Taj re-enters Nepal with luxury lodgeTaj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, India’s most celebrated luxury hotel chain, has re-entered Nepal after a gap of more than a decade with a luxury safari lodge in Chitwan.
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, India’s most celebrated luxury hotel chain, has re-entered Nepal after a gap of more than a decade with a luxury safari lodge in Chitwan.
Taj has signed a management contract with Chaudhary Group (CG) Hotels and Resorts for Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge.
Under the group’s luxury brand Taj Safaris, Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge is focused towards serving the upper end of the market. The resort offers 30 guestrooms, including 13 standard rooms, 16 independent villas with private plunge pools, and Rapti Mahal presidential suites.
The new property, spread over three hectares and built with an investment outlay of Rs700 million on the banks of the Rapti River, came into operation on April 1. “In the Asian point of view, it is an ultra-luxury resort,” said Rahul Chaudhary, managing director of CG Hotels and Resorts. “We aim at creating a new market by offering a superior product.”
With overwhelming response from foreign travellers since its opening, the company expects to break even within the first year of operation.
As an introductory offer, the resort has been charging $250-$300 per night for standard rooms and independent villas. After the promotional scheme ends, the resort has set three price categories—$500 per night for standard rooms, $700 for independent villas and $1,500 per night for presidential suite—beginning from autumn this year. “We are getting good response and inquiry. The presidential suite has already been booked for three days in October,” said Chaudhary.
The resort offers elephant safaris, jeep safari, jungle walk, walk through a local Tharu village showcasing traditional village life and canoeing on the Rapti River. Meghauli Serai has incorporated local hues into its design and operations.
Taj Safaris is the creator of India’s first luxury wildlife travel circuit in Madhya Pradesh. “The first luxury wildlife travel circuit in Madhya Pradesh has shown a great result. When the opportunity came to set up this wildlife travel in Meghauli Chitwan, we thought it was the right place to be,” said Kirti Dhingra, Director of Public Relations - Luxury of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. “In fact, this is our second time foray into Nepal and we are thinking it could be a huge success.”
Taj Group had dissociated itself from Hotel Annapurna in 2004 on security grounds.
The year 2015 had not been good for Nepal’s tourism industry and some investors still see risks in the sector. But Taj is optimistic. “Tourism is building back in Nepal after what it had gone last year. We see the industry will go upward trend. The hospitality industry here will thrive in a cycle of accelerating growth,” said Dhingra.
Over the next two months, further gains in Nepal’s hospitality sector are anticipated. The opening of the luxury resort in Nepal is not totally focused on serving the upper end of the market, she said. “The idea is not just about filling the rooms with particular segment. It is to open to everyone. We are happy to host whether guests are backpackers, middle-income or luxury travellers.”
CG on expansion spree
CG had last year acquired a majority of stake in Summit Hotel, which had been run by a Dutch group Foundation Nepal Holland House since 1978.
The company plans a major refurbishment of the hotel to take it to another level. Summit, which offers 73 rooms and is currently being managed by Zinc Hospitality, will be expanded to 200 rooms.
“We have decided to call a tender for the hotel’s expansion within two months,” said Chaudhary, adding the project will be developed in two phases and will be completed within three years. “We have planned to give different kinds of looks to this property—a memorial cover in creation, depicting some of the temples and buildings lost in the earthquake,” he said. “In short, the hotel will be designed in such a way that reflects mini-Nepal.”
CG has also moved to develop another hotel in Jhamel. The four-star property will feature 114 rooms. The company has acqu-ired a 11-storey building for the hotel. “We plan to bring the hotel into operation by June 2017.”
CG has also acquired property of Hotel Chitwan Keyman in Chitwan. The old property has been demolished and the construction of a mall-cum-hotel is under way. The proposed 10-storey building will have 50 rooms with a Cineplex and a food court. It will also be managed by Zinc.
“Besides, we have also identified land plots in Pokhara, Lumbini and Nepalgunj for the construction of hotels and resorts,” said Chaudhary. “We also plan to set up hotels in the mountain region like Jomsom in the near future.”