Luxury Hotels

INDIA – 9

Hospitality Overview Presentation & Exchange, HOPE, a joint production by Anarock and HVS, was held 15-16 February at Taj-managed Goa Cidade de Goa – above, HOPE Chairman Mandeep Lamba, HVS sub-continent boss, left, and Taj parent IHCL’s MD/CEO Puneet Chhatwal.

After sitting through two days of presentations, could one dare to say  it is ten times better to have real-life senior names bothering to go than mistakenly hoping a pre-taped recording will suffice. Hilton therefore got far more return from President Asia-Pacific, in a pale blue jacket than IHG, showing an office video of its ceo soberly attired in grey suit, black belt and footwear and pale blue open-necked shirt. Alan Watts said the new norm is fantastic, with more Hilton-family properties at Hilton signed post-pandemic than he could have imagined. And in India, where luxury growth follows infrastructure, the ground is more fertile than ever. But, and a big but, it is essential to up luxury pricing or everyone will lose. He urged the audience to keep its nerve, and remain forever aspirational.

Puneet Chhatwal agreed that the sector is doing well but it is critical to use the opportunity of these good times to extend the cycle (what is different with this upturn in cycle is the ability to charge). Yes, as Google’s MD digital First Businesses, Roma Datta Chobey, said, Indians are travelling like never before. Here are some stats:

Of those who leave home, an average of 5.4 trips a year are taken – the highest in APAC. Typical stay is 6.3 days, or 9.3 days internationally. India’s spend on leisure will rise 300% by 2030, with faith tourism growing 16.2%. Sports tourism could be boosted by world athletics in 2029 and the Olympics in 2036. Watch the emerging powers of seniors and solos travelling, and medical and wellness, plus adventure travel.

Liz Ortiguera, regional boss of the World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC, summed up such figures by saying that whereas global growth in tourism is anticipated to be 5% by 2033, to a total of $15 trillion, India’s forecast growth is 8.4%.

There was a lot of eating and drinking at HOPE, of course. The first night’s dinner, sponsored by host hotel Taj Cidade de Goa, was a splendid outdoor taste-around that included sensational biryanis in cauldrons on swings, five special yoghurts too, and one six-foot Ukrainian warbler.