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Eclectic escape

Set amidst the backdrop of the majestic Aravali mountains, the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh Palace) and Lake Pichola, the Ramada Udaipur Resort & Spa combines traditional with contemporary architecture to play the perfect host to leisure or business. By Steena Joy

Spread over 6.5 acres of undulated land, Ramada Udaipur Resort & Spa is the first key initiative to open under Wyndham Worldwide and Unique Global Group's MoU signed early this year. Located just five kms from Sajjan Garh, the 18th century monsoon palace, the hotel is a fine example of a fusion of classic with the contemporary.

Traditional touch

To go with the topography of the terrain varying in height by approximately 40 metres from the lowest point to the highest, the hotel has been built in an amphitheatre style creating spectacular views. Using the traditional construction known as Tekri work that maximises the use of traditional materials, artisanship and locally available stones, the resort's architecture pays tribute to the native heritage of the region. To ensure that the resort blends seamlessly with its natural surroundings, open courtyards, verandas and terraces have been integrated with the Tekri facade. “Because of the hilly terrain and the Tekri work, the project took a longer time to fructify. But the result is worth the effort and time,” says Rajkumar Rai, chairman and managing director, Unique Global group.

Rajkumar Rai

Udaipur has always been a popular leisure destination but in recent times the city is also attracting a lot of MICE business. Commenting on the hospitality scenario in Udaipur, Rai says, “Potentially Udaipur is the strongest Rajasthan destination, but currently weaker than Jaipur because it is not a part of the Golden Triangle. We need to promote Delhi-Agra –Jaipur- Udaipur as the Golden Rectangle. However, with the emergence of mid-market hotels in Udaipur selling at half the price of the luxury hotels, we expect buoyant occupancies this winter above 75 per cent.”

After Udaipur, the next project under the MoU will be in Bengaluru. Rai adds, “In the pipeline are Hyderabad, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Shirdi and Tirupathi. All these hotels will fall under the Howard Johnson brand. We have a franchise agreement for setting up 35 Howard Johnson Hotels (including the one Ramada at Udaipur) by 2017, where Wyndham will give us technical expertise and knowhow as well as market the hotels internationally, and we will build the hotels and operate them under their brand. As we move forward the relationship will only strengthen, and become a win-win proposition for both companies.”

On an average, each room is expected to require an investment of Rs 60-65 lakh and each of the hotels are expected to have around 100 rooms. The overall investment is projected at Rs 2,275 crore. Rai believes that the franchisee-developer model will drive hotel development in India. “This is one of the models which will be used, and will positively accelerate hotel development in our country in the mid market sector”, he opines.

Ramada Udaipur has a total of 72 rooms all opening out to spacious balconies. The Meridian (250 pax), is the indoor banqueting and meeting space while outdoor venues include Sajjan Terrace (up to 1000 pax), Monsoon Deck (up to 800 pax), Rock arena (up to 500 pax), Sariat (a 1,680 square ft central garden with a gazebo), Trego, Bonsoir Garden and Wind Garden. Dining outlets include Myra all day restaurant, Zu: Ma, Ambar and Liquid Lounge, the bar.

Value for money

Outlining his plans to promote the hotel, Sanjay Pasricha, CEO, Unique Global group says, “We will position Ramada Udaipur as a great value for money mid-market upscale hotel that offers facilities (like heated pool, outdoor jacuzzi, large gardens as banqueting areas, two swimming pools, etc) that many luxury hotels do not offer - at almost half the price and in a location that truly makes you feel that Udaipur, other than being the most romantic destination of India, is also the Kashmir of Rajasthan.” This positioning will be achieved through consistent communication, rate parity, and targeting consumers principally in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad, as well as the global markets through the trade and the hotel's website.

Commenting on whether F&B is a major revenue driver in midmarket hotels, Pasricha opined, “This will happen more in metros and other cities which have a large client base that use restaurants due to locational convenience for special occasions like celebrations. This trend will be lesser in pure leisure destinations where hotels are located in scenic places or close to areas of heritage and tourist interest but away from central locations which can be easily accessed by locals. But overall, as disposable income in India rises, local F&B will account for a larger share of revenues.”

Connectivity to Udaipur is still a problem as there are very few daily flights. “Yes, it is the chicken or the egg situation for the airlines and after Kingfisher shut down operations for Udaipur, it has left a gap. Though the hotel iers’ lobby in the region is trying actively to rectify the problem, more needs to be done, and we plan to press the necessary levers in due course,” affirms Pasricha.

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