India is continuing to give China a run for its money as the country every hotel group has to have a presence in.
Last week easyHotel outlined its plans for the territory through its franchise relationship with Istithmar Hotels.
There are six easyHotels planned for India over the next five years, part of the $400m being spent by Istithmar rolling out 38 sites for the brand in the Middle East, North Africa and the Asian subcontinent.
The concept is markedly different from the conversion product that exists so far in Europe. The new-build Istithmar version has 15 sq m rooms rather than the 10 sq m of the European product which may not even have a window.
The pod design of the Istithmar concept means a 200 room easyHotel can be opened within just 20 weeks of the concrete platform that forms the base being laid. The first Istithmar easyHotel is due to open in Dubai in early 2008.
Istithmar’s hotel division was formed just a year ago. As well as easyHotel it includes a significant investment in Kerzner Group, the developer and operator of Atlantis Resorts and of One&Only.
Last month Kerzner appointed Bob Cotter, the former COO of Starwood Hotels, as its president.
Starwood Hotels has also announced moves to consolidate its position in India. ITC, the Indian tobacco-to-hotels conglomerate, is to switch from the Sheraton brand at some of the nine of its hotels bearing the badge and adopt Starwood’s Luxury Collection moniker.
An exclusive arrangement with ITC for the Sheraton brand came to an end in 2005 and Starwood has struck deals with other Indian businesses to roll out this and other of its brands.
It has a deal with the Delhi-based Vatika group to open Westins and has struck deals to open Sheratons with two other companies. And there are plans to open 15 Alofts in India in the next three to five years.
InterContinental is also planning to add six more hotels to its Indian presence to take its total to 20. The six comprise three Crowne Plazas, two Holiday Inns and one InterContinental in Pune.