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Kamat Group bullish on lease-based expansion

Vishal Kamat Vishal Kamat

Kamat Group of Hotels, is looking on expanding its portfolio in India. The group currently operates hotels under its brand ‘The Orchid’ in Mumbai and Pune, ‘Fort JadhavGadh’ in Pune, Lotus Resorts in Konark, Goa and Murud-Harnai, and Mahodadhi Palace in Puri.

Speaking about the expansion plans, Vishal Kamat, CEO, Kamat Group of Hotels said, “Soon, we will have an Orchid Hotel in Bhubaneswar and also various other locations. We are in talks with a few people. We are looking at steady expansion. We don’t have a pipeline of 100’s of hotels, but we will majorly look at guest satisfaction first. A lot of hotels are interested in tying up with us. We are more bullish on lease; we are also interested in management. Today, there are a lot of players in the management space. We don’t look at operating a very small property; it becomes a challenge for us. We have a lot of backend automation and systems which are not affordable under a certain scale. Also, we are further looking at resorts under the Lotus brand. This brand can comfortably be developed in the 40 room property in the upper mid market segment. We want to develop these resorts near water bodies like river, lake, beach, etc.” The Group is looking at taking over existing hotels in Delhi, Maharashtra and Odisha.

The group has witnessed a good growth in 2018 and is looking ahead with a positive approach. The start of the year was a bit turbulent for the hospitality industry. “The initial start of 2019 was not so good for the hospitality industry due to the elections and the Jet Airways crisis. Tourism and business suffered not only locally but globally. First quarter was affected. The previous year was good and the year forward looks very positive. This was just a temporary phase. We as a group adapted to the changing climate and we find ourselves in a very good position,” Kamat added.

The group operates the first-of-its-kind fort property in Maharashtra named, ‘Fort JadhavGadh’. Today, a lot of states are looking to offer subsidies and incentives to develop heritage properties in those destinations. Speaking about further plans into the heritage segment he said, “In normal hotels we are giving hospitality, in Heritage hotels we are delivering an experience. In business hotel we cater warm convenience, whereas there we have to give memories. So the functioning of both segments is extremely different. Our take on heritage is very limited; it is a very difficult, high capex, personalized kind of product. We are neither bullish on it nor pessimistic on it. If we get a right opportunity and see profitability, we would like to do it. Fort JadhavGadh is a fantastic location and has become a destination on its own. It took a lot of effort to reach this level. Moreover we wanted to showcase our Marathi culture, as most of the heritage is Rajasthani culture. Maharashtra has the maximum number of forts, yet there is no fort property except Rajasthan.”

Kamat group has been one of the pioneers in promoting sustainable hospitality concept. The group is further focusing to make all properties sustainable and also inspire other hospitality chains. “We were determined to promote sustainability. We created sustainable model and established a path for others. Our tagline ‘Friendly eco friendly’ is not trademarked, we want others to follow. Small initiatives which we have done have made us sustainable and it helps in conserving the environment. In orchid we had a STP even before BMC made it a law. We were always ahead of the time in what the world needs,” he added.

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