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Setting sights on global growth, Minor Hotels appears poised to make even bigger expansion moves.

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Thailand-based Minor Hotels will launch its luxury Anantara brand in India with Anantara Jaipur Hotel in the north Indian state of Rajasthan, scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2023. The hotel will feature 150 guest rooms and suites, including four terrace suites with private plunge pools, and a 160-square-meter royal suite with a large terrace and private pool. Besides bars and restaurants, other facilities will include a spa, beauty salon, gym, semi-outdoor pool, kids’ club, and event spaces. The hotel will be able to cater to weddings of up to 2,500 guests with its collection of indoor and outdoor venues. “Jaipur is one of India’s most vibrant destinations, with a huge destination wedding potential, and I look forward to working with (owner) Ajay Gangwal and his team to launch our first Anantara in India, which is a significant strategic step for Minor Hotels,” said Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels. Minor Hotels currently has a portfolio of more than 530 hotels and resorts in 56 countries across its brands, which include Anantara, Avani, Elewana, Oaks, NH, nhow and Tivoli. In other developments, Hilton announced that it, too, has an interest in Jaipur, where it will debut its luxury brand, the Waldorf Astoria. Radisson, too, is thinking luxury, and announced on Wednesday that it would be debuting its luxury lifestyle brand, Radisson Collection in India with the signing of the first hotel in Hyderabad.

Indian conglomerate Tata Sons will reportedly come up with an Air India ground-handling services company to cater to the airline’s increasing in-house needs as well as provide shared services to other carriers, according to a leading Indian daily. The plan — critical to Tata’s aims to build a global aviation powerhouse — may also include putting up for sale Air India’s earlier ground-handling entity Air India Air Transport Services. The revamp may also include establishing an aviation training academy within the proposed entity. According to officials, Tata Sons has set aside significant funds for the aviation business for the next five years to fund the proposed venture, the report added. Going ahead, the airline will require additional home-grown pilots, engineers, cabin crew, airport managers and other function specialists, it said.

WelcomHeritage Cheetahgarh Resort & Spa has launched Khema Luxury Suites — plush two-bedroom tents for luxury family travelers — in Jawai in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Spread over an area of 1,200 square feet each, the suites feature two large bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a living area, a dining area, as well as a private outdoor deck. The resort also features a range of other accommodation options, including chalets with garden and private pool, as well as two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, with sights of the hills and the lake. The resort’s location makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts, with the famed Jawai Leopard safaris starting from within the premise itself. Guided Rabari village walks offer guests the opportunity to interact with the villagers and learn about their customs and traditions. 

Italian low-cost carrier Neos Airline has launched a weekly flight connecting Amritsar in the north Indian state of Punjab with Toronto, Canada. The airline will operate a one-stop flight every Thursday via its hub at Milan Malpensa Airport. Flight 3249 will leave Amritsar every Thursday at 3:15 a.m. in the morning and reach Milan airport at 8:20 a.m. (local time). After a transit time layover of about 4 hours 10 minutes, Flight 4348 will then leave Milan at 12:30 pm reaching Toronto late afternoon at 3 p.m. In the return journey, Neos’ flight 4349 will take off from Toronto Pearson airport every Thursday at 5 p.m. landing in Milan the next day at 6:50 a.m. on Friday. The flight will then leave Milan at 10 a.m. and reach Amritsar the same day on Friday night at 9:15 p.m.

The summer holiday special train under the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train scheme — in line with the Indian government’s ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative — from Coimbatore in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu to the Kashmir Valley in the north — will begin on May 11, according to South Star Rail, the private service provider for the service. The train would depart from Coimbatore, with boarding points at Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri, Hosur, Yelahanka, Perambur, Vijayawada and Warangal to destinations such as Agra, Amritsar, and Srinagar. From there, they would be taken to Sonmarg and Gulmarg by road. The total package would reportedly cover roughly 3,728 miles. The trip would be for 12 days with a base fare of $511 for third-class AC, $667 for second-class, and $792 for first-class.  

Hospitality group Atmosphere Core has announced the opening of Ozen Mansion Kolkata in the first quarter of 2024, among other key signings across India. “Within 10 years, we have launched eight resorts in the Maldives. Our new brand, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts offers an abundance of choices both for travelers as well as property owners. And I am confident that with this enhanced power of portfolio, we will accelerate our growth with 20 properties opening in the next two years,” said Salil Panigrahi, managing director of Atmosphere Core. Atmosphere Core includes three distinct brands — The Ozen Collection, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, and Colours of Oblu. 

Indian conglomerate GMR Group has announced plans to invest $609 million for the construction of the Greenfield International airport at Bhogapuram near Visakhapatnam in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The foundation stone will be laid on May 3. Set to occupy an area of 2,200 acres, construction work would begin by the end of May and be completed in 24 to 30 months. The airport would initially have the capacity to serve 6 million passengers and eventually cater to 40 million passengers annually. The project will be based on a public-private partnership model on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis.

Around 90 percent Indian travelers are focusing on personal wellness with 87 percent planning on investing more on luxury experiences, according to the American Express Travel 2023 Global Travel Trends Report. “Indians are planning to travel for gaining new experiences, learning about a city and its culture, breaking away from monotony and trying new food or cuisine. New trends like solo and bleisure travel are also picking up amongst Indian travelers,” said Sanjay Khanna, CEO of American Express Banking Corp India. While 97 percent of Indians are interested in going on a vacation that supports local communities in 2023, 94 percent of them surveyed say that they are more mindful of the environmental impact of their travel decisions compared to a year ago. The findings are based on survey data from travelers across the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and the UK.

Marking its foray into hospitality, India-based infrastructure development company DNC Group plans to have 12 properties in the country by financial year 2027 by investing about $61 million through debt and equity. While it would have five-star hotels in metros, the strategy is to have boutique and budget hotels in cities with tourist attractions in India. The company’s targeted customer base include urban elite, business community, tourists on pilgrimage, a statement said. “We intend to develop properties with customer-focused efficiency for visitors from India and abroad. Sustainability and cutting-edge technology will be at the forefront,” said D Naresh Chowdary, founder of DNC Hospitality and DNC Resorts.

India and Nepal are set to sign an agreement for cross-border digital payments using e-wallet, which is expected to boost trade and tourism by eliminating currency hassles. The accord will allow Indian tourists in Nepal to make digital payments using Indian e-wallets like BharatPe, PhonePe, Google Pay and Paytm. Last May, the National Payment Corporation of India and its arm International Payments had joined with Gateway Payment Service and Manam Infotech to deploy a unified payment interface in Nepal. The unified payment interface is a real-time payment system that provides person-to-person and person-to-merchant transactions safely and securely in India. The system is currently not on a reciprocal basis, and Nepalis are not allowed to make payments through Bharat-QR while traveling to India.

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Tags: air india, american express travel, anantara, india, jaipur, kashmir, minor hotels, nepal, skift india report, Tata Group

Photo credit: Jaipur has a huge destination wedding potential. Aditya Siva Aditya Siva / Hawa Mahal Road

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