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A growing middle class with high disposable income as well as the big fat wedding industry are fueling the Indian luxury hotels market.

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Last week three international hotel chains announced the debut of their luxury brands in India. Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria and Minor Hotels’ Anantara brand are set to make their India debut in Jaipur, while Radisson has picked Hyderabad for the launch of its Radisson Collection brand. Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano said last week that the hotel group has a lot of room for growth in the luxury segment in India. Speaking at the Hotel Investment Conference — South Asia in Bengaluru last week, Capuano said Marriott is still in the early stages of developing its luxury industry portfolio in India and will continue to concentrate in this area in the future.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts also announced last week that it would be opening a property in Agra in 2025. Fairmont is gaining momentum in India, with four exciting new properties under development. “With Agra on the horizon, the brand will complete India’s northern Golden Triangle, alongside Jaipur and Udaipur,” said Mark Willis, CEO of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. 

Fueled by the increasing number of high-net-worth individuals and the rise of the middle class, luxury travel in India is a growing segment of the tourism industry. The number of millionaires in India are projected to grow from 796,000 in 2021 to 1.6 million by 2026, as per a Credit Suisse report. The number of ultra-rich grew 11 times in the last decade in India, making it third in the billionaire population globally after the U.S. and China in 2021, as per a Wealth Report by Knight Frank.

Radisson Collection in India is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2026. Set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2023, Anantara Jaipur Hotel and Waldorf Astoria scheduled to open in 2027, look to tap the weddings and events sector in India. “Weddings, meetings and events will be the primary focus of Waldorf Astoria Jaipur,” said Alan Watts, Asia Pacific president of Hilton to Skift. Indians spend about $130 billion annually on weddings, making the industry the fourth largest industry in the country, just behind energy, banking, and insurance, according to a report by The Economist.

Indian conglomerate Wadia Group is in talks with strategic partners to either sell a majority stake in loss-making budget airline Go First (earlier knows as GoAir) or completely exit, Indian media reported, citing sources close to the development. The airline posted its biggest annual loss in fiscal 2022 and has been facing operational problems in the last few months as half of its aircraft were grounded due to supply chain disruptions related to Pratt and Whitney jet engines, according to repots. Having infused around $366.2 million in the last 15 months to keep the airline afloat, the Wadia group is reportedly reluctant to invest more until the issue with Pratt and Whitney is resolved, sources said.

Marriott International’s luxury portfolio JW Marriott has made its debut in India’s coastal state Goa with JW Marriott Goa. The 151-room hotel is located along Vagator, minutes from Chapora Fort, which is a popular tourist point in the state. “We are delighted to announce the opening of JW Marriott Goa. This opening marks a milestone for Marriott International’s 150th opening in South Asia,” said Ranju Alex, area vice resident, South Asia, Marriott International. “We shall continue to pave the way for aggressive expansion with our strong pipeline of hotels,” Alex said. During his recent visit to India, Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano said that the hotel group plans to have 250 properties across India by 2025, including hotels that are open and in the pipeline. 

The Indian government has set in motion a plan to transform Indian airports into aviation hubs — beginning with the Delhi airport — to ensure seamless connectivity and minimize connection time between flights, an Indian daily quoted Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia as saying. “We are working with stakeholders to look at how we can prepare Delhi airport to become a hub. A consultant will be hired to look at international comparables to see how we can go about doing that, it is a work in progress,” Scindia said.

Taj Group-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced the opening of The Yellow House, Anjuna — an IHCL SeleQtions hotel in India’s coastal state of Goa. The 49-room heritage property features an all-day-diner, bakery, cocktail bar, and offers experiences like private yoga and meditation sessions. “This opening is in line with IHCL’s strategy of expanding its presence in Goa that celebrates its tremendous tourism potential. The recent new addition of a SeleQtions hotel brings yet another world-class experience to the travelers to Goa,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer of IHCL. 

Indian budget carrier Air India Express has increased the number of services from Thiruvananthapuram — capital of the south Indian state of Kerala — to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The number of weekly services to both places has been increased from five to six. The new service will be operational on Mondays. With this, the number of weekly services from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai has increased to 28 and Abu Dhabi to 40. In November last year, the airline started services from Thiruvananthapuram to Bahrain and Dammam. Air India Express is said to be the single largest airline operator from Thiruvananthapuram in terms of the number of international flights with 70 weekly services.  

Indian hospitality company ITC Hotel Group’s upper upscale brand Welcomhotel plans to add three more properties in Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Recently, ITC inked a deal to open the 136-room Welcomhotel Gwalior, slated to open by 2025, the company said in a statement. The hotel company will also open a 46-key hotel in Manali in a few months, it added. Another property in Dehradun would be coming up under a management contract with Unique Hotels and Restaurants. The existing property is in the process of being converted into a 78-key hotel. “The signing of more properties under the upper upscale Brand Welcomhotel is in line with ITC Hotels’ expansion plan to take our brand and services to smaller markets in addition to prime metro cities,” Anil Chadha, divisional chief executive of ITC Hotels said.

Indian Railways has earmarked berths, preferably lower ones, for people with disabilities and their attendants in mail and express trains. In an order to its zones issued on March 31, the railway board has said that four berths in Sleeper class (two lower and two middle), two berths in 3 AC (one lower and one middle), two berths in 3E class (one lower and one middle) will be reserved for them. In Garib Rath trains, a provision has been made to reserve two lower berths and two upper berths for persons with disabilities. However, for this facility they will have to pay full fare. Apart from this, in AC chair car trains two seats will be reserved for persons with disabilities.

Mauritius’ flag carrier Air Mauritius will resume direct services to and from India’s capital Delhi from May 3 with biweekly flights. The airline will use the Airbus A330 aircraft in a business and economy class configuration with a capacity of 254 seats. Air Mauritius currently operates six weekly direct flights to Mumbai. “New avenues are being explored with Air India to offer seamless connectivity via Delhi as well as Mumbai to/ from several destinations in India,” said Krešimir Kučko, CEO of Air Mauritius. According to the airline’s press statement, flight MK745 will depart from Delhi every Thursday and Sunday at 8 a.m., arriving in Port Louis at 2 p.m. the same day. The flight from Port Louis to New Delhi will depart every Wednesday and Saturday at 9.15 p.m. arriving in New Delhi at 6.15 a.m.

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Tags: abu dhabi, anantara, delhi airport, disabilities, dubai, hilton, india, Indian Hotels Company, indian railways, indian weddings, itc hotels, jw marriott, luxury hotels, marriott, mauritius, radisson collection, radisson hotel group, skift india report, waldorf astoria

Photo credit: Jaipur is a popular destination for luxury properties. The Anantara Hotel and Waldorf Astoria are both launching in Jaipur. Source: Pexels/Shubham Verma Shubham Verma / Pexels

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