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Looking at marking a century by 2015 in India, Starwood Hotels and Resorts is expanding its reach in metros, tier-II and III cities under its different brands.
Dilip Puri, Managing Director India and Regional Vice President, South Asia, Starwood Hotels and Resorts talks to Sandeep Rana in detail about the room for opportunity in hospitality industry.
Tell us about Starwood Hotels and Resorts and its operations in India.
We are largely a hotel management company but we do have a few franchise hotels. While our preferred mode of operation is management, we are open to franchising our upscale brands like Aloft and Four Points, should a portfolio deal opportunity come up. The focus for our brands in the upper upscale and luxury segment will be the managed route. While selecting a franchise partner we go through the process of pre-qualification to gauge the ability of our partners to meet our standards. Experience in managing international hotel chains is an advantage. We work closely with our franchise partners to support them to ensure consistency of standards and brand experience.
How many units do you plan to set up in India?
We currently operate 40 hotels in India and have another 36 under development. Our goal is to have 100 hotels operating, under development or management contracts signed by 2015.
How many of them are franchisee-run?
Currently, we have roughly 20 hotels which are run on a franchise-basis. Our pipeline includes more managed hotels than franchised.
What is the total number of present units in the world?
We have over 1200 hotels in 100 countries.
How do you see the Indian hospitality market?
India today is still an 'under-hoteled' market, and the demand for high-calibre lodging is expected to far exceed current supply for at least the next three to four years. As domestic travel increases and Indian travellers continue to demand more sophistication in terms of both quality and experience, we have significant opportunity to grow our brands across the spectrum in gateway cities, tertiary markets as well as in resort destinations.
What all cities are you focusing on in India?
We believe in the opportunities that lie in tier-II markets. Given the rapid pace of urbanisation in India, we believe that some of these tier-II cities and micro markets within larger markets can even take some of our Upper Upscale brands like Westin, Le Meridien and Sheraton. Because our brands are different from a lifestyle perspective and not from a price point.