Hospitality

Belmond eyes India entry

MUMBAI: Belmond (earlier known as Orient-Express Hotels) is exploring opportunities in India to build its business through investment or other routes.

Representatives of the luxury chain have been meeting hoteliers and developers to understand the local market and crystalise its entry strategy, reports The Economic Times.

If Belmond decides on India, it will be the chain’s first hotel in South Asia. Interestingly, the London-based company’s move comes after the Tatas-owned Taj group divested its entire investment in the chain.

Taj wanted to take over Belmond and had acquired an 11.5% stake in the NYSE-listed company in 2007. But the latter rebuffed Taj’s offer, saying associating with the predominantly Indian chain would erode its brand value.

Moreover, Belmond’s complex shareholding structure prevented Taj from gaining control over it. Taj’s investment (around $250 million for the 11.5% stake) in Belmond started depreciating and it recently exited the company .

Belmond, according to a person familiar with its India plans, is very discerning about the locales and properties where it intends to have its label on. Since it is in the boutique luxury space, it plans to have just one or perhaps a couple of properties here. The chain has shown interest in managing a property or investing in an existing hotel.

Belmond’s senior vice-president (global development) Kenneth Hatton, who was in Mumbai with senior director (development) David Grossniklaus, told TOI that the company is currently studying the Indian market.

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