Sarovar Hotels to tap pilgrim spots' market

Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd. (SHPL) is planning to expand its footprint in India’s pilgrim spots. It is also keen on stepping up its presence in Africa where it is running two hotels now.

“We see very good potential in both these areas,” Ajay Bakaya, MD, SHPL, told The Hindu. Operating on an asset-light model, Sarovar Hotels has a portfolio of 75 hotels in 50 destinations. The 6,000 keys that it manages, are spread across its three brands — Sarovar Premiere, Sarovar Portico and Hometel.

Occupancy rates have remained at about 70%. Most of its customers are from the corporate sector and the balance are leisure travellers. Barring two properties in India, SHPL does not own any of its hotels, according to Mr. Bakaya.

The company said that its strategic expansion plan for the next three years is to add over 2,000 keys, focusing on tier I and II cities in locations like Dalhousie (Himachal Pradesh), Jagdalpur (Chhatisgarh), Dahisar (Mumbai), Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh), Pathankot (Punjab) and in pilgrim spots of Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, Ajmer ( Rajasthan) and Bodh Gaya (Bihar).

The property at Katra would be ready by October, while the one at Bodh Gaya would be launched by year-end. Ajmer is expected to be ready by 2020.

The international expansion plan would see Sarovar expand its brands in Africa with two premier hotels in Somaliland and Ethiopia, one Portico in Dar es Salam in Tanzania and a Hometel in Nairobi in Kenya.

“We see lot of potential in Africa where we are primarily focusing on English-speaking countries...we also want to enter the bush segments (that is the game reserves),” he indicated, adding that so for Sarovar had been present only in the continent’s business cities.

In India, where 12 new hotels are set to be opened this year, many would be in temple towns. “We are very strong in hotels in pilgrimage locations and we will expand our presence in this segment,” Mr. Bakaya said. It already runs hotels in Haridwar, Rishikesh, Amritsar, Mathura-Vrindavan and Tirupati.

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