer has any managerial control over the 30-year-old Leela Hotels, whose parent company was called Hotel Leelaventure. The company now called HLVL was taken over by asset management firm Brookfield in 2019 and continues to run Leela hotels in Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Udaipur.

“Coming from the Leela family that has owned and operated hotels has helped me as I see things through the lens of an owner and appreciate the need for efficiency and transparency. We will be completely asset-light, so our focus is on sustainability, operational efficiency, lower cost structures and sales. Our investments have been focused on technology and people with over 10 crore invested in the brand to date," said Nair.

She said the company has a project each coming up this year under the luxury category ‘Éssence by Araiya’ and the mid-market Soul by Araiya. Its Éssence property in Ahmedabad will open in the December quarter. The flagship brand Araiya Calicut in Kerala, which was signed in 2017, is currently under construction.

The Soul brand hotel signed in March 2022 in Kannur, Kerala, is set to open by the end of the March quarter of 2023, Nair said, adding that the company is also launching ‘Araiya Anthology’, a collection brand that will include unique, distinctive experiential properties around the country. The brand will be operational in Alibaug by 2024. The company is also in advance talks for its first mid-market Soul hotel in Mumbai.

Nair said Araiya is now three years old and that she has brought her learnings of running a management company with a focus on the Indian leisure space and an emphasis on sustainability.

A serial entrepreneur, Nair had launched another hospitality management firm, ‘Aiana Hotels’, in conjunction with the Qatari Businessmen Association in 2015 to manage hotels in the Middle East. She said the joint venture was able to launch a 611-room hotel in Saudi Arabia. She sold her stake in the venture in 2018 and returned to India to launch her current venture. Nair was also head of asset management for The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts from 2009 to 2015. She is still a non-executive, non-independent director of Hotel Leelaventure Ltd.

Gurugram-based hospitality firm Hotelivate, in its 2021 report on Indian hospitality titled Trends & Opportunities, said India has about 144,000 branded hotel rooms and a proposed inventory supply of 60,273 rooms. These are in the luxury, upscale, upper mid-market, mid-market and budget segments. While the upscale segment continues to remain the most popular with hotel investors and developers.

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