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From 1 to 50 Properties in 10 Years

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There’s nothing small scale about Minor Hotel’s ambitions for India as it plans to conquer the country’s hospitality scene, one grand property at a time.

Thailand-based hotel company, Minor Hotels, has set ambitious targets for its India expansion, aiming to open 50 properties over the next decade.

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“India is a key component of Minor Hotels’ long-term global expansion strategy, and we’ve been surprised at the amount of recent interest received recently for conversion opportunities,” Amir Golbarg, senior vice president for Middle East, Africa, and India at Minor Hotels, told Skift.

The company made its foray into the Indian market in 2017 with the opening of Oaks Bodhgaya in Bihar, catering to the burgeoning inbound spiritual tourism sector.

While talking about the growing popularity of Bodhgaya as a destination, Golbarg noted the promising performance of Oaks Bodhgaya.

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Adding to its Indian portfolio, Minor Hotels is preparing to launch Anantara Jaipur Hotel, its inaugural Anantara establishment in the country later this year.

With a global surge in expansion plans, the company, with 540 properties in 56 countries, aims for over 200 new openings worldwide within three years. This would add over 30,000 rooms to its existing inventory of 80,000.

Responding to a Skift query on how many of these would open in India, Golbarg said, “We want to take our time and manage our entry into the market carefully, being selective about the hotels that we launch.”

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Emerging Indian Destinations

While major metropolitan areas in India remain on the radar, Minor is focusing on emerging destinations with untapped demand for upscale and luxury experiences.

“We see a lot of upcoming cities, in Southern India in particular, that offer huge tourism potential due to investment from airlines and increased domestic and international connectivity,” he said.

Minor’s strategy in India revolves around upper-upscale and luxury segments, featuring brands like Anantara, Avani, and NH Collection.

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Golbarg highlighted India’s growing domestic buying power and the rising demand for luxury and lifestyle offerings, particularly in tier two cities and airport locations. “We believe demand for luxury and upper-upscale will keep rising, and the appetite for lifestyle offerings equally so thanks to India’s median age being below 30 years old, which is significantly below similarly-sized economies globally.”

The hotel company is also keen on exploring wildlife tourism and wilderness lodges, for brands like Anantara.

A ‘Local-First’ Mentality

The company’s operating model in India would initially lean towards management agreements to establish its presence, with potential for franchise agreements in the future.

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Acknowledging India’s unique opportunities and challenges, Golbarg stressed the importance of adaptability and a ‘local-first’ mentality.

“Many international brands have tried and failed in India. It’s a market that comes with unique opportunities and challenges, and we understand the importance of being adaptable and adopting a ‘local-first’ mentality,” Golbarg said.

Minor Hotels identifies a significant shortage of experiential luxury hotels in the market, aligning its expansion plans with the surge in domestic demand post-Covid and the emphasis on enhancing air travel experiences.

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“We also believe mixed use developments including branded residences will see a rise across India and definitely part of our strategic growth plan as well,” Golbarg said.

Minor’s Belief in India’s Potential

“We believe in India. We believe in its potential as a world-class inbound destination. And we believe in the enormous opportunities that lie in its surging domestic market. It’s why we have made substantial investments in establishing our operations there, and will continue to invest there to realize our growth ambitions,” Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels and Group CEO of its parent company Minor International, was quoted in a release as saying.

Minor noted that for Anantara in particular, India is one of the fastest-growing international source markets, with annual room nights across its Asia and Middle East properties growing 72% in 2023, compared to 2022. That trend has continued to date in 2024, with the first quarter figures up 36% compared to the same period last year.

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To support its expansion plans, Minor has also opened a new office in the Indian city of Bengaluru, which the group said showcases its commitment to long-term presence in the Indian market.

The group recently appointed Vijay Krishnan as vice president of operations for India.

In 2018, Minor Hotels and investment firm Trinity White City Ventures had considered a bid of $350 million for India’s Leela Hotels.

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Accommodations Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of hotels and short-term rental sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets, including international and regional hotel brands, hotel REITs, hotel management companies, alternative accommodations, and timeshares.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more hotels and short-term rental financial sector performance.

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Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

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