Minor Hotels doubles down on India, aims for 50 new openings in 10 years

Minor Hotels is gearing up to build on its presence in India and is looking to open 50 new hotels in the next 10 years. The group is bullish on the country’s potential, fueled by the keen interest from owners for its brands. Moving forward with a ‘partnerships over properties’ approach, Minor said it was being very selective while adding hotels to its portfolio.
Minor Hotels doubles down on India, aims for 50 new openings in 10 years

Looking to establish a long-term, strategic presence in the country, Minor opened a new office in Bengaluru in southern India and appointed Vijay Krishnan as vice president of operations for India.

The group plans to focus on expand its upper-upscale and luxury segments in India, where it expects robust interest for owners in its Anantara, Avani and NH Collection brands.

For the Anantara brand, Minor is growing on core brand differentiators and is targeting opportunities in Ayurvedic wellness retreats, wilderness lodges and historical palaces. There’s a significant gap in the lifestyle hotel space in India, which can be filled by Avani, Minor said, adding that NH Collection will be a good fit for upper-upscale conversion opportunities.

The tier II cities and airport locations have strong potential for the upscale NH Hotels brand. The group is considering hotel management agreements, with a special focus on greenfield developments, and is looking to identify opportunities in new and emerging locations.

Minor first arrived in India in 2017 with the opening of Oaks Bodhgaya in Bihar. The group is now preparing to mark a major milestone later this year when it opens Anantara Jaipur Hotel in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which will see the flagship luxury brand debut in India.

“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,” said Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels and Group CEO of parent company Minor International.

Minor is also a member of GHA Discovery, the global alliance of independent hotel brands. In 2023, revenue generated by GHA hotels across India touched a record $68 million, with GHA loyalty members in India topping 500,000 for the first time, accounting for a 21% YOY jump, Minor said in a release. Indian GHA members also spent 46% YOY more at participating hotels in 2023, generating a record $60 million in hotel revenues.

India is a lucrative market for global hospitality companies. With the country’s hotel sector recording a new high in results and growth in 2023, the hotel sector is enjoying an “era of elixir,” according to Horwath HTL’s report earlier this year. The past year saw impressive growth in new supply, with the addition of 14,000 rooms taking chain affiliated inventory to 183,000 rooms. Around 60% of supply addition in 2023 and 63% of pipeline supply were in markets beyond the top 10 markets, widening the spread of operations and demand. While foreign tourist arrivals between January and November was 16.8% higher than the same period in 2022, it was below the more than 10 million arrivals before the pandemic, creating future demand potential from a complete revival and subsequent growth, the report added.

Minor’s peers are also making a beeline to India to invest and further expand their portfolio. IHG Hotels & Resorts announced it will be doubling its operating portfolio in India in the next five years. In 2023, the hospitality giant closed 13 deals in India across its luxury, premium and essentials brand categories. Of these, nearly 70% were in the midscale and upper midscale segments, which drives growth for the company in the country, followed by premium and luxury. The group operates 46 hotels totaling 7,800 rooms in India and has around 50 hotels in the pipeline.

For Wyndham, India is among the top three fastest growing markets. The hotel chain currently has 60 properties in the country, with 25 more under development and 40 in the pipeline. The group aims to have 150 hotels by 2025 across the country, a news report quoted Dimitris Manikis, president of Europe, the Middle East, Eurasia, and Africa, Wyndham Hotels as saying. Identifying the significance of religious tourism, Wyndham said opening hotels in pilgrim places is part of their expansion strategy in India.

As India’s boom in the travel sector continues, Hilton has also set its sights on the Indian hotel market and is looking to triple its estate in the coming years. The company has 25 operating hotels across India and 17 more in the pipeline.

By Kathakali Nandi

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